Top Camino de Santiago Tours & Vacations 2024/2025...

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18 Camino de Santiago trips. Compare tour itineraries from 6 tour companies. 175 reviews. 4.7/5 avg rating.

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Top Camino de Santiago Attractions & Experiences

Top Camino de Santiago Experiences

  • Arriving in Santiago de Compostela at the end of your trek and feeling the tremendous feeling of accomplishment among hundreds of other pilgrims
  • Meeting lifelong friends along the way
  • Passing through the remote towns and villages of Northern Spain along the historic route
  • Learning the many historical nuances about the trail
  • Enjoying a cocktail where Hemingway’s characters did at The Cafe Iruña in Pamplona
  • Taking in views of the majestic Pyrenees Mountains 
  • Enjoying the fabulous cuisine in Pamplona
  • Photographing one of the Camino’s favorite sights, the octagonal Eunate church
  • Touring medieval churches and admiring the tremendous architecture
  • Winetasting at small local wineries serving up some famous Northern Spain varietals
  • Crossing the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain
  • Wine tasting in the Najera vineyards, a region of Rioja wine country
  • Visiting the lively Saturday market in Sahagun and its signature red-brick churches

Camino de Santiago Tours & Travel Guide

Camino de Santiago Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Camino de Santiago is a classic trip for hikers, trekkers, and religious folk. This network of pilgrimage routes dating back to the 9th century can be followed in many ways, though the main trail spans an impressive 500 miles from Biarritz on the west coast of France to Santiago, Spain. It is marked along the way with a distinctive yellow shell shape, which also indicates establishments for food and lodging.

How Long Have People Been Traveling the Camino de Santiago?

Historians believe that people have been walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrim route for over 1,000 years. Santiago, or Saint James - one of the original 12 Apostles - was spreading Christianity through the Iberian Peninsula.

It is said that upon his death, his body was laid in a boat, which ultimately landed on the coast of Spain. This spot was just a bit west of today’s Santiago de Compostela. King Alfonso II ruled that Saint James’ remains be buried in a special chapel. This became Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and it is this site that attracts pilgrims from across the world to walk this pilgrimage route each year.

During the Middle Ages, some 250,000 pilgrims made the journey annually. The route traveled today, the Camino Frances (the French Way) was founded by Father Elias Valina in the 1980s. He was a Galician priest from O Cebreiro and took it upon himself to mark the Camino de Santiago with the yellow scallop shell symbol, on a blue background, the iconic waymarker of the route.

What Countries Does the Camino Walk Pass Through?

There are several different Camino de Santiago routes to choose from, including those that start in France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and even Finland. Look for tour operators with guided and self-guided Camino tours starting in any of these countries and varying in lengths, depending on your personal preference and timeline.

Do I Have to Walk the Camino de Santiago?

It is possible to experience the Camino de Santiago by driving if you simply don’t have the time or physical capabilities to walk one of its famous routes. This doesn’t mean you won’t be an authentic pilgrim!

There are a variety of reasons travelers choose to drive the Camino, from families with young children or older generations, or those on a tight schedule. You might even choose to walk some of the Camino de Santiago and drive the rest. There are tour operators in Spain who will cater to those travelers who do choose the auto Camino route.

If neither walking nor driving is your style and you prefer two wheels, there are many biking tours available on the Camino de Santiago. Most cyclists do not complete the entire Camino Frances (French Way). Instead, many start in Leon and continue for about one week to Santiago de Compostela, giving them enough mileage to earn the pilgrim’s certificate.

If you have more than a week to cycle the Camino, consider the route north of the Camino Frances through Basque Country and Cantabria. During the summer and early fall, May to October, the temperature for cycling remain pleasant.

Have even longer? Take several weeks to bike the Camino de Santiago from Basque Country, starting at San Sebastian, to Bilbao, Cantabria, Picos de Europa National Park, Oviedo, Leon and ultimately joining the Camino Frances.

Hiking the Camino de Santiago - What You Need to Know

This trail is 500 miles long, but it can be broken up into manageable chunks. Often tours visiting Northern Spain will hike or cycle a portion of it, even if it's not the main focus of the trip.

The main accommodations along the route are called "Albergues". These are often bare bones with multiple people to a room. You can cook your own meals if you wish or participate in a communal meal.

This is all part of the experience, but if it makes you wary, you can book hotels but they will be much more expensive and because the Camino de Santiago traverses through some rural villages more often you'll find hostels. Hostels will usually have private rooms available but you will most likely share a bathroom.

English may not be spoken as much as you might think in establishments along the way. However the trail is extremely common among english speakers so your fellow hikers will be able to help if you're stumbling through trying to remember your 8th grade Spanish.

Though the trail has religious undertones, you'll meet many people from all walks of life along the trail. It's a great place to learn about other cultures and faiths.

How Many Camino de Santiago Routes Are There? 

The Camino de Santiago is not, in fact, just one path from point A to point B. It’s a network of paths, all culminating in Santiago de Compostela. Most Camino de Santiago tour operators focus on 8 to 10 of the most popular ways to walk the path. 

The most famous of the Camino routes is the Camino Frances (French Way), which starts in Roncesvalles and covers 775 kilometers before arriving in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. This is the route with the most historical tradition and, to some, represents the most authentic pilgrim experience.

You’ll pass by Gothic and Roman monasteries and temples along the way. This route is also the most well marked of any of the routes, although whether self-guided or guided along the Camino de Santiago, you can rest assured you’ll have adequate directions and maps. 

You won’t be alone along the way - more than 100,000 pilgrims and travelers walk this UNESCO World Heritage trail annually. On the other hand, it’s a great way to meet like-minded travelers along the Camino de Santiago and give your tour a convivial ambience.

Trails are marked in places with the iconic scallop shell, said to be an ancient connection to St. James. Beyond the trail, you’ll see the Camino de Santiago scallop shell in countless souvenir forms, on backpacks, on hotels and hostels and more. 

Among the other less popular, but often chosen Camino de Santiago routes, are

1. Camino Portuguese (The Portuguese Route): The well-marked, second most popular Camino de Santiago walk, with perhaps more historical interest points than any of the other routes. 

2. Camino del Norte (The Northern Route): Great for those seeking an off-the-beaten-track Camino de Santiago experience, incredibly scenic and boasting cooler weather than many of the southern routes

3. Camino Primitivo (The Primitive Route): The path trod by pilgrims as far back as the 9th century, more mountainous than other Camino routes and featuring Oviedo’s Cathedral

4. Camino Ingles (The English Route): The Camino de Santiago path taken by pilgrims who were arriving by sea and the shortest of the popular Camino routes, uncrowded and perfect for those who want a taste of the Camino de Santiago but are short on time

5. Via de la Plata: A flexible Camino route following an ancient Roman road, and, depending on which route you take, the longest camino in Spain 

6. The Madrid Route: If you’d like to walk a section of the Camino de Santiago that’s less crowded, consider a guided tour of the Madrid Route. It’s less known and although it is gaining some traction with Camino walkers, it’s still a sure bet for peace and quiet along serene footpaths and through historic towns, like Segovia and Valladolid. 

7. Camino de Finisterre and Muxia: Like to change things up? Start at the end of the Camino de Santiago and walk to Finisterre - which was once believed to be the most western point on mainland Europe.

This route is fairly wet year-round, but this start from Santiago de Compostela features ruggedly beautiful Galician countryside. This can also serve as an extension to the traditional Camino de Santiago routes.

Advantages of Doing the Camino de Santiago on a Guided Tour

Deciding whether to do a self-guided or guided tour of the Camino de Santiago comes down to your personal preferences and goals for your journey.

If you’d like to focus solely on the experience itself, without the planning and figuring out of various paths, accommodations, sights to see, etc., it’s advisable to choose a guided Camino tour. A few other advantages of a guided tour of the famous Camino pilgrimage route include:

-Eliminates the hassle of planning 

-Less likely to get lost along the way or miss out on an important historical or religious site 

-Company and security of an expert guide well versed in the Camino routes 

-Like a self-guided route, you’ll still be able to walk at your own pace

-Value of knowing that everything is included, from your guide to luggage transfer, accommodations to meals

-Having a bilingual guide in your back pocket, helping to translate menus and at sightseeing stops

-Opportunity to meet like-minded travelers in your Camino tour group, dining and staying overnight with them and sharing stories of your walk

Top Historic Sights You'll See When Walking the Camino de Santiago

  • St-Jean Pied de Port: Beautiful, old walled town that andtypical starting point for the popular Camino Frances, just 8 kilometers from the Spanish border. 
  • Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: Spain’s most sacred Christina monument and, for most, the final destination of their Camino journey. Pilgrims pass through the Portico de la Gloria, created in 1188 and adorned with 200 sculptures of Biblical characters and scenes. Below the main altar lies the Crypt of Saint James the Apostle, the patron saint of Spain and the biggest draw for Camino pilgrims. 
  • Hostal de los Reyes Católicos: An original hostel for pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela, dating back to 1499. Today’s Camino walkers can join guided tours that stay here - it has been transformed into a luxury parador hotel with comfortable accommodations and traditional Galician cuisine.
  • Torres del Rio dome: A 12th-century Holy Sepulcher octagonal church inspired by Islamic spain architecture.
  • Burgos: Home to a huge 13th-century Gothic cathedral and walled medieval town
  • Fromista Church in Castile-Leon: considered to be one of the earlier forms of French Romanesque architecture in Spain.
  • Sahagun: A diverse town dating back to the Middle Ages, reflective of its Christain, Jewish, Muslim and European inhabitants. Home to four lovely churches: San Tirso, San Lorenzo, La Peregrina and Virgen del Puente
  • Leon: Dating back to the 1st century, and home to a 13th-century Gothic cathedral that is considered one of the most French Gothic churches in all of Spain. Pay special attention to the stained-glass windows that give the cathedral an ethereal glow.
  • O Cebreiro: One of the highest points along the entire Camino route, with an incredible scenic vista. Also the gateway to the Camino’s final region, Galicia.

Accommodations Along the Camino de Santiago

So, where will you stay overnight when walking the Camino de Santiago? One of the most common accommodations along all of the Camino routes is an albergue, or pilgrim hostel.

Albergues offer a typical pilgrim experience in that they’re dorm-style, inexpensive and, usually, first-come, first-served. There are many albergues along the routes, usually between 5 and 15 kilometers separating one hostel from the next.

Look for several types of albergues along the Camino de Santiago routes: 

  • Municipal albergues:staffed by volunteers and run by the local government, not the most comfortable and usually housed in local buildings, like old schoolhouses or other repurposed buildings
  • Parochial albergues:staffed and run by religious institutions - think churches, convents and monasteries. Simple accommodations, usually offered for a donation.
  • Association albergues: staffed and run by pilgrim organizations, also offered in exchange for a donation or for a small fee
  • Private albergues:owned and operated by private groups or even by private individuals who have completed the pilgrimage in the past. Typically more comfortable and cozier than the other type of albergues.

If you’re not a hostel fan, fear not - there are also many hotels available along the Camino de Santiago. If your tastes run more toward a private room, they come in several shapes and sizes, depending on which Camino route you take.

Guided and self-guided Camino tours may offer fondas (rooms operated by a town’s local cafe or pub), pensions (a room in a family home), hostales (family-run hotel) and more traditional hotels and paradors (historic buildings transformed into luxury accommodations).

Food Along the Camino de Santiago Trail 

If there’s on guarantee as you walk along the Camino de Santiago trail, it’s that you’ll work up a hearty appetite the more miles you log. As you pass through the various towns and villages of your chosen Camino route, your self-guided or guided tour will point you toward local restaurants offering the traditional Pilgrim’s Menu.

This typically includes bread, wine, a starter, an entree and dessert. It’s easy, predictable and filling. If you’re a foodie on the Camino de Santiago, consider moving beyond the main street and seeking out off-the-beaten path restaurants for a more authentic taste of Spain.

Your tour guide can help with dining recommendations.

Try these traditional dishes as you eat your way along the Camino de Santiago:

  1. Padron peppers (pimientos de Padrón): Mostly mild, these peppers are palatable for almost all tastes, but do be aware that about one in ten of these little guys is quite spicy. Ask the locals for their tips on how to distinguish the hotter ones if you want to avoid them.
  2. Pil pil cod: Try this famous dish of the Camino del Norte, starting in Basque Country. Pil pil cod entrees are based on cod, olive oil, garlic and chili peppers. 
  3. Garlic soup: This typical dish of the famous Camino Frances is widely available in Castile and Leon. It’s comprised of day-old bread, broth, poached egg, paprika, bay leaf, garlic and olive oil. 
  4. Eggs a la Flamenca: Food enthusiasts walking from Seville along the Via de la Plata must try this egg dish brimming with red tomatics, chorizo, peppers, peas, ham, green beans, garlic, asparagus and onion.
  5. Migas: A traditional Spanish tapa, with variations based on geography. If you’re walking through Via de la Plata, taste the migas a la Extremena in the Extremadura community - they’re also known as “shepherd migas.”
  6. Chilindrón lamb: As you embark on the Camino Frances walk, you’ll soon pass through Navarre. Take the chance to try the Chilindrón lamb, vegetable, tomato and meat stew.
  7. Octopus a feira: This dish is also called “octopus a la gallega.” It’s a traditional delicacy in Melide, especially where the Camino Frances and the Primitivo route intersect. 
  8. Cocido lebaniego: Those seeking traditional flavors of the Camino de Santiago will want to try cocido lebaniego in Cantabria. It’a a delightful blend of chickpeas, potatoes, cabbage, chorizo, bacon and morcilla.
  9. Fabada asturiana: Among the top ten dishes to try in Spain, the fabada asturiana is based on its namesake bean and combined with chorizo or morcilla. It’s particularly hearty, but well deserved after a long day of walking.
  10. Scallops: Santiago de Compostela brims with seafood options, including the characteristic Galician scallops. They’re typically served in the scallop shell itself, the icon of the Camino de Santiago.

What to Pack for the Camino de Santiago

1. Hiking poles - One of the first things most packing lists for Camino de Santiago suggest is hiking poles. These help balance your weight and bring some of the stress off your knees. 

2. Sunhat - You'll be outside for almost the entire day. Be sure to keep your neck protected from sunburn!

3. Hiking boots - Experienced hikers may scoff at bringing a heavy hiking boot - and in their case regular tennis shoes will probably suffice. But the trail attracts many who are not serious hikers on their off days for it's mostly flat terrain and religious significance. If you don't hike regularly consider getting a nice sturdy pair of boots. This will provide nice support for your ankes as well as your feet. And the trail can get muddy, so hiking boots tend to be more weather resistant than your average tennis shoe.

NOTE -  Be SURE to break in your shoes if they're new!! Your feet will thank you and you won't get blisters within 1 hour of walking.

4. Wool socks and liners - Again experienced hikers may be able to get by with something more simple, but for comfort thick wool socks will help prevent blisters and keep your feet dry. 

5. Lightweight rain gear - The weather can change quickly, with the sky opening up for occasional downpours. Having a rain slicker that you can slip on over yourself and you pack will mean you can keep going instead of hiding out waiting for the weather to pass. And make sure you keep your camera well protected when you're not using it!

6. Breathable light layers - Long distance hikes like the Camino de Santiago benefit from hiking from morning till night. It will likely be chilly in the morning and evening, warming up during the day as you get your blood pumping. Layers are key for comfort!

7. Travel towel - If you plan on staying in the Albergues or hostels along the way, having your own towel is essential!

Camino de Santiago Reviews & Ratings

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C

Carol

Oct 2015

Written on

Good size group, great tour leader (on

Good size group, great tour leader (on this occasion), pretty good value for money on the whole.

L

Lesley

Oct 2015

Written on

I enjoy intrepid but the style of

I enjoy intrepid but the style of travel doesn't suit everyone.

a

alexandra

Sep 2015

Written on

good balance of guidance and free time

good balance of guidance and free time

R

Rodney

Sep 2015

Written on

Inexperienced leadership resulting in some wasted time.

Inexperienced leadership resulting in some wasted time. Too much time traveling in buses and small vans. Our leader was not confident in communicating information to...

R

Ric

Sep 2015

Written on

Very knowledgeable, competent, personable guide. Fun and

Very knowledgeable, competent, personable guide. Fun a...

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