Smart pilgrims start planning their Camino de Santiago way ahead of time. If the Camino is one of the main objectives for the year to come, you’ll be happy to find out that we are here to help you plan your route. Feel free to use our tips to plan your trip is detail and to make the most out of your Camino experience.
Camino De Santiago – The plan begins
What would be your preferred route? There is no right or wrong route when it comes to choosing your walk along the Camino, as this is a merely personal choice. Just think about what you expect from this experience and make your decisions accordingly. You can even book Camino De Santiago tours if you prefer some guidance, or to get some local insight along the way. If, for instance, your goal is to meet a lot of people, you may want to choose the Camino Frances, as that’s the most popular segment of all. If, on the other hand, you wish to enjoy scenic coastal landscapes, you may want to take the Camino del Norte. If Santiago was already your destination, you could start from here and take Camino a Fisterra (Finisterre). Whatever your reasons to walk the Camino, you’ll surely get your answers. This article takes a closer look at the different Caminos to help you make an informed decision.
How are you going to handle your luggage?
Many pilgrims take the Camino de Santiago for only a few days, just to get the feel of it. They usually choose to walk the last segment of the route. If this is also your intention, we recommend that you take with you only the essentials and bring your luggage over afterwards. If you want to enjoy a comfortable Camino, you can take advantage of the PaqPeregrino, the service the Correos makes available to pilgrims. You can use this service to send your larger or heavier luggage to Santiago, or indeed to any other city or town on the Camino and collect it upon your arrival.
What if you decide to travel the Camino via bike?
There are many pilgrims who prefer to experience the Camino on their bicycle. However, there are many questions that need an answer: Is is possible to travel the entire route on bike? Do I need to bring my own, or should I rent one? If I bring mine, how am I going to ship it to the starting point? You should keep in mind that no Camino is easy – that’s the point! It is supposed to be s strenuous journey, whether you do it by foot or on a bike. If you don’t want to bother with transporting your bike, it can be moved for you – again by Correos – from your home to the starting point of your Camino. All that you need to do to have your bike brought to you at your starting point is to go contact Correos and request the PaqBicicleta. You’ll have your bike shipped in a custom package straight to where you need it, so you can relax and know it will be where you need it to be.
While on the Camino…
What should I bring? This is a very personal question, so you have to find the answer yourself. Nonetheless, there are a few essentials every pilgrim needs. The most important thing is the Credential, which is the document that grants you the pilgrim accreditation to access public hostels. You’ll need to get it stamped along the Camino to get your Compostela on arrival in Santiago. In terms of luggage, you should get a sturdy backpack with adjustable shoulder straps that run to your chest or waist. A waterproof cover will keep you dry during rainy days. Footwear is also a very important detail. It’s strongly advisable to bring sole comfortable and solid hiking or trekking boots. Avoid walking the Camino in new footwear, in order to prevent blisters and other such problems.
Do I need a hostel reservation? No, you don’t need to make reservations at hostels, as places are assigned in the order of arrival. There are a few private hostels and other accommodation options, though, you can contact in advance if you have specific questions.
Do I need to carry my backpack all the way? This is not necessary, if you don’t want to. If you have medical problems that prevent you from carrying your backpack, or you simply want to enjoy your Camino without baggage, there are options to have it carried for you. The PaqMochila that Correos offers at the Camino con Correos is the service you need. They transport your backpack, or other type of luggage for that matter, every day, to the accommodation you want to spend your nights in. In addition, if you make purchases along the way, you can send those extra bags to any office of the Correos del Camino to pick up upon arrival.
At the end of your route…
What’s the first thing to do once you reach Santiago? Arriving in Santiago de Compostela after such a long pilgrimage will be a moving experience for most travellers. Most pilgrims want to enter the Cathedral as soon as they arrive to the Obradoiro. Nonetheless, you won’t be able to enter this temple with your backpack. If you want to store it safely, go to the Correos at the Rua do Franco 4, a very short walk from the Cathedral. You can use the locker service there to store your backpack, your bicycle, or any other items you may want. You can also use it to send your bike or your big luggage back home.
What should I see and do in Compostela?
Visiting the Cathedral and attending a special Mass are two things you must do while there. You should also stroll through the historic town, witness the Botafumeiro ritual, and taste some of the local foods and drinks.
What if I want to continue the adventure? There are many pilgrims who choose to keep going until they reach Finisterre. You can always return by bus, if you’ve got enough of walking.
Have you walked the Camino de Santiago yet? Or other Caminos in Spain?