If you plan to walk or do a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, there are a lot of things you will want to know.
You will ask questions like "What is the best time to walk the Camino?", "Which Camino", "Should I hike or cycle", "What should I bring", "Should I book my hotels along the Camino"...
Read on to learn all there is to know about walking the Camino de Santiago.
When to go Spring (March-May) is popular; cold mornings, some rain. The week before Easter is busy. Summers (June - Aug) are warm to hot and mostly dry with long days but busy trails. September and October are popular, mostly dry and warm; harvest time. November is colder and wetter. In winter (Dec - Feb) some accommodations close. Shorter, colder days, snow in the Pyrenees.
There are a lot of different Camino Trails.
The most famous, and therefore the busiest, is the 790 kms, 36 days Camino Frances which runs from St. Jean Pied de Port in the south of France to Santiago de Compostella.
One trail that is rapidly gaining in popularity is the 613 kms, 32 day Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Santiago. People rate it as the most spiritually connected and it offers great coastal views.
Lesser known trails in Spain are the Camino Primitivo (320 kms, 17 days, more challenging and quiet), The English Way (110 kms, 8 days, very quiet walking through tiny villages) and the Camino del Norte (804 kms, 41 days, the longest and toughest Camino to Santiago).
Did you know there are Camino trails all over Europe? You can find them in Holland, Germany and even further afield, as well as in Italy (the Italian portion of the Francigena Way, 1000 kms, 50 days) and in France (French Way of St James aka Via Podiensis, 740 kms, 40 days).
Getting there and back
The most common way to get to St Jean Pied de Port is to fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Air France, Air Canada and Air Transat have non-stop overnight flights, taking 7½ hours. KLM, Lufthansa, Iceland Air and WOW also offer flights. Return fares to Paris start at $750 in spring & fall, $900 in summer. The later you book, the more you pay. January often sees seat sales.
Leave plenty of connection time between your airline and train tickets in case of delay.
From Santiago fly to Paris on Vuelling, (from EUR110).
Rest & Relaxation You arrive in St Jean after a long train journey and an overnight flight - do you want to start hiking that day, or do you prefer to rest? During your pilgrimage or after, do you need a break? Find hotels at www.expedia.ca or www.hotels.com. Luxury hotels (Paradores) can be found at www.parador.es
Your Canadian passport must be valid for 3 months after your return. Canadian, US and EU passport holders do not need visa for France, Spain and Portugal. Other nationals may need visa. Special rules apply for dual citizens of Canada and another country - be sure to inquire.
Be sure you have adequate travel insurance and don't rely on your credit card. A policy dedicated to hikers and cyclists is available from us from $2 per day. Did you know this may be tax-deductible?