Planning Your Camino de Santiago Journey

The most famous Camino or pilgrimage is to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago in Northern Spain, where the remains of the apostle St. James were interred. It is also known as the Way of St. James. This journey also appears in the film The Way, in which Martin Sheen unexpectedly follows his deceased son’s planned route to Santiago de Compostela.  

Planning Your Camino de Santiago Journey 

Irish pilgrims for the Camino can begin their journey at the church of St. James on St. James’s Street, Dublin. Here you can get your official Pilgrim Passport and the first stamp on your trip from the Irish Camino Society.

There are several ways to get to Santiago and the routes have names like the French Way, the Portuguese Way, and the Celtic Way from Ireland. To receive your final stamp, you will need to walk 100km, cycle or ride 200km of the route. Your journey is usually certified by getting stamps in your Pilgrim’s Passport along the way in churches, convents, monasteries, and public buildings.   

There are a wide variety of accommodations available including hostels, hotels, Paradors, and apartments. Originally pilgrims stayed in hostels or Refugios as they are known in Spain. The Refugios still operate and provide low-cost accommodation, usually shared, with washing and cooking facilities, and cost in the region of €10 – €15 per night. 

Holy Year Extended

Last year was a Holy Year on the Camino de Santiago and Pope Francis extended it into 2022 to allow greater recovery from the pandemic. The Holy Year is when the 25th July falls on a Sunday. During Holy Year pilgrims can gain a Plenary Indulgence; complete forgiveness for their sins. 

Next year will be Holy Year for the Lebaniego Way. This route from Santander to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana is where a piece of the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified, is located, the Lignum Crucis. The Lebaniego Way has its own pilgrim passport called the La Lebaniega, see here.  

You can plan your own Camino journey quite easily, but there are a number of Irish companies that can plan it for you.  By using a company they will assists with finding accommodation and having your luggage transported from base to base. Staff in these companies have also usually done the Camino and have firsthand knowledge. This is especially helpful at busy times of the year. They are CaminowaysFollow the Camino, TDActiveHolidays.ie, and One Foot Abroad. See also Spain Tourism, Galicia Province, Asturias Province, and Cantabria Province Read about exploring the Camino del North – Green Spain here.

Buen Camino.

Joan Scales
Joan Scales
Joan Scales has been writing about travel and tourism for many years in The Irish Times. She is now editor of travel2ireland. She appears regularly on radio talking about travel and tourism.

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