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First camino planning - which to choose from: Sarria, Vigo or Ferrol ?

4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
Planning our first camino for either this fall / next spring and wanted to know which trail would be best for first timers, travelling from the US, we are in our 50's and have certain needs.

Since we are newbies, work in the public sector, and not able to take so much time off, we are looking for a week long hike and wanted to get our feet wet with our first camino and compostela so the 100kM minimum is mandatory.

Based on the forum posts and internet searches we have come to find these choices in order of preference:
  • Ingles - Ferrol to Santiago
  • Portugues - Vigo to Santiago
  • Frances - Sarria to Santiago
Here's our situation:
Planning on a 2 week overall trip to Spain and the UK.

We are flexible with travel for the hike so trains and planes are preferred, but can do motorcoach or car rental.

We are looking for a trail that would have not be hostel / albergue stays - prefer private rooms w/ ensuite WC (B&B, hotel, private cottage, AirBNB).

We love Spain and have travelled recently twice to Madrid and Barcelona just before the pandemic and wanted to search other areas of Spain now that it's safer to travel from the US.

Light dietary restrictions makes food choices important (non dairy, low salt) so a fixed menu will not do.

Luggage transport between stops required due to our knees, hips and backs.

We have looked at the online service company: CaminoWays and they offer the services/facilities that we are looking for on the Frances hike from Sarria but we are not sure of a service for less popular: Ingles and Portugues routes...

Any helpful suggestions, choice of trail, etc would be very appreciated.

BTW:
Sorry in advance that we are not seasoned hikers nor committed to the traditional months long trips.
We are hoping our first camino will be a success so that we can follow up with more trips and longer distances.

My first camino purchase - map guide booklet for Ingles trail:
IMG_8755.jpg
 
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Cynthia Gwynn

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
I know this is off topic but I would like to start a thread on this site and i can't figure out how. Can you tell me how to do this?
 

vjpdx

camino-curious
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I haven't yet Camino-ed (so I can't answer your questions about accommodations and food) but I'm excited for your upcoming Camino, and I vote for the Ingles.

If you prefer to do a tour, there are many companies that can do that, including CaminoWays. And here's a thread on luggage transport - google tells me that Caminofácil and Correos provide those services.

Buen Camino and welcome to the forum!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
Planning our first camino for either this fall / next spring and wanted to know which trail would be best for first timers, travelling from the US, we are in our 50's and have certain needs.

Since we are newbies, work in the public sector, and not able to take so much time off, we are looking for a week long hike and wanted to get our feet wet with our first camino and compostela so the 100kM minimum is mandatory.

Based on the forum posts and internet searches we have come to find these choices in order of preference:
  • Ingles - Ferrol to Santiago
  • Portugues - Vigo to Santiago
  • Frances - Sarria to Santiago
Here's our situation:
Planning on a 2 week overall trip to Spain and the UK.

We are flexible with travel for the hike so trains and planes are preferred, but can do motorcoach or car rental.

We are looking for a trail that would have not be hostel / albergue stays - prefer private rooms w/ ensuite WC (B&B, hotel, private cottage, AirBNB).

We love Spain and have travelled recently twice to Madrid and Barcelona just before the pandemic and wanted to search other areas of Spain now that it's safer to travel from the US.

Light dietary restrictions makes food choices important (non dairy, low salt) so a fixed menu will not do.

Luggage transport between stops required due to our knees, hips and backs.

We have looked at the online service company: CaminoWays and they offer the services/facilities that we are looking for on the Frances hike from Sarria but we are not sure of a service for less popular: Ingles and Portugues routes...

Any helpful suggestions, choice of trail, etc would be very appreciated.

BTW:
Sorry in advance that we are not seasoned hikers nor committed to the traditional months long trips.
We are hoping our first camino will be a success so that we can follow up with more trips and longer distances.

My first camino purchase - map guide booklet for Ingles trail:
View attachment 119468
Aah sweet. An honest question asked with an open heart ❤️
Walk the Frances from Sarria. It’ll tick all your boxes and still give you a taste of the pilgrimage. You’ll meet loads of people who are walking to Santiago because that’s what they really want to do who are starting from the same place as you.
You don’t need to use a company. A few hours on this lovely forum, maybe an afternoon exploring www.Gronze.com, any one of the excellent guide books or apps, and you can create and experience your own Camino.
In your 50’s, some health issues, a bit trepidatious - just think how much fun you’re going to have discovering just what you’re really capable of 😎
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
If you do not use a tour service to book lodgings when you travel in the US, and if you are familiar with using common sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com, or AirBnb, then you can make arrangements on your own, and maintain your flexibility and save a lot of money.

You have a lot of time to become familiar with the resources available to plan and implement your pilgrimage, so take some time to become familiar with the experiences of others on the Forum. Watch some of the good YouTube Videos, including those which our own member, Rob, produces on his excellent YouTube channel. As you read and watch and see the experiences of others, you may start to feel less overwhelmed at the thought of making arrangements yourself.

Everyone was a beginner when doing their first Camino, and the vast majority do their own planning and make their own arrangements, so that might be a comfort in letting you know that you can do this. :) If you decide to book a tour company, there are members who can give you knowledgeable recommendations.

I agree with Tincatinker that an excellent first Camino for the time frame you have, and for your need for more frequent services, would be on the Camino Frances starting at Sarria. The Ingles has much longer stretches between support and services than there is on the Frances from Sarria. It is also a consideration that the Ingles might be more demanding on knees and joints with some very steep downhill stretches, and heart pumping uphill climbs out of towns, like Betanzos.

Whatever you decide, you have a lot of support.
 

4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
Aah sweet. An honest question asked with an open heart ❤️
Walk the Frances from Sarria. It’ll tick all your boxes and still give you a taste of the pilgrimage. You’ll meet loads of people who are walking to Santiago because that’s what they really want to do who are starting from the same place as you.
You don’t need to use a company. A few hours on this lovely forum, maybe an afternoon exploring www.Gronze.com, any one of the excellent guide books or apps, and you can create and experience your own Camino.
In your 50’s, some health issues, a bit trepidatious - just think how much fun you’re going to have discovering just what you’re really capable of 😎
Thank you @Tincatinker - we are worried about the hike in a foreign country.

Funny, my wife said the same about Camino Frances with the number of people we saw on YouTube and socialization which is her thing.

Looking at various lodging & restaurant maps, I assume there are more choices in upgraded lodging and more restaurant choices on the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago ?

Then for a first time newbie hike, looks safest to do the Camino Frances?
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Thank you @Tincatinker
Looking at various lodging & restaurant maps, I assume there are more choices in upgraded lodging and more restaurant choices on the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago ?

Then for a first time newbie hike, looks safest to do the Camino Frances?

Yes, a good choice is the Frances. And you can find all levels of lodging from Sarria to Santiago and the same for dinning. If you need recommendations for a specific town or city, ask and you will get them from forum members.

You can also look at lodging choices for a specific area with the Booking.com website. Just make sure that any lodging you are interested in resides near to the location you want to be at because they can list area wide offerings. Look at the 'distance from city center'
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
You can also look at lodging choices for a specific area with the Booking.com website. Just make sure that any lodging you are interested in resides near to the location you want to be at because they can list area wide offerings. Look at the 'distance from city center'
Or cross reference it on the Gronze website, which only lists a accommodations on or near the Camino. Use the Chrome browser to translate to English.


Another good planning tool is Godesalco.com

 

jcat

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016
I've started in Sarria and Ferrol, and I would vote for Sarria for your needs. Both are very doable, but I think you will find more diverse food options on the Frances. Like others have said no need to hire a tour service, you can send your pack ahead daily if you like and you can easily prebook private rooms.

But if your research shows that you would prefer the Ingles, don't hesitate. Plenty of infrastructure there too, just a few more options on the Frances.

Cheers!
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Let me offer a bit of a contrarian point of view on this. I’ve walked all three routes and in order of my favorites would Tui to Santiago, Ferrol to Santiago, and then Sarria to Santiago. I love the Camino Francés, but my least favorite part of it was the last 100 kms from Sarria to Santiago. It was more crowded and I didn’t get the same “camino feel” from that section as I did up to that point. The Inglés was very enjoyable, but there were a few hills although nothing insurmountable. We head back to Portugal in about six weeks and although we’re walking the coastal route up to Vigo and then cutting in, the route from Tui, also about 100 kms, is grand. There are a number of fine towns along the way including Pontevedra and Padrón. I found the spirit of the camino much more present on this route than from Sarria, but that’s just one pilgrim’s POV. Luggage transport is readily available on the Portugués and the food choices outstanding. I know some people are more comfortable going with a tour operator, but it’s hardly necessary. You can easily make online accommodation reservations and arrange your luggage transfers by yourself. It’s easy to do and very reliable. So, IMHO, my vote goes for Tui to Santiago. But, there is no “bad” camino route. You’ll enjoy whichever one you choose.
 

teeranaic

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
I did my 1st Camino from Sarria (well Samos actually) last month and I think it was a really nice 'introduction' to the Camino! You can do it like I did, pre-booking the private rooms through booking.com and luggage transfer from Correos, or any other company that you'd prefer.

Whatever you do, Buen Camino! Ah, feels good to say it again.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Baiona - Santiago - '22; Pamplona - Burgos ('22?)
I've done all 3 (started my Frances in Leon) and while they all have their pluses and minuses, I think I'd go with the Portuguese if I were you. The Frances from Sarria can be crowded, and they don't call the Ingles the Cardiac Camino for nothing. The Portuguese from Vigo (I actually started in Baiona) is lovely - you walk above the Vigo estuary with gorgeous views, and you're walking through the Rias Biaxas region (think Albarino wine!). Because my husband wasn't walking, we stayed in casas rurales and guest houses along the way rather than alburgues, so that's easily done. The food was delicious, and it was easy to find a variety.
 

cardifflad52

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2015 completed my first Camino "The English Way "
Planning our first camino for either this fall / next spring and wanted to know which trail would be best for first timers, travelling from the US, we are in our 50's and have certain needs.

Since we are newbies, work in the public sector, and not able to take so much time off, we are looking for a week long hike and wanted to get our feet wet with our first camino and compostela so the 100kM minimum is mandatory.

Based on the forum posts and internet searches we have come to find these choices in order of preference:
  • Ingles - Ferrol to Santiago
  • Portugues - Vigo to Santiago
  • Frances - Sarria to Santiago
Here's our situation:
Planning on a 2 week overall trip to Spain and the UK.

We are flexible with travel for the hike so trains and planes are preferred, but can do motorcoach or car rental.

We are looking for a trail that would have not be hostel / albergue stays - prefer private rooms w/ ensuite WC (B&B, hotel, private cottage, AirBNB).

We love Spain and have travelled recently twice to Madrid and Barcelona just before the pandemic and wanted to search other areas of Spain now that it's safer to travel from the US.

Light dietary restrictions makes food choices important (non dairy, low salt) so a fixed menu will not do.

Luggage transport between stops required due to our knees, hips and backs.

We have looked at the online service company: CaminoWays and they offer the services/facilities that we are looking for on the Frances hike from Sarria but we are not sure of a service for less popular: Ingles and Portugues routes...

Any helpful suggestions, choice of trail, etc would be very appreciated.

BTW:
Sorry in advance that we are not seasoned hikers nor committed to the traditional months long trips.
We are hoping our first camino will be a success so that we can follow up with more trips and longer distances.

My first camino purchase - map guide booklet for Ingles trail:
View attachment 119468
I have already done the Ingles ..took me 6 days but you can do it in 5 and spend a couple of days on Santiago ..it is a straight forward path with no real strain on the body , mainly flat .Ferrol is easy to get to from Santiago airport , the bus from there take you to the bus station where you can purchase your bus ticket to Ferrol where the first Alberque us about 4 -5 miles out ...the route all in all is not that remote always shops and fountains to be found ..out of the 3 I would say it is the easiest to get to and less populated with Pilgrims as the other two will have pilgrims from the French and Portuguese routes ..
 
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MaxHelado

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugués via Variante Espiritual 2022
Hi 4sallypat,

I write as a Newbie too. My wife and I will be setting off on our first Camino at the end of May after a 2 year delay (for reasons we all know about).
So I can offer no expert advice as others in this forum can and have.

What I can tell you is that after a lot of research we have decided to walk from Vigo on the Portugues but will turn left at Pontevedra and head out across the Variante Espiritual picking up the more popular route once again in Padron. There is just something about the Variante that appeals to us and, call me an old romantic, I wanted to take the boat ride from Vilanova to Pontecesures.
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
We have looked at the online service company: CaminoWays and they offer the services/facilities that we are looking for on the Frances hike from Sarria but we are not sure of a service for less popular: Ingles and Portugues routes...

Any helpful suggestions, choice of trail, etc would be very appreciated.

BTW:
Sorry in advance that we are not seasoned hikers nor committed to the traditional months long trips.
We are hoping our first camino will be a success so that we can follow up with more trips and longer distances.

Would recommend CW's guided tour from Sarria for a number of reasons including

* as newbies you don't have to worry about a bed for the night on what will be a very busy section
* luggage transfer is taken care of
* quality of accommodation is usually quite good unless you are purists and want to share dorms
* a guide will mean that if you run into health issues you'll have a point of contact to navigate the Spanish health system.

I used CW for my first Camino (SJPP to Logrono) and found that I did not need all their services but was grateful for the peace of mind. Since then I have done 3 others but without support as your first one gives you the insight on what you can/can't achieve by yourself.

PS: The group I travelled in were almost all Irish as CW is an Irish company. Excellent travel companions and haven't laughed so much since.
 

cardifflad52

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2015 completed my first Camino "The English Way "
I have already done the Ingles ..took me 6 days but you can do it in 5 and spend a couple of days on Santiago ..it is a straight forward path with no real strain on the body , mainly flat .Ferrol is easy to get to from Santiago airport , the bus from there take you to the bus station where you can purchase your bus ticket to Ferrol where the first Alberque us about 4 -5 miles out ...the route all in all is not that remote always shops and fountains to be found ..out of the 3 I would say it is the easiest to get to and less populated with Pilgrims as the other two will have pilgrims from the French and Portuguese routes ..
Saying that like anyone else we all have a daily budget and everyone does the Camino for various reasons .. I am going out in 3 weeks to do the French which will take a minimum of 35 days , I say minimum as I not booked my return flight back to the UK I finish in God's time whether it's 40 days or 45
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Walk the Frances from Sarria. It’ll tick all your boxes and still give you a taste of the pilgrimage.
Yes, a good choice is the Frances. And you can find all levels of lodging from Sarria to Santiago and the same for dinning.
Negative about Sarria - Santiago is the amount of pilgrims. But for many it is not. The more the merrier.
You guys are very clear about what you need and want your camino to look like. I have not walked the Camino Inglis but have walked the Frances and Portuguese. There is no doubt that the most services, the best infrastructure, most frequency and variety of restaurants and really nice scenery will be found on the Camino Frances.
As others have said you do not need to use a company to book your travels. There are multiple websites that have been mentioned to help facilitate that. Depending on when you go and how large a budget you have you may be able to just book as you go.
Unless you want a guide book for explanations of towns and history, you do not need a guide book either.
It is almost impossible to get lost on the CF. You can use Gronze.com for listings of places to stay as well as giving you distances between towns and elevation profiles. Gronze also has reviews of albergues etc. There are some really nice private albergues that have private rooms that you can book. It may be fun for you to get a taste of the albergue experience while still having your privacy. There are also many apps that are free to download like Camino Ninja, Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino that have lists of albergues, hotels, pensions and hostels, distance between towns, downloadable GPS just in case you are lost.
There will also be an endless supply of pilgrims, hospitaleros, hotel/hostel owners who will be there to help you and answer questions and make you Camino Pilgrims in no time.
Buen Camino
 
Last edited:

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Just to throw another option into the mix. Consider walking the Primitivo from Lugo. Right on the 100km radius. A beautiful place with spectacular Roman city walls. Then you would have a couple of days of quiet walking on a less travelled Camino and still have the "fun" of the Camino Frances for the later part after you join it at Melide.
 
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Chris Gi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
Thank you @Tincatinker - we are worried about the hike in a foreign country.

Funny, my wife said the same about Camino Frances with the number of people we saw on YouTube and socialization which is her thing.

Looking at various lodging & restaurant maps, I assume there are more choices in upgraded lodging and more restaurant choices on the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago ?

Then for a first time newbie hike, looks safest to do the Camino Frances?
And have fun planning it yourselves. So much help here on the Forum along with the Brierley books. If you go with a "Company" you are almost set in stone with their itinerary....sometimes longer distances than what you would like or could achieve. Plus - spend that extra money you are saving by planning it yourselves and maybe use it to help the Spanish economy. Buen Camino.
 

4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
I've done all 3 (started my Frances in Leon) and while they all have their pluses and minuses, I think I'd go with the Portuguese if I were you. The Frances from Sarria can be crowded, and they don't call the Ingles the Cardiac Camino for nothing. The Portuguese from Vigo (I actually started in Baiona) is lovely - you walk above the Vigo estuary with gorgeous views, and you're walking through the Rias Biaxas region (think Albarino wine!). Because my husband wasn't walking, we stayed in casas rurales and guest houses along the way rather than alburgues, so that's easily done. The food was delicious, and it was easy to find a variety.
Thank you for your recommendation @La Rubia - I appreciate that because I prefer the flat walking hikes myself, quiet time, and would love to visit Portugal for the first time from Lisbon or Porto and take a train or bus to Vigo.

My wife on the other hand seems to prefer the Frances Camino as she is more social and likes the crowds so @lt56ny seems to agree with my wife.

@Bradypus I will look at the Primitivo Camino as I do love Roman & Greek architecture.

@MaxHelado do let us know how your trip goes on the Portugues ?

Everyone on this forum has been super helpful and love it!
 

jimmyc

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015
I would not even consider walking from Sarria. Choose the Inglis as there are far, far less pilgrims on this route. The crowds from Sarria are overwhelming.
I know a lot of people who having walked from SJPP abandon the walk in Sarria.
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
That's your first Camino planned. What about a second?

Fly to Pisa in Italy. Take the train to Lucca and walk south through Tuscany and Lazio to Rome - the final section of the Via Francigena.;)
 
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4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
That's your first Camino planned. What about a second?

Fly to Pisa in Italy. Take the train to Lucca and walk south through Tuscany and Lazio to Rome - the final section of the Via Francigena.;)
Ha, yes I know but let's see how the first camino goes - we are brand newbies that are nervous....

Spain is my favorite European country - actually looking into retiring in Spain in a couple of years...

OTOH my wife would love to hike Italy as that's her favorite country.

At least we both enjoy the Mediterranean sea as a commonality....
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
OTOH my wife would love to hike Italy as that's her favorite country.

Don't want to cause a divorce but the Tuscan section is spectacular. Then there's the food.
 

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4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
Don't want to cause a divorce but the Tuscan section is spectacular. Then there's the food.
Funny you say that - agree Tuscan food is amazing except for the hard pasta which is always undercooked on my American palate....
 

xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Let me offer a bit of a contrarian point of view on this. I’ve walked all three routes and in order of my favorites would Tui to Santiago, Ferrol to Santiago, and then Sarria to Santiago. I love the Camino Francés, but my least favorite part of it was the last 100 kms from Sarria to Santiago. It was more crowded and I didn’t get the same “camino feel” from that section as I did up to that point. The Inglés was very enjoyable, but there were a few hills although nothing insurmountable. We head back to Portugal in about six weeks and although we’re walking the coastal route up to Vigo and then cutting in, the route from Tui, also about 100 kms, is grand. There are a number of fine towns along the way including Pontevedra and Padrón. I found the spirit of the camino much more present on this route than from Sarria, but that’s just one pilgrim’s POV. Luggage transport is readily available on the Portugués and the food choices outstanding. I know some people are more comfortable going with a tour operator, but it’s hardly necessary. You can easily make online accommodation reservations and arrange your luggage transfers by yourself. It’s easy to do and very reliable. So, IMHO, my vote goes for Tui to Santiago. But, there is no “bad” camino route. You’ll enjoy whichever one you choose.
Agree with you. Sarria route is just too crowded with tourists. I think the Tui Route is much better.....and even better would be Finisterre to Muxia to Santiago for beautiful scenery and no crowds.
 

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