Tips on The Way

I’m about to start

Prepare everything you would need. We help you with some tips.

There are pharmacies, supermarkets, or even a doctor in most of the villages but it is a great idea to take with you some important things that you could need

Our fist aid kit should contain:

  1. gauzes
  2. Bandages
  3. Sticking Plasters
  4. Anti-inflammatory pills, aspirins
  5. Compeed Anti Blisters
  6. Alcohol
  7. Betadine (antiseptic or disinfectant liquid )
  8. Sunscreen: The Sun will come along with us all The Way It’s very important to be protected against it, specially on our left side of the body The sun will light us on that side from early morning
  9. Vaseline, moisturizing cream
  10. Antihistamine: In case of allergies
  11. Small scissors

First thing to consider is that a heavy burden will diminish your strength provoking pain on ankles and knees. Our luggage should light Containing just must have items.

What do we stand for indispensable things? Here are the indispensable items pilgrims should take with them

  • Boots
  • Anatomical and light backpack
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Cap/hat
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Water bottle
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pilgrim Staff
  • Toilet bag
  • Personal identification

They are more item to discuss on the following section:What to pack on my backpack to walk the Way of St James.

It is only shown on special occasions Available dates:

  • 6th of January (Epiphany)
  • Easter Sunday
  • Ascension Day : 39 days before Easter
  • 23rd of May: Battle of Clavijo Anniversary
  • Pentecost : 50 days after Easter
  • 25th of July : St James Day
  • 15th of August: The Assumption
  • 1st of November : All Saints Day
  • Feast of Christ the King (first Advent Sunday) Advent
  • 8th of December: Immaculate Conception Day
  • 25th of December: Christmas
  • 30th of December when St. James’ mortal remains were moved.

Apart from this dates, the Thurible will be shown every Friday at 19:30 (Except on Good Friday) For further information you can visit our Botafumeiro (Thurible) section.

If your arrival is not on one of those special dates, You can apply to see it in exchange for an amount of money. For more

Compostela is a document that certifies you have walked The Way, at least the last 100 km / 62 mi or 200 km / 124 mi if you rode a bike. This document is delivered by The Church Administration after certifying all the compulsory pilgrim’s seals To obtain this credential. Apart from that we’ve been asked about the motivated reason to walk The Way of St James. Those reasons should be both religious and spiritual or in the pursuit of of finding ourselves

You can get The Compostela at The Pilgrim’s Office (1 Rúa do Vilar, Phone +34 981 568 846) You can also apply for the Pilgrim’s Certificate in case you walk The Way, according to the following purposes: playful, sportive, tourism an so on..

There are in addition other document called “In Memoriam” that could be applied for those families whom has lost someone at any stage on The Way.

For further information you can visit our Compostela section.

The Credential is the Pilgrim Identification card. It is a document that goes With the Pilgrim all along the Way that certifies they have finished The Way hiking , on a biker or on a horse. Apply for it at the beginning of the route at any Friends of the Way Offices, churches town halls or even at some of the accommodations located at the starting points.

It is an official document and the only valid credential that certifies you finish The Way when you arrive to Santiago de Compostela. It is a fold card with many pages containing gaps to be sealed at the authorized sites ( accommodations, monuments or shops) where the pilgrim has been. At least 2 stamps must be sealed a day

At the Pilgrims Office, they will verify the dates and also the distance traveled : This distance should be at least 100 km / 62 mi walking / horseback or 200 km / 124 mi by bike. So in case you lose your accreditation The Pilgrim Office couldn’t certify your pilgrimage and therefore you couldn’t obtain The Compostela

For further information, please visit The Credential of The Way of St James

The inner strengh that leads us to start the Way of St James is bases on different reasons But all Pilgrims have something in common: personal growth will, physical stress and the determination to finish a personal challenge.

Whatever the reason is to end up in front of Obradoiro’s Sq facade the most important thing is arriving, so take your time. to do it. You can delay the arrival to Santiago as long as you wish you can walk some stages only on weekends, walk half the way on the current year and the rest on next year, a stage a month etc. In short, you can hike The Way as you please.

Your Pilgrim Credential’s stamps don’t expiry so you can take the road back to the exact point where you left it.

If you don’t know how to fragment the stages of which could be the most appropriate route for you Please, contact us to solve your doubts and help you to schedule Your Best Way

The Way of St James is famous for having many different routes as well as form being very long. All those factors make it a hard way, so a minimum of physical training is required Many Pilgrims make the mistake of diving into this challenge with no physical condition at all.

No matter if you will walk or ride, you will need a physical condition to face the challenge Cyclist should also know how patch the wheels how to adjust the brakes and any essential maintenance paying special attention on locating bikes shops in advance For more information, please visit our Services section of every stage locate these services in case of emergency.

Pilgrimage in group has an additional handicap, as not everybody possesses neither the same training condition. not the same schedules to train before starting It is recommended to train at least a litte bit before, even that means to do it alone in order to encourage oneself to fulfill the groups’ aim: The Arrival to Santiago

If on the contrary, you want to arrive to Compostela riding a horse, previous training is required as well You should be a skillful rider with certain experience.

Before starting your way you have to take into account the difficulties that can arise along the way Problems begin when you plan the accommodations as many bed and breakfast pets are not allowed In hotels the situation is pretty similar So contacting in advance with the accomodation is the most suitable option to verify if pets are allowed

For futher information please visit out Pilgrim’s Blog where we discuss about The Odyssey of walking the way with pets

Be free to start The Way when you please . Every season is unique and has its own peculiarities Anaway the most gentle season are spring and autumn; April, May, June, September and October. In these months days are longer, the weather is more gentle and there are less pilgrims than is summer.

75% of the pilgrims get to Santiago in July and August, this means the routes are crowed, especially the French Way. Overcrowded is translated into lack of public accommodation However there are alternatives: guest-houses, hotels mansions, rural houses.

The North Way is highgly recommended to walk or ride it in summertime The weather uses to be imperceptible and is more gentle in summer Probably you wont find any accomodation problem And you enjoy the landscapes in bloom On the contrary, The Silver Way and concrectly close to Caceres and Salamanca cities, the temperatures tend to be high and some parts remais deserts, so its better to tour on spring.

As a nutshell, the best seasons to Walk the Way of St Janes are spring and autumn will be spring and autumn

The most important Ways of St James have different types of accommodation but some pilgrims decide to camp and sleep in a calm place along the route. The most popular accommodations are:

  1. Public hostels
  2. Private hostels
  3. Boarding houses
  4. Hotels
  5. Holiday cottages
  6. Country houses

Along the way you can find a lot of public and private accommodation the main differences between them are:

  • Public hostels: Also be called local or parish hostels Most of them are run by public officials or priests. Most of them do not have a fixed price, you just have to pay the amount of money that you think that they deserve for the service. Due to people’s bad practices, some of this establishments has been obliged to set a minimum price per night. Depending on the Region prices varies from 6 € to 8 € As booking is not allowed, beds are being occupied as soon as pilgrims arrive So you have to take that into account because on crowded months will be more complicated to find room It is also important know that pilgrims that go by walking have preference because they can’t move to other cities and villages as fast the as cyclists.
  • Private hostels: They have a fixed price settled by the establishment It goes from 10 to 16 euros per night. This kind of hostels offer the possibility of deciding the kind of bedroom in which you want to stay. They also offer menus.

Crowded routes have practically accommodations in every village The French Way has both accommodations private and public in every step of the way That helps enormously when it comes to find a place to sleep. On the contrary, The Silver Way is the route with less accommodations. In fact some buildings had to be refurbished in order to offer a so called accommodation for those who need to rest in The Way

Many people firstly appreciate a quiet tour that helps them to enjoy the walk, knowing that in the end a cozy room, hot water and all possible facilities are waiting for them

You can find cash points in most of the villages along The Way. as many banks have offices. In addition you can pay with your credit card in most part of the establishments.

Nevertheless, we recommend you take with you a little amount of money for any contingences.

If you want to do the Way as a typical medieval pilgrim you can do it for a few amount of money but on the other hand you can do it on a luxury way.

A normal pilgrim would need approximately 30 euros per day for:

  • Public accommodation: 6-8 euros per night
  • Breakfast: 3 euros and includes a coffee and pastries
  • Lunch: 8-10 euros pilgrim’s menu
  • Dinner: 8-10 euros pilgrim’s dinner.

You also need 8 or 10 euros per day for any unexpected things such as medicines, sticking plasters, snacks, water or even for a beer you could need during a day. day.

If the mentioned quantity for food is expensive you can buy food at the supermarket with a group. You can find many supermarkets along the way. so finding provisions won’t be a problem This way we can reduce our daily budget

From the starting point , the expenses are minimum But how much money I am going to spend preparing the way?

  • Buying the material: If you like trekking or cycling you probably already have most part of the materials So any additional purchase is no needed. But in case you need to acquire anything, please consider this material as an investment for future uses. What if when you come back home you feel the desire of more adventures on the Way again? Well , firstly think you have all the equipment. Boots and backpacks could be used several times , so that investment could be reinvested. At the end those purchases made because of The Way , can have a second use. The most expensive item you buy will always be the footwear. But it has sense if you take into consideration that you walk The Way on foot So your feet should be totally protected. Don’t save money on them and buy high quality boots. As regards as the rest of the material only a pack-pack is required. as well as a sleeping bag and comfortable clothes
  • Transport to the starting point and from Santiago to your home There are two important things that you should take into account: the distance between your home and the starting point. The ticket’s price could also vary depending on when you take it. the second thing to consider is to buy tickets in advance The sooner you buy it, the cheaper will be

If you have not a reduced budget you can find along the way a great variety of establishments to eat, hotels and physiotherapists.

Veteran pilgrims recommend doing the way alone. One of the main objectives of doing the way is finding yourself. If you travel alone you appreciate more all the little things that you would find along the way.

If you travel alone you would find other people that is travelling in the same conditions. It is not important travelling with a group of people, you would meet lots and lots of people every day. Conocerás personas con historias y vivencias muy dispares pero que te harán vivir situaciones inolvidables. You will never be alone.

Another positive thing of doing the way alone is that you would have priority because according to tradition weak people need help.

If on the contrary, you want prefer towalk in group It is equally accepted as going on our own. It is practically a personal decision And both options are equally right

All the Ways of St James are perfectly signed These signs varies on the Region or the county All along the way you will find 4 different signs

  • Yellow arrows: The most popular one. You’ll find the on trees, houses, on the pavement on stones, etc The origin of these arrows date back to the 70s, when Father Elias Valiña started to sign all The French Way with arrows
  • A yellow scallop on blue background: After the arrow is the largest sign which identifies the Way as an European Cultural Route
  • Bronze scallops: less popular buy we could find them along The Way.
  • Traffic Signs and information Boards: These sings varies depending the Region we are walking on to help us to locate our position.

Here you can find many useful advices for packing: What should I pack to walk The Way of St James?

The Ways are interesting for walkers and cyclists. You could decide depending on what you like and on the time that you have to do it. To walk The whole Way of St James you need more or less a month, and to do it by bike you need more or less 12 days.

There are advantages and disadvantages in both cases. For example if you go walking you would be freer to enter in restaurants, you wouldn’t have to be worried for anything and you wouldn’t need any technical service along the way. On the other hand, if you decide to go by bike you can move faster butif you decide to go by bike you can move faster but you should find a place to leave it while you are eating or sleeping.

The Way of St. James on horseback is the easiest option. It is considered as high class tourism and reinforce The Way’ image. There are many problems such as finding food for the animal, find where to leave it at night and also find different stages and routes to avoid entering in the cities. Moreover we have to take into account the fact of going one by one on the road and the fact that the rider should be fit.

Nevertheless, there are lots of companies that are in charge of solving of this problems and would make your way as easy as possible. You just have to enjoy it.

It will depend on your preferences and also on your budget. If you are an adventurous person you won’t have any problem to do it alone, planning where to stay each night and visiting all the places and monuments that you want. You have to take into account that there is not the same amount of accommodation in all the ways and in many cases you should go to other villages to find accommodation.

Nevertheless, if you want to optimize time you can plan the visits Pilgrim will customize you Way, adapting it to your preferences.

We recommend you to plan the route and the stages before leaving home, but not totally planned because you can find many different problems and obstacles along the way.

Therefore, it is recommended to analyze any stage and follow the program. The schedule should take into consideration once you have chosen the stages and after their complexity was checked. as well as route’s difficulties, accommodation, the forecast, etc Once all this information was analyzed, you can take your own decision as any difficulty arises.

The French Way is easier and better prepared than other ways. The villages are very close, there are lots of accommodation for pilgrims, and restaurants. Although it is a long way, is the one with more facilities. that obviously reduces any unexpected event on The Way.

How to plan The Routes?

Once you have chosen the starting point you should know that there are some established stages, the ones that most people do but they are not compulsory. You should design your stages according to you and your capacities. Most people do 20 kilometres per stage but if you are a young person or if you have a good physical condition you can walk around 30 or 35 kilometres per day. Moreover, you should take into account per week to rest and recover.

If you are older than 55 years old we recommend you do stages of 10 or 15 kilometres per day. If If you have any disease, we recommend to take it into account

If you are doingthe way with little children of less than 12 years old you shouldn’t walk for more than 15 kilometres. On the other hand, we recommend you combine long stages with short stages. You should know that when a child or an old person is doing the way they have many limitations, we don’t have to be blind to arrive to any certain place. If they became weak they could suffer many consequences such as tiredness and lack of motivation.

The real way is the one that starts at your own home but most times pilgrims decide to start in any of the established starting points. To analyze which is the best way to get to the starting point you can visit our web where you can find hoe to access those starting villages, as well as the transport required.

the way back home was also done walking because there weren’t any kind of public or private transport.

If you want to start the way at your home you should know that there are different variations of the way that get unified with other main ways:

  • Camino de Madrid: It starts in Spain’s capital city and goes through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain pass, Segovia, Valladolid and León. In Sahagún this Way and The French Way get unified.
  • Camino Aragonés: It unifies the Hispano-French boundaries of Somport and Puente de la Reina where it goes together with The French Way.
  • Camino Primitivo:It is the original way, done for the first time by Alfonso II the Chaste in the 9 century to visit St. James’ grave. It starts in Oviedo and goes to Melide and then it gets unified with the French Way.
  • Camino del Salvador: Also known as San Salvador Way, it links León and Oviedo, historically pilgrims leave the Way to go to Oviedo to visit the Catedral de San Salvador cathedral. Then they continued through The Primitive Way.
  • Camino de la Lana: It starts in Alicante and goes through Castilla La Mancha to reach Burgos where it gets unified with The French Way. It is not a famous way and it has Neolithic origins because of the importance of the wool trade.
  • Camino del Levante: It starts in Valencia and goes through five communities before entering in Galicia. It links the main Peninsula seas. In Zamora this way and Vía de la Plata get unified.
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camino Vasco del Interior: It was really important in Roman ages because it was the entrance to the Peninsula centre from Irún. This way starts in Irún and it gets unified with The French Way in Santo Domingo de la Calzada (La Rioja).
  • Camino de la Montaña Also known as Viejo Camino (Old Way). It starts in Bilbao and it gets unified with The French Way in Villafranca.
  • Camino de le Puy: Also known as La vía Podiensis. It starts in Le Puy, in Velay and it goes to Roncesvalles mountain pass where it gets unified with The French Way.
  • The Portuguese way along the coast: Starts in Porto and goes to Padrón following Atlantic Coast (The entrance to Galicia is taking a ferry in A Guarda instead Tui as the traditional Portuguese Ways traces) In addition you will cross Vigo, so you could enjoy Cies Islands’ view In Padrón village there’s a meeting point that will lead us directly to Santiago.
  • Camino de Invierno: It is the way used by many pilgrims to enter in Galicia in winter to avoid crossing the snowed mountains. It starts in Ponferrada and goes to Santiago going through the four Galician provinces; following the steps of the Sil River.
  • Ruta del Mar de Arosa el Río Ulla: This is a river-sea route that commemorates the arrival to Galicia by sea of St James’ mortal remains. Once you arrive at Pontecesures you start walk through The Portuguese Way to finally arrive at Santiago.
  • Camino Beztanés: It starts in Bayona (France) and concludes in Pamplona where it gets unified with The French Way. 109 kilometres (67.7 miles) full of different stories. This was a useful way in the middle ages for pilgrims and also for monarchs and armies. This is why the Asociación de Amigos del Camino association wanted to rebuild it.

Other possibilities are: Camino de Bayona, Camino del Ebro, Camino del Sureste, Camino Sanabrés, Camino de Cádiz, Camino Mozárabe, Camino Catalán through San Juan de la Peña, Camino Catalán por Zaragoza.

As we mentioned, pilgrimage used to begin at home, so each person would walk from his home to Santiago de Compostela. But currently people use the established places to start their way, these places could be Roncesvalles, el Puerto de Somport, Oviedo or el Puente de Santiago.

The first thing that you have to take into account to decide the starting point is the amount of days that will take you arrive to Santiago. You should first see the stages and then choose the starting point.

The real way is the one that starts at your home. Due to modern life it is complicated to do it this way, so there are

many established routes that you can follow. Before starting you should decide which way you want to follow. The yellow arrow will indicate the route that you should follow to get to Santiago de Compostela. These are the different ways:

For those people that are going to do the way for the first time we recommend to follow the French Way because is the one with more accommodation, the better signposted the one with the easiest route, and the one with more monuments history and culture. You will feel really safe and protected.

Once you have concluded this way you are ready to do any of the other ways, you will enjoy it more. It is not compulsory do the French Way the first time you are doing a way but we deeply think that is the best option.

When it comes to choose the way you should take into account the amount of money that you are willing to spend; if you are doing the French Way you can stay at public hostels from the beginning till the end, but if you do any of the other Ways it is probably that you need to book a private accommodation.

You also have to take into account how you are doing the Way (walking, by bike, horseback); for example the French Way is perfect walking way, Vía de la Plata is perfect to do it horseback and the Costal Way and the Primitive Way are perfect for cyclists.