Welcome to our FAQ page. Here we have listed the most popular questions and short answers in an attempt to jump start your understanding of the Camino and this site. You’ll find much more comprehensive information on the various pages of this site, so be sure to look around.
What is the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago, or “Way of St. James” is an ancient pilgrimage to the Cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela in Northwest Spain. The Cathedral is commonly understood to house the earthly remains of St. James the Apostle - one of the twelve original disciples of Christ in Christian theology. Click here for additional background information on the Camino.
Is the Camino de Santiago only for religious people?
No. Originally, the pilgrimage was primarily a religious phenomenon, but today the Camino attracts thousands of people from all over the world– representing all faiths and no faith. Non-religious pilgrims are typically attracted to the ancient architecture, art, and the nature aspects the Camino has to offer. Click here for a list of statistics on people who
complete the Camino.
How many people complete the Camino each year?
According to statistics published by the Cathedral in Santiago, more than 200,000 people complete all or a portion of the Camino every year and the numbers are growing. Pilgrims from the US have topped 10,000 annually in recent times. For more interesting statistics, click here.
Where should I start the Camino de Santiago?
There is no single starting point for the Camino. You can choose to begin at any point. The choice of where to begin is largely a factor of how much time you have and how much time you need to complete the Camino. The most popular route is the 500 mile stretch across Northern Spain called the Camino Frances, which begins in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. The most popular starting points on this route are St. Jean Pied de Port, Roncevalles, Pamplona, Leon, and Burgos among others. Sarria (~5 days outside of Santiago) is also a popular starting point for those who have a week to walk.
How long does it take to complete the Camino de Santiago?
This depends on your mode of travel (e.g. by foot, cycle, horse, etc) and where you start. To cover the 500 mile stretch of the Camino Frances (starting in St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncevalles), you will need 4-6 weeks if traveling by foot and 2-3 weeks if cycling. It took me 30 consecutive days to reach Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port. If you have less time, consider starting in Ponferrada (~10 days to Santiago) or Sarria (~5 days to Santiago). For the itineraries we've completed, click here.
How do I prepare for the Camino de Santiago?
There are many ways to prepare for the Camino. Click here for an extensive checklist.
What gear should I take?
Gear choice is a personal preference. Some people want all the latest gear with all the “bells and whistles,” while others are minimalists in their choices. Click here to see a list of my gear suggestions.
Where do people sleep and eat while on the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino offers lots of options for accommodations and eats, depending on your preference. For those who wish to experience the Camino in the traditional austere manner, a system of communal albergues provides an inexpensive solution. A typical albergue offers a bunk bed, the use of shower and bathroom facilities, and in some cases a kitchen in which to prepare meals – all for $10-$15. If albergue living is not your preference, don’t worry - there are plenty of small and quaint hotels and boarding houses along the way.
Can I have my bags transported along the way?
Yes, there are numerous baggage transport services along the Camino Frances route. The cost is generally ~$5-$10 per bag per day- sometimes cheaper. Baggage transport is generally available only if you stay in private accommodations (ie NOT the public or municipal albergues). The system is pretty efficient and the hotel or casa rural where you stay can advise on the process. Generally, you are given a small envelop on which you write your name and the destination for next day (e.g., hotel name). You put the exact payment in euros into the envelop and attach to your bag. You then leave your bag at the front desk prior to checking out. At some point during the day, the transport service will collect your bag and deliver it to your hotel. pretty simple. We used a transport service for our most recent camino and never had an issue with our bags.
What is a credential and how do I get one?
The credential, often referred to as the “pilgrims passport” iss a document that it used to trace your progress along the Camino. By tradition, you obtain a sello (a stamp) each day from a multitude of locations along the way. At the end of the Camino – in Santiago – you produce your credential to the Church authorities in order to obtain the compostela. Incidentally, you also need a credential in order to access the system of albergues. Credentials are available from several organizations – you can order one by mail before you go for a nominal cost. Alternatively, you can typically find a credential when you arrive to your starting point – many albergue offer credentials. Click here for a list of Camino related organizations,
many of which offer credentials. Note: don’t confuse the credential with a government issued passport – you still need a government issued passport in order to leave the US. The credential is a document specific to the Camino and is not issued by a government entity.
What is a compostela?
This is a sort of “certificate of completion” offered by the Cathedral authorities in Santiago. The Church typically grants a compostela if you can prove you walked at least the last 100km of the Camino (or cycled the last 200km). Also, the compostela is traditionally offered only to those pilgrims who indicate “Religious” or “Religious and other” as the motivation for completing the Camino.
Can I walk the Camino with a child?
Yes you can- in fact, we did it recently. Check out our page devoted to the topic.
How much does it costs to hike the Camino de Santiago?
A great aspect of the Camino is that it does not have to be an expensive journey. It is possible to survive on $25-$30 per day if you choose to stay in the public albergues and buy and cook your own meals each day. Alternatively, you may choose to stay in small hotels and casa rurals along the way and eat in cafes – the choice is totally yours. Hotels and boarding houses typically start around $30-$40 per night (and go up to $100 or higher). A simple "pilgrims meal" can be had in a local cafe for around $15-$20 generally.