• Get your Camino Frances Guidebook here.
  • For 2024 Pilgrims: €50,- donation = 1 year with no ads on the forum + 90% off any 2024 Guide. More here.
    (Discount code sent to you by Private Message after your donation)
  • ⚠️ Emergency contact in Spain - Dial 112 and AlertCops app. More on this here.

Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Alternative finish to Camino Frances via Camino Invierno and Sanabres?

Time of past OR future Camino
April 2024
Hola peregrinos,
I'm looking at posts about how busy things get from Sarria onward to SDC and I'm wondering has anyone ever detoured from the Camino Frances to the Camino Invierno and then Camino Sanabres and finished via that route? How does the terrain and countryside compare? Which is more beautiful? I'm assuming the infrastructure on the Invierno/Sanabres is less developed compared to the Frances, but are there sufficient facilities that would be open if I transitioned from the CF to the CI at Ponferrada around mid-May (starting from SJPD mid-April). I've googled the stages and they appear to be a bit longer and a bit more remote, but it looks very interesting. Any thoughts or advice?
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Hi, @arfajajc and welcome to the foroum!

The Invierno is a beautiful alternative, and it is in no way a remote camino. It sticks close to towns and villages in rural Galicia. The route is probably the most over-marked route in Spain. The Xunta has spent milions of euros installing all sorts of signage.

There is a lot of information on the forum here. More than 400 threads, in fact! And one of them pinned to the top is a group project (done during covid confinement) on how to walk the Invierno in stages of 25 km or less.

There’s even a Brierley guide now! The forum has a good-sized contingent of Invierno alumni who have walked one or more times and love this route. It does have a fair amount of asphalt, but they are working on getting the camino off the road and most of that road walking is on very untraveled rural roads.
 
Transport luggage-passengers.
From airports to SJPP
Luggage from SJPP to Roncevalles
Hola peregrinos,
I'm looking at posts about how busy things get from Sarria onward to SDC and I'm wondering has anyone ever detoured from the Camino Frances to the Camino Invierno and then Camino Sanabres and finished via that route? How does the terrain and countryside compare? Which is more beautiful? I'm assuming the infrastructure on the Invierno/Sanabres is less developed compared to the Frances, but are there sufficient facilities that would be open if I transitioned from the CF to the CI at Ponferrada around mid-May (starting from SJPD mid-April). I've googled the stages and they appear to be a bit longer and a bit more remote, but it looks very interesting. Any thoughts or advice?
Planning to do SJPDP to Ponferrada then onto the Invierno to SDC at exactly the same time. Our first Camino so no idea what is in store for us but have read that it’s a beautiful route with a lot fewer peregrinos. I guess we’ll find out, can’t wait, am super excited.
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
Hi, @arfajajc and welcome to the foroum!

The Invierno is a beautiful alternative, and it is in no way a remote camino. It sticks close to towns and villages in rural Galicia. The route is probably the most over-marked route in Spain. The Xunta has spent milions of euros installing all sorts of signage.

There is a lot of information on the forum here. More than 400 threads, in fact! And one of them pinned to the top is a group project (done during covid confinement) on how to walk the Invierno in stages of 25 km or less.

There’s even a Brierley guide now! The forum has a good-sized contingent of Invierno alumni who have walked one or more times and love this route. It does have a fair amount of asphalt, but they are working on getting the camino off the road and most of that road walking is on very untraveled rural roads.
Hi Peregrina,
Many thanks for your reply! Looks like I didn't do a very good search for related threads so will definitely check those out - thanks for the link. I'll see about picking up the relevant Brierley Guidebook - I've received my Frances one from Ivar already. It'll be interesting to compare. I know I might end up abandoning any camino family developed over the course of the Frances if I detour, but I definitely prefer less crowded routes.
 
Planning to do SJPDP to Ponferrada then onto the Invierno to SDC at exactly the same time. Our first Camino so no idea what is in store for us but have read that it’s a beautiful route with a lot fewer peregrinos. I guess we’ll find out, can’t wait, am super excited.
Well that sounds fantastic! We may meet up en route! I'm travelling from NZ and it's my first camino too, so we're kind of in the same, er, boat (🤔) there... I'm super excited too. Already packing lol...
 
Hola peregrinos,
I'm looking at posts about how busy things get from Sarria onward to SDC and I'm wondering has anyone ever detoured from the Camino Frances to the Camino Invierno and then Camino Sanabres and finished via that route? How does the terrain and countryside compare? Which is more beautiful? I'm assuming the infrastructure on the Invierno/Sanabres is less developed compared to the Frances, but are there sufficient facilities that would be open if I transitioned from the CF to the CI at Ponferrada around mid-May (starting from SJPD mid-April). I've googled the stages and they appear to be a bit longer and a bit more remote, but it looks very interesting. Any thoughts or advice?

This year I walked the Invierno.
I walked it as the finish to my VdlP.
It kind of called to me more than the Sambres.
It was wonderful.

I predict it will become a very popular ending to the Camino Frances.
Quite different at the moment.
Far fewer Pilgrims, less infrastructure.
But the scenery is stunning....

I kept a daily blog with video that will give you a far idea of what it's like.

I managed daily stages of about 20 kms.
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
This year I walked the Invierno.
I walked it as the finish to my VdlP.
It kind of called to me more than the Sambres.
It was wonderful.

I predict it will become a very popular ending to the Camino Frances.
Quite different at the moment.
Far fewer Pilgrims, less infrastructure.
But the scenery is stunning....

I kept a daily blog with video that will give you a far idea of what it's like.

I managed daily stages of about 20 kms.
Timewise Robo what is the difference if any to finishing via the Invierno compared to the traditional CF?
 
Timewise Robo what is the difference if any to finishing via the Invierno compared to the traditional CF?
Maybe a couple of days more.
Depends on your preferred daily distances.
From Ponferrada.
On the Frances it's about 210 kms to Santiago
On the Invierno about 260 kms.

If you have never walked the Frances from Ponferrada to Santiago it's a great part of that Camino.
Even the 'busy' bit from Sarria.
Maybe see how you feel as you get close to Ponferrada?

The Invierno is very different!
Very isolated, and little Pilgrim company.
But you might want that.
 
Last edited:
Maybe a couple of days more.
Depends on your preferred daily distances.
From Ponferrada.
On the Frances it's about 210 kms to Santiago
On the Invierno about 260 kms.

If you have never walked the Frances from Ponferrada to Santiago it's a great part of that Camino.
Even the 'busy' bit from Sarria.
Maybe see how you feel as you get close to Ponferrada?

The Invierno is very different!
Very isolated, and little Pilgrim company.
But you might want that.
Yes the Invierno definitely appeals due to the quietness, but I'm also with you on the point that the traditional route is well worth doing, so I'm inclined to stick to that for my first one. Also it shouldn't be too busy by the time I get there. But you never know, and I should have time for the extra 50k if I decide to head that way :)
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
We're a few days off Leon now and looking forward to heading onto the Inverino soon after, the Frances has been something of a disappointment so far, there's the usual issue of overcrowding of course, but the major disappointment comes down to the fact that it's a pretty ordinary walk. Dull scenery, poor food, dumpy towns and most surprising for us is the lack of historical highlights outside the big cities. We're probably spoilt after walking the GR65 and Via Francigena the last couple of years, both, in our minds, superior walks in every way.
There's still time for the Frances to improve though, we have our fingers crossed 🤞
 
You ask about Sanabres. You can walk the whole Sanabres from Tábara or start the last 100 kms from Ourense with its historic old city and hot springs by the river.
I think my longest day was 25 Km but mainly shorter days under 20 Km.
I found this route from Tábara varied, beautiful and interesting. Accomodation is plentiful and not many pilgrims.
The walk in Galicia is beautiful and the Xunta albergues are recently built, modern with treats like under floor heating all for €10.
The monastery in Oseira was a highlight.

However …. You might find that once on the Francés you might find that walking that incredible ancient Christian and pre Christian route is worth completing in and of itself.
 
This year I walked the Invierno.
I walked it as the finish to my VdlP.
It kind of called to me more than the Sambres.
It was wonderful.

I predict it will become a very popular ending to the Camino Frances.
Quite different at the moment.
Far fewer Pilgrims, less infrastructure.
But the scenery is stunning....

I kept a daily blog with video that will give you a far idea of what it's like.

I managed daily stages of about 20 kms.
Hey Robo,
I've been watching all of your videos of the Invierno - fantastic! It looks lovely and peaceful. I like the solitude but I like people too (just not thousands all at once lol). It's my first Camino so not sure if I should be a purist and just do SJPP to SdC via Sarria, or if I should "head for them thar hills" via the Invierno. 🤔😆
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Hey Robo,
I've been watching all of your videos of the Invierno - fantastic! It looks lovely and peaceful. I like the solitude but I like people too (just not thousands all at once lol). It's my first Camino so not sure if I should be a purist and just do SJPP to SdC via Sarria, or if I should "head for them thar hills" via the Invierno. 🤔😆

Mabe decide when you get close to Ponferrada?

But for a first Camino, I think you'll probably want to stay on the Frances.
It has a great vibe, you will have made lots of friends.......
Switching to the Invierno would be a big change!
Keep it for another time maybe ;)

As @peregrina2000 said above, It's not a 'remote' route in terms of infrastructure villages etc.
I tend to refer to it as quite remote, only because the walking between the villages can 'feel' remote, from the perspective of seeing very few other Pilgrims. You might be walking alone all the time. I was.
 
When you get an opinion from @peregrina2000 you have to bear in mind that she is the Wilfred Thesiger of the forum - typically she travels the lonely far-flung limits of camino outer space, boldly going..
For her, the idea of walking the CF, particularly the last part, is an anathema.
But for many others, myself included, the dramatic features of the CF, particularly up and over O Cebriero, and the journey along the sunken tree-covered paths through the history of the little villages that follow, filled us with wonder the first time. And we barely gave the over-crowding argument a second thought - it's just the final part of the wonderful multi-faceted experience that has been laid out for you to grasp.
The Invierno is definitely less commercial (or was when I walked) and unlike the CF you won't see many cafe/bars with those generic Coca-Cola plastic menu signs outside, with pictures of fries and cola, where the price can be changed by rubbing out/amending the segments in the 7 segment display...
is it 'more beautiful?' you ask. Not IMHO, but that's all in the eye of the beholder.
What you will lose by diverting to the Invierno is the experience of the final chapters of a well-known and well-loved book. And by missing it you won't have the same experience to share with others, which we come back to so often, both in the immediate exhilaration of our adventure, as well as for years afterwards - and often on this forum.
EDIT so after all that waffle I'd say - don't make any decisions until you get to Ponferrada. By then you'll know which road to take
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Mabe decide when you get close to Ponferrada?

But for a first Camino, I think you'll probably want to stay on the Frances.
It has a great vibe, you will have made lots of friends.......
Switching to the Invierno would be a big change!
Keep it for another time maybe ;)

As @peregrina2000 said above, It's not a 'remote' route in terms of infrastructure villages etc.
I tend to refer to it as quite remote, only because the walking between the villages can 'feel' remote, from the perspective of seeing very few other Pilgrims. You might be walking alone all the time. I was.
Thanks Robo... I do like the "feel" of being remote, but still deciding. I may stay on the Frances and just go with the flow and keep the VDLP and Invierno (or Sanabres) for next time. How's that for the power of positive thinking 😏😉
 
When you get an opinion from @peregrina2000 you have to bear in mind that she is the Wilfred Thesiger of the forum - typically she travels the lonely far-flung limits of camino outer space, boldly going..
For her, the idea of walking the CF, particularly the last part, is an anathema.
But for many others, myself included, the dramatic features of the CF, particularly up and over O Cebriero, and the journey along the sunken tree-covered paths through the history of the little villages that follow, filled us with wonder the first time. And we barely gave the over-crowding argument a second thought - it's just the final part of the wonderful multi-faceted experience that has been laid out for you to grasp.
The Invierno is definitely less commercial (or was when I walked) and unlike the CF you won't see many cafe/bars with those generic Coca-Cola plastic menu signs outside, with pictures of fries and cola, where the price can be changed by rubbing out/amending the segments in the 7 segment display...
is it 'more beautiful?' you ask. Not IMHO, but that's all in the eye of the beholder.
What you will lose by diverting to the Invierno is the experience of the final chapters of a well-known and well-loved book. And by missing it you won't have the same experience to share with others, which we come back to so often, both in the immediate exhilaration of our adventure, as well as for years afterwards - and often on this forum.
EDIT so after all that waffle I'd say - don't make any decisions until you get to Ponferrada. By then you'll know which road to take
Dear PT,
What you describe is moving and clearly heart felt. I don't want to miss what you describe...those final chapters of what I'm sure will become a most cherished book. You've helped me to decide. I will continue on and complete the Frances and embrace the full experience. Thank you for your guidance. I'll save the Peregrina 2000/Wilfred Thesiger experience for my second Camino... 👍
 
What you will lose by diverting to the Invierno is the experience of the final chapters of a well-known and well-loved book. And by missing it you won't have the same experience to share with others, which we come back to so often, both in the immediate exhilaration of our adventure, as well as for years afterwards - and often on this forum.
I totally agree. If I had been answering the question “should I stick to the Francés or detour to the Invierno on my first Camino?” I would have said just what you said, though probably not as eloquently. I should have made clear that I was just responding to the questions about the Invierno and not to the underlying judgment about which camino to go to.

And I’m not quite sure what to make of the Wilfred Thesiger comparison. 😜 But I did enjoy learning about him in this article.
 
Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
Hi Peregrina 2000,
Please don't doubt my appreciation for the knowledge you shared about the Camino Invierno, and the spirit in which it was provided. It certainly sounds like a wonderful route. Peregrino Tom did tug at the old heart strings with his perspective on persevering with the Frances to the end in order to fully embrace the experience. I think I'll stay the Frances course and save the Invierno for another time.
Thanks to all for your help.
Buen Camino!
 

Most read last week in this forum

Ok, so inspired by the "Has the Camino lost it's way" thread. What would people change to the current Camino (CF) to make it better in their own eyes/opinion whatever that may be (without breaking...
I have just seen a Facebook post from Foncebadon commenting on very heavy snow there. It looks as if the Camino route will be impassable for the moment.
Have you heard of Pena dos Corvos? It is supposed to be a high point (660m) before Portomarin. Google Maps can find four Penas dos Corvos on the north coast of Galicia, but not on the CF. A lot of...
So we have purchased our airline tickets to Pamplona and back home from Santiago. Now we want to reserve places to stay in SJPDP and Santiago. I'd love suggestions for both please. Where did...
Do you have an email address for the Hotel Continental, St Jean PdP? Google says it's temporarily closed, but if I could email, maybe I'd get a reply. I can only find a telephone number, but I...
Hello fellow Pilgrims, I'm looking for some collective wisdom / advice please, from those who have more experience of the routes above than I do. I've walked a little in Spain before (Camino...

❓How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2024 Camino Guides
Back
Top