Are you planning the Camino de Santiago? Congratulations! Part of our mission is to provide information to help pilgrims find inspiration to plan and undertake their pilgrimage.
The purpose of this page is to help you plan your Path. Below is information to help you choose a route, expectations in terms of time and distances, guide options, training instructions and how to obtain your pilgrim credential.
After planning your route and timing, check our “what to expect on the way" Frequently Asked Questions. This page covers topics such as packing, how accommodations work, mobile access, food and other on-site information.
Path planning index
- About the Path
- How to choose a Camino route
- Determine how far you can go
- What is a Compostela?
- What is identification?
- When to do the Path
- Can you ride the Path?
- training points
- Choosing a travel guide or app
- This is how you get to your starting point.
- Do you need a visa?
- more resources
Here are frequently asked questions about planning your Camino:
Along the Camino de Santiago
What is the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago (Camino de Santiago) is a large network of ancient pilgrimage routes that stretch across Europe and end at the tomb of St. James. James (or Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela is located in the Galicia region in northwestern Spain.
If you want to know more about the history of this millennial pilgrimage route, consult ourhistory page.
How many people make the Camino every year?
In 2019, 347,578 people received a Compostela. Both 2020 and 2021 were unusual years for Camino due to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Holy Year was extended until December 31, 2022. The extended Holy Year brought the highest number of pilgrims ever to Santiago de Compostela. A record number of 438,182 Compostelas were issued by the Pilgrims Office!
These numbers do not include people who arrive in Santiago but do not ask for Compostela, nor people who walk different parts of the Camino and never reach Santiago. The total number may be double those listed.
Is there more than one Camino de Santiago?
Ofrench wayit is the busiest route, but there are additional routes throughout Spain and Europe. In the past, pilgrims would go out the front door and walk all the way to Santiago and then back home.
How do I choose a route for the Camino?
By far the most popular route is the French Way, especially for first-time pilgrims. But there is a constellation of routes that end in Santiago. We have loads of information on start/end points and distances for all the major (and even some of the lesser known) ones.Way-Route.
The starting and ending points of the selected route depend on your answers to three main questions:
how long do you have to walk
This question is only relevant if you have a set time for walking. If you want to cover a complete route in that time, you must select one of the appropriate distances. Bear in mind that each of the routes to Santiago can be traveled in stages over time (even over several years).
Is it important for you to arrive in Santiago?
For many pilgrims, reaching Santiago is an important part of their spiritual and physical journey. If so, choose a route that ends there. Determine how many days you have to hike and work backwards from Santiago to determine your starting point.
Would you like to receive a Compostela?
Then you have to walk at least the last 100 kilometers to Santiago and you will receive two sellos (stamps) every day. The routes that fit this description are Inglés (from Ferrol), Primitivo (from Lugo), Francés (from Sarria), Norte (from Baamonde) and Portgués (from Tui).
I only have so much time, how far can I go?
This is a tough question to answer, as it depends a lot on your fitness level and how much time you're willing to spend exploring the Camino's many cathedrals, museums, and historic sites. You can also be affected by the weather or the pace of the friends you meet along the way.
Most people walk between 20 and 30 kilometers (12.5 to 18.5 miles) a day. If you have two weeks there, you could cover 280 to 378 kilometers (174 to 234 miles). If you're riding a longer route, like the entire 470-mile Camino Francés, you might want to add a few rest days, or at least a few shorter days.
What is a Compostela?
The Compostela is a document issued by the Cathedral that certifies the realization of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. For most pilgrims, it means more than that: it serves as a symbol of their spirituality, devotion or personal growth, and as a reminder of their achievement.
The Cathedral has afew requirements:
- They must make a pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons, or go with a seeking attitude.
- You have to walk or ride a horse the last 100 kilometers or cycle the last 200 kilometers.
- You will need to collect stamps on your ID along the way. And for the last 100 kilometres, all pilgrims, regardless of their starting point, must collect two stamps a day.
What is identification?
Pilgrims use one when walking the Camino de SantiagoI WENT(credential), a small document in which the pilgrim records his progress by receiving stamps on the way to other accommodations.
When registering at the hostel, you will be asked to show your ID to confirm you are hiking the trail or riding a bike. Upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela, present your identification document to thepilgrimage office. You certify that you have walked at least the last 100 kilometers or cycled at least the last 200 kilometers, which qualifies you for a Compostela.
Pilgrim Credentials can be purchased from us before starting the Camino or at places such as cathedrals, hostels and tourist offices along the various routes on the Camino.
Would you like to receive a personalized badge from American Pilgrims on the Camino? You can order one from ourRequest a login page. Registration is free, but we accept donations.
What time of year should I go?
Spain has a temperate Mediterranean climate, similar to that of California. They typically have hot to hot summers and cold winters. The region of Galicia, where Santiago de Compostela is located, is known for its year-round rainy climate. Some of the higher elevations, particularly around St. Jean, on the French Way, it's snowing.
April to October are good times to do the Camino when the weather is nice and most hostels are open during this time as well. Mid-June to mid-September are the busiest periods. If you like hiking in the winter, know that you will have fewer accommodation options.
If youPackage for the Way, expect a mix of hot/warm days, cool mornings and at least some days with rain.
Can I cycle on the Camino?
About 15% of pilgrims arriving in Santiago do so by bicycle. Cyclists who demonstrate that they have cycled the last 200 kilometers to Santiago, essentially from Ponferrada on the Camino Francés, are eligible for Compostela. American Pilgrims recommends that cyclists interested in the Francés consider traveling early or late in the season, as the Francés is the most popular route and can get crowded with pilgrims on foot. We strongly recommend cyclists consider other routes such as Via de la Plata during high season.
Check out our guide toCycling on the Pathand we encourage you to join our American PilgrimsCycling group not Facebook.
How do I train for the Path?
You must exercise so that your body can handle not just a 12-mile day, but hiking day after day. Start by just going for a walk. You could try walking for an hour or more several times during the week and a longer walk on the weekend.
We recommend gradually increasing distances and taking long walks at least a few times a week. Closer to your Camino, do some practice runs with your complete package. This will help you acclimate your core and shoulders to the weight of your pack. This has the added benefit of helping you to remove unnecessary items from your backpack and reduce the weight of your backpack.
We strongly encourage you to join one of our 55+local groups. Local groups organize local hikes and offer guidance from experienced pilgrims who can answer your questions.
Do I need a travel guide or an app?
The Camino de Santiago is very well signposted, especially on the more popular routes. You probably don't need a guide or app to stay on the trail. However, they may have helpful recommendations on packing, internships, accommodation, highlighting historic or cultural sites, and spiritual resources.
We have an extensive list of options in ourguide page.
The Camino apps offer less cultural and historical context, but they do a good job of providing offline maps, stage planning, and accommodation listings.
How do I get to my starting point?
If you're coming from North America, expect two days and several transfers to reach your departure point. Spain has a very good bus and train system and airports in many cities. Some combinations of these will take you from the nearest international airport (such as Madrid, Barcelona, Paris or Porto) to your departure point.
Discover the best route for you using theRom2Riowebsite, clear your doubts in ourfacebook group, or at a local chapter meeting.
Do I need a visa?
Strictly speaking, US citizens traveling to Europe do not need a visa – but there are some subtleties US citizens need to be aware of. Spain is part of the European Union and is a member ofschengen space, which governs visa requirements for all EU countries (and some non-EU locations). Your stay in the Schengen area is limited to 90 days in a continuous 180-day period. Most visitors stay less than 90 days.
However, an important change is imminent. US citizens traveling to Europe must do so soonapply for an ETIAS(European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver, a new travel authorization for Europe that is due to come into effect in November 2023. An ETIAS is valid for three years and allows for multiple entries within the aforementioned 90-day limit above. Here is more ETIASInformation for Americans.
More Path planning resources
First, join our American Pilgrims on the Caminofacebook group. You can search the group for specific questions and post your own questions. Or you can find exciting interviews on ourcanal do youtube.
If you're looking for Camino inspiration, check out our Camino list.books,FilmEpodcasts.