Camino Walks: Introducing Europe’s Pilgrimage Routes

Walkers on one of Europe's scenic pilgrimage routes | Edwina Parsons
Walkers on one of Europe's scenic pilgrimage routes | Edwina Parsons

From Ireland to Spain and Switzerland to Italy, for centuries people have been congregating to places of worship like Santiago de Compostela and St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Coming from all directions, this has led to an extensive network of pilgrimage routes across Europe. 

Today, walkers and cyclists alike can enjoy these Camino walks, known as some of the world’s great active travel experiences. To help you find your way amongst all the options you have, we are introducing below the most famous Camino trails and how you can enjoy them. 


Spanish Camino de Santiago 

The end point of many Camino journeys is the city of Santiago de Compostela, which is the capital of an autonomous community in Spain's northwest. Naturally, Spain has a large network of Camino routes snaking their way through the countryside to reach this spiritual destination. The most famous one takes you from St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees via famous places like Leon and Sarria to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela. 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral |  <i>Janet Oldham</i>

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Via Francigena in Italy & Switzerland

Ancient history and Roman ruins, romantic cities and rustic villages, world-famous cuisine, rich culture and mind-blowing natural beauty – all of this is present along the Via Francigena in Italy. The trail culminates at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, where walkers & cyclists obtain the final stamp in their credenziale. Begin your walk in Switzerland or follow the Italian section of this pilgrimage route that starts at the St Bernard Pass on the border with Switzerland and travels via the Apennine Mountains and Tuscany to Rome. 

Pilgrim walking into St Peters in Rome at the end of the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

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Camino Portuguese

For many pilgrims, the Camino Portuguese is more spiritually connected to the Camino than any other way as in Portugal, it is said, is where St James first preached. It is also believed that his final journey to Santiago was via Portugal when his bones were brought back from Jerusalem following his beheading. There Portuguese Camino routes typically starts in Lisbon and takes walkers and cyclists via Porto and Tui to Santiago.

Happy cyclists on the Porto to Santiago self guided cycle |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>

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The French Way of St James

The French Way of St James, also known as the Via Podiensis or Camino Le Puy Way, is often called the most beautiful of all the Camino pilgrimages. It takes walkers and cyclists alike from the ancient town of Le Puy en Velay to the Pyrenees at St Jean Pied de Port. The route passes a multitude of churches and monasteries, resembling a travelling museum of Romanesque art.

On the Way of St James in the Haute Provence near St Privat |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

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St Francis Way (Italy)

The St Francis Way is an Italian Camino route inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi and links Florence to Rome. Walk through the “green heart” of Italy on this scenic and historic pilgrimage in eastern Tuscany and northern Umbria.

Walking on the open landscapes of western Tuscany on the St Francis Way

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Other Camino Trails in Spain

There are numerous more Camino pilgrimage routes in Spain such as the Camino Primitivo – the original trail from Oviedo and via Lugo; the Camino del Norte – along the north coast of Spain and considered the safest option during the time of the Moors; the English Way – that starts in Ferrol on the Atlantic Sea where the English arrived; or the Camino Finisterre – an extension to Cape Finisterre (historically considered the edge of the world known) after having reached Santiago de Compostela. 


2021 is an important year for the Camino de Santiago: it is a Jacobean Holy Year, and a Camino pilgrimage during this time is even more symbolic, as well as there being other special experiences to encounter. Read the Definitive Guide to the Jacobean Holy Year Camino Pilgrimage by our friends at UTracks. 


Did you know? You can obtain Dual Pilgrimage status if you complete both the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan. 

Contact our team to choose one of the spectacular European pilgrimage route to walk or cycle.
Europe, Camino Pilgrimage, Walking, Cycling, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France

Comments (2)

Garth and Elizabeth Moore

Good morning
My wife and I are planning to ride the Ruta Fe la Plata from Seville to Santiago June this year 2023. We are also considering extending the ride to include the Camino Finisterre.
As we will be travelling from Queensland Australia we would like to make this an epic trip and include visiting important sights and stay in a number of significant cities for more than one night. We are both in our 60's and have allowed around four weeks of cycling and sightseeing.
We will generally following John Hayes "cycling the Ruta via de la Plata" and therefore use road and off-road routes, so believe a hybrid e-bikes would meet our cycling needs best.
is there any unbiased information on the best cycle hire packages deal for us. And the logistics of collecting and releasing our hire e-bikes.
Many thanks Garth and Elizabeth Moore

last year
Els | World Expeditions

Hi Garth & Elizabeth
That sounds like an amazing journey you've got ahead of you! I'm just looking after the website myself, but have asked our team to reach out to you via email.
All the best with your travels.
Els @ World Expeditions

last year
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