Pilgrim of the day. What is the Camino de Santiago and why should you go on it

Journeys | 14.02.2019
The ancient pilgrimage route is now so popular that it is not necessarily based on religious purposes. Many hiking enthusiasts decide to go along the Camino de Santiago. This journey is full of its own peculiarities and very different sensations.
A little bit of history
The Camino de Santiago, the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, was originally a religious hiking route to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Spanish Galicia. The final point is the Cathedral of St. James. Here, according to legend, the relics of the saint are buried. In the Middle Ages, Christians from all over Europe visited the cathedral. Now the path for many has no religious motives, but rather personal ones. Some may want to test themselves, to find answers to their internal questions or life problems, which led them to the passage of the path. Many reasons.
The route itself does not start at one particular point. In fact, there are many different directions, and four popular ones: The French Route (Camino Frances) from Saint Jean Pied de Port, the Portuguese Route (Camino Portugues) from Porto, the Northern Route (Camino del Norte) along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the Primitive Route (Camino Primitivo) from Oviedo.

Routes all differ in length, landscapes, sights and the amount of time that you spend on the path itself. The French Route is the most popular. Every year it attracts more than 180 thousand people and has a length of 780km. Passing it will take quite a long time. You need to cover roughly 20-25km a day. But it is relatively simple. The Primitivo and North Routes pass through the mountains and hills. Even if they are shorter in length, you'll still be worn out by the time you've finished them. Some people like mountains, and some just love a long road. It is better to look at all the popular routes in advane and then to select the most appropriate route.
If you find it hard going, there are a few tricks that will ease the way. If you really feel that you can't walk another step, just take a breather and continue the path after a while. You could come back in a year's time, for example. Some tourists who find it challenging, send their belongings to the next point, using special services. Some even pass through some parts of the route using transport. How much this corresponds to the spirit of pilgrimage everyone decides for themselves.

The Camino de Santiago passes through small historic towns and villages, where locals greet pilgrims and sometimes treat them with fruit. Going in terms of logistics is also quite simple. The entire path is accompanied by pointers or images of a seashell: the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Getting lost is difficult, but it's better to download our offline maps just in case, so you'll definitely not get lost.
The first thing you need to get you on your way: credentials, the pilgrim's passport. You can buy it for €2 at a tourist centre or cathedral in any major city.

Why is it needed? You'll be issued a certificate of passage of the path of Santiago. You should put a stamp in your passport on every place you've stayed along the route. So in Santiago de Compostela they will be able to verify that you completed the route yourself. Often prints are from bars or cafes.
In fact, you only need to complete the last 100km to get the document. Some tourists do actually do that. They finish the last section and proudly receive their certificate. But let us repeat, everyone should decide for themselves how close it is to the spirit of the path. You can also spend the night in municipal hostels using the passport; they are cheaper than usual; you can receive discounts on tickets to some museums and sights.
The main rule is not to overload yourself with things and try to pack as light as possible. The Camino de Santiago is not exactly a hike or walk. You should not take heavy shoes, it is better to limit yourself to trekking shoes/trainers. To reduce the load on your legs, you can take a stick. Trekking poles are better because they can be folded if you are tired of walking with them.
It's also better not to overload your rucksack, its weight should not exceed 10% of your own. Imagine going 780km and immediately changing your mind about taking three camera lenses and a glass water bottle. Of the things, it's better to carry something light with you that you want to change into after a long day on the road. Change your shoes for light shoes, like flip-flops at the end of the day, for example. Do not forget to take something against the rain, sun cream, gel plasters and elastic bandages for joints.
Overnight stay
If you're thinking that you will be able to go through the fields without food, water and stay there overnight…it's just not possible. The Camino de Santiago in this sense is quite comfortable. Along the route, there are often small shops and supermarkets. Most people stay in albergues –hostels for pilgrims. They cost less than usual, €5-15. It is important to remember that booking your stay in advance won't be possible. Everything works on the principle of first come, first served. Some hostels do not have a fixed price per night, and you can offer to pay as you see fit.
Every albergue has its own different conditions. Sometimes there will be breakfast or a well-equipped kitchen. In others, there will be a good dryer or a washing machine. As in any hostel, sleeping in the common room with its orchestra of loud snorers can make it difficult to get to sleep. Do not forget to take earplugs with you, better silicone.

With food, too, everything is quite simple. Most bars and cafes offer a pilgrim set menu. It costs €10–12 and includes two dishes, a dessert and a drink. During the siesta, you can buy snacks in the supermarket.
One of the peculiarities of the path is the number of pilgrims who, just like you, decided to take this step. So you'll definitely hear a lot of stories, destinies, views. Some pilgrims begin their journey alone, and end up in the company or even find their true love during the journey. Pilgrims help each other along the path, ready to share water, share a meal together, or join together to wash clothes in the albergue. If you understand that you want to continue the path alone, they will understand you, but they will wait in front of the albergue to move on together. This is a large community of like-minded people and to become a part of it is very inspiring.
The Camino de Santiago is an opportunity to look at Spain away from its tourist centres. But you will get much more out of it: spending time alone with yourself, hearing dozens of interesting stories and meeting people. This is a completely different type of journey, and if you decide on it, you will definitely not regret it.


  • The main stream of pilgrims is during the summer. Therefore, for a comfortable journey, it's better to go in April or in September/October.
  • Do not try to go as quickly as possible and get it all done in one day. The interesting thing about the Camino is the journey itself through small towns and villages and beautiful landscapes.
  • Take a sleeping bag, because bed linen and a blanket are not provided in all hostels. And some medicines against bugs, insects that you may sometimes come across.
  • We advise you to explore the site Gronze. This website will show you all the most popular routes divided into equal segments. Although there is no English version of the site, it will still help with planning.
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