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On maps and guides...


Hello again everyone, i'd like to take with me only a one-page map (if feasible) of the camino frances for initial reference - does anybody know where i can get such a good map on the internet? What sort of map info is the most useful - do i need more than the distances, heights and pueblos? Any tips are appreciated. Aussieval
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Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
The pilgrim office in St. Jean has a paper with the elevation changes/towns/recommended days of travel and then it has a piece of paper with each city that has an Albergue, distance between them and services in the town. It's sufficient and much more accurate than Brierley´s book. I am sadly disappointed in that book so far.

Deleted member 3000

There are 1,800 historic buildings, sites, churches, and chapels on the Camino Frances. Without a guidebook, you will miss most of them.

The Red Albergue brochure shows distances and some accommodations -

The pilgrim office has this profile:

The Alison Raju book has very good information on historic sites, as does the Brierley book. The maps in Raju are not as good as those in Brierley. You can certainly walk with nothing to guide you, and follow the yellow arrows. Quite frankly, it is mostly a hike through beautiful countryside when you do that, but many do so and have a fantastic time. There will be time on your hands each evening, and reviewing the next day in a guidebook occupies some time. It is up to you how little you feel you need to know about a route that has been followed for a thousand years. It is YOUR pilgrimage.


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Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
I know that many will tell you that guidebooks or maps are not necessary. And for the most part, that is probably true. HOWEVER as has been pointed out, there are LOTS of things along the Camino that you would miss or never know about without a guide to refer to right there and then. Part of the journey is taking in what you are seeing and sometimes going a little out of your way to encounter something you might have otherwise missed--like Eunate.

And second, I encountered confusing arrows any number of times and the Brierley guide helped me figure out which way to go--though not always. The problem with the guide is that it does not give you maps of the surrounding area so if you get off course or get lost, you have no way of relating to what you are seeing. I encountered two opposing arrows after leaving Samos and the main highway. I apparently took the older route and saw NO ONE on the way but had no way of knowing how to get back or even where I was. The arrows disappeared for a while and then there were faint ones. I had to just keep going and going hoping that it would all be OK--it was eventually but I have to tell you I was darn glad to enter Sarria!

Buen Camino


Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I think any guidebook is better than none. I like to know the details about places I am going and Brierley's book is sufficient for that. I am not a fan of the "not to scale" maps and the elevation scales that are not very accurate. I like to prepare somewhat for the day ahead so I can make some decisions about a detour if I want to take one to visit a monastery....tried that today, went right when I should have went left.... :) Oh well, I am enjoying Santo Domingo de Calzada a lot!

It all depends on what the camino is going to be for you. If it's a spiritual/religious thing, you might want a guidebook (Brierley's fits nicely in my pants pocket on my right leg). If you are just out to do a walk, don't care to know about the history, then don't get a guidebook, follow the yellow arrows, or get one of the sheets from SJPdP Pilgrim office.

Up until today, I have seen very few signs in English at the historical sites, so if that's important, a guidebook would help explain basic historical stuff.
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Don't forget tourist information offices. They usually have Camino specific information which is more up-to-date than any guidebook and more compact too.


Active Member
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Frances from SJPP (3/10 & 10/10); Primitivo (6/12)
There is a fantastic guide from the Castilla Y Leon Tourist office ( published in a multitude of different languages titiled "Route to Santiago - the Pilgrim's Guide to the French Route". It is available at tourist information stops once reaching the Province of Leon. It may also be possible to contact their office on the above listed website and request a copy in advance of your Camino.

The guide lists the villages and cities throughout the Camino along with available services such as food, banking, pharmacy, etc. It includes descriptions of all noteworthy things of interest as well as a list of albergues. It does not include maps but does provide a list of distances between villages, population and elevation statistics. It is compact, easy to carry and refer to and best of all is distributed free of charge. Anyone who picked up a copy along the way loved it!

On my Camino I also had a copy of Bierley's map guide and found it inconvenient and quite annoying. Due to its size it was too large to fit in a pocket so had to be kept in my backpack. Anytime I wanted to refer to it along the Camino it required stopping to take off my backpack to pull out the guide. There is no reason why this guidebook had to include three different languages rather than publishing three different smaller pocket sized editions, one in each of the separate languages. It might cost more for the publisher but this is not an inexpensive book for the buyer. Too bad its size impedes its usefulness.


Hi everyone, thank you for so much useful information! I was impressed with your combined knowledge. I'll re-read the info and make my own decision, but it certainly helped to consider your different perspectives! Thanks again!

Deleted member 3000

The latest Brierley (2009) is completely in English, so any multilingual edition must be an earlier edition (which would not be up-to-date on accommodations anyway). The maps are to scale, but do not include all the roads and intersections, so they are not particularly useful if you get off the track. The profiles are more accurate than the profiles provided by the Pilgrim Office in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

My Aarn pack with the front pockets kept me from ever having to remove my pack to get something I needed during the day (including Brierley)!! Even my water bottle was right there in front of me, so that I did not have to reach back to a pocket on the side of the backpack. It really is an invention worth consideration, a better mouse trap one could say.


New Member
A couple of years back I boughtThe Road to Santiago, The Pilgrim's Practical Guide by Jose Maria Anguita Jaen, published by Everest - english version it was also available in mmany other languages. I got mine in Leon at that time it was 25 Euros, so not cheap, but good maps, route details and history/buildings guide. I hope it is going to prove its worth this May.

Buen Camino

John T
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John, I have the same guide too. I bought it where I started my camino in Roncesvalles in '06.

Probably not the best or updated, but it is good enough. What I like is the additional 30 etape maps that you can dispose of after use.

I carry 2 etape pieces of the map at a time (in case I decided to walk beyond the stipulated rest stop for the day). Easy to access and very light to carry while the guide stays clean inside my backpack. The guide is for reading later in the albergue on the history and the places in the camino.

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