The Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James is one of the most famous pilgrimages in the world. It’s estimated over 200,000 people trek the Camino de Santiago each year and it’s so much more than a pilgrimage: it’s a social, cultural and scenic experience.
Today, TD Active Holidays have outlined everything you need to know about the Camino to help you prepare for one of the best known walking holidays in Europe.
Travel with Confidence
Before we start, the wonderful team over at TD active Holidays know how important flexibility is to you right now. So, from July 1st to September 30th, 2021, any new bookings made for travel in 2021 can be changed for free or you can swap your deposit for a voucher that has no expiry date. This flexibility is valid right up to when your balance is due. Rest assured you can book with confidence today and give yourself something to look forward to. More information here.
Also, before reading on we don’t want you to miss out on either of our two amazing partner activities with TD active’s sister brand Travel Department. Not only are they offering Donegal Daily readers an exclusive €50pp* of any new 2022 holidays to Italy of 7 nights or more when using our code: VP-DONEGAL50. This code can be used either online or calling 01 637 1698.
BUT that’s not all! Travel Department are also running a brilliant competition exclusively for our readers to WIN €500 in holiday vouchers that can be used on ANY holiday!! Enter HERE.
Why do people walk the Camino?
The history of the Camino de Santiago dates to the beginning of the 9th century, when the tomb of St. James, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, was allegedly discovered and started attracting pilgrims from across Europe to this holy site. Traditionally, people set out from their own homes towards Santiago, which was how the Camino developed. Whilst some people still embark on the Camino for religious reasons, many do so for the physical challenge and adventure. There is a peacefulness to walking the Camino that can’t be fully described, only experienced. A tradition is to greet everyone you meet along the way with “Buen Camino”. You find yourself saying this every few minutes because you are never alone on the Camino. There are always people making their journey, passing by with friendly smiles of acknowledgment. Walking the Camino, you get a huge sense of accomplishment and camaraderie from the friends you meet along the way.
How many Camino de Santiago routes are there?
It is a large network of routes leading to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. The Camino route network extends across Europe, with starting points in France, Spain, Portugal and even Ireland. Although there are several different trails and routes to choose from, there are seven well established routes to the Camino de Santiago. The French Way or Camino Frances which starts from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and runs for 790 Km and has been a pilgrimage route since the 10th century. The Portuguese Way or Camino Portuguese begins in Lisbon and is over 600 Km. The beauty of the Camino is you can choose which parts to walk, so it’s perfect for all levels of ability and you don’t need to be an expert walker to experience it. You can even cycle the Camino if you prefer.
Can you get lost on the Camino?
The benefit of booking with TD active Holidays is that you have your own local expert guide for the duration of your walks, meaning you have more time to take in the scenery without the fear of losing your way! The walking routes along each section of the Camino de Santiago are generally very well marked, making it difficult to get lost. The scallop shell is one of the most iconic symbols of the ancient pilgrimage and today it is used, along with the yellow arrow, to guide pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela along its many different routes. You will see it painted on trees, sidewalks, tiles and so on. The scallop shell is said to be a metaphor, its lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world, all walking trails leading to one point: the tomb of Saint James. The shape of the scallop shell is also said to resemble the setting sun, which would have been an important daily event, full of symbolism in pre-Christian societies. The scallop shell is open to interpretation in different regions, so it is best to follow the yellow arrows as these are the most accurate road signs.
Where does the Camino de Santiago end?
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia in Northwest Spain and its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s cathedral has been the final point of the Camino de Santiago as far back as the 9th century. It is the alleged burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James and his remains reputedly lie within the cathedral. The cathedral façade is in the Praza do Obradoiro square, in the heart of the Old Town, home to narrow winding streets full of historic buildings, squares and monuments in Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. The ancient city of Santiago de Compostela is captivating and a fantastic place to visit, especially if you’ve arrived there after making the adventurous journey along the Camino de Santiago.
How do I get my Pilgrim Passport for the Camino?
Most that embark on the Camino de Santiago, even if they are not religious, carry the ‘credencial del peregrino’ or Pilgrim’s passport. The Pilgrim’s passport is issued by Santiago Cathedral and the information and instructions are written in Spanish. The blank boxes mark the space for your stamps, which you will collect en route to Santiago de Compostela. You will need to get two stamps per day (e.g., in hotels, bars, restaurants, churches along the way) and walk at least the last 100km or cycle 200km into Santiago de Compostela to receive your pilgrim certificate. When you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, you will collect your last stamp at the Pilgrims Office which is in Rúa Carretas 33. It is here that you can request your ‘Compostela’ pilgrim certificate, proof of having completed the journey, and celebrate the accomplishment of making it all the way!
What are the best Camino routes for beginners?
For those who want to have the experience but aren’t keen to be walking 20km+ per day, our Footsteps of the Camino walking holiday is a great option. This will give you a taste of what the Camino de Santiago has to offer whilst enjoying the food, wine and culture along the famous route. There is an opportunity to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which has a fantastic collection of modern and contemporary art, and a local winery in the Rioja region.
Are there any challenging Camino routes?
For more experienced walkers, our Camino de Santiago – The Last 100km or Portuguese Coastal Way would be a great option. It offers more of a challenge with daily walking distances between 14km and 28km per day. Also, as you walk over 100km this allows you to earn the “Compostela”. The Last 100km takes you through woodlands, farmland and rustic hamlets, while the Coastal Way follows a beautiful coastal route to bring you to Santiago.
On TD active’s Camino de Santiago walking holidays, you will be supported by dedicated and knowledgeable local guides, you won’t have to worry about carrying your luggage, as it will be transferred to your next hotel while you tackle that day’s section of the trail. So, all you have to do is grab your walking poles and hiking boots and join us for an epic trek on the Camino de Santiago for an incredible experience that you will never forget!
Let TD active Walk You Through Their Wonderful Range of Walking Holidays
Now that travel has opened up again, TD active can’t wait to welcome you back on one of their walking holidays! Book before 30th of September 2021 and save €50pp* off any 2022 walking holiday of 7 nights or more by quoting Donegal Daily or Donegal Woman and using the code: VP-WALKING50.
Whether you’re an experienced walker prepared for hours of adventurous hiking or prefer to take things at a moderate pace, TD active will take you to some of the most beautiful trails in Europe. They offer a range of walking holidays suitable for all levels to destinations like Spain, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania as well as trails closer to home on our Homegrown Adventures. Get ready to experience the joy of travel again and start planning your next walking holiday with them. When you’re ready to travel, they’re ready to welcome you back.
Quoting the Donegal Daily or Donegal Woman and code: VP-WALKING50 in the checkout to get your 2022 booking discount. This code can be used either online or calling 01 637 1698.
TD active Holidays offer a range of active trips and holidays that take in everything the avid adventurer might wish to discover. From their Explore range of exciting small group tours, to mountain walks to photography trips and even island yoga retreats. With expert guides or teachers on hand to show you the ropes, they are ideal for friends, couples or solo travellers who want to enjoy the security of travelling in a small group with like-minded people. Every holiday is accompanied by a passionate local guide and designed to offer authentic, unique experiences.