12 Most Popular Camino de Santiago routes

Camino a Muxia is one of the best Camino de Santiago routes

Interested in hiking Camino de Santiago in Spain? Researching Camino de Santiago routes? Looking for the Camino de Santiago route that would suit you the best? If so, check out my overview of the

I’ve hiked Camino del Norte, Camino Via de La Plata from Salamanca via Camino Sanabres and Camino a Finistere.
Before embarking on each of my Camino I did thorough research on various Camino de Santiago routes. If you are planning your Camino de Santiago, I hope this wrap-up of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes will help you to decide which route to take!

Camino de Santiago trails

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO ROUTES

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. 

El Camino routes

Contrary to popular belief, Camino de Santiago is not one route.

Camino de Santiago never was only one route. Pilgrims arrived at Santiago from different directions (different parts of Spain, Portugal, France, and northern Europe …) and made different routes on their way to Santiago.  

Thus, Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James) is a network of routes across Europe leading to the tomb of St James Apostle in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain. 

Popular Camino Frances might be a synonym for Camino de Santiago in modern times. But, you might enjoy some other Camino de Santiago routes.
So, here’s an overview of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes:

Santiago de Compostela routes

1. Camino del Norte – the most beautiful Camino de Santiago route

Hiking Camino del Norte in Spain is one of the good ideas for bucket lists
Me on Camino del Norte
  • Starting point: Irun in the Basque Country, Spain
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain 
  • Camino del Norte length: 514 mi (828 km)
  • Camino del Norte etapas: 36 etapas (stages) in total 
  • Camino del Norte days:  30-34 days on average
  • Camino del Norte total elevation gain: 57303 ft (17.5 km)
  • Camino del Norte total elevation loss: 79382 ft (24.2 km)
  • Camino del Norte average elevation per km: 324 ft (98.7 m)
  • Camino del Norte best time to go: July-August
  • Camino del Norte type of pilgrims: beach lovers, foodies, true hikers, solitude seekers 
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino del Norte: about 6%

Camino del Norte, or the Northern Way of Camino de Santiago goes from Irun via San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, Gijon to Santiago de Compostela. 

This Camino de Santiago route was historically taken by pilgrims coming to Santiago de Compostela from Northern Europe.

Camino del Norte is a coastal route. This Camino path goes along the coast of northern Spain from the Basque Country via Cantabria, Asturias to inland Galicia. 

Camino del Norte is considered the most beautiful Camino de Santiago route. It is a moderately challenging hiking trail (more difficult than Camino Frances for instance). 

Camino del Norte is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Where to fly to start Camino del Norte?
The nearest airport to Irun is Biarritz-Pays Basque Airport. There are direct daily buses from the airport to Irun.

READ MORE: Camino del Norte

2. Camino Frances – the most famous Camino de Santiago route

Astorga is on camino Frances which is one of the most popular camino de Santiago routes
Astorga on Camino Frances
  • Starting point: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque Country, France
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain
  • Camino Frances  length: 777 km
  • Camino Frances etapas: 33 stages in total 
  • Camino Frances days: 30-35 days in total 
  • Camino Frances min/max elevation: 249 m / 1512 m 
  • Camino Frances elevation gain/loss: 4849 m /-4089 m 
  • Camino Frances best time to go: April – June, and September – October 
  • Camino Frances type of pilgrims: first-time Camino walkers, history buffs, social butterflies 
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Frances: 55 %

Camino Frances, or the French Way of Camino de Santiago goes from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port via Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Sarria to Santiago.

This Camino de Santiago route was historically taken by pilgrims coming to Santiago de Compostela from France.

Camino Frances is a synonym for Camino de Santiago, although it is not the oldest route (the oldest Camino de Santiago route is Camino Primitivo from Oviedo).

Camino Frances is the most famous, most popular, but also the most crowded Camino de Santiago route. It especially gets crowded in Sarria (the last 100 km of the route, a prerequisite for obtaining a Compostela certificate). 

Camino Frances has also the best infrastructure (many pilgrims’ hostels, bars, restaurants, shops …along the route) of all of the Camino de Santiago routes. Camino Frances is one of the easiest Camino de Santiago routes to hike. Therefore, it is recommended for first-time Camino goers.

Camino de Santiago Frances is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where to fly to start Camino Frances?
Biarritz-Pays Basque Airport is the nearest airport to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. 
Fly to Biarritz-Pays Basque Airport and then take a bus from the airport to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

3. Camino Via de La Plata – the epic Camino de Santiago route

Seville Cathedral should be on any southern Spain itinerary
Seville Cathedral on Camino de la Plata
  • Starting point: Seville in Andalucia 
  • Finishing point: Astorga in Leon (in Astorga the route joins Camino Frances)
  • Camino Via de La Plata length: 702 km (+ 283 km from Astorga to Santiago via Camino Frances)
  • Camino Via de La Plata etapas: 37 stages in total 
  • Camino Via de La Plata days: 7 weeks on average
  • Camino Via de La Plata min/max elevation: 5 m / 1147 m
  • Camino Via de La Plata elevation gain/loss: 7857 m / – 6995 m 
  • Camino Via de La Plata best time to go: April, May, and October 
  • Camino Via de La Plata type of pilgrims: solitude fans, inner journey seekers, long-distance trails lovers, Camino veterans (pilgrims who already walked one or more Camino routes)
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Via de La Plata: about 3%

Camino Via de La Plata, or the Silver Way, goes from Seville via Merida, Mérida, Cáceres, Salamanca, Zamora, Ourense to Santaigo.

Camino Via de La Plata is one of the longest Camino de Santiago routes (along with Camino Mozarabe).

This Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route is one of the most difficult Camino de Santiago routes (along with Camino Primitivo). In spite of being mostly flat, the route is known for long walking stages, no facilities between the stages, strong summer heat, and lots of solitude.

Where to fly to start Camino Via de La Plata?
Seville International Airport (San Pablo Airport). 

READ MORE: Via de la Plata

4. Camino Sanabres – a historic end of Camino Via de La Plata and Camino Mozárabe

Puebla de Sanabria
Puebla de Sanabria on Camino Sanabres
  • Starting point: Granja de Moreruela in Castilla y Leon
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia 
  • Camino Sanabres length: 234 mi (378 km)
  • Camino Sanabres etapas: 13 stages in total
  • Camino Sanabres days: 2 weeks
  • Camino Sanabres min/max elevation: 55 m/1356 m
  • Camino Sanabres elevation gain/loss: 7234 m/-7689 m
  • Camino Sanabres best time to go: April-June, September-October
  • Camino Sanabres type of pilgrims: crowds-avoiding nature lovers
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Sanabres: less than 0.5%

Camino Sanabres, or the Sanabres Way goes from Granja de Morerula via Puebla de Sanabria, Laza, Ourense to Santiago. 

Where to fly to start Camino Sanabres?
Salamanca Airport is the nearest airport to Granja den Moreruela.  Granja de Moreruela is 1 hour and 20 min by bus from Salamanca. 
Flying to Madrid-Barajas Airport is also a good option for reaching Granja de Moreruela. Granja de Morerula is also a 30 min by bus from Zamora, and Zamora is only 1 h by train from Madrid. 

READ MORE: Camino Sanabres

5. Camino Portuguese Central – a historic Camino de Santiago route

Camino de santiago Portugues is one of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes
Lisabon on Camino de Santiago Portugues
  • Starting point: Lisboa in Portugal 
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela in Spain
  • Camino Portuguese Central length: 620 km
  • Camino Portuguese etapas: 26 stages in total 
  • Camino Portugues days: 25 days on average to walk the entire route 
  • Camino Portuguese min/max elevation: -10 m / 475 m 
  • Camino Portuguese elevation gain/loss: 12149 m/ -11923m 
  • Camino Portuguese best time to go: May, June, and September (wet weather starts in mid-October)
  • Camino Portuguese type of pilgrims: first-time Camino walkers, social butterflies, foodies  
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Portuguese: about 20% 

Camino Portugues Central goes from Lisboa to Coimbra, Porto, Tui to Santiago. 

It is one of the most important historic Camino de Santiago routes, traditionally traveled by pilgrims coming from Portugal. It is one of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes as well. 

Where to fly to start Camino Portuguese Central?
Lisbon International Airport

6. Camino Portuguese da Costa – one of the most beautiful Camino de Santiago routes

The Portugues Coastal Way is one of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes
Porto on Camino Portugues da Costa
  • Starting point: Porto in Portugal 
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela
  • Camino Portuguese da Costa  length: 260 km
  • Camino Portuguese da Costa etapas: 13 stages in total
  • Camino Portugues Coastal days: 2 weeks
  • Camino Portuguese min/max elevation: 0m / 256 m 
  • Camino Portuguese elevation gain/loss: 4283 m / -4089 m
  • Camino Portuguese best time to go: May, June, and September (summer is too hot, winter is wet and cold)
  • Camino Portuguese type of pilgrims: beach lovers, first-time Camino walkers (less crowded than Camino Frances and less physically challenging than Camino del Norte), foodies (Portuguese food, Porto and Albarino wine), social butterflies  
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Portuguese: about 5%

Camino Portuguese da Costa, Camino Portuguese Coastal, or Camino Portugues de la Costa, goes from Porto via Tui to Santiago.

It belongs to the coastal Camino de Santiago routes, along with Camino del Norte. 

Camino Portuguese Coastal route is the second most popular Camino de Santiago route (after Camino Frances).

Where to fly to start Camino Portuguese da Costa?
Porto International Airport (Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport) 

7. Camino Inglese – the shortest Camino de Santiago route

ferrol on Camino Ingles, one of the popular camino de Santiago routes
Ferrol on Camino Inglese
  • Starting point: Ferrol in Galicia
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia 
  • Camino Inglese length: 115 km
  • Camino Inglese etapas: 5 etapas from Ferrol (4 etapas from A Coruna) 
  • Camino Inglese days: 5 days 
  • Camino Inglese min/max elevation: 0 m / 461 m
  • Camino Inglese elevation gain/loss: 2855 m / -2610 m
  • Camino Inglese best time to go: March – mid-November 
  • Camino Inglese type of pilgrims: to experience Galician culture, for people who have available only a short time for the Camino
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Inglese: between 4-6%

Camino Inglese or the English Way goes from Ferrol or A Coruna to Santiago. 

It is a historical Camino de Santiago route traveled by pilgrims coming from northern Europe (most notably, England) who arrived by boat to Ferrol or A Coruna in northern Spain, and who from there continued to Santiago by land. 

Camino Ingles must be started in Ferrol (not in A Coruna) to be eligible for a Compostela. A Coruna is only 96 km (less than the prerequisite 100 km from Santiago). 

Camino Inglese is the shortest Camino de Santiago route and the easiest Camino de Santiago route. 

Where to fly to start Camino Inglese?
A Coruña International Airport. Daily flights from Paris Orly, London Gatwick, Barcelona, Madrid… 

8. Camino Primitivo – the original and the oldest Camino de Santiago route

Oviedo is the starting point of Camino Primitivo, one of the Camino de Santiago rooutes
Oviedo on Camino Primitivo
  • Starting point: Ovideo in Asturias, Spain
  • Finishing point: Santiago in Galicia, Spain 
  • Camino Primitivo length: 310 km
  • Camino Primitivo etapas: 13 etapas in total 
  • Camino Primitivo days: 2 weeks 
  • Camino Primitivo min/max elevation: 40 m / 1216 m 
  • Camino Primitivo elevation gain/loss: 10092 m / – 10076 m 
  • Camino Primitivo best time to go: June – September (to avoid the rain)
  • Camino Primitivo type of pilgrims: true hikers, nature lovers, history buffs  
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Primitivo: about 5 %

Camino Primitivo or the Primitive Way (also known as the Original Way) goes from Oviedo via Lugo and Melide (where the route joins Camino Frances) to Santiago.

It is the oldest Camino route. This was the first Camino de Santiago route ever walked. 

Spanish King Alfonso II of Asturias took this Camino route to Santiago on his pilgrimage journey to Santiago for the first time. He was the first person who made a pilgrimage to Santiago.

Camino Primitivo is one of the most beautiful Camino de Santiago routes (along with Camino del Norte) and one of the most difficult Camino de Santiago routes (along with Camino Via de La Plata) because of the many steep ascents and descents.

Camino Primitivo is a UNESCO World Hertiatge Site.

Where to fly to start Camino Primitivo?
Asturias International Airport

9. Camino Mozarabe – the longest Camino de Santiago route

Visiting La Manquita Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Malaga
La Manquita Cathedral in Malaga on Camino Mozarabe
  • Starting point: Malaga , Almeria or Jaen in Andalusia
  • Finishing point: Santiago ( it joins Camino Via de la Plata in Merida)
  • Camino Mozarabe length: 1500 km from Almeria 
  • Camino Mozarabe etapas: 27 etapas until Merida (+28 etapas via Camino Via de La Plata via Ourense)
  • Camino Mozarabe days: about 10 weeks 
  • Camino Mozarabe best time to go: spring and autumn (avoid the extreme heat in summer)
  • Camino Mozarabe type of pilgrims: solitude seekers, history buffs (interested in Moorish and Roman history of Spain), foodies (tapas in Granada)
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Mozarabe: few hundred of pilgrims a year 

Camino Mozarabe or the Mozarabic Way is also called the Mozarabic Caminos since there are three different starting points  (three different starting paths).

The Mozarabic Way can be started in Almeria, Malaga, or Jaen. The paths unite in Cordoba, and from there the Camino Mozarabe route goes to Merida where Camino Mozarabe joins Camino Via de La Plata.

Granada and Cordoba are some of the popular starting points of Camino Mozarabe as well. 

Camino Mozarabe is the longest Camino de Santiago route.

Where to fly to start Camino Mozarabe?
Malaga-Costa del Sol International Airport, or Almería International Airport 

10. Camino Invierno – the historic Templar knights Camino de Santiago route

Camino Invierno is one of the most popular  Camino de Santiago routes
Ponferrada on camino Invierno
  • Starting point: Ponferrada 
  • Finishing point: Santiago de Compostela 
  • Camino Invierno length: 263 km 
  • Camino Invierno etapas: 10 stages in total (last 2 stages are of Via de La Plata Sanabres)
  • Camino Invierno days: 10 days in total 
  • Camino Invierno best time to go: spring, summer 
  • Camino Invierno type of pilgrims: solitude fans, nature lovers, off-the-beaten-track Camino enthusiasts 
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino Invierno: about 0,5 %

Camino Invierno, or the Winter Way, goes from Ponferrada via Lalin (where Camino Invierno route joins Via de la Plata Sanabres route) to Santiago de Compostela 

The Winter Way is a variant of Camino Frances used by medieval pilgrims to bypass snow-covered O Cebreiro in winter. Historically this Camino de Santiago route was related to Templar knights. 

Camino Inverno is walkable all year round, but still, spring and summer are the most preferred seasons for lush green landscapes and pleasant temperatures. 

Where to fly to start Camino Invierno?
Santiago-Rosalía de Castro Airport in Santiago de Compostela. And from Santiago take a bus or train to Ponferrada.

11. Camino a Fisterra – the historic end of Camino de Santiago trail

Cape Finisterre Lighthouse, the end point of Camino de Santiago a Fisterra
Cape Finisterre Lighthouse, the end point of Camino de Santiago a Fisterra
  • Starting point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia
  • Finishing point: Fisterra in Galicia
  • Camino a Fisterra length: 90.8 km 
  • Camino a Fisterra etapas: 4 etapas 
  • Camino a Fisterra days: 3-4 days in total
  • Camino a Fisterra min/max elevation: 4m /477 m
  • Camino a Fisterra elevation gain/loss:  2227 m / -2368 m
  • Camino a Fisterra best time to go: April-June, September-October.
  • Camino a Fisterra type of pilgrims: who want to see ‘the End of the World’
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino a Fisterra: 1 % of all pilgrims who reach Santiago 

Camino a Finisterre is the final leg of Camino de Santiago that starts in Santiago de Compostela. 

Finisterre Lighthouse is the historical end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain.

Where to fly to start Camino a Fisterra?
Santiago-Rosalía de Castro Airport in Santiago de Compostela 

12. Camino a Muxia – the alternative end of Camino de Santiago

Camino a Muxia is one of the best Camino de Santiago routes
Me in Muxia
  • Starting point: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia
  • Finishing point: Muxia in Galicia
  • Camino a Muxia length: 88 km 
  • Camino a Muxia etapas: 4 etapas in total 
  • Camino a Muxia days: 3-4 days in total 
  • Camino a Muxia min/max elevation: 5 m /477 m
  • Camino a Muxia elevation gain/loss:  2239 m / -2480 m
  • Camino a Muxia best time to go: April-June, September-October. 
  • Camino a Muxia type of pilgrims: who want to see the end place in The Way movie
  • Percentage of pilgrims who walk Camino a Muxia: less than 1 % of all pilgrims who reach Santiago

Muxia is an alternative end to Finisterre.
Muxia is the end place in The Way movie.
Some pilgrims prefer Muxia, and some Finisterre as teh place to finish their Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Where to fly to start Camino a Muxia?
Santiago-Rosalía de Castro Airport in Santiago de Compostela

RELATED READ: Packing list Camino de Santiago

Q&A

What is the route of the Camino de Santiago?

Contrary to common belief, there is no one single Camino de Santiago route. Camino de Santiago is a network of routes, created by pilgrims coming to Santiago de Compostela from different parts of the world.
The most popular Camino de Santiago route is Camino Frances (the French Way) which starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque country in France.
Some of the most popular Camino de Santiago routes are Camino Portugues (the Portugues Way) which starts in Lisbon in Portugal, Camino del Norte (the Northern Way) which starts in Irun in Spanish Basque Country, Camino Inglese (the English Way) which starts in Ferrol in Galicia, Camino Primitivo (the Primitive Way) which starts in Oviedo in Asturias in Spain, and Via de La Plata (the Silver Way) which starts in Seville in Andalusia in Spain.

What is the best route to walk the Camino de Santiago?

The 5-day-long Camino de Santiago Inglese (the English Way) is the shortest and the easiest Camino de Santiago route.
Famous Camino de Santiago Frances (the French Way) is the most popular Camino de Santiago route and one of the less demanding Camino de Santiago routes. It is recommended for first-time Camino goers.
Popular Camino de Santiago Portugues (the Portuguese Way) from Lisbon is one of not so difficult Camino de Santiago routes which is also recommended for first-time Camino pilgrims.
Coastal Camino de Santiago del Norte (the Northern Way) which follows the coast of Northern Spain is the most beautiful Camino de Santiago route and one of the most difficult Camino routes. It is recommended for nature lovers and foodies.
Hilly Camino de Santiago Primitivo (the Primitive Way) is recommended for nature lovers and true hikers.
Challenging Camino Via de La Plata (the Silver Way) is recommended for solitude seekers and history buffs.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.

1 comment

  1. Hey!! thanks for the insights

    would it be possible for you to share a map showing your interim stops or preferred route.
    Google map allows that

    will be helpful …seeing the visual replica of the text?

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