Walk our favorite stretches of the Camino de Santiago, from the berets and pastures of the Basque Pyrenees to the golden plains of Castile and the ever-flowing waters of Galicia, this holiday is a beautiful sketch of northern Spain.
As each day passes, the landscape becomes completely different, from the Alpine meadows of your first day to the vast plains of León and the forests of Galícia, the variety is incredible. As well as the physical highlights though, this self-guided walk also introduces you to the culinary and cultural delights of the Camino Francés. But what makes this journey so special, are the pilgrims.
The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is a pilgrimage route that has been in use for over a thousand years. Here are some unique pieces of information about the Camino de Santiago:
The route is not just one trail, but rather a network of routes that all lead to the shrine of Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.
The most popular route is the Camino Francés, which starts in the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and covers over 500 miles (800 kilometers) to reach Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino is not just a religious pilgrimage, but also a cultural and historical journey. Along the way, pilgrims can see Romanesque churches, medieval bridges, and even prehistoric cave paintings.
The tradition of the Camino de Santiago is said to have started when the remains of Saint James were discovered in the 9th century in Galicia. Since then, people have been making the pilgrimage to the shrine to honor the saint.
The symbol of the Camino is the scallop shell, which pilgrims wear on their backpacks or hats to identify themselves as travelers on the route. The shell has been associated with Saint James since his remains were said to have been discovered on the coast of Galicia, covered in scallops.
The Camino has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with over 327,000 pilgrims completing the route in 2019. The route is open to walkers, cyclists, and even horse riders.
The Camino de Santiago is not just limited to Spain. There are also routes that start in Portugal, France, and even as far away as Switzerland.
In addition to physical challenges, the Camino can also be a mental and spiritual journey for many pilgrims. The solitude and reflection time can offer opportunities for personal growth and transformation.
The city of Santiago de Compostela is home to one of the oldest universities in Spain, founded in 1495. The university's buildings and architecture are a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.
The Camino de Santiago has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, and it is also a European Cultural Route.