Camino de Santiago for beginners: Tips & Information

This post is also available in: Español

The Camino de Santiago or Way of Saint James is one of the most famous hiking routes in Spain and it’s no wonder. Are you curious and want to do it but have no experience? Don’t worry. Today we tell you everything you need to know if you are looking for the Camino de Santiago for beginners so you go prepared. There’s always a first time for everything!

The Way of St. James, a pilgrimage route

You love trekking and that’s why you’re here. However, before you grab your poles and all your trekking gear and start walking towards Santiago de Compostela, you should know that this is not just any route.

The Camino de Santiago is a set of Christian pilgrimage routes that depart from many parts of Spain and even from other parts of Europe. Therefore, we are no longer talking about walkers but about pilgrims.

It is a nature adventure that pilgrims take not only to connect with the environment but also to reflect and connect with themselves. If you are not a believer, don’t worry.

pins in the way of st James

The Camino de Santiago has become over time one more point to check off the list of things to do in life and all kinds of people dare to do it. Of course, you should always go with respect for those who are on a spiritual journey.

Most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is divided into many different routes and in fact, you could complete the Way from your home as long as you finish in Santiago de Compostela.

It is true that some of the routes of the Way have become popular and organized. Within each of these routes, there are a large number of stages. Therefore, you can choose which route to do, and which stage or section of the route. Here are the most popular ones:

  • Portuguese Way: This route starts in Portugal. It is made up of 25 stages over a distance of 620km in total starting from Lisbon.
  • The North Way: This is one of the most popular routes and originates on the border between Spain and France. It is considered the greenest route due to the environment it passes through. It is made up of 34 stages over a distance of 824 km starting in the Basque town of Irún.
  • French Way: This is undoubtedly the most famous of them all. It is made up of 33 stages over a distance of 764km and starts in the French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port.
  • Via de la Plata: This route is longer. It consists of 36 stages over a distance of 970 km. It starts in the Andalusian capital of Seville, so it crosses the peninsula almost from one end to the other.
  • Aragonese Way: It is one of the most solitary routes, although it crosses spectacular landscapes. It is made up of 205 km divided into 6 stages starting in the town of Somport, on the border with France.

map of routes Way of St James

How long does it take to walk the Camino de Santiago?

Well, it depends. On what? On the route you decide to take, the stage you choose, how fast you go and the free time you have.

Some people look for shortcuts in order to reach their destination, while others choose to spend more than a month travelling hundreds of kilometres from the Pyrenees.

There is no ideal length of time. We recommend a minimum of 7 days to enjoy the experience without overtaxing your body. If you are very well prepared physically, you will be able to cover a lot of distance in a short time. Although if you were experienced, you would not be reading this post for beginners on the Camino de Santiago, right? 😉

Do I have to prepare myself physically?

Quick answer: yes, but whether it is you are a beginner doing the Camino de Santiago or if you are daring with another stage. We cannot make such a physical effort without a minimum of preparation.

You should prepare yourself especially for this experience whether you are a regular athlete or a more sedentary person. Bear in mind that during the Way, you will walk an average of 15 kilometers a day. If you are not used to doing it, we give you a series of tips to introduce you to trekking.

If you don’t exercise daily, it’s best to start by going for 20-minute walks two or three times a week, and gradually increase the time to 4 km in an hour.

If you are a regular exerciser, you can start your preparation by walking for 45 minutes to an hour a day, increasing the time and distance you walk.

When to start this preparation? At least three months before starting the Way.

What to bring on my first time on the Camino de Santiago?

It depends a lot on the season of the year in which you are going to do it. Bear in mind that as you get closer to Santiago de Compostela, the weather gets colder, so don’t forget your rain jacket!

The best thing to do is to make a list, so here is our list of things to bring to the Camino de Santiago so you don’t forget anything.

backpack in front of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

When to do the Camino de Santiago?

Any time of year is good for this route. Just be aware of the weather and wear appropriate clothing. Each season has its advantages and disadvantages, so it all depends on your preferences.

Spring (March to June) is a good option because it is neither too hot nor too cold. Moreover, seeing the vegetation in bloom in this part of Spain is wonderful.

In summer (from June to September), you might think that it is too hot, but in this area, it is not too hot and the rain always relaxes a little.

In addition, you can walk slower because there are more hours of sunshine and you can make the most of the day. Of course, there is less availability in the hostels because it is high season, so keep that in mind!

group of people on the Camino de Santiago

Autumn (September to December) is a good option if you want to see green landscapes straight out of a movie. This time of year is good because it’s not too cold yet, and it’s not too hot anymore. A major disadvantage can be the increased rainfall.

In winter (December to March), is when you will find fewer pilgrims on El Camino. You will walk quietly and peacefully, but you may be accompanied by more rain.

Which stage and route of the Camino de Santiago should I do if I am a beginner?

As we said, there are many options to do the Way and each one gives you different experiences. However, if it is your first time on the Camino de Santiago, we recommend you to do the route from Sarria.

It is a simple stage, starting in the town of Sarria, in Lugo (Galicia), and has the minimum distance required to obtain the Pilgrim’s accreditation, which is 100km.

Of course you can do shorter routes, but since you are doing the Camino, try to get the official accreditation. And of course, you can also do them longer, but as you are a beginner, we think that you should start from the beginning. There will always be time to repeat with longer stages.

Now you know a little more about the Camino de Santiago and even if you are a beginner, we hope we have been able to help you to face this route as a real expert. When will you start it? Is there anything else you would like to know?

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