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Walk The Camino

Which route is best for the Camino de Santiago? | Footfalls Walking Holidays

Which route is best for the Camino de Santiago?

Walking the Camino de Santiago can be a bucket list adventure for all types of travellers. Whether as a religious Pilgrimage or a physical challenge, this long-distance walking route is world-famous for good reason.

If you’re considering taking on the challenge, you might be wondering which route is best for the Camino de Santiago. With multiple options available, you can choose the one that suits your preferences and capabilities. There is actually quite a list of variations on the Camino routes, but we will focus on the best Camino routes that we like to walk.

Since we offer self-guided and guided Camino de Santiago walking tours, we are quite familiar with these route options and the unique aspects of each. We hope this guide will help you to choose the best route for you! You’re always welcome to reach out if you have questions so we can chat about the options.

About the Camino Frances or French Way

The Camino Frances, also known as the French Way or the French Route, is the traditional Camino de Santiago path. Originating in southern France, the full Camino traverses approximately 770 kilometres (478 miles). The Camino Frances follows this path from France through Spain, culminating in Santiago de Compostela.

At Footfalls Walking Holidays, we usually opt for the final 100 kilometres of the Camino Frances. In fact, we offer this route as both a guided and a self-guided walking tour! Walking at least 100 kilometres of the Camino allows you to obtain your compostela, which proves your completion of the Camino.

Along this section of the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, the path follows a less arduous route, with elevation change being particularly limited along the final 100 kilometres. The route we use begins in the town of Sarria. It makes for a fantastic Camino experience!

Walk The Camino
The Camino Frances is the most popular route, so it’s also a more social experience if you’d like to interact with others along the way. Especially if you’re going during peak times, it’s highly unlikely that you’d feel lonely during the journey. There are also plenty of accommodation options along this popular route.

About the Camino Norte or Northern Route

Another route for the Camino de Santiago diverges from the Camino Frances and follows more closely along the northern coastline of Spain. This terrain is a bit more undulating and therefore more physically challenging than the Camino Frances.

If you’re keen for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with exceptional vistas as you traverse from mountains to beaches and beyond! This route also brings Pilgrims through parts of Spain that are world-famous for their cuisine, so foodies should take note.

This part of Northern Spain is lush and beautiful, so it’s likely that this route will grow in popularity as more and more Pilgrims take on the Camino de Santiago.

About the Camino Portugues or Portuguese Route

The Camino Portugues, also known as the Portuguese Route or the Portuguese Way, is the second most popular route for the Camino de Santiago.

This route begins in Lisbon or Porto, but we begin our self-guided Camino Portuguese walking tour in Tui on the Spanish/Portuguese border. That marks the final 100 kilometres of the Camino Portugues, which means you can obtain your compostela upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela!

Camino de Santiago Portuguese Way Independent Walking Hiking Vacation
If you opt for the Camino Portuguese, you can expect quite a scenic route and fewer Pilgrims than you will encounter on the more popular Camino Frances. There are also variations on the Portuguese Route which can take you along the coast or more inland, with various starting points based on your schedule and interests.

Walking the Full Camino de Santiago

If you opt to walk the full Camino de Santiago, you’ll need to give yourself more than a month for the journey. At around 770 kilometres (478 miles), the full Camino is a true undertaking. It begins in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, from which you’ll cross the Pyrenees and nearly the entire width of Spain before reaching Santiago de Compostela.
Along the full Camino route, which is the Camino Frances, you’ll pass through cities including Pamplona, León, and Burgos. You’ll also traverse lovely landscapes and undoubtedly cross paths with countless fellow walkers. Around 300,000 walkers complete the Camino de Santiago annually (of course, Covid has affected some numbers).

Which route is best for the Camino de Santiago?

The best route for the Camino de Santiago is the route that interests you most and the route you’re physically prepared to walk. Each route has its own characteristics and will appeal to different types of walkers, so there is no way to say any one route is the best for everyone.

The amount of time you can — or want! — to walk will also determine which route is best for you. You could take more than a month to complete the full Camino, which is more time than many folks have for a holiday.

Alternatively, our Camino walking tours are each 8 days, including arrival and departure days. We’ve found this length of time to be perfect for walkers of all levels, providing enough of a challenge without being overwhelming for most folks.

Walk The Camino
We believe there’s a route for everyone and we love to help folks branch out to challenge themselves and to explore these wondrous places on foot. We’re always delighted to chat about walking routes, so do feel free to get in touch. Until then, happy trails!