Guided or self guided walks
Everyone is entitled to do their Camino their way. Perhaps you prefer not to rough it and walk alone for weeks carrying everything on your back. You might choose to book all your accommodation ahead of time and have your backpack transferred each day. If you are
unable to carry a heavy backpack - or are unable to walk very long distances over difficult terrain - you can still do the Camino by having your pack (and yourself) transported by taxi or transport services on most of the Camino routes. In order to do this, you must have pre-booked accommodation along the way. This means that you will not be allowed to stay in any of the traditional pilgrim albergues that do not allow pre-booking or vehicle back-up. However, many private albergues do allow pilgrims to stay who have backpacks transported along the route.
Make your own travel arrangements
This is the most popular option but not mandatory by any means. This usually means you book your own ﬂight, stay in hostels (albergues) or small hotels. You can carry your own rucksack or you can get it transferred to your next stop for a small fee.
Travel with a charity
They will, usually, make all your accommodation and/or you travel arrangements.
• MS Ireland Camino, Peter McVerry Trust Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Specialised Camino Travel company
• Map Travel, Camino Groups, ......
From April to early October you should be able to get direct ﬂights from Dublin to Biarritz (St-Jean-Pied-de-Port or Irun), Bilbao & Santander (Camino del Norte & Primitivo), Santiago de Compostela (Sarria, Tui or Ferrol), Vigo, Porto or Lisbon (for Camino Portugués), Lyon, France (Le Puy). Seville (Via de la Plata). Madrid and bus or train. There are many ways to get to your starting point, and more than likely, the last leg will mean getting a train, bus or taxi.
How long does it take?
As long as you want to spend! Some people set oﬀ from their own front door, including pilgrims starting in Ireland, taking the ferry from Cork or Rosslare and walking down through France. Others choose a route and walk it in sections during occasional holidays. Here are some examples of the duration of some of the many routes to Santiago. Camino Francés 5 weeks, Via de la Plata 6 weeks, Camino Portugués from Porto 10 days, Camino Inglés 5 days. You can start your pilgrimage in any country, from any place, on any route. You might only have a few days to walk or a few months. Some pilgrims walk diﬀerent sections of the Caminos every year
Travel within Spain
Spain’s network of train and bus services is one of the best in Europe and there aren’t many places that can’t be reached using one or the other. By European standards, prices are relatively cheap. Spain is crisscrossed with a comprehensive network of rail lines on RENFE the national rail line. The RENFE website is easy to use.
Almost every bus schedule in Spain is available on the Movelia website (www.movelia.es). Main Bus Companies in Spain, all with nationwide services, and English-language version websites.
• Alsa (alsa.es)
• Monbus (monbus.es)
• Avanzabus (avanzabus.com)
Biarritz Airport to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
It’s cheaper to share the taxi if you can fnd other pilgrims...there should be some other pilgrims on your ﬂight. You can also get a Bus from Biarritz to Bayonne and from there a train to St Jean... To get to Sarria from Santiago airport get a bus to Lugo (about 2
hours) and another bus from Lugo to Sarria (30 minutes).
Is always advisable and make sure you bring your European Health Insurance Card, EHIC, (formerly the E111), it gives you access to reduced cost medical treatment.
Things to know about walking the Camino
• Money: Small café-bars and village shops don’t accept credit cards. ATMs work well in most large towns and cities.
• Make copies of all your documents and email them to yourself.
• You will not be allowed to take your walking pole home as hand luggage.
• Almost every pilgrim refuge is staffed by volunteers for the sole support of pilgrims from all over the world.
• Refuges are not a right but a privilege and should be treated as such.
• “Donativo” does not mean free - give a generous donativo soon after you arrive, so you don´t forget.
• Some refuges only open in May and close again in November.
• Sleeping bags or liners are essential. Most refuges have blankets but they insist that pilgrims have their own ‘sacks’. In summer a sleep liner will do and a lightweight sleeping bag in winter.
• “Will I find a bed in May, June, July, August etc?” It is first come, first served. When you reach a refuge you secure a place by placing your pack outside the door. Some refuges only open after 2pm so you might have a long wait if you get there early. Once inside, you secure a bed by rolling your sleeping-bag out on the bed. In Galicia some refuges do not accept pilgrims who have walked less than 20km. Most refuges vacate at 8h00 – 8h30.
• The bed closest to the bathroom is the noisiest!
• Only a few refuges offer basic food – usually dinner and perhaps bread and coffee for breakfast. Pilgrim Menus are offered in most villages and towns. You can buy food in supermarkets to cook in the refuges. Most refuges have electricity but they don’t all have kitchens or utensils.
• Washing clothes: Take 8 Plastic pegs and a 2m-nylon cord to use as a wash line. Useful when it rains and you can string it across the bars of the bunk beds. Take 8 large safety pins to pin damp clothing onto the backpack so that it can dry during the day whilst walking.
• Take toilet paper. Remove the inner tube & flatten it. Most Albergues run out so be prepared.
• Post Offices in Spain: Most are open from 8:30 – 20:30 on working days and 09:30 – 14:00 on Saturdays. Parcels sent ahead will take 3 – 5 working days. Charges are ± €5 for up to 2kg to €12 for up to 20kgs.