Information and latest news about the Camino de Santiago, Via Francigena, St Francis Ways, and other walking holidays and pilgrimages in Europe with Camino Ways. CaminoWays.com is a walking and cycling holiday specialist with in depth knowledge on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the Via Francigena to Rome, and European adventures. However or real speciality is building your holiday around you, your needs your specifications! Everyone here at Camino Ways has extensive travelling experience around the world. We offer alternative holidays that break away from the usual beach or resort trips — offering you the customer a real opportunity to experience nature, along with friends and family, up-close and personally. It is said that travelling broadens the mind, we believe these adventures encompasses this. It is an opportunity to embed yourself into local culture and enjoy the aromas and food and traditions they have to offer.
Cycling the Camino Routes: 5 Great Routes to choose - Camino de Santiago
Did you know approximately 10% of all pilgrims reaching Santiago de Compostela are ‘bicigrinos’, bike-pilgrims? Nearly 25,000 bicigrinos choose cycling the Camino routes to receive their Compostela certificate each year.
If you are cycling the Camino de Santiago, remember you must at least cover the last 200 kilometres into Santiago de Compostela, if you’d like to receive your certificate.
We have picked 5 great routes for those looking to experience the Camino on two wheels:
Cycling the Camino Routes 1: Camino Frances
The Camino Frances is the classic Camino route, the most popular among both walkers and cyclists. While it is not the oldest (the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo is the oldest known Camino route), the French Way is the best known, most famous and also the route with the most comprehensive network of services en-route.
The Camino Frances starts in St Jean Pied de Port, in France, but at CaminoWays.com we recommend cycling from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela (avoiding the Pyrenees), which covers 659kms and can be done in two weeks. However, cycling the Camino from Ponferrada, just over 200kms, will be enough to get you your Compostela certificate.
For most of the way, the Camino route is shared by walkers and bicigrinos; although at times you might have to dismount, if the trail gets too narrow and busy with walkers, for safety reasons. In stretches not suitable for cyclists (ie. steps, etc…) an alternative will be generally marked (see image).
If you are travelling with children, we suggest you cycle from Sarria to Santiago following our adult walking itinerary (cycling an average of 20 to 28kms per day). It won’t suffice to get you a Compostela certificate, but it will be a manageable 100kms over the space of a week and an unforgettable family cycling trip.
Cycling the Camino Routes 2: Portugal
The Camino Portugues is the second most popular Camino route among pilgrims. From colourful Porto, in Northern Portugal, you can make it to Santiago de Compostela in just one week; cycling the 240kms that separate these two magnificent UNESCO-listed cities.
This is a great route that will allow you to experience the culture of two countries, cycling across the North of Portugal and stopping at historic towns such as Barçelos, crossing the River Minho from Valença to Tui and then taking in the landscapes and towns of Southern Galicia.
You can cycle the 590kms of the whole Camino from Lisbon in just two weeks. The Camino Portugues sections from Lisbon to Porto are currently better suited for cyclists than walkers, as they follow mainly country roads.
Cycling the Camino Routes 3: Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte follows the coast of Northern Spain from the Basque Country into Cantabria, Asturias and finally Galicia; the regions of the Cantabric Sea also known as ‘Green Spain’.
Once you reach the lovely historic town of Ribadeo in Galicia, the Camino del Norte leaves the coast and heads inland; which means of 680kms, the last 190kms approximately will be away from the sea.
Cycling the Camino del Norte from Bilbao to Santiago will take 18 days in total.
FAQ: What are the Camino de Santiago Accommodation Options? - Camino de Santiago
There are many different types and styles of Camino de Santiago accommodation along the Camino de Santiago, ranging from hostels (Albergues) to Guesthouses (Casa Rurales) and luxurious Paradores (luxury hotels).
What are the Camino de Santiago accommodation options?
To help you plan your Camino trip, we look at the different Camino de Santiago accommodation options so you can decide which ones are the best for you.
Camino de Santiago Accommodation: Albergues / hostels
There is a good network of Albergues (hostels) along the Camino de Santiago, particularly along the most popular route such as the French Way or Camino Frances. The classic Camino Albergues are public, run by ‘Hospitaleros’ (Camino volunteers) and they can’t be booked in advance. Beds in dorms are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. You will need to have your passport stamped, as part of the ‘check-in’ process and walkers always take priority over other pilgrims (ie. on horseback or bike pilgrims).
In some towns, particularly along the most popular Camino routes such as the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues Way, you will also find privately-run hostels with a similar setup: beds in dorms at low prices.
*Please bear in mind CaminoWays.com packages don’t include hostel accommodation and we work with the best accommodation options for each route and section.
Camino de Santiago Accommodation: Guesthouses / Pensiones
Guesthouses can be called ‘pensiones’, ‘hostales’ or ‘casa’ and they are small family-run businesses. They might not have a star rating but they are a good accommodation option where you will have your own room, bathroom and they’ll generally provide dinner.
Camino de Santiago Accommodation: Hotels
Bigger Camino towns and cities will have a good range of hotels of all styles and sizes, from 3 stars to 4 and 5 stars rated properties.
Camino de Santiago Paradores
A Parador is a luxury hotel belonging to the state-run company Paradores in Spain. They are usually historic buildings such as castles and monasteries; as well as buildings set in nature reserves and areas of outstanding beauty.
Check out the many Paradores located on the Camino de Santiago in our article: What is a Parador?
The most famous Camino de Santiago Parador is the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos in Santiago de Compostela; which has been in operation for 500 years.
In Portugal, you will find similar properties and they are called Pousadas de Portugal.
Camino de Santiago Casas Rurales
Casas Rurales or country cottages are a relatively recent development in the hospitality industry in Galicia and North West Spain; and one that has brought new life to many rural communities. They are boutique country properties refurbished keeping in mind the traditional architecture of the region.
They are generally farmhouses, manor houses, and restored homesteads located in rural settings; they generally offer home-cooking using local or even home-grown produce. We work with many Casas Rurales along the different Camino de Santiago routes and we arrange for our clients to be picked up from the trail.
Bear in mind…
Bigger towns and cities will have a better choice and range of accommodation options; while accommodation in smaller villages and hamlets can be limited. The Camino is a long-distance trail so the mix of accommodation styles will also be part of your journey.
The Camino Francés is the most popular route and therefore the one with a wider range of accommodation options, however, it also gets busier, particularly in Summer months certain towns might get completely booked up.
Cahors: A medieval jewel on Le Puy Way - Camino de Santiago
Cahors is on the Le Puy Camino and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the way. Le Puy Way is the most popular of the Camino routes in France and covers a distance of 713km from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees.
Cahors itself sits in the centre of a bend in the River Lot meaning the town is surrounded on three sides by water and steep limestone cliffs. The area was originally inhabited by a Celtic tribe known as the Cadurci before Roman conquest in the 50’s BC. The town quickly grew to be an important centre of Roman governance and trade.
The town was mentioned in Dante’s Inferno as being wicked due to the fact that the local bankers at the time charged interest on their loans. This was an uncommon practice in those times.
Easily the most notable attraction in the town is the Valentré Bridge. The bridge is a six arch stone structure which was opened in 1350 and with its fortified towers it holds its place as one of the iconic images of the town. There are a number of buildings and sites on Le Puy Way which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the umbrella of the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela and the bridge is one such structure.
There is a legend about the bridge which suggests that the architect sold his soul to the devil in order to help him finish the construction. The legend is reflected in the small devil statue on the centre tower which was placed there during a more recent renovation.
Cahors Cathedral is a National Monument which was built in the 11th century. It is an unusual design, with the sturdy walls making the cathedral resemble a castle. The cathedral has a wonderful 16th century cloisters which houses renaissance frescoes and paintings. There is also an alter in the Cathedral which holds what is said to be a relic of the Holy Cap of Christ.
Around the town there are an abundance of wonderful buildings from the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, giving this town a real medieval feel. Due to the importance the town held during Roman times, there are a number of remains from that time too. Pope John XXII was born in Cahors in 1249 and he was the second of the Avignon Papacy to be based in France rather than Rome.
The area is renowned for its ‘black’ wine which has been made since the Middle Ages. This wine is thought to be the darkest in the world, while it is also some of the richest and strongest. Along with its wine, the area is renowned for its duck, black truffles, foie gras and hearty beef stews. A local custom is called faire chabrot and it involves pouring wine into a bowl with a small bit of soup left in it and then drinking from the bowl.
For more information about the Le Puy Camino and the other ways of the Camino de Santiago, or to book your Camino walk, contact our travel specialists
For more information about the Camino de Santiago or to book your trip, contact our travel specialists
What is The Camino Primitivo route? - Camino de Santiago
What is the Camino Primitivo route?
While it is not very well known outside of Spain, the Camino Primitivo is the oldest of the Camino pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela, hence its name, which translates as the ‘Original Way’.
King Alfonso II the Chaste was the first-ever pilgrim on this route. He walked the Camino from the city of Oviedo, in Asturias, to Santiago in the 9th century with a mission: to confirm the remains found in Santiago were indeed those of St James the Apostle.
In a way, we can say King Alfonso II wasn’t just the first-ever Camino pilgrim but could nearly claim the title of creator of the Camino.
At the time Oviedo was the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias and the King’s pilgrimage inspired many others to make the journey to Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims on the Camino Primitivo came not only from Asturias and other parts of Northern Spain but from further afield and overseas. Pilgrims from northern countries would travel by sea and land on the Northern shores of Spain before continuing their journey on foot.
Once the capital of the Kingdom was moved to Leon, however, the Camino Frances took over as the main route to Santiago for pilgrims from the 11th century.
However, many pilgrims still chose to visit Oviedo San Salvador Cathedral, a pilgrimage destination in its own right. The ‘Saviour’ Cathedral is home to a shroud believed to have been used to wrap Christ’s head after his death.
Today, less than 5% of pilgrims to Santiago choose the Camino Primitivo route.
What is the Camino Primitivo like to walk?
Its mountainous and challenging terrain makes it a difficult trail for Camino newbies but perfect for adventurous pilgrims and those looking for a more rustic Camino experience.
The trail is still wonderfully rugged, rural, and untouched in many parts, particularly the first section of the trail from Oviedo to Lugo. As you walk the quiet tracks and forests of the Camino Primitivo you will nearly feel as if you are stepping back in time.
If you are not sure this challenge will be manageable but still would like to discover the first-ever Camino route, don’t worry, you can start your journey from the city of Lugo and skip the mountainous and rural section of the trail on the last 100kms of the Camino Primitivo.
Lugo is a great little city packed with things to do, see and taste. It is located over 100kms away from Santiago, so it will mean you can get your Compostela certificate.
What not to miss on the Camino Primitivo route:
* Pay homage to San Salvador in Oviedo Cathedral
* Take in the panoramic mountain views
* Experience the hospitality of tiny country villages
* Walk the impressive Roman wall wrapped around Lugo old town
* Sample pulpo in Melide, where the Camino Primitivo joins the famous Camino Frances
What is the Camino Primitivo distance?
It will take you two weeks approximately to walk the full Camino Primitivo from Oviedo, which is 311kms.
We recommend you take at least one rest day approximately after the first week (Lugo will be a good spot for a rest day). If you rather only walk from Lugo, you can complete the trail on foot in just one week.
10 Reasons to visit Bilbao | Camino del Norte - Camino de Santiago
Whenever we get a chance to walk the Camino del Norte, we can’t wait to visit Bilbao.
This picturesque, modern city has become a hub of Spanish insurance companies, banking, and industry. But, don’t let this put you off visiting as part of your Camino del Norte holiday! Bilbao is not all suits and briefcases!
The city retains its amazing culture and the prosperity of the area has led to an influx of trendy new eateries, attractions, bars, and cafes.
10 Reasons to visit Bilbao
Bilbao is full to the brim of things to do. Here are our Top 10 reasons why you need to visit:
1. The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is world-famous and is synonymous with the city of Bilbao. The artwork begins with the architecture of the stunning building and the sculptures that surround it. Inside The Guggenheim’s uniquely constructed walls you’ll find exhibitions by the world’s greatest modern artists. This place is mind-blowing.
2. The Seven Streets
The Old Town in Bilbao is known as Casco Viejo (The Seven Streets). These streets are jam-packed with personality, and really capture the character of Old Bilbao. Take a break and chill out in one of the traditional Basque cafes or restaurants.
3. The Theatre
The two theatres in Bilbao, The Arriaga Theatre and The Campos Eliseos Theatre stare across the river at each other. They are glorious to view from a distance, and you can also catch some great shows inside!
4. El Ensanche
El Ensanche is an upmarket neighborhood, that is located on the west of the City. The wide streets of El Ensanche are lined with old townhouses. This is a shoppers metropolis, home to famous fashion house brands. Try to be conservative with your credit card, as some of the fashion is as irresistible as it is expensive!
5. Santiago Cathedral
Santiago Cathedral is the crowning glory of the old quarter in Bilbao. The Gothic-style building is named after St. James, patron saint of Galicia and star of the Camino de Santiago.
Spotting the scallop shell in the Cathedral will remind you that although you’re exploring this fab city, you’ve got some walking to do!
You may have heard of tapas, and Pintxos are very similar. Our tip is to visit a couple of bars and get a miniature meal with a drink. The Camino del Norte and the Basque region, in particular, are famous for their cuisine and this is the ultimate method of tasting the biggest variety of food in a limited timeline.
7. Athletic Bilbao
It’s not often that a football club makes a CaminoWays.com list but the heritage of Athletic Bilbao is admirable, to say the least. The club has managed to stay at the top of Spanish football despite limiting themselves to only employing Basque players since 1912. This celebration of Basque Nationalism is a testament to the club and its community.
8. Artxanda Lookout
A cable car, Bilbao Funicular, takes you from the city to Artxanda Lookout. This vantage point towers 250 metres above the city, allowing you to spot all the sites we’ve listed from a birds-eye view. The green mountainous backdrop should be another reminder that the Camino trail awaits you.
9. Vizcaya Bridge
Vizcaya Bridge is a UNESCO heritage site, so you know it’s got something special! The world’s oldest transporter bridge connects two sides of the city across the Nervion River. The structure is a prime example of industrial ingenuity in the nineteenth century and still operates today.
10. River Maritime Museum
Bilbao’s rich fishing culture is celebrated in this epic museum.
3 Things to do in Lugo | Camino Primitivo - Camino de Santiago
Lugo is one of the main cities along the Camino Primitivo, the oldest Camino de Santiago route, and a must-see on your visit to Galicia.
If you are walking the Camino Frances from Sarria and making your way by public transport from Santiago de Compostela Lavacolla airport, you are likely to change bus at Lugo station where you will take the bus to Sarria*. If you are arriving early, we recommend you stop for a few hours to check out Lugo’s historic centre before you hop on the bus to Sarria. We feel it would be a real shame to miss it!
These are our top 3 tips for a great afternoon in Lugo:
1. Free food in Lugo?
If you are arriving around lunchtime or you are feeling peckish, Lugo’s Old Town will be a real treat. If Galicia is well known for its tasty food, Lugo is one of the best places to dig in.
We recommend you wander about the Old Town where offering free pinchos (small little tapas) with each drink is a local tradition.
Each glass will come with a complimentary dish that could be anything from freshly made tortilla to the classic Galician empanada (savoury pie), octopus, stews and other home-cooked meals.
This is a favourite pastime and tradition for locals, particularly at weekends. If you are still hungry after your free pinchos, you can also get fantastic food at great prices around this area (and most of the city, really), including daily specials and set menus.
Head for the streets in and around Praza do Campo such as Rua do Miño and Rua Nova to experience the best of Lugo’s gastronomy and discover the city one ‘pincho’ at a time.
It is also important to note than in most towns and cities in Spain, shops close at lunchtime (approximately from 1.30 pm to 4.30 or 5 pm, to be then reopened again until late). This will mean the ‘shopping’ parts of town will be quiet while it will be prime time in the streets with bars and restaurants.
2. Walk like a Roman
Lugo’s most iconic attraction, and rightly so, is its spectacular Roman Wall, a perfectly preserved structure dating back to the 3rd century and wrapping around the Old Town for over 2kms.
Lugo’s impressive UNESCO-listed Roman Wall (Muralla Romana de Lugo) is up to 7 metres wide and has 85 towers and 10 gates, including the Porta Miñá (referring to the River Miño), which is the way out of the city for pilgrims on the Camino Primitivo (the Original Way).
You can actually take the steps up the wall and go for a walk along the full loop (another activity favoured by locals).
You’ll get a great perspective of the city and it will give you a chance to get some training done for your Camino, as well as burning off the calories on all those tasty pinchos.
3. Relax in Lugo
The Main Square (Praza Maior) is a great place to relax and watch the world go by for a while, after your walk.
There are many cafes where you can enjoy some downtime with a cup of coffee before getting ready for your bus to Sarria*.
Before you go, however, you should visit Lugo Cathedral in Praza de Santa Maria, just a few metres away from the Praza Maior. Originally built in the 12th century and therefore a Romanesque building, many other styles have been added over time, hence its Baroque, Gothic and Neoclassic elements.
If you have a couple of hours to spare and you are interested in history we recommend you visit the local museum (Museo Provincial) where you will be able to fully appreciate the city’s rich heritage and history, particularly from the Roman era. Each year, the city celebrates this Roman heritage with a period festival, Arde Lucus, that transforms Lugo back into its 3rd-century city self: Lucus Augusti.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Unfortunately, entire episodes of this podcast are ads for the sponsor's package travel service. The non-ad content isn't yet engaging enough to justify sitting through the ads. The Camino could be a great subject for a podcast if the makers would dig deeper for travelers' stories, equipment tips, news about accommodations and trail development, etc. Let's wish them luck and buen camino!