Have you ever considered walking Camino de Santiago?
Every year thousands of people make the Christian pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago and have done so since the 11th century.
The endeavor has one goal to get to the Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, and visit the tomb of St. James. Starting points for this great walking vacation are predominantly in France, Portugal, and Spain.
Regardless of where you start from you will have a walking vacation of a lifetime. Christian pilgrims are frequently and historically found walking Camino de Santiago.
These trips which can be up to a month-long, the routes are walked by hikers that love walking vacations.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about walking Camino de Santiago and its history! We can also discuss a few different routes to take.
4 Different Routes of the Camino de Santiago
Walking Camino de Santiago
If you ever wanted to make the pilgrimage and or have a fantastic hike, the best option is to find a good travel agency for walking holidays to organize your itinerary.
This makes walking Camino de Santiago so much easier.
This way, aspects such as accommodation, routes, and getting your Compostela Certificate are taken care of by experts, leaving you walking Camino de Santiago carefree.
Camino de Santiago Frances
France is a trendy starting point for walking Camino de Santiago and for many, this is the ‘real’ starting point.
When the Camino de Santiago Frances was first made one of the ‘three great pilgrimages’ by Pope Alexander VI, Leon was seen as the start of the journey.
As such, it is immensely popular and you are bound to make new friends and meet plenty of like-minded people.
With this in mind, let’s look at popular Camino de Santiago vacations with France as the starting point.
As not many cannot devote a month-long vacation to walk a Christian pilgrimage, routes begin at five days so you should be able to fit it in with your life.
Providing your vacation is 100 km (about 65 miles) or greater, you will get your Compostela Certificate. This is an amazing thing to hang on your wall and show your friends!
The Origins of the Camino de Santiago
Before you begin your journey, it’s important to read up on the history of Camino de Santiago. It will make your experience so much better knowing the cultural significance of this place.
In 814AD, King Alfonso II the Chaste made the walk from Oviedo to Galicia in northwest Spain. His destination was Santiago de Compostela and his mission was to verify that the remains found were those of St. James the Apostle.
It is believed that St. James preached the Gospel in the region we now know as Galicia and returned to Jerusalem in 44AD.
Here, he was captured and headed by King Herod Agrippa. St. James had many followers and brought his remains home to Galicia where they were discovered in 813AD.
At the time, Oviedo was the capital city of Austrias. Pretty interesting history, right?
This walk inspired many of the time and to honor the endeavor, started to make the journey themselves. In the 11th century, this walk was cemented into the Christian mindset and the pilgrimage became especially popular.
Partly, this was due to the Cathedral of Santiago being rebuilt after its destruction in 997AD at the hands of the Moorish army of Al-Mansur.
It is arguable that Pope Alexander VI made the pilgrimage official in part due to the events that led to the destruction and rebuilding of the cathedral.
The popularity of the pilgrimage was strong until the 16th century. After this point, things became a little dangerous.
Both the Protestant Reformation in Northern Europe and revolutions throughout the 17th,18th, and 19th centuries made the walk less attractive and more dangerous.
The 20th century saw the walk restricted to the Iberian Peninsula due to the First and Second World Wars, and the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 again made the walk a dangerous undertaking.
In the 1980s, however, parish priest and academic Don Elías Valiña Sanpedro, started to promote the pilgrimage once more, dedicating his life to walking the pilgrimage every year.
In fact, he made the walk for the last ten years of his life and this breathed new life into the pilgrimage, and now Christians and hikers make the walk every year.
Don Elías Valiña Sanpedro, walked the Camino Francés route. He inspired many others to do the same in modern times! You, too, should experience walking Camino de Santiago.
Camino de Santiago from St Jean
This is the full 36-day hike where you cover 461 miles on foot. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Tour and you’ll take in European gems such as Najera, Burgos, and Leon.
As you can imagine, the tour is demanding but it is also magical as your journey is largely left up to you, taking in history and culture with every step.
Terrain wise you’ll encounter hills, villages, towns, medieval and gothic churches, history, and culture as you talk to people along the route. Many of the towns are known for having the finest cuisine.
There is no shortage of cultural exploring to do while you’re walking Camino de Santiago. There’s something for everybody!
St Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona
If the full walk seems a little too much, this five-day gem could be just what you’re after. The walk begins in the beautiful medieval town of St Jean Pied de Port and takes on a stage of the walk.
You finish in the Spanish city of Pamplona, famous for its bullfighting and bull runs. There is certainly a wealth of things to see while walking Camino de Santiago!
Don’t worry you won’t have to take on a beast when you arrive. Instead, you can savor the culture of this part of Spain together with the gems you’ll encounter with every mile.
Camino de Santiago from Burgos to Santiago
This 24-day epic walk will take you 280 miles to Santiago, the city in Galicia where you’ll find the tomb of St. James.
You’ll begin in Burgos where before you start your amazing journey you’ll want to see the Holy Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of Santa Maria a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Along the way, you’ll find 12th-century castles, and in Astorga, you’ll visit the Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace an Antoni Gaudi classic.
In case you don’t know, Gaudi is a renowned architect who created incredible surreal buildings, and parks. Hed is probably best known for a work he didn’t finish, The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.
Thanks to renewed funding, the cathedral should be completed in 2026 which will be the 100th anniversary of the great man’s death.
This is an epic walking vacation and if you have the time and fitness, you should do it. Walking Camino de Santiago is a spiritual and moving experience, not to mention beautiful and historical.
Make sure you bring your camera- the pictures will simply be out of this world! If you’re interested in biking the Camino de Santiago, we have a guide on how to do that! It has everything you need, whether you bike or walk.
Walk the Camino de Santiago as soon as you can. It is an epic experience and one that will stay with you forever.