Some questions I had before I started the Camino and other things I found useful to know.
How long does it take and where to start?
There are many ways to Santiago, you can start and stop wherever you want. The most popular one is the Camino Francés, I’ve heard that the Primitivo is the most difficult one and the Camino Portugués the easiest one.
I started the Camino Portugués in Porto and walked 240 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela in 10 days. I don’t know about the other ways but I can confirm that the terrain itself is not very challenging most of the days.
You can choose between the coastal and the central way on the Camino Portugués. I chose the central one, but I met many people that started by the coast and then joined the central Camino, which sounds perfect to me.
When to go?
During summer holidays the Camino gets pretty crowded, in September it’s better but of course- the more offseason you go the fewer people there will be but it will also be colder and it will probably rain more.
How much does it cost?
Depends. The municipal albergues (hostels for pilgrims) cost 5-6 E per night, you can cook there or buy all the food in supermarkets.
I ate in a restaurant 10 times, I never had the energy to cook, also the dishes were never very expensive, especially in Portugal. You can get a pilgrim menu for 5-10 E.
In total, I spent 150 E during these 10 days + the transport to Porto and from Santiago 115 E (from and to Madrid, Spain).
What is the Credencial and do you need to collect stamps?
If you want to sleep in albergues or obtain a certificate in Santiago you need to get the Credencial, the pilgrim’s passport.
After a few days, it gets as important as your real passport haha.
If you want the certificate you need to get at least two stamps every day. You can find them in tourist offices, churches, restaurants, cafés and albergues.
Is it safe?
I think the Camino is perfect for a solo trip, many people do it alone, plenty of girls as well. I felt safe all the way. The only thing I didn’t like that much was walking in the dark through forests and fields in the early mornings, but you can simply start a bit later.
What to pack?
It’s always better to pack light when traveling but on the Camino, it’s twice as important because the last thing you want is to get back pain as well. Therefore I’m going to write a post about what to pack and what to better leave at home.
But you don’t need any special equipment. I didn’t have any special clothes for doing sports, I had a normal backpack and trecking shoes from a second hand for 15 Euros.
Eating vegan on the Camino?
Whenever I said I eat plant-based people asked me if it wasn’t super complicated on the Camino in all these little towns. No, it’s not. In most of the albergues there is a kitchen you can use for cooking, but even if you prefer to eat out- no problem.
I used to buy my breakfast in a supermarket because I started walking pretty early but you can get Pantomaca in every small café on the way (toasted bread with olive oil and smashed tomatoes). And in the restaurants, I always found something as well. Once I found a veggie Pilgrim menu (vegetable soup, bread, a huge salad, and a drink) and the other days I ate a lot of vegetable soups because I really can’t get enough of them, pizza, grilled vegetables, wraps… I always went to the closest restaurant, I didn’t even try opening Happy cow and I never left a place hungry, so no worries!
Where to go in Santiago to get your certificate?
If you wanna get a certificate as a memory you need to walk at least 100 km or cycle 200 km, as a prove you need to get at least two stamps every day into your Credencial.
You can get the certificate in Santiago near the cathedral (Rúa Carretas 33). Make sure you go there right after you arrive or early in the morning. You will get a number and you can come back in a couple of hours, depending on the waiting number. When I was there, they didn’t let any more people enter after four o’clock, because the office didn’t manage to give out that many certificates in a single day.
If you did the Camino for religious reasons you will obtain the Compostela and if you did it for sport or cultural reasons you can obtain the non-religious version. This is free, however, if you want a certificate of distance you have to pay 3 E.
If you’re interested in anything else don’t hesitate to contact me on Instagram (@kubovska) or firstname.lastname@example.org.