Whether you are an avid hiker, explorer, pilgrim or adventurer, the Camino de Santiago is a one-of-a-kind adventure for hikers and walkers alike. To add, the Santiago trail has almost limitless variety of starting points. Some routes stretch across Spain, France and even Italy, but all paths eventually end at Spain’s famous Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
First time walkers will inevitably come across fellow travelers and share experiences that often last a lifetime on this historical journey. Traversing different terrain, landscapes and cultures, the trail is an unforgettable experience. But how many days does the Camino de Santiago take?
Determining the length of your journey through the Europe’s countryside will rely on factors outlined below:
- How much time can you spend?
This is probably the most important factor about your adventure. How much time can you spend away from work? What does your vacation time look like? Are you doing this walk to appreciate and reflect, or see this as an opportunity to see how quick you can get to the finish line?
Asking yourself these questions and clarifying times with your school, babysitters, work department and partners will dictate where you will begin your journey. Keep in mind that the route can be done on bike and supporting transport like taxis or busses.
- Where to start?
Assuming you’re on foot, look at at the following destinations to start your journey if you have:
1 week off – Ponte de Lima ,Ferrol, Valença,
2 weeks off – Leon, O Cebreiro ,Astoraga, Oviedo,
3 weeks off – Roncesvalles, Burgos
1 month and more – St. Jean Pied de Port, CamiñoFrancés, Cabo Fisterra
Most walkers begin their journey at St. Jean Pied de Port. However, the route can begin at almost anywhere you’d like!
Regardless, it is worth noting the Visa regulations. This isn’t the middle ages anymore, and all travelers must yield to border and Visa laws.
- Determine a Date and know the forecast
A lot of this part will depend on your scheduling and time off. Be aware of the seasonal differences in the country and area on route. For example, if you are starting in France, how does the weather effect terrain?
Same goes for Spain and Portugal as weather between these countries can vary greatly.
- What to pack?
Your kit will influence how you travel. Lugging around large rucksacks can hinder your distances covered during the day. Your pack will also sap precious fluids during your journey and includes taking longer breaks at the nearby refugio or albergue (overnight facilities for pilgrims).
Travelers who are opting to less to carry, will usually have a shorter time frame to complete the walk. However, mother nature will naturally dictate what to pack.
A huge factor will be the forecast. Going forward, know what region of the country you will be starting in. Some northern areas of Spain can be prone to snow, while other regions of France can be particularly hot during Summer months. Again, climate will influence your break days, so plan break days while you are mapping out your route.
- Finding a Companion
The route can be intimidating for first time travelers. Even so, take solace in knowing there are at least half a dozen websites with active members looking for companions during the trek. Combined with the magic of social media platforms and groups, you definitely have the upper hand against Dark Age pilgrims.
Optional: Gain experience beforehand
Ever hear the saying, “Experience is the best teacher”? On the Camino – Experience is the best guide.
You don’t need to be a mountaineer, or a world class athlete to finish the journey. However, some prior experience in walking long distances for 2+ hours a day will have huge advantages over those who are unfamiliar with pacing or pushing themselves.
Prior to your first Camino adventure, an early training routine will boost:
– Cardio and stamina to maintain long distances daily
– Alertness as you trek through unfamiliar terrain
– Mindfulness when determining break days and bodily limitations like fatigue and dehydration
– Injury prevention
Knowing your body is the best preparation for this adventure. Inspiring confidence for those looking at daily 20+ Km walks a month
There are no easy answers to figure out how many days does the Camino de Santiago will take. Variables like terrain, weather, pacing, breaks and how exactly you want to travel will effect your time and schedule. Various guidebooks and online sources estimate bikes at around 2 weeks where walkers take around 2-4 weeks depending on starting points.
The real beauty of the ancient journey is how you can start your story from nearly anywhere in Europe, and find welcoming arms thousands of miles away from home.