Why follow the crowds when you can hike a Camino that no one has ever heard of? If you are looking for a true adventure, hike one of these alternative Camino routes.
The Camino is one of the most life-changing experiences you can embark on. And the masses are quickly becoming aware of that. So during peak season, you might hit some pedestrian traffic on the more popular routes, the French route and the Portuguese route in particular. Lucky for you adventurous souls there are so many more options if you’re willing to venture a little off the beaten track. If you are looking for tranquillity, zero crowds and a touch of adventure then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of four of the best Camino routes that you’ve never heard of and tell you why you should do them before everyone else gets there.
1. The Camino Primitivo (The Original Way)
Location: Oviedo – Lugo
The Camino Primitivo is understood to be the first pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. You can expect stunning views and a few challenging climbs, as it is not flat. However, we have always found that the more challenging the endeavour, the more rewarding the experience. Steeped in history, this route dates all the way back to the 9th century when King Alfonso II developed it.
Wander through the valleys and mountains of Asturias and into Galicia. You’ll journey through woodlands, across farmlands and small rural villages into the city of Lugo, which is surrounded by incredible Roman walls and towers.
The route eventually connects to the Camino Frances in Melide allowing you to continue on to Santiago if you are up for the 50km addition. It really is a beautiful, tranquil walk through the amazing hilly countryside.
2. Via de la Plata (The Silver Way)
Location: Seville – Santiago
The Via de la Plata, also known as Camino Mozárabe is the longest of the pilgrim routes at 1,000km. If you want peace and quiet, relatively flat terrain and the sun on the back of your neck, then this is the Camino for you.
Running through the remote Extremadura region of Spain, you will come across stunning forests and lakes with plenty of Roman ruins along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Merida. Particular highlights include the Renaissance city of Salamanca, the planted fields of the Castilla y Leon region and the picturesque city of Ourense, known for its hot springs.
If you want time alone to just be with your thoughts and long days of walking then this is the route for you.
3. The Via Podiensis (Le Puy Route)
Location: Le Puy – Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
The Via Podiensis starts in the south of France in the picturesque town of Le Puy in the Auvergne region. It is well known for its spectacular churches and monuments. This is another option for those looking for a challenge rather than a leisurely stroll, as the route can be hilly and has steep ascents throughout. The climbs are worth the effort though.
There are several incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered along the route, combined with the cathedral at Le Puy-en-Velay and the bridge at Conques, makes it one of the most scenic Caminos.
Another key attraction (for wine lovers in particular) is the vineyards of Armagnac. After which the trail winds its way into the iconic Pyrenees mountain range, finishing in the beautiful medieval town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The French Way begins here where if you are up to it, you can continue on over the mountains to Santiago.
4. The Camino Ingles (English Way)
Location: Ferrol – Santiago
This was once the main route to Santiago de Compostela for pilgrims travelling from England, Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia. It typically starts in A Coruna or the sheltered port town of Ferrol on the northwest tip of Spain. The beaches and wonderful sea views will keep you entertained, before climbing inland into rolling farmland, past old churches and tree-lined paths to Santiago.
The route was recently revived with new signposting so it’s well waymarked and many of the milestones have interactive QR codes offering information on the towns along the way. Fun fact, Glen Hansard alongside a crew of writers, musicians, an artist and a stonemason recently embarked on the Camino by sea in a traditional boat all the way to A Coruna.
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