About the Camino Francés

Spain, France
780 km(485 mi)
Type of trail
Pilgrimage, Long-distance

Difficulty is highly personal. Be aware of the weather conditions as bad weather turns easier trails in difficult trails especially in the mountains.


Lodging means a mix of hotels, hostels or AirBnB’s.

Lodging, Camping, Shelters
Elevation gain
18600 m(61024 ft)
Hills, Countryside
None of the time
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The Camino consists of multiple possible routes. Originally, pilgrims would start from home, and make their way up to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain. In Spain, loads of different routes enable the hikers and pilgrims to pick the trail that best suits their needs. But starting from France or further away, 2 routes in Spain are very much more likely to be considered for the final leg: The Camino del Norte, which follows the northern coastline, and The Camino Francés, which is 150km 200km inland, but quite parallel to the coast.

This article focuses on the Camino Francés.

The Camino Francés starts either in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, or in Roncesvalles in Spain. Starting in Roncesvalles will save you a day, but starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port means you can experience the most mountainous day of the whole trail.

Hadrien and Lisa profile picture

Hadrien & Lisa

Hadrien and Lisa weren’t born in the mountains, as they respectively come from Brittany (France) and Belgium, and live in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, over the past 10 years, they gradually gained experience and knowledge each year, ultimately leading them to Thru-hike the French Alps and the Pyrenees, as well as doing the Camino twice! You can follow Hadrien and Lisa on Instagram @the.wild.dukes

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The Trail

The first section of the trail requires about a week to cross the Navarra region. Within these 7 to 8 days, the hikers will climb down the Pyrenees to travel through the valleys of Navarra, stopping in the festive Pamplona along the way, before finally reaching Logroño.

Leaving Logroño and Navarra behind, you will cross Rioja over the next section to reach Burgos. There is a change of scenery this week, Rioja being renowned for its vineyards and hilly landscapes. The section ends in Burgos, where all eyes turn towards its major cathedral.

The 3rd section is more desertic, as you cross the Meseta. Hiking through the fields, you’ll be able to see the Castilian villages from far away, among which are Castrojeriz and Carrion de los Condes to name just two. The section ends in León, not without a well-deserved refresher next to its cathedral.

The 4th section unravels new landscapes. The meseta desert is now over, and you’ll soon walk within greener forests, gaining elevation up to the highest point of the Camino Francès, the Cruz de Ferro, not long after Ponferrada. In about 7 to 9 days from León, you’ll arrive in Sarria, end of this 4th section.

Finally, the 5th section stretches from Sarria to Santiago! In four to six days you’ll stand in front of the cathedral.

But before that, you’ll pass by Melide, not without tasting Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus)! Also, the last 100km can be pretty busy, so for this section, you might want to book all your accommodations (including the one in Santiago). Indeed many hikers only walk the last 100km, and the Camino Primitivo also joins the Francès in Melide.

900km after your first step on the Camino, you’re in front of the cathedral. Take a moment to enjoy the journey and visit the city – not without collecting your compostella (your pilgrim diploma).

And if you’re not ready to stop yet, well, lucky for you! You can continue and walk a less busy trail up to the sea. It will require up to 3 or 4 days to walk up to Fisterra, literally “the end of the world”, or to Muxía.

A few days the authors do recommend, as after the crowded last 3 days up to Santiago, walking a less busy trail up to the sea is a charm.


The Camino Francés is very well developed in terms of accommodations.
When hiking this trail, you will likely sleep in public or private Albergue. Those accommodations are legions along the way, however, please note that you will require a “credential” to sleep in Pilgrim Albergues. These credentials can be bought in churches and tourist offices along the way. Credentials can also be bought before your hike, whether online or in your local pilgrim associations.

Note that it is also possible to sleep in B&B and camping spots, however these are more spread out.

Book your accommodations at least 2 days before, if not a few months in advance, as the Camino Francés is very popular among hikers and pilgrims. Booking will give you peace of mind and ensure you have a bed at the end of the day. However, be responsible and only book a bed in a single location per night, and commit to your booking or release your booking soon enough so that other hikers/pilgrims can benefit from it.

Best time of the year

The best time of the year to hike the Camino Francés is undoubtedly from May to the end of September. In theory, the trail is possible to hike across the whole year. Only the accommodations and services must be checked for their opening/closing dates.

As you’re hiking on the Camino, be aware that there might be some challenging weather along the way, particularly in the Pyrenees if you start in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and in the highlands of Galicia at the end of the hike.

Keep in mind that the weather in those areas can change rapidly, and it’s essential to be prepared for various conditions, including sudden rain and storms/lightning or even snow showers. Always check trail conditions, and local weather forecasts before embarking on the hike.

Safety & Gear

This hike is well-traversed, but we still recommend you familiarize yourself with the trail before starting.

Share your itinerary with someone you trust, including details like your start and end times, chosen route, and emergency contact information.

Do your best to avoid hiking during severe weather conditions, including thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, or extreme heat. The afternoons can get very hot on the Camino Frances, so start early!

You’ll be able to buy lunch and snacks in towns along the way, but try to bring at least two liters of water with you.

Invest in the right hiking gear, including comfortable, supportive footwear, proper hiking clothing, such as warm base layers and a hardshell rain jacket, hiking poles, a well-fitted backpack, and essential equipment like maps, GPS devices (when needed), and a first-aid kit. Check out our comprehensive gear list for long-distance trails like this.

Respect the principles of Leave No Trace by minimizing your impact on the environment. Stick to designated trails, pack out all trash, and show respect for wildlife and natural habitats.

Good to know

The Camino Francés is well-developed in terms of accommodations, but can also be very busy. Make sure you book accommodations at least 2 days in advance if not a few weeks/months before. Wild camping on this trail is not allowed. You’ll find many Pilgrims Albergues along the way, as well as a few camping sites and B&Bs.

Overall, there are enough water points along the way. Some specific days, especially in the hottest months of the year, will require you to carry enough water for the day. Those sections are typically highlighted in the guidebooks.

Point to point
Highest point
1504m (4934 ft)


Camino Francés

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Terms of Use: important to all visitors on this website. We strive to publish high quality content and information on this website. However it’s always possible that we’re missing out on some crucial information. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps) were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Therefore, hiking-trails.com and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals hiking or following this route. Should you choose to hike this trail, this is always at your own risk. Check out our guidelines for safety hiking and Leave No Trace principles at the hiking 101 page.

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