This post originally appeared on the Shandon Travel blog.
Pilgrims from all over the world have walked the Camino de Santiago trails across Europe for centuries, making their way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, North-West of Spain. Today, more than a pilgrimage, the Camino (Camino is Spanish for way or route) is an unforgettable experience and unique journey which can be walked or cycled.
Read on to discover our Top 10 Tops for travelling the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago (English: Way of St. James) is made up of a network of routes all over Western Europe, but the ways in Northern Spain, Southern France and along the Portuguese coastline are the most popular. In 2014, over 200,000 people travelled along the pilgrimage route. Though many still see this as a religious undertaking, there are countless travellers who follow the route for other reasons- sport, travel or simply the challange. The beautiful scenery, slowed-down pace and single focus can often provide travellers with a sense of clarity and retreat from modern life.
Traditionally, pilgrims made their way to Santiago de Compostela to visit the shrine of St. James. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes of the Middle Ages. According to legend, St James’ remains were brought to Spain from Jerusalem by sea after he was martyred.
You’ll see the symbol of a scallop shell all along the Camino- it’s long been associated with the route and with St. James himself. The symbol guides the traveller’s way along the Camino and you’ll see many pilgrims wearing one around their neck or attached to their bag.
Our travel agents have received expert training on this destination, and have years of experience in booking individual and group Camino holidays. In addition, several of Shandon Travel’s staff have walked the route themselves. Here are our Top 10 Tops for travelling the Camino de Santiago:
1. Choose The Right Route
There are many different Camino routes, covering varying distances, difficulty levels and regions of Western Europe. Take a look at the maps, talk to our travel agents and make your choice. The most popular routes on the Camino de Santiago are:
You can view itineraries for those routes on our Camino webpage. If one of these isn’t right for you, we’d be happy to recommend another route.
2. Bring The Right Gear
A good pair of hiking shoes are the most important piece of gear you’ll bring with you. Make sure they’re sturdy, comfortable and most importantly- break them in before you go. Wear comfortable clothing and don’t forget to prepare for every weather eventuality.
3. Bring An Essential Supplies Kit
Make sure to pack sun cream, plasters & blister pads (lots of them!), a sun/ rain hat, medicines, cleansing wipes and a water bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated as you walk the Camino. Refill your bottle at the abundant water fountains along the route marked “agua potable“.
4. Find Your Own Pace
Don’t worry about keeping up with others. Find your own pace, take in the scenery and enjoy the journey. If you’re not a regular long distance walker, get some practice in before you go.
5. Get Into The Spirit
The nature of the Camino means you’re going to meet many fellow pilgrims and locals during your journey. Greet people with ‘Buen Camino!’ and prepare to embrace the camaraderie.
6. Choose The Right Time To Travel
Most visitors walk the route from spring to autumn. Remember that it can get quite hot during the summer months. If the weather is good, start early and get the bulk of your walking done before the hottest part of the day. While the summer temperatures can be quite high, the French Camino route from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela can be a good option as the Galicia region offers a mild Atlantic climate.
The seaside towns along the Portuguese Coastal and Finisterre Camino routes come alive during the summer. Winter months are quieter, but many routes can be more challenging. Our agents will be happy to advise you on average temperature and rainfall for each month, so you can make the best decision.
7. Don’t Forget Your Pilgrim Passport
Remember to get your credencial stamped along the way. This proves you have made the journey and allows you to receive your Compostela pilgrim certificate on completion of at least the last 100 kilometres into Santiago de Compostela. Officials in the city can be quite strict, so do make sure you get all your stamps if you want to receive your certificate.
8. Enjoy The Local Food
Each Camino region has its own delicacies and specialities. Enjoy delicious octopus, empanadas and regional cheeses in Galicia, keep it festive with the sweet almond cake Tarta de Santiago in Compostela or try some fresh, local tapas. Most of our Camino package holidays include a continental breakfast each day, and you can eat well in the evenings for a very reasonable price. Many establishments offer a great value pilgrim’s meal of the day.
9. Pack Light
If you plan on carrying your backpack, make sure to bring the bare minimum. Your feet and back will thank you for it. If you would prefer not to or are unable to carry it, most of our Camino holidays allow you the option of a luggage transfer service.
10. Enjoy Yourself!
Sure, you’re going to feel tired and sore- but remember to take in the incredible scenery, talk to interesting people, taste delicious food and marvel at the ancient, UNESCO-listed architecture along the Camino. This is a holiday you won’t soon forget.
Click here to visit our Camino webpage and see our most popular route itineraries. Want to know more? Our experts are happy to answer any questions you might have about walking or cycling the Camino.
Give us a call on 021 4277094 or 01 6965135, email email@example.com or call into our shops in Clonakilty, Bandon and the Grand Parade.