For those starting out on the Santiago Trail this question is one of the first to arise. We know that officially there are 10 roads that lead us to Santiago de Compostela . However, each route offers different scenarios, services, amenities and benefits.
That’s why answering this question can become a problem. But as a long-term solution is that the possibility of doing them all is feasible. In that sense, the problem can be alleviated a little.
In case of being more meticulous, planned and methodical we have prepared for you the list of roads. Each one with a special and outstanding data that surely will encourage you to incline for one. If you want to know which way to Santiago to do keep reading our post.
Ways to Santiago Where to start?
For those who have done all or a good part of the different paths they think they are really incredible. However, each road has demands and levels that we must know to choose wisely.
Especially if we’re new to the route or hiking. For example, an interesting criterion is popularity. Every year new pilgrims, bicyclists and pilgrims with pet who make the paths are added. Let us take these parameters into account:
Number of visitors
The most traveled is the French way (63%), followed by the Portuguese way (18%), the Northern way (6%) and culminates with the Primitive, English, and Sanabrés (3% each). The Winter Trail registers an average of 200 to 300 pilgrims per year.
With these data we know that the French Way is very demanded and if the season is high the number reaches 70 or 80%. If we want less overcrowding we opt for the Portuguese Way or the North.
If we do not have resistance, physical condition or a good previous training it is necessary to know which require less strength. Otherwise, if we are prepared for the most difficult path we can know in the following list.
The primitive way is the most difficult followed by the Sanabrés Way. The third and fourth positions are occupied by the North Way and the Winter Way respectively. The French, English and Portuguese Path occupy the last three positions.
But this is not an impossible level or only for fitness bodies. The way is demanding, but with calm and patience and a good previous training can be achieved.
If we are new on the road we must locate a road with good signs. These guarantee us to reach the final destination in integrity and without wasting time. The most signposted is the French Way, but at an extremist level. The opposite side is occupied by the Winter Path which lacks indications.
Between them the other roads do not have so many signs, only the basic ones. They work for safe walking, but it is necessary to have a map or a GPS for greater accuracy.
The basic services of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago are represented by hostels, food and hydration. If we choose the northern route, the first service we will see is the beach, so a bathing suit is essential in the luggage.
The French way there is an excess of services that does not worry us. This is one of the reasons why it is the most crowded. Regarding the Winter Trail and Primitivo are part of the team of bold routes. That is to say, we will find the essential in the signposted points. The food is usually located at the end of each stage.
The authentic ways of Santiago where nature is our best friend, we find several routes. You might be surprised by the first one on the list, but it’s really captivating. It’s the Winter Trail. One of its main attractions is the Sil River that accompanies us along the entire route.
The other Way is the Primitive, where history can still be appreciated. It is the route that originated the other roads making it clear that it is the best. It can be defined as nature is its most original state, something that we will not see in any other road.
The third in the list would be the Sanabrés road. There we find an excellent quality of local and nature in life. The rest of the roads are really beautiful but these three stand out for what they offer, show us and we live.
Cost of roads
To think that we will spend a lot of money on one way or another can make a bad choice. It is important to know that they are not expensive routes in terms of health services, shelters or food. Even the busiest and most popular French Trail has very affordable prices.
The roads less exposed or with a very low affluence do not have varied commercial premises. The services are scarce and perhaps this is not so favorable. In addition, they generate a mini-monopoly because they are the only shops making their prices high. This is the case of the Winter Road and the Sanabrés Road.
Time of year
The climate, the winds, the heat, the rains are seasons of the year that we must evaluate in the different roads. The climatic conditions can be favorable or inadequate if we do not know what we will face.
- The French way must be done in summer due to its terrain and level of demands. At this time is where the influx is much higher reaching up to 70%. If you prefer fewer people you can do this route at another time, but with different weather conditions.
- The Northern trail is wider, it can be done in spring, autumn or summer. Being so close to love is perfect to take advantage of its waters and take a good beach bath. In case of rain this comes with a good cold, humidity and winds.
- The Primitive Way if we do it in winter we would be under a road full of snow and ice. In this route it is necessary to have an expert who knows the way or it is better not to do it. However, in the other seasons it is better to do this way.
- The English way is the most versatile because we can choose it at any time of the year. Being such a short road of just 100 km makes your journey much easier.
- El Camino Sanabrés as well as the English way is perfect at any time. The important thing is to know if the hostels will be available and their offers for the date of the trip.
- The Winter Road we already know when it’s best to do it. We just have to pack the right clothes and venture into a sub-zero climate. It is a very quiet and little traveled route that will allow us to have the road for ourselves.
In short, which is the best way?
We started the post with a good question: What Way of St. James to do ? After having read the whole text we can say that variety is the taste. Each Way has advantages and disadvantages that make it a unique and incomparable route.
In reality, choosing a specific Camino de Santiago can be a dilemma. However, the best way to elucidate this problem is in ourselves. We already have the necessary information and advice for St James Way, and depending on what we are looking for and we can give a correct answer.
Whether we want the more demanding or less demanding path, we already have the information to decide. If we look for the most traveled or the least visited, surely you will choose with knowledge. It is a question of knowing before deciding in order to avoid facing problems that we cannot solve.
But if we make a quick analysis to decide which is the best way to Santiago to do we can start with Portuguese. Being the least demanding, the second most visited and do it in summer. Don’t forget to book your accommodation in advance, as this may be what will mark you to make one way or another.