There are so many different Camino Walks, sometimes it’s difficult to choose which one to do.
The most Popular Camino Walk is the Camino Frances – See Our Latest Self-Guided Tour along Camino Frances
If you don’t have a lot of time,then you should start at Sarria and walk for the last 111 kms of the Frances Camino to Santiago where you can collect your Pilgrim Certificate.
Things to know before you go…
You can buy your Pilgrim Passport almost anywhere
To qualify for your Compostela – the certificate you get for completing a Camino – you need to walk at least 100km and get proof of it in the form of a Pilgrim Passport or Peregrino Credencial. This must be stamped at least twice a day (usually once en-route – at a church/cafe/town hall and then at your accommodation). You will want to get one as soon as you arrive – they sell them for around €2 all along the route in shops, cafes, churches, town halls etc.
The last 100km of the Camino is very well served with cafes, bars, shops and albergues (hostels). You won’t need a large rucksack filled with supplies. Take a full water bottle, which you can refill en route at one of the many drinking fountains, along with a few light snacks. Otherwise just take your wallet and enjoy the abundant and reasonably-priced food and drink on the way.
Not much shade or shelter
The Galician section of the Camino winds through countryside, towns and villages. While there are some lovely stretches under trees – there are long stretches without any natural shelter – expect strong sunshine and rain showers. Make sure you pack waterproofs and sun cream – insect repellent is also a good idea!
Spanish, but not as you know it
The last 100km of the Camino will take you through the wonderful region of Galicia, where you will feel like you have stepped back in time, with farmers working the land with horses rather than large tractors. You will also notice a slightly different Spanish dialect, Galician, which includes some different vocabulary. Take your Spanish phrase book but consider taking a visual phrase book too as English is not always spoken or understood.
A moment to savour…
As you walk the last few kilometres to Santiago, you will come to the Monte de Gozo stone monument, where many will take a picture and then walk on. But wait….take a short detour and a magical moment awaits. Facing the Santiago direction, walk to your left in virtually a straight line and cross the road to walk slightly uphill. This is the real Monte de Gozo (Hill of Joy). At this spot pilgrims would drop to their knees and weep upon catching their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago de Compostela – their journey’s end. It’s now marked with two pilgrim statues both pointing to Santiago and this is the only place to get this view.
You can’t actually touch the famous statue of St James
If you’ve watched the film The Way – or even read about Camino traditions on the official website of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral – you’ll have heard that a pilgrim ends their journey at the Pórtico da Gloria doors of the cathedral and rests their hand on the feet of the statue of St James. Unfortunately you can’t actually do that anymore. In order to preserve the statue the diocese have roped it off and forbid people to touch it. The Cathedral has created a new end ‘tradition’ instead. You can climb the stairs behind the main alter and embrace the gold statue of St James from behind – do it in the evening to avoid the long queues during the day.
Don’t rush to make the Pilgrim’s Mass
The culmination of your pilgrimage is the Pilgrim’s Mass in the Cathedral. To see the giant botafumeiro – a huge 53kg incense vessel that is swung through the air the width of the building on a rope and used to cleanse the air/pilgrims – you will need to attend on Friday (not Holy Friday). Special pilgrims’ masses are held twice daily – 12noon and 7.30pm – but the evening mass is the best option so there’s no need to rush – slow down and savour your last day on the trail.