Here at Macs Adventure, we pride ourselves on knowing the Camino de Santiago inside out. While pilgrims have been walking the route for thousands of years, we help people navigate their way along without having to carry heavy packs and ensuring a comfortable bed at the end of the day.
It is important for us to make sure you have all the information you need before setting off on this epic walk across the North of Spain. Everything you need to know should be on this page, but if you find you are still looking for info, you can contact our Destination Specialists at [email protected] or you can download our free Camino Frances guide to read offline.
6 Essential Planning Tools for the Camino de Santiago
Length - The Camino stretches right across the north of Spain. It starts in France, in St Jean Pied de Port, and leads pilgrims all the way to Santiago de Compostela, 791km to the west. We have split it down into weeklong sections, should you not have the time to do it all at once. If you want to see which section would be the best for you, check out our blog - Which Stage of the Camino de Santiago Should I Walk?
The Waymarking is amazing - Even on the lesser known of the Camino treks, the way is marked by the scallop shell symbol and painted yellow arrows. Just when you think you haven't seen a symbol for a while, a little dab of yellow paint on a rock or tree will assure you that you are still walking the Camino de Santiago.
Toughest Section - The first day has attained legendary status for its difficulty, but in truth, it is not too bad. Walking over the Pyrenees from France to Spain is an amazing experience, rewarding you with outstanding views and a real sense of achievement. For more information, see our blog post - The First Day From St Jean to Roncesvalles.
Weather - With it being such a long trip, it is hard to generalise about the weather on the Camino Frances. Generally, the north of Spain is cooler and does attract more rain than the south, so we would suggest always having light waterproofs in your daypack. Galicia, in particular, owes its verdant green to the amount of rain. You can keep an eye on the weather by using Accuweather's dedicated Spain page.
The Camino de Santiago has many names - It can be The Way of St James, Camino Frances, The French Way or simply The Way. It can also be St James' Path, St James' Trail, Chemin de St Jacques or El Camino. Whichever name you wish to call it, it is still the same glorious pilgrimage across Spain. Camino de Santiago - Whats in a Name?
To get your Compostela, you need to walk at least 100km - This means that many people start their trip from Sarria, almost exactly 100km from Santiago de Compostela. If you are cycling, you need to cycle at least 200km, so many people begin their cycling pilgrimage in Leon.
Mass in Santiago de Compostela. Whether you have walked any of the Camino routes for religious reasons or not, going to the pilgrims mass in Santiago Cathedral is still a powerful and moving experience. There are two masses every day, one at 1200 and one at 1930. Get there early as they do get very busy!
The Pilgrims Menu. A great food tip is to look for places serving a Menu del Dia or Pilgrims Menu. These 3-course meals, with wine and water, only cost around €10-15 and are great value. However, in cities like Logroño or San Sebastian, it is definitely worth forgoing the Menu del Dia and eating with the locals.
Don't worry about packed lunches. On the Camino Francés, there are bars, restaurants and shops at regular intervals, so there will always be somewhere for you to eat on the route. Most of these places will also be happy to stamp your Pilgrims Passport and wish you a 'Buen Camino'.
Prepare for a wait in Santiago. If you go straight to the Pilgrims Office in Santiago to get your Compostela certificate, be prepared for a long wait. Queues can be up to 2 hours long, so we would recommend either packing some comfortable shoes to change into, or go back the next morning when it is quieter.
Learn a little of the language. While you will get by without speaking the language, the locals will really appreciate it if you try. Even learning the pleasantries is a great start. For extra credit, try learning a few Galician words or if you are starting the Camino del Norte, learn a few words of Basque.
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