You’ve always dreamed of taking upon a pilgrimage and discover the long routes of Camino de Santiago. But, you can’t escape your everyday responsibilities for more than a week. What can you do? Quit your dream altogether? Or find a way to use that one week in the best possible way?
Fortunately, The Way consists of many possible Ways. The choice of starting points might seem endless, but keep in mind that the only limitation is that, if you want for it to count as a pilgrimage and be eligible for receiving a Compostela certificate at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, you need to walk at least 100 kilometers (or cycle 200 km). This is a feasible goal to reach in a week.
Here are some ideas for around-100 kilometers Camino routes.
The end part of Camino Frances, Sarria, is the overall most popular pick as a legitimate starting point for the pilgrimage. It’s just over 100 kilometers long and takes about 5-6 days to complete, so this makes it ideal for a week-long holiday. The road itself is also pretty accessible, without extreme slopes, ascends and descends, and through a varied and beautiful landscape, which makes it a good choice for first-timers.
Of course, this has a downside to it. Sarria is the end part of the most popular long route, Camino Frances. At the same time, many people (like yourself) will travel specifically to Sarria not to end, but to begin their journey there. When you add this up, you get a lot of pilgrims as a result. The most popular and accessible route is the busiest and crowded one at the same time.
If you’re longing for a more solitary route, there are some attractive alternatives.
The English Way has traditionally been used by pilgrims of Northern Europe, England, and Ireland. While it was once fairly challenging to cross the sea in order to get to the pilgrimage’s starting point, today this route counts as an easy one.
The usual starting point is Ferrol, a coastal town rich in history and architecture. The trail continues along the shoreline, then turns inland into lush forested mountains, and then it reaches before reaching Santiago de Compostela.
At first, the trail follows the shoreline. Then, it turns inland and ascends into the lush, densely forested mountains, where all the nature lovers will make up for the lack of natural scenery that is felt in Ferrol. This is still a popular trail, but not overcrowded, so you should feel comfortably alone, yet not abandoned.
Muxia – Finisterre
This route that gets you to Santiago from the east rather than from the west is indeed the road less traveled by when it comes to The Camino. It’s the wildest and most adventurous route on this list; it was even more so 15 to 20 years ago since the pilgrim infrastructure on this trail was very scarce. Today it’s a different story – there are enough of accommodations and hospitals to cover your needs. Also, the way is clearly marked in both directions, so you do not need to worry about getting lost or confused.
The route starts in Muxia, leads you to Finisterre and onward to Santiago. It is slightly over 100 kilometers long, which makes it a legitimate pilgrimage. Breathtaking rocky Atlantic coastal views, eucalyptus forests, old farmlands and ancient settlements rooted all the way in Roman times will make this route feel almost like a time travel. Plus, you will get to meet like-minded pilgrims who like to choose less traveled roads.
As you can see, there’s no need to abandon the idea of traveling Camino de Santiago just because you have only one week to walk it. Maybe it’s even a better option for a first-time pilgrim. And if you get hooked, you are sure to come back on another occasion and stamp your pilgrim’s passport many more times on this extraordinary Way.