Every moment is good to walk the Camino, because every month of the year there has its own charm. However, should we advise the best periods those would be spring and autumn, because they offer the best weather to walk, most of hostels are open and it is not very crowded. The summer months, most favorable for the good weather and longer days, have some downsides: being holiday season for the many, these months record the highest number of hikers and pilgrims, which makes it more difficult to find an accommodation in the public hostels. Do not despair though: you can anyway look for the many private hotels and hostels which can be reserved. During winter the climate is more rigid and not all hostels are open. It is, though the best season for those in search of solitude and reflection.
The choice of the backpack for the Camino is very important. Pick one that is really comfortable, ergonomic and light, with adjustable belts for your chest and waist. This is essential to distribute the weight across your whole body and not overload your shoulders. The backpack must have a waterproof cover to protect its content in case of rain. Its capacity should be around 40/50 liters, and no more. As for the weight, the backpack should not weigh more than 7kg, and anyway it should not exceed 10% of your own body weight . Bring with you just the bare essentials because along the way you will find supermarkets, pharmacies and every kind of shop. Remember that the majority of feet problems and tendinitis come as consequences of a too heavy backpack .
In the preparation of the backpack we advise you to divide the content into separate transparent bags. This will help you to find things more easily and to protect your goods facilitate the research and protection. Spread the weight well in the whole backpack and put in the bottom what you will not need during the next stage.
Keep in mind that it is not necessary to bring too many things with you! As for the clothes, for example, you can wash them at the end of each stage, all the hotels have a laundry area.
Bring synthetic hiking-specific clothes, which dry quickly and fit comfortably. Of course your clothes choice will differ based on the season you will be walking the Camino, however there are some things which cannot be missing in your backpack:
-trekking shoes (already used by you)
-comfortable slippers, not only for the shower, but also for your feet to rest after a whole day walk
-2 long hiking trousers, preferably waterproof, to protect you from the rain and shorts the summer
-3 t shirts
-a jacket or a sweatshirt
-undergarment and trekking socks
-waterproof trousers, a waterproof cape or a light jacket in goretex
- scarf, hat and gloves (if winter)
-a quick drying microfiber towel
-1 light sleeping bag (in winter the hostels provide blankets)
-a small flashlight
-a small boxcutter
-1 multiple socket
-vaseline to be applied to the feet at the beginning of each day to prevent blisters
- needle, thread, gauzes and Betadine to cure the blisters
- painkillers and muscle cream in case of severe pain
- sunscreen cream
P.S. Do not carry too many medicines, remember that you find everything you need in the various pharmacies you will encounter on the way .
The identity card (EU residents only) or passport, health card and the pilgrims’ Credential
Your feet are your most important allies when it comes to walking the Camino and it is essential to take good care of them. We recommend water resistant middle-high boots or hiking boots with flexible sole which fit well your feet ( better a half size bigger than your usual size ) . It very important that you have already used shoes you will use during the Camino. In case you need to buy new ones make sure you buy them some time in advance and use them a bit before you go walking the Camino. Very important is the socks choice as well: use seamless trekking socks to prevent scratches and blisters
The standard stages cover generally daily distances of 20/30 kilometers. However, everyone can walk per day the wished distance , planning the route according to personal needs and desires . We advise you to take your time to enjoy the landscapes and all that the Camino has to offer.
The Camino’s trails are so well marked that the chances of getting lost are very very low. The most representative Camino’s signal is the yellow arrow. Look well for it and you notice that, you find it in many places: painted on the trees, nearby the houses, on the stones and on the ground. It is not the only sign you will find along the way, sometimes you encounter other signals , depending on the region or province in which you are ( eg . the shell, the Cross of Santiago, the blue shell, the milestones ). Always follow the signs and, if in doubt, ask the locals or the other pilgrims: they are more than happy to help you.
Eating well is essential to walk the Camino. Since you are subject to high demanding physical excercise it is very important that you take care of the appropriate calories intake to keep to your energy needs. We suggest that you start your day with a rich breakfast and distribute the rest of the food through light snacks during the day. It is not advisable to walk with a full stomach, so it is best to have the main meal at end of the day. Bring with you fruit, dried fruit and chocolate, which are good carbon supplements and so ideal as ready-to-use energy for your muscles. Very important: allways carry water with to hydratate. Walking for a long time means loosing quite some minerals and hydratation is then essential.In following the physical effort you'll lose a lot of minerals and is important to hydrate molro regular basis. Do not load your backpack with too much food and drinks, along the way you will always find supermarkets to buy all you need. At the end of the day reward yourself with a healthy and hearty meal. You will have many options choices: you can choose between various restaurants and taste the typical gastronomy of the area or cook together other pilgrims; many hostels provide well equipped kitchens for guests use.
The Credential (or Passaport of the Pilgrim) is a document that accredits and identifies you as a pilgrim . It contains your basic personal information , the Camino’s map and several blank spaces which will be filled by the stamps and dates of the places you will visit along the way. The Credential has two main functions: it is essential to be able to sleep in the public hostels and it is necessary to get the Compostela at the end of your journey. It costs about 2 euros and you can request it at the Pilgrim office or any other authorized institutions like some churches, pilgrims hostels , fraternities and associations “Friends of the Camino de Santiago” ( both in Spain and abroad).
The Compostela certificate is a document written in Latin and issued by the ecclesiastical community of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral . It certifiies the completion of the pilgrimage. In order to obtain it at the end of your journey, you must present your Credential duly stamped and showing that you have walked or ridden a horse on the Camino for at least 100 km or biked it for at least 200 km. This is one of the reasons why starting from Sarria, 114 km far from Santiago, you will meet more people than on the rest of the Camino.
The Camino can have many starting points. Please find below the most chosen ones:
The daily expenses for the Camino de Santiago can vary. The budget depends on personal needs and lifestyle. Generally, average daily expenses for food and for sleeping are around 30/40€. Costs for travelling and for the necessary gear also need to be taken into account. The estimation for the total expenses is 500-600 € for the last hundred kilometers of the French Way from Sarria to Santiago (5/7 days), up to 1000-1500 € for the whole French Way from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago (30/35 days of walking)
4 categories of essentials expenses can be identified:
Several low cost companies fly to the starting point of the Camino de Santiago, prices can be very convenient with return flights around 80/200 €. In order to assure a good price it is highly important to book in advance, in this way it is easier to take advantage of the offers proposed by the various low cost companies, such as Ryanair, Easyjet and Vueling. Once landed in France or Spain it is easy and cheap to move around by bus or by train. There are many travel search engines that can help you find budget flights, for example:
If you are not already a passionate walker, you will probably need all the technical equipment for the Camino de Santiago. This will vary according to the time of the year you will embark on the Camino. If you are leaving in winter, you will need additional gear to protect you from the cold temperatures and rain.
There are many shops specialised in trekking equipment. A cheap option is the franchise Decathlon which offers a high variety of products with great value for money.
Below is a list of gear you will need for the Camino:
Therefore for the minimum necessary gear the cost is around 300/400 €.
The prices for sleeping along the Camino de Santiago are generally lower compared to the rest of Europe. The amount for the stay will depend on what kind of experience you wish to have and what kind of structure you will choose. The Camino de Santiago offers a wide range of options for all budgets:
The average daily expenses for food are around 20 and 30 €, considering breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.
Many cafes and restaurants along the camino offer the Pilgrim’s menu. The price for the menu is around 10 € and it generally includes a full meal with dessert, or coffee, and water.
If you are on a budget, many hostels are equipped with a kitchen available for pilgrims. By shopping in local supermarkets and cooking with fellow pilgrims, the daily budget will be much lower.