Camino de Santiago: Stages, Routes and maps for pilgrims

If you want to experience the Camino de Santiago, here we bring you very relevant information on the main routes, including maps and data on the most outstanding stages..

Routes and map of the Way of St. James

In this map we show you the main routes of the Camino de Santiago: here you can see the extension of each of them and choose the one you prefer according to the point of origin.

camino francés
The French Way

The French Way begins in France, in the town of St. Jean Pied de Port, although there are many pilgrims who prefer to advance a stage and start from Roncesvalles, avoiding the harshness of the Pyrenees. This is the most popular of the variants of the Camino de Santiago among pilgrims and the one with the most services along the way.

The French Way
camino portugués
The Portuguese Way

The Portuguese Way begins in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. From there it continues to Santiago along 25 easy stages, in which you will find all the necessary services. These and other characteristics make it an ideal route for all audiences, ages and physical conditions.

The Portuguese Way
camino del norte
The Northern Way

Starting in Irun, the Camino del Norte runs through some of the most important cities in this part of the peninsula and other charming towns: Donosti, Bilbao, Santander, or Santillana del Mar, Luarca and Ribadeo are just some of the stages that you will find walking along one of the oldest routes to the Galician capital.

The Northern Way
camino primitivo
The Primitive Way

From Oviedo and crossing the Asturian community, the Camino Primitivo is presented as one of the most difficult routes, but also one of the most beautiful due to the natural environment you will find if you walk this variant. Mountains, forests and valleys will accompany you during your journey.

The Primitive Way
camino inglés
The English Way

Whether you do it from Ferrol, or if you opt to start from A Coruña, the English Way is a short route that you can complete in a few days, while enjoying the green Galician landscape. Choose this option if you want to avoid the crowds so typical of the main Jacobean routes.

The English Way
via de la plata
Vía de la Plata

It is the longest route and starts in the south of the peninsula, specifically in Seville. It continues north through long stages that can be very hard during the summer. In exchange, you will enjoy all the beauty of cities like Seville, Mérida, Salamanca or Zamora during this route.

Vía de la Plata

Other routes to Santiago de Compostela

The Way from Sarria

For those who do not have much time but do not want to miss the Jacobean experience, there is the alternative of doing the French Way from Sarria. You can walk the minimum 100 kilometers required to obtain your compostela on a very easy and popular route that will take you just 5 days.

The Way from Sarria
The Portuguese Coastal Way

The alternative to the traditional Portuguese Way begins in Porto and continues along the Portuguese and Galician coasts, passing through towns such as Viana do Castelo, Caminha or Vigo. If you choose this route you will enjoy fantastic views of the Atlantic coast, on a flat route with hardly any difficulties that is gaining pilgrims every year.

The Portuguese Coastal Way
The Winter Way

An ancient route in which you will walk between natural landscapes, away from the great masses of pilgrims. It starts at Ponferrada and runs through the four Galician provinces until it joins the Vía de la Plata before reaching Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Invierno
Camino de Madrid

If you want to start from the Spanish capital, the Camino de Madrid is the perfect option. This route has little influx of pilgrims until it joins the French Way, so you can combine a first part of tranquility and solitude with the last stages of the Camino, in which you can share your experience with the rest of the pilgrims.

Camino de Madrid
Camino Fisterra-Muxía

For those who prefer to start their pilgrimage from Santiago de Compostela, there is the alternative of the Fisterra-Muxía Way where you can continue your pilgrimage to the end of the world. Literally. Enjoy the best of the Costa da Morte in a unique tour.

Camino Fisterra-Muxía
Sanabria Way

From Zamora, specifically from Granja de la Moreruela, the Sanabria Way extends over 13 stages dotted with monasteries and natural landscapes. Flat and long stages give way to more mountainous ones that will make this route much more entertaining until your arrival in Compostela.

Sanabria Way

What is the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino de Santiago is a set of routes with different points of origin whose final goal is the city of Santiago de Compostela, or more specifically, its cathedral, where the remains of the Apostle Santiago are found.

This set of routes and the tradition of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela date back to the Middle Ages, a time when walkers from all over Europe began this tradition that continues today and that you can also experience, either on foot with your dog, a caballo o by bike.

So choose your adventure: you can do the French Way, the most popular of these routes, considered the traditional variant, or for example the Primitive Way, the oldest of all and the most difficult.

If you want to do the longest route, the Vía de la Plata with its more than 900 km awaits you, but if you have little time you can also prefer the English Way.

Whichever route you choose, here you will find all the information you need to know before starting your pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The origin of this tradition: History of the Way of Saint James

WE KNOW that the Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage with many centuries of history. But where does it come from? Who were the first pilgrims? Why did they make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela?

When did the Camino de Santiago begin?

The history of the Camino de Santiago can be traced back to Roman times, more specifically around the 9th century. Many theories assure that the road to Santiago already existed in pre-Christian times, it is not until 812 when the Way becomes a way of devotion to the Apostle Saint James the Greater.

According to some theories and studies, the Way of Saint James already existed as a route for some pre-Christian peoples, such as the Celts. According to the archaeological remains and the studies that have been carried out of them, it is known that Santiago de Compostela was already a pre-Christian necropolis: that is to say, that in Santiago there were dolmens and other funerary elements of previous times before Christ. These funerary monuments typical of the Celtic culture, reveal that some Celtic peoples already visited Santiago for religious reasons, unconnected to the Christian religion.

Source: Unknown

The remains of Saint James are discovered in 812, so many people take this year as the starting date of the Way of Saint James as we know it nowadays. At the end of this century, Christian cultures in Europe echo this historical finding. This is how many devotees begin to show interest in the remains of Apostle James and, moved by religion, begin their pilgrimage to Santiago from different parts of the Christian Europe.

The date when these remains were found is pretty certain, but the history behind the finding is not so clear. At the time of the discovery, there was already a belief that the remains of Saint James the Greater were located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The most widespread legend about how the remains of the Apostle were discovered involves the hermit Pelayo and Iria Flavia as a location. According to this theory, a hermit named Pelayo would have seen a star over the forest of Libredón and communicated it to the bishop of Iria Flavia, Bishop Teodomiro. Both went to the place where Pelayo had seen the star and, upon arrival, discovered an old chapel where the remains were found.

The Way of Saint James became a crossroad of cultures, increasing the cultural contacts bwwteen different parts of Europe.

It is remarkable how in less than two centuries, the pilgrimage to Santiago increased considerably. Already in the 11th century, the number of pilgrims to Santiago is really high. It is an exceptional increase for the time, due to the precariousness of the communication routes in Europe in these years. In fact, the Way of Saint James itself became a way of crossing between cultures, increasing cultural contacts among different parts of Europe.

The Pilgrim's Credential
Your passport during the Way


The Compostela
The certification of the Camino

What's the origin of the Cathedral of Santiago?

One of the key aspects of the Way of Saint James is, obviously, the Cathedral of Santiago - the final point of this long pilgrimage to Santiago. Like many other historical cathedrals, its construction process was very long - it took many centuries to build it and many changes in its architecture were mad during this time.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the case of the Cathedral of Santiago, its origin first dates back to the 11th century, around the same time that the remains of the Apostle Saint James are found. Alfonso II was the King of Asturias and he certified between 820 and 830 that the remains found were belonging to the Apostle James. In these years, it was considered that kings and queens were chosen by the God. Thus, the fact that Alfonso II certified that these remains were Saint James' meant that this truth was irrefutable.

Alfonso II, also known as Alfonso The Chaste, is considered the first Jacobean pilgrim to Santiago. He was the one who ordered the construction of a church in the place where the remains of the Apostle James were located. Thus, under his mandate, the first germ of the Cathedral of Santiago was originated. Throughout time and little by little, the church of Santiago became an important center of Christian pilgrimage throughout Europe./p>

Apart from the authority of the King of Asturias Alfonso II, the finding of the remains also had the confirmation and consent of Charlemagne, the great emperor of Europe during this time. During his government, Charlemagne faced the Arabs, who threaten to cross their borders. Thus, the discovery of the remains of Saint James was used as a Christian campaign against these religious conflicts in Europe. Thanks to Charlemagne's action, the Way to Santiago became even more popular and reached practically every corner of the Christian Europe.

World Heritage Site

At your arrival

What is the Way of Saint James about?

SINCEthe beginning of the Way of Saint James, many things have changed. Over the centuries, the reasons for pilgrimage to Santiago have changed - the Camino has undergone changes, but also many aspects of the Jacobean are still intact.

The Way of Saint James is a route that runs from different points in Europe and in all cases ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This route is traveled by pilgrims from many parts of Europe. Although it has always had a strong religious component, the Way of St. James is a cultural way, a point of contact among different Europea cultures. Actually, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from different parts of Europe and the reasons for doing it may lie in religion or cultural interest.

Cultural reasons

Since its origin in the 11th century, the Way of Saint James has been a crossroad among different cultures. Already at that time, devotees from different parts of Europe walked to Santiago. Thanks to this multicultural movement, ideas, news and culture were exchanged between different countries. Did you know that the Camino contributed to the arrival of artistic styles from Europe into Spain?

Today, many things have changed, but the spirit of the Way of St James remains the same. Pilgrims from all over the world decide to start this journey from countless countries from all corners of the world: United States, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, China, Argentina, and many more. Embarking on this adventure is a cultural experience, where you can meet people of all kinds, discover the history of Santiago and Galicia and fall in love with all the culture you will find along the Way.

Religious reasons

Although the religious side of the Camino has lost importance in comparison with its Christian origins, we must not forget that the origin of the Way of St. James falls in the devotion to the Apostle Saint James the Greater.

Religion is an important reason for making a pilgrimage. Both the historical origin of the Way and the importance of the Cathedral are important incentives to walk the Way of Saint James.

In addition, the Way has a strong spiritual factor. It is a long route to Compostela. We have time to think and to develop our own spirituality. Many people consider that the Way of Saint James is the best way to know oneself and develop a spiritual side.

Touristic reasons

In case its rich history is not enough, the Jacobean route also has an immense touristic value. It does not matter what route you choose: in all of them you can go through the most fascinating points of the peninsular geography.

The Way of Saint James is positioned as the ideal way to get to know countless places in Spain: big cities, charming towns, nature areas, corners with almost forgotten legends and much more.

In addition to points of cultural interest, we must not forget the intangible cultural assets, such as gastronomy. In short, the Way of Saint James is a way of doing original tourism, since it is a mixture between tourism and experience.

Whatever your motivation, talk to us to plan your trip.
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Frequent questions

Depending on the route, you can start each Camino de Santiago from a minimum point to obtain your compostela. On the French Way it will be enough for you to start from Sarria, on the Portuguese Way you can start from Tui, while for the Vía de la Plata the departure point would be Ourense.

If you don't have much time, the English Way is the shortest option, with only 6 stages: if you complete it, you can get your compostela. But if you want to obtain this certificate by walking another route, it will be enough for you to complete at least 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.

The longest Camino de Santiago is the Vía de la Plata. This route crosses the peninsula from south to north, starting from Seville until reaching Santiago de Compostela, along 970 kilometers.

If you want to do a complete Camino de Santiago, in the case of the most popular routes, such as the French, the Portuguese or the Northern Ways, it will take you at least one whole month. However, if you don't have that much time, you can always choose to walk at least the last 100 kilometers of any of these routes and thus get your compostela. In this case, doing the Camino de Santiago will take you between 5-7 days.

Depending on the route, the extension of the Camino varies. In this way, the entire French Way, the most popular option, covers about 765 kilometers from St. Jean Pied de Port. The second most popular, the Portuguese Way, is 620 kilometers from Lisbon, while others like the Camino Primitivo are 313 kilometers from Oviedo.

There are a wide variety of Caminos. The French Way, the Portuguese Way, the Vía de la Plata, the Northern Way or the Primitive Way are some of the most popular, but there are many more equally interesting variants.

The stages of the Camino de Santiago usually have extensions of between 16-30 km, depending on the route. Regarding the last town on the way before reaching the cathedral, O Pedrouzo will be the last place you visit before reaching Santiago de Compostela, whether you do the French Way, the Northern Way or the Primitive Way: from here you will have to walk a little more than 19 kms to reach your goal. In the case of the Portuguese Way, the second most popular, the last stage leaves from Padrón, 22 km away from Santiago de Compostela.

For those who are looking for a Camino de Santiago without too many difficulties and with all the services they may need during their route, the French Way is presented as the favorite option. You can do it completely, starting from Roncesvalles to avoid the hard slopes of the Pyrenees, or maybe start it from Sarria, doing the mandatory minimum 100 kilometers.

The Primitive Way is preferred by those pilgrims who are looking for a slightly more complicated challenge and are in good physical shape, due to the hardness of most of its stages and the scarcity of services that you will find in each one of them. We could say that this is one of the toughest Caminos de Santiago. .