Very often the only Camino we hear about and that people mention they want to do is the Camino de Santiago de Compostela – St.James’ Way, but there is more than one camino or way to get to Santiago de Compostela.
There are lots of different Caminos as pilgrims came from all corners of Spain but the main eight that lead to Santiago are:
Camino de Madrid – the flattest
Camino de Santiago de Compostela – the most popular
Camino del Norte – by the sea
Camino Finisterre and Muxia – and on to the coast
Camino Ingles – the shortest
Camino Portugues – starts in Portugal
Camino Primitivo – the oldest
Via de la Plata – the longest
Camino de Madrid – Madrid Route
Starting in Madrid and heading northwest this route is purely countryside and fairly level so not too challenging and well marked. It about 320km to Sahagun where it joins the Camino de Santiago for another 320 odd kms.
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela or Camino Frances
This is the most popular route. It’s commonly known as the French Way because it starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France, winds its way over the Pyrenees to eventually finish, 780km or so later, in Santiago de Compostela. That’s quite a walk! Usually it takes walkers about a month to do the whole camino and around two weeks to go by bike.
Most years an astonishing 100,000 people walk this Camino route although the majority start a lot nearer their goal than St Jean Pied de Port.
The Camino Frances is marked along the route with big yellow arrows and in towns and cities with yellow scallop shell signs.
Camino del Norte – Northern Route
The Northern Route is about 825km long and follows the coast. It is the most difficult route because of the rough, hilly terrain. It isn’t signposted as well as the busier caminos and hasn’t many pilgrim hostels.
Camino Finisterre and Muxia – Route to the Atlantic Ocean
Most people’s objective is to reach Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral but some go on to the end of the road or the ‘end of the world’ as it was thought at one time. The Finisterre Route adds another not too challenging 90km and the Muxia one an extra 80 kms. Just in case you haven’t had enough by Santiago,
Camino Ingles – The English Road
There are two starting places for the Camino Ingles which are ports in Northern Spain, points where the English pilgrims would have landed, A Coruna and Ferrol. From Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela it is around 110km and from A Coruna just 75km, they join into one before reaching Santiago.
Camino Portugues – Portuguese Route
There are other routes but this, the main Portuguese Route starts in Porto and is well signed. This is the shortest route at around 230km.
Camino Primitivo – Original Camino
This is the oldest route to Santiago and was the route by which King Alfonso II used in the 9th century. The route starts in Oviedo, in the mountainous region of Asturias, crossing the rough, hilly terrain is a challenging route with stunning scenery.
Via de la Plata – The Silver Route
The Via de la Plata starts in Seville and heads northwest to Santiago. It is possible to start the route in Granada, the two join together. The Silver Route is the longest route and is about 1000km long – that’s around six or seven weeks walking obviously dependant on how many kilometres you walk per day.
As this route is becoming more popular the infrastructure is improving as it sees walkers wanting to avoid the busyness of the Camino Frances. It follows the old Roman Road from Seville to Astorga where it joins the Camino Frances.
One day I plan to do a Camino, probably the Camino Mozarabe which is nearest my home in Jaen province.
Read my post over on Andalucia Explorer Walking in the Hinterland of the Sierra Sur de Jaen