The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James or the Route to Santiago, is an adventure that starts before you even leave your home. First of all, you need to choose whichroute, which sections, where you will be starting, what you will carry in your rucksack and which hotels or hostels you will be booking. Here you have some useful information and tips for the Camino:
Before you choose your starting point, you need to decide how many days you wish or are able to spend for the Way, the season and the area you would like to walk through. This will help you choose the Camino that is best for you and decide on the stages depending on your time availability.
You can choose any route. On our website you will find information about the French Way, the Northern Way, the Original or Primitive Way, the Portuguese Way, the English Way, the Vía de la Plata or Southern Way, and other lesser-known choices such as the Winter Way or the Sanabria Way . You may also start in Santiago and take the Fisterra Way .
Please take into account that from Easter to October there are many more pilgrim's hostels open and you will encounter less rain and cold. However, this is also the period when most pilgrims decide to travel, and the heat can be relentless in some sections. When you decide the breakout of kilometres per day, be aware of your fitness level. Although the routes are divided into sections, you can adapt them to your needs. The Camino is not a race and the best way to enjoy it is to be realistic about how much distance you can cover per day.
If you prefer to cycle the Camino, you will have to consider the stages, equipment, etc., which will be different from those for pilgrims on foot. Here you may find specific information and tips for cyclists along the Camino.
The Credencial del Camino de Santiago or Pilgrim's Passport originated in the Middle Ages, and has two practical goals: you will be accredited as a pilgrim and therefore will have access to some pilgrim's hostels. Yu must stamp it along the way to get the Compostela when you get to Santiago.
Santiago Cathedral and the Federation of Saint James’ Societies issue the Official Credencial del Peregrino, which you may obtain at the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago at Rúa Carretas, or from any of the Societies, hostels or parishes.
The first page of the Credencial is for personal details and bears the stamp of the organisation issuing it. From then on, if you want to obtain the Compostela, you will have to continue stamping it at each stage of the Way. To validate it, you need to have at least 1 stamp each day and 2 daily in the last 100 kilometres. If you are cycling the Camino, you will need to have 2 stamps during the last 200 kilometres.
You can get your stamp at the hostels, Saint James’ Societies, monasteries, parishes... and also at our Correos offices . Some of them have special stamps with the image of significant tourist attractions in that particular place, and the date.
If you complete the Camino to Fisterra and Muxía and you show your Credencial with those stamps, you can get the “Fisterrana” or the Muxiana” at their pilgrim’s hostel. This stamp attests to your reaching our Land’s End.
The Way of Saint James involves physical and mental effort, but any person with some prior preparation and will can do it. If you do not do any sport, you should practice walking beforehand in order to avoid muscle cramps and injuries. A good tip is to start walking with the shoes you will be using during the Camino, so that they adapt to your feet, and you can even walk with the weight that you are planning on carrying. Do not forget to stretch before and after training; this will help you minimise cramps and muscle pain. Using a trekking pole can also help you reduce the strain on your legs.
If carrying a rucksack is hard or if you have knee or back problems, don’t worry, Correos takes your rucksack and suitcase from one stage to the next. We will take your rucksack every day to your next hostel or hotel from the beginning to the end of your pilgrimage.
You should get a rucksack as resistant as possible with adjustable shoulder pads and straps to your chest or waist. A water-proof cover will come in handy during rainy days. Regarding the size, the most usual ones are those of around 50 litres in volume. If you do not have such a rucksack and you do not want to buy one, you can take a normal suitcase and we will take it for you from section to section. In this case, please remember to carry with you a small bag with some basics: water, some food, a small first aid kit...
When you decide what to pack for the Camino, you need to first see whether you are going to carry your rucksack, or whether you prefer to walk with a smaller one and that we send you your rucksack or suitcase from section to section and from hostel to hostel. This will make a difference regarding what you pack.
Here you have a list with some basics:
List of things you should pack for the Camino:
• A light, water-proof jacket, for rainy days.
• A regular or polar sweatshirt.
• Leggings/ Trekking trousers.
• Two or three T-shirts, short and long-sleeved.
• Several sets of underwear including socks, better if they are seamless.
• Shoes (you must have used them before, do not wear new shoes!). Most pilgrims prefer trekking boots as they are tight on the ankle and keep your feet dry. Nowadays people tend to go for trekking shoes as they are lighter and more flexible.
• A hat, cap or visor.
Another option when planning your Camino is to send a parcel or suitcase with more clothes or things to any of our offices and you can collect it upon arrival. This will allow you to continue your holidays once you have finished the Camino and have everything you need.
Of course!! If you want to have everything ready before you leave home so that you can enjoy the Camino without any worries, you can book your rucksack transportation in advance from section to section with Correos. You can book by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +34 606 618 341 (also via Whatsapp!)
There are several types of pilgrims on the Camino: those who love adventure and like to improvise where to sleep, and others who prefer to plan their route and hostels beforehand, so that they always have a bed. If you belong to this second group, public hostels cannot be booked, but there are other hostels, boarding houses, hotels... where you can book in advance.
You should have some cash on you but not too much in case you lose it. Take a look at the upcoming Camino sections before leaving and check whether there are ATMs along the way, especially while walking through rural areas.
Another option is to use our prepaid card. You can get one at any of our offices or on-line on the web Correos Prepaid Card for the Camino de Santiago. This card is not linked to any account and is therefore safe as you can activate or deactivate it within seconds. You can leave your credit cards at home and just top it up with the money you decide to take for the Camino, knowing that the top-up is very simple, and if there is any money left in the end, you can still use it as any other card anywhere in the world. You can withdraw cash from ATMs, pay in any establishment, and if you need more money you can transfer it from other regular cards using your mobile.
You can allocate the time to complete the Way in whichever way you like, but the stamps on your Credencial or Pilgrim Passport should follow the order of the given route, without skipping sections, if you want to get the Compostela.
(The usual greeting for pilgrims on the Way, in Spanish and Galician ;)