19 Photos To Inspire You To Walk The Camino de Santiago

When I began to tell people that I would be walking the 500 miles of the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, the responses were split into two categories. The first group of people who told me I was crazy and the second who said, ‘I’d love to do that’. Until I started speaking about my plan, I had no idea that the Camino was an idea on so many people’s radar. For everyone who has thought, ‘that might be cool’ or ‘I wish I could do that,’ here are 19 photos to inspire you to walk out of your front door and take that first step on your Camino journey.  

The French Way (more commonly known as the Camino Francés) traditionally begins in the small town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port which is located in the Pyrenees. It is traditionally a religious pilgrimage which finishes in the city of Santiago de Compostela where the relics of St. James are supposedly held in the Cathedral.  

It is surprising just how quick you are able to cross the border into Spain on foot after leaving Saint Jean. There is no obvious landmark which signifies the move from one country to the next but you will start to notice subtle changes in the vehicle number plates and on signage in the area. 

The symbol of the Camino is marked by the scallop shell. Legend has it that the body of St. James was swept away during a shipwreck and when it finally washed ashore, it was covered in scallop shells. The symbol is found on the markers throughout the trail depicting the way to the Santiago.   

As you walk the Way, you will regularly come across signs left by other pilgrims to guide you. These come in the form of cairns to mark the direction of the walking trail, as well as more obvious formations such as arrows or hearts. 

In 2017, according to the Official Pilgrims Office, 278,490 pilgrims walked the Camino de Santiago. There is also the option to complete the journey by bicycle, on horseback or by  wheelchair. Whilst the Camino was traditionally done with religious motivations, many people now also do the journey for cultural and spiritual reasons. 

It would be criminal to pass by some of Spain’s most famous vineyards without sampling a tipple (or two). With wine coming in along the trail at just €0.50 per glass, you’d have to be crazy not to!

Believe me when I say that walking the Camino is no mean feat. The journey will take a very physical toll on your body which can be exacerbated by poor quality gear. Check out a detailed packing list to make sure you have the right things for your pilgrimage.  Always make sure to buy hiking boots which allow you room to move around in, this will help with foot swelling and rocky descents. 

On your Camino journey, you will bear witness to some truly stunning scenery, including this fabulous lake between Logroño and Navarrete. 

The Camino winds through many towns along the way to Santiago, which makes it an ideal long-distance trail for first-time hikers. The vast majority of these towns have both pharmacies and medical centres which exist purely to aid pilgrims.

The Camino Francés varies hugely in terrain. It goes through the mountain range of the Pyrenees as well as through the Meseta: a Spanish plateau known for its dry heat. 

Contrary to popular belief, areas on the Camino suffer from bad weather. If you get caught out, it can take days for your hiking boots to dry, so leave them somewhere the air can get to them. 

Top tip: Stuff newspaper into your boots to draw out the water. This will make them dry quicker. 

Some of the Camino signage is both imaginative and colourful. During the trek, you will come across a surprising number of large Camino themed murals to reassure you that you’re on the right track! 

It is quite common to see Camino signs which have been scribbled on by pilgrims. Sometimes people write motivational quotes to keep up the morale of their fellow hikers and sometimes they leave messages for the friends further behind on the trail. 

Make sure you are aware of your surroundings during your Camino. Forest areas make for beautiful trekking in the sunshine, however, you will be constantly dive-bombed by mosquitoes. In the rain, these sections of the hike are much muddier and less pleasant. 

With the popularity of the Camino de Santiago ever increasing, plenty of locals are bridging the gaps in the market and opening private albergues in smaller towns along the way. These Spanish hostels tend to be very reasonable in price and are often beautifully picturesque. 

Infrequent shade means that there is next to no let up from the sun’s brutal rays. If you are walking the French Way during summer, be sure to come prepared with sunscreen, stay hydrated and stop regularly for rest breaks.

Whilst many people embark on the Camino solo, very few people walk the entirety of the trail alone. You will find that you will quickly begin to recognise familiar faces along the way which will give you a degree of familiarity from which to build a friendship.

The scallop shell which symbolises the Camino can be seen everywhere along the established routes. It is very common to see shells swinging from the back of pilgrim’s rucksacks and they are also displayed in and around hostels. 

During my Camino, I met hundreds of people from all walks of life. Despite the pain and exhaustion, not one of these people said they regretted making the decision to take on the journey. No matter how inspiring these photos are, I guarantee you that the people you will meet will be even more so.

When are you going to embark on your Camino journey?

19 photos to inspire you to walk the Camino de Santiago.Love it? Pin it! 🙂

9 thoughts on “19 Photos To Inspire You To Walk The Camino de Santiago”

  1. Well done Sheree for completing this walk. Its indeed a long walk just wished I had gone with you guys. I enjoy hiking too. I can tell from the photos it is a beautiful route.

  2. Good work Sheree! This is really useful!!

    I really can’t decide if we should do part of the Camino or not. We were thinking of doing around a week of hikes in the Pyrenees next spring…but I also read that now sooo many people do this walk that it is putting a lot of pressure on the local infrastructure. As we’re not pilgrims (we are just excited for the walk and the scenery) I’m worried about being part of the problem.

    Do you think in our situation it’d be better to just find other epic hikes in the Pyrenees…or should we just stick to part of the Camino? We don’t have enough holiday to do the whole walk in any case…

    • From what I have heard there are a lot of scenic routes around the Pyrenees that don’t go near the Camino, although I haven’t done any myself. It would be worth checking them out and seeing what you find.

      Whilst the Camino is undoubtedly a beautiful trail, you may want to save it until you can do a whole route as opposed to one section. There are alternative routes to the French Way which are a lot shorter though, might be worth checking out the Camino Ingles or the Primitivo if you don’t have long 🙂

  3. Well done Sheree,
    I decided to take a month off from my work next year (mid-April to mid-May 2019) and walk Camino (French way). As for planning – i have no idea where to start! As for fitness level, i can do around 50 km in one go (slowly, but surely). Any useful tips, please? thank you x

    • Thanks Irena! 🙂
      That’s amazing, you will have the best time! 50km is very impressive – it sounds like you are already better equipped than most. I think the key is to start slow and listen to your body, both with training and with the real thing. A lot of people push really hard to start with an end up injuring themselves, so by going for regular walks, you will already start to build up your resilience. If you have some hills you can hike up/down, that will help massively too. Sadly, not all of the Camino is flat!
      Without doubt invest in a sleep sack over a sleeping bag – they are much lighter to carry and cooler to sleep in. Also download the CaminoTool app or invest in a guidebook which will break down the stages in more detail.
      Good luck on your journey and Buen Camino!

  4. Wow amazing photos, looked like you had an awesome adventure. Such beautiful places along the way, this is definitely on our list to do one day! So funny isn’t it the way people react to big adventures such as this. So cool.

    • It was without doubt one of the coolest things I’ve done! I know it is the perfect cliche but a journey like this does sort of change you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  5. For Brits that don’t have enough time, I would recommend “El Camino Inglés” ( I know that King Edward I did a much longer one) : https://www.pilgrim.es/en/english-way/ Maybe not as well known as the French Way, but it was highly used until King Henry XVIII reformed the Church. The second shortest is the Portuguese Way, and maybe the most beautiful one is the Primitive Way that goes from Paris down the coast to Irun and coasting “El Mar Cantábrico” through Pais Vasco, Cantabria, Asturias and then Galicia, but you can get the Compostela starting from Oviedo in Asturias https://www.caminodesantiago.gal/en/make-plans/the-ways/primitive-way.


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