The Camino: With sore thighs and blisters towards Santiago de Compostela is written by The editorial staff.
Why the Camino?
Have you also heard of fighting over the beds and pilgrims queuing on the Camino? So do not give up. Here are our tips on how to find silence and the pristine Spanish village life on the Camino.
The legendary pilgrimage route Caminoen in Spain has in recent years been close to being suffocated in its own success. Walkers in gait and pilgrims getting up before the sun to arrive in time enough to hijack a vacant bed in the next town.
If you have the Camino on your wish list, you do not have to despair over the overwhelming popularity of the pilgrimage route. Tip number one: There is not just one, but many caminos in Spain.
There are many different routes, all of which are marked with seashells. Each route takes you through spectacular landscapes – and some of them even different countries. For example, one of the routes starts in Portugal.
Common to Spain's caminos is the end goal at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. If you want to experience inner peace and authentic village life on the trip, here you can taste two routes that give you the best of the Camino - free from crowds and tourism.
In the footsteps of the Scandinavians: Camino Inglés
- Total length: 120 km
- Day losses: 5-7
- Start city: Ferrol
- Objective: The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The Camino Inglés is a short, intense and beautiful Camino of 120 km starting in the port city of Ferrol on the Spanish north coast. A superb choice if you want to taste whether camino life is for you.
Camino Inglés means 'the English Camino' and got its name because it is a route originally used by the English and Scandinavians. The first part from home they sailed from, for example Great Britain or Denmark, and the journey from Ferrol to the cathedral in Santiago was made on foot.
On the Camino Inglés you get real camino soul in miniature through the hilly, green Galician landscape. Enjoy the smell of 'café con leche' in the villages and feel the soft narrow forest paths of the eucalyptus forests under your feet.
You will complete the Camino in five to seven days, depending on your pace. The first day you walk along the north coast of Spain and several of the other days along the river Miño. Enjoy in particular the towns of Pontedeume and Betanzos along the way with their beautiful old town centers and alleyways lined with tapas bars.
The oldest camino: Camino Primitivo
- Total length: 325 km
- Day losses: 11-13
- Start city: Oviedo
- Objective: The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Ironically, the oldest known pilgrimage route in Spain is not the most well-known or traveled. Fortunately! Here you avoid cafes with pilgrim logos and hordes of tourists, because only 4% of all pilgrims choose the Camino Primitivo. Primitivo means 'the original' or 'the first'.
Over the years, the route has been largely overtaken in popularity by the more accessible French route that starts in France, and which is the one most people know.
If you want to experience unspoiled camino atmosphere and unsurpassedly beautiful landscapes - then there is good reason to sniff the Camino Primitivo.
The route starts in the city of Oviedo in the Principality of Asturias, is 325 kilometers in total and also ends in Santiago de Compostela, making it an obvious choice if you have two weeks to experience the Camino.
The Camino through Asturias
The route goes through the region of Asturias, which also goes by the name 'green Spain'. Here, you feel the calm sinking in as you wander in the middle of farming life, the sound of cowbells and the trickle of springs.
You cross the Cantabrian mountains, so count on many challenges for the thighs – and extra appetite – when you settle down to the evening's pilgrim menu.
Roughly speaking, you can divide the Camino Primitivo into thirds: the first third, which is hilly, green and rural. The central part over the Cantabrian mountains is even more hilly and has formidable morning views beyond the hazy mountain peaks. Here you walk between cows and wild horses, and the terrain goes either up or down.
From the city of Lugo with the beautiful city wall, the Camino flattens out more, and the last 60 kilometers from the city of Melide, the route follows the famous French route. Here you experience the entire camino circus in full bloom with a bar for at least every five kilometers.
When should you walk the Camino?
If you are thinking of going on a pilgrimage, it is of course nice to know when it is best to walk the Camino. As a starting point, the most popular times are spring and autumn, followed by summer.
It may surprise some that summer is not the most popular time to walk the Camino, but there is actually a very logical reason for that – the southern European summer heat.
You can easily walk the Camino in the summer, and it is probably also during the Danish industrial holiday that you will meet the most Danes on the routes. But as a starting point, spring and autumn will be most pleasant in terms of temperatures.
If you are considering going on a winter adventure for the Camino, there are some things you should be aware of. It is possible to walk the Camino in winter, but some of the routes require you to have experience in walking if you go on them at this time of year.
In addition, several of the hostels are closed in winter, and it can therefore be more difficult to find accommodation.
Hostels on the Camino
You have probably heard of them; the dormitories at the many hostels - called 'albergues' - on the Camino. As something special, the Camino has been expanded with hostels, which according to Danish conditions are very cheap: 3-7 euros per. night at the public hostels. You will find hostels on all parts of the Camino; also on quieter routes such as the Camino Inglés and the Camino Primitivo.
Many of the Spanish regions that the Camino passes through take pride in renovating and building hostels. You will find architectural gems and historic buildings lovingly renovated for pilgrims.
There are also many private hostels, and here is the price per. night typically 8-16 euros for a bunk. If you are not at all into the neighbor's snoring, there is ample opportunity for more privacy in the many small hotels and the rural 'casa rural' rooms along the way. Expect prices from 20-50 euros for a room where you can prick blisters in peace.
Friendships that connect the world
The community on the Camino makes it a unique form of travel. No other form of travel I have tried similarly connects people across language, culture, politics and religion. When the day's stage is completed, everyone is the same: Blisters, sore legs, tired shoulders and empty stomachs.
You will experience the close camino community also on the quieter routes. If you hike from April to October, you will not lack community.
Do not be afraid to walk the Camino alone - you are guaranteed to meet other pilgrims along the way, and suddenly you are sitting in a global blanket of coziness and laughter over the evening's pilgrim menu. You can quickly see who is going through the same stages as you - You meet again and again in the cities and in the cafés.
You make ties, and you get your 'camino family' and probably also your nickname, like mine - 'La Vikinga' - the Viking. Many wars in the world could be avoided if everyone in the world rode a Camino.
Mums! Food on the Camino
On the Camino you often eat in the 'cathedral of nature'. With baguette, tomatoes and the classic smoked ham 'jamón ibérico' in the backpack, the break on the mountainside or the forest path hardly gets better.
Even on the less touristy parts of the Camino you will find charming bars and cafés along the way. It can easily happen that you get to walk twenty kilometers before the day's first café con leche - but then it also tastes heavenly. If you are lucky, you will come to a place with tapas - then it is otherwise just to see what the sidekick eats and jump on board the many labre, local snacks.
In the evening, it is obvious to meet with the camino friends over a pilgrim menu. Along the Camino, local restaurants offer three courses of hearty food and a bottle of wine for 10 euros per person. person. Then the depots are filled up for the next day's hike.
Happy hiking holiday!
How long does it take to walk the Camino?
It depends on which route you take:
- The Camino Francés is approximately 780 km and takes 35-40 days
- Camino Primitivo is approximately 365 km and takes 13-18 days
- The Camino del Norte is approximately 820 km and takes 37-43 days
- Camino Portugués is approximately 242 km and takes 10-14 days
- Camino Inglés is approximately 118 km and takes 5-7 days
- Camino Finisterre is approximately 87 km and takes 4-6 days