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Which is the best route for a beginner?

laura neill

New Member
Hi all! I am walking my first Camino in late May and would love some advice or thoughts on the best route for a beginner. I am trying to decide between the Portuges or the more popular Frances route; although I am a very social person, overcrowding does concern me and I want a journey that balances social interaction and solitude. Can anyone advise me? Thanks in advance!
 
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jena.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
i walked the camino frances in April / May of 2014
I walked my first Camino in April/May last year and did the Camino Frances, mostly because I was walking solo and wanted the best marked path. There wasn't a big overcrowding problem, though I did run into a few towns where all the albergues were full. There is always silence and solitude to be found on the Camino if you wish to have reflection time. I'm glad I chose the Camino Frances; I think you will be, too. Have fun planning your pilgrimage -- but don't plan too much: half the adventure is in experiencing the unknown. Buen Camino.
 

Lynda t

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPP to Santiago May 2010
Lisbon to Santiago May 2012
I found the Portuguese very quiet. No night life. Walked alone a lot of it. Late from Lisbon.
 
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paul.ferris

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2011 Camino Frances
2013 Camino Frances
2015 To be decided
I have only walked the Frances route although I have extensively researched other routes. If your Spanish or Portugese is weak you will have many more people to communicate with on the Frances where the common language among pilgrims is English. I think there are more landmarks with 'wow' value on the Frances. The hordes on the Frances have spawned an infrastructure to support them. So the Francis has more cafes, more albergues, more non-roadside paths, more guide books and more prolific trail marking. So for a first Camino I would suggest the Frances. It's even better the second time.
 
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ranthr

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
When I walked from Porto to Santiago in September I was thinking about my first camino ten years ago. If I had walked the Portoguese camino as my first camino, I guess I would never have come back. But I walked CF and have been back several times. Do the CF first! There are some beautiful stretches of nature, mostly good paths, good infrastructure, lots of people but it is possible to walk in peace if you want to.
 
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lisablueslover

New Member
Past OR future Camino
October (2014)
Hi all! I am walking my first Camino in late May and would love some advice or thoughts on the best route for a beginner. I am trying to decide between the Portuges or the more popular Frances route; although I am a very social person, overcrowding does concern me and I want a journey that balances social interaction and solitude. Can anyone advise me? Thanks in advance!
Hi all! I am walking my first Camino in late May and would love some advice or thoughts on the best route for a beginner. I am trying to decide between the Portuges or the more popular Frances route; although I am a very social person, overcrowding does concern me and I want a journey that balances social interaction and solitude. Can anyone advise me? Thanks in advance!
It was also my first time and I walked the Camino Frances. I had a great balance of social interaction and solitude. It was a beautiful journey. Buen Camino!
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
I found the Portuguese very quiet. No night life. Walked alone a lot of it. Late from Lisbon.
Why do you need nightlife on a camino ?
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
I am also in the Frances camp.
I am for the Portugese. Kind people , excellent food and wines. Moderate landscape. This year I go for the second time !
 
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Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
Yeah, I think the Camino Frances is your best choice. Also, it's very user friendly for a first time pilgrim.
Why nobody tells about the crowds and the bedraces on the camino Francès ?
 
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Mark Lee

Guest
Why nobody tells about the crowds and the bedraces on the camino Francès ?
I can't say I found it to be too much of a factor in either Camino I walked, especially the stretch before O'Cebreiro. I stayed in one albergue where there was only one other peregrino besides myself in the whole place.
Yes, May is supposed to be one of the busiest months on the Camino, but I certainly would not let myself be put off by the possibility (I stress that word, possibility) that somewhere along the Way some of the albergues may be crowded.
A lot of social interaction if you want it and easy to find solitude as well. It's all up to the individual.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I don't think it matters. I have walked the CF in early May, and it wasn't crowded. And your ambition to seek a balance between social interaction and solitude will not depend so much on the route as your own behaviour.
 

journeycakes

Member
Past OR future Camino
September 2-October 7 (2013)
May 5-28 (2015)
For many people the pilgrimage to Santiago is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if we travel halfway around the world to get to Spain, so many of us that start out at the typical starting points together will begin our walk along the Camino as beginners! I was drawn to a route that I'd come to understand through my reading was very traditional, the Camino Frances. Although I was aware that people returned to the various Camino routes again and again, I thought that my circumstances might only allow me to do this journey once in my life so I wanted to walk the Camino Frances beginning in St Jean Pied de Port. In spite of my pre-Camino plans to walk shorter daily distances, I got caught up in a group that adhered to the "Brierley stage" model. These people were a lovely "Camino family" for me to have but their endurance and goals turned out to be more ambitious than I could keep up with. It took several days of pushing myself too hard and then lagging behind before I found my own Camino pace which was slower than that of most people, although occasionally I would meet pilgrims from earlier on who had also found a slower pace to be better or who were taking a rest day or were recovering from assorted maladies. I stayed at many lovely albergues between the "official stops" along the route. I wish I'd listened to the advice of the policeman in SJPP in the movie, "The Way," who recommends that Martin Sheen's character take 60 days to walk to Santiago. My vacation time did not stretch to walking all of the Camino in one go; however, to my enormous delight, after the train ride to Sarria where I began walking the final stretch (and completed it in seven days) I encountered many of the people I'd bonded with in Orisson, Roncesvalles and Zubiri and at many other points along the way. During my 2-1/2 days in Santiago I met up with many people I'd met along every part of the way including my first day en route to my overnight at Orisson. Having been there and walked about 5/8 of the route from SJPP to Santiago, that is the one I recommend for a first timer. In reading accounts of people walking the other routes, lack of amenities and less direction signs, larger distances between places and less fellow pilgrims make them less appealing to me. Also I believe in making a reservation if possible for the next night's bed, especially if your arrival time will be later than noon during peak seasons. Also, I can't stress strongly enough about finding your own pace and making the pilgrimage your own and walking shorter daily distances, even if your new friends are bound and determined to do it at a more rapid pace. Prior to my trip to Spain to walk the Camino in Sept-Oct 2013 it never occurred to me that I'd ever contemplate going back there to continue walking. My revised bucket list now includes returning to the Camino Frances to walk the parts that I missed out on my first time when I moved ahead by bus or train.
 

Peter Aulbury

Ozgrino
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances #1 by bike Pamplona to SdC May - June, 2014...(duration 14 days). CF # 2 May, 2015 SJPdp to SdC on foot (duration 40 days)...planning for #3.
I have only walked the Frances route although I have extensively researched other routes. If your Spanish or Potugese is weak you will have many more people to communicate with on the Frances where the common language among pilgrims is English. I think there are more landmarks with 'wow' value on the Frances. The hordes on the Frances have spawned an infrastructure to support them. So the Francis has more cafes, more albergues, more non-roadside paths, more guide books and more prolific trail marking. So for a first Camino I would suggest the Frances. It's even better the second time.
I cycled CF last year fro m PAM and now wish to walk it from SJPdP...can't stop thinking about my 1st camino and dreaming about my 2nd
 

Dreamwalker33

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Aug. to Oct. (2014)
For many people the pilgrimage to Santiago is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if we travel halfway around the world to get to Spain, so many of us that start out at the typical starting points together will begin our walk along the Camino as beginners! I was drawn to a route that I'd come to understand through my reading was very traditional, the Camino Frances. Although I was aware that people returned to the various Camino routes again and again, I thought that my circumstances might only allow me to do this journey once in my life so I wanted to walk the Camino Frances beginning in St Jean Pied de Port. In spite of my pre-Camino plans to walk shorter daily distances, I got caught up in a group that adhered to the "Brierley stage" model. These people were a lovely "Camino family" for me to have but their endurance and goals turned out to be more ambitious than I could keep up with. It took several days of pushing myself too hard and then lagging behind before I found my own Camino pace which was slower than that of most people, although occasionally I would meet pilgrims from earlier on who had also found a slower pace to be better or who were taking a rest day or were recovering from assorted maladies. I stayed at many lovely albergues between the "official stops" along the route. I wish I'd listened to the advice of the policeman in SJPP in the movie, "The Way," who recommends that Martin Sheen's character take 60 days to walk to Santiago. My vacation time did not stretch to walking all of the Camino in one go; however, to my enormous delight, after the train ride to Sarria where I began walking the final stretch (and completed it in seven days) I encountered many of the people I'd bonded with in Orisson, Roncesvalles and Zubiri and at many other points along the way. During my 2-1/2 days in Santiago I met up with many people I'd met along every part of the way including my first day en route to my overnight at Orisson. Having been there and walked about 5/8 of the route from SJPP to Santiago, that is the one I recommend for a first timer. In reading accounts of people walking the other routes, lack of amenities and less direction signs, larger distances between places and less fellow pilgrims make them less appealing to me. Also I believe in making a reservation if possible for the next night's bed, especially if your arrival time will be later than noon during peak seasons. Also, I can't stress strongly enough about finding your own pace and making the pilgrimage your own and walking shorter daily distances, even if your new friends are bound and determined to do it at a more rapid pace. Prior to my trip to Spain to walk the Camino in Sept-Oct 2013 it never occurred to me that I'd ever contemplate going back there to continue walking. My revised bucket list now includes returning to the Camino Frances to walk the parts that I missed out on my first time when I moved ahead by bus or train.
Likewise for my husband and me.. We returned from our Camino Frances last Oct. and talk about returning to walk the part we missed. We found the way seemed much busier mid-Aug. at SPPdP and less crowed from Sarria to Santiago. We could be surrounded with company on one day and walking alone on other days. We were usually the last ones to check in, and had the showers all to ourselves :). We found calling ahead to reserve a bed/room comforting just knowing we had a bed, though that meant we had to decide our next day's walk and couldn't be spontaneous. Wish there was a few more alberque's between SKPdP and Ronscevalles! That is a tough go if you have jet lag and/or too much weight in your pack! **Here's to us getting back to Spain to walk where we haven't yet!
 
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Liz444

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2014
Camino Portuguese 2015
Finisterre / Muxia 2015
Hi! Laura,
We walked on the Camino Frances May / June 2014 and it was wonderful. Unfortunately we had to skip the meseta as I was suffering from tendonitis.
We would love to complete the part we missed but due to our rather advanced years its on to new pastures. - The Camino Portuguese August / September 2015 in easy stages is our plan now.
Without having walked the Portuguese route to date, I still would recommend the Camino Frances as a first pilgrimage.
Buen Camino and Happy Planning.
 

norelle

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2011 April, 2014 March) San Salvador, Primitivo, Finisterre, Muxia (June 2015) Del Norte (Sept/Oct 2016)
I think the Camino Frances is a good choice for your first camino - you can find solitude and companionship!

buen camino
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi all! I am walking my first Camino in late May and would love some advice or thoughts on the best route for a beginner. I am trying to decide between the Portuges or the more popular Frances route; although I am a very social person, overcrowding does concern me and I want a journey that balances social interaction and solitude. Can anyone advise me? Thanks in advance!
not that crowded in late may, go for the french one in my opinion
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
If you all walk the CF we have peace and quietness on the CP:p

Buen camino Francès
 
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300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).

freescot

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
La Plata (2010) Portuguese from Coimbra(2010) Levante (2011) La Lana (2013) Francés from Roncevalles to Molinasaca then the Camino de Invierno (2014)
My first Camino was the Via de La Plata - from Seville. I had no idea what it would involve when I started and thought I would never manage a back-pack. This beautiful route is now well served with albergues and is not too busy. You would certainly meet people in May. It follows the Roman road, and in some parts you have the original mile-stones, from the north to the South of Spain. You can join the Camino Francés in Astorga or turn left earlier and take the Camino Sanabrés into Galicia. It is slightly longer than the Francés. It passes through some of the finest cities in Spain and you enter Merida, Salamanca and Zamora over their original Roman bridges.
Gor me, The Camino Portuguese - till you reach Oporto, is pretty awful and not great for a first camino: too much road and industrial or residential areas. Buen Camino.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Have not walked the Portuguese, but have done parts of the CF twice, first in late May (7 years ago) and again 2 years ago in the fall.

While time passes a lot faster when you have people to chat with, if you are looking for introspection and quiet, I would head to Portugal: the 2nd time on the Camino I could not escape the noise - people yaking away, scaring birds along the way when I was trying to observe them. I did get to tape frogs signing though at some point. Just lovley.

This being said, perhaps if you don't do the traditional stages, do not aim to stay where Brierly and al suggest you sleep, you will have more quiet time, and the option to push forwards, or hang back if you want more social interaction, on the CF - the best of both worlds? And CF is the "brand" of the Camino, isn't it?
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
Wow, thanks everyone - such comprehensive information! You've all convinced me - I'll definitely be doing the Frances. If you'll be walking in May - hope to see you on the Way! xo
Have I missed somewhere in this thread how much time you have available to do your "Camino" to Santiago, and when exactly from where you intend to start? We do have some statistics (half lies?) on the volumes of trodden paths during May and June from various classical starting points of the Francés. Just so as to avoid the probable :eek: waves of pilgrims during that period.:cool:
 
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Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
@Albertinho are you being selfish here? You cannot keep the CP to yourself, at least, not for long!
:D:D No Dough. Not at all if you see my reactions on posts I am a real promotor of the caminho Portuges and share all the beauties of the CP with everybody, every time again but I was a bit disappointed about some reactions and this was my spontane reaction on this thread.
 

Dutch

Straightforward
Past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC sept '13
Porto-SdC May '14
SdC-Finis/Muxia May '14
SJPP-Finisterre sept '14
Pamplona-Burgos march '15
Porto - Sdc may '15
Camino salkantay june '15
SJPP - SdC aug/sept '15

Pacific Crest Trail april thru sept 2016
Night life? NIGHT life? WHAT nightlife. Everybody is in bed by 10pm :D

To me, the Portugees is just like the Frances, only less crowded, but just as social. I enjoyed them both very much. The Portugees is just as user friendly as the Frances.

Which one first...hmmm......pfff...euuhh....i think......the Frances. Yes. After that, your hooked and you'll probably end up doing the portuguees some other time :)
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
Walk the Camino Frances against the wave ;-)[...]
I've been thinking for some time to actually walk back from Santiago. (on the Francés). I must admit that I tried a stretch two years ago and promptly got lost, since there are no arrows going East. I now expect that there will be so many pilgrim hordes going West that it might not happen again!?:rolleyes:
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
The Frances is stunningly beautiful, I only had 7 days recently but a couple of times was left open jawed at my surroundings and this was after walking the whole route 4 years ago. Other routes can be quite special for a 1st time but the Frances has all the elements, stunning scenery, mostly off road, wide variety of albergues, wider opportunities to develop an interest or calling- what you need or want will come to you.

Good Luck
 

Bren

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Porto to Santiago(2014), Leon to Santiago (2015), St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago (2017)
Hi all! I am walking my first Camino in late May and would love some advice or thoughts on the best route for a beginner. I am trying to decide between the Portuges or the more popular Frances route; although I am a very social person, overcrowding does concern me and I want a journey that balances social interaction and solitude. Can anyone advise me? Thanks in advance!
I can't say which is best but know that we did the portuguese from porto to santiago last year and it was a great balance. We had ample time for solitude and met many people each day. We started may 1. We did meet some pilgrims who had walked from Lisbon and they said they had not met very many pilgrims in the first stretch, and the infrastructure was definitely not as established. We are this year doing from Leon to santiago.
 
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