With people increasingly jumping on the trend of healthy lifestyle and mindfulness, walking holidays are gaining more popularity too. Camino de Santiago is a network of well-established and historically significant routes, so it’s only natural that Santiago Ways are a popular option for travellers planning their walking holidays. The best thing about the Camino routes, though, is how diverse they are – there are many different options available, so people from all walks of life will find something that suits them. Here’s what you need to know.
Easiest routes for beginners
If you’re just looking to try your hand at a walking holiday for the first time and you’re not already used to a lot of physical activity, it’s best to choose a route that’s more beginner-friendly. These routes typically include less steep inclines or declines, they have a better infrastructure for breaks throughout the day and tend to be a bit shorter. The last 100 km of Camino Francés or Camino Portuguese are the most common choice for beginners, also suitable for families.
Advanced routes for experienced hikers
Those who are used to hiking or are otherwise into fitness will look for a bit more of a challenge from their walking holiday. Camino del Norte is often crowned to be the most difficult of the Santiago routes, as it truly tests your endurance with many ascents and descents along the way. The reward after the struggle is so worth it though, with stunning mountainous scenery. Additionally, don’t get tricked by the short distance of the Camino Primitivo, the oldest and original Camino de Santiago route – it might be short but it surely is mighty!
Best for historical attractions
The Camino de Santiago route network is known for its heritage and historical significance and so the majority of them will have the best of both worlds: lots of beautiful nature and many historical sites you can visit along the way. This includes Camino Primitivo, Camino Francés and Camino Portuguese. However, a few others that are worth a mention are Vía de la Plata (for its many historic Roman sites) and Camino Mozárabe, famous for its Moorish architecture.
Routes for foodies
One of the best things about travelling is undoubtedly the new and authentic foods you get to taste. It’s no different during a walking holiday and so if food is what gets you excited, you should know that different Camino routes will offer different food experiences too.
For example, Camino del Norte is great for a Michelin star dining experience, with plenty of seafood options available. Via Francigena, the Camino route to Rome, will be great for an Italian cuisine feast, while Camino Mozárabe, Camino de Madrid and Camino Finisterre-Muxía will offer authentic tapas and Spanish wines.
The most social routes
If you are a social butterfly, looking to meet interesting characters and make friends for life, Camino de Santiago routes are a great place for this. While all of them will be perfectly fine for bumping into friendly walking enthusiasts, it’s only natural that the most popular Santiago Ways will have the most travellers and, as a result, will be the most social too.
Such routes as Camino Francés and Camino Portuguese attract thousands of pilgrims every year, while Camino del Norte, Camino Inglés and Camino Primitivo get somewhere between 15,000-20,000. There are also many organised group tours for those, so socialising opportunities are incredibly easy to find.