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Which route has more Spanish Speakers?

ChichiPerez

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi All. I'm new here and hoping to do the Camino this coming August. I'll have 2/3 weeks to spend in Spain so could do a 11-14 day camino. I have read many posts about two week caminos and what route is recommended but none with my specific question.

I'll be going alone and hoping to meet some people. I speak Spanish quite fluently but am out of practice these days as I'm back living in Ireland so would love a route that has lots of Spanish speaking pilgrims to chat to. For this reason am I right in thinking that the Camino Portugués would not be for me? I could be wrong about that.

So with that in mind I'm thinking about either starting at Pamplona and going to Burgos or starting at Astorga and going to Santiago.

Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Muchas gracias!
 
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Hi All. I'm new here and hoping to do the Camino this coming August. I'll have 2/3 weeks to spend in Spain so could do a 11-14 day camino. I have read many posts about two week caminos and what route is recommended but none with my specific question.

I'll be going alone and hoping to meet some people. I speak Spanish quite fluently but am out of practice these days as I'm back living in Ireland so would love a route that has lots of Spanish speaking pilgrims to chat to. For this reason am I right in thinking that the Camino Portugués would not be for me? I could be wrong about that.

So with that in mind I'm thinking about either starting at Pamplona and going to Burgos or starting at Astorga and going to Santiago.

Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Muchas gracias!


Hi and welcome. You will find a wealth of information here!

First of all : is it important for you to end in Santiago and receive a Compostela?
Then your idea about starting in Astorga is a good one because that is doable in two weeks time.
I presume that in these Covidtimes pilgrims predominantly will be Spanish so you will not have a problem with finding conversation.

Of course seeing your are fluent in Spanish it will be so much easier for you to call an albergue/ hostal, making conversation in a shop. You will most probably will be the designated translator in an international group of pilgrims also!

And I know that on the Frances one does not need Spanish but I still feel it is a gesture of politeness to at least try to speak some basic Spanish.
For me it made all the difference that I could talk to a local in Spanish.. Especially when I walked a year in the month of March and on a couple of times I was the only pilgrim in an albergue/ bar.

My favourite compact Camino is the Camino Ingles where you will meet more Spanish pilgrims ( well that was my impression the two times I walked this route ) and local people speak at a slower pace than the residents of Castilia -Leon.
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I'll be going alone and hoping to meet some people. I speak Spanish quite fluently but am out of practice these days as I'm back living in Ireland so would love a route that has lots of Spanish speaking pilgrims to chat to. For this reason am I right in thinking that the Camino Portugués would not be for me? I could be wrong about that.

So with that in mind I'm thinking about either starting at Pamplona and going to Burgos or starting at Astorga and going to Santiago.
Spanish pilgrims make up more than half of all pilgrims who reach Santiago in a normal year. Probably a greater proportion in this pandemic year, so I guess you will meet them on any route.

That said, most locals that you meet before Tui on the Camino Portugues are likely to be Portuguese speakers. So if you want to be immersed in Spanish, a Camino in Spain is a better bet.

Camino Frances is probably the most "international" of all the routes and the most popular. For sure, there will be Spanish pilgrims, but also lots of speakers of other languages. Other routes might have a higher proportion of Spanish pilgrims ... but you will meet fewer people period.

A friend of mine recently finished walking the Camino Mozarabe as his second Camino. His first was the Camino Frances. He commented "On the Camino Frances I met the world. On the Mozarabe I met Spain."

Whichever Camino you choose, Buen Camino!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I think the highest proportion of Spanish speaking pilgrims you would find on any route is on the Frances; particularly the section from Sarria to Santiago.
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
Obviously all the Caminos in Spain, it's Spain after all. That said, the difference is the ease of getting services in non-Spanish (English), Camino Frances being the easiest. It's only the less trodden Caminos that it becomes a challenge like Camino Levante, Mozarabe (except when in Cordoba).
 
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Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Normally I would suggest a less popular camino if you want to speak Spanish, but for this year I do think the Francés is your best bet. If you choose a less common route, you risk not meeting very many pilgrims at all.

The Francés will have the most pilgrims, and it will be more dominated by Spaniards this year than in past years. For obvious reasons, you should choose a Camino that runs through Spain, not Portugal. Buen Camino!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Francés is your best bet. If you choose a less common route, you risk not meeting very many pilgrims at all.
I think you may be right. But which bit of the Frances?

OP said that they were considering Pamplona to Burgos, so I guess the Compostela is not important. That opens up various possibilities - and I think that it may be hard to predict where to find the "Goldilocks" level of pilgrim density for an optimally sociable Camino. Some of that will come down to individual preference I guess. I have a feeling, though, that for easy socializing with strangers, the last section of the CF might be a little too crowded, with too many organized groups, too many tight cliques. Pamplona to Burgos might be just right?

Thoughts?
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I think you may be right. But which bit of the Frances?

OP said that they were considering Pamplona to Burgos, so I guess the Compostela is not important. That opens up various possibilities - and I think that it may be hard to predict where to find the "Goldilocks" level of pilgrim density for an optimally sociable Camino. Some of that will come down to individual preference I guess. I have a feeling, though, that for easy socializing with strangers, the last section of the CF might be a little too crowded, with too many organized groups, too many tight cliques. Pamplona to Burgos might be just right?

Thoughts?
Yes, that's a good point. With that in mind, I would avoid the section from Sarria to Santiago. So ending in Burgos could be a good option, or León.
 

WisTom

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances March 2017
Vía de la Plata / Camino Sanabrés Feb/Mar 2019
Fisterra-Muxia Mar 2019
In 2019, I walked the VdlP/Sanabrés in February. The walk was wonderfully solitary and, other than an encounter with a Norwegian and a Belgian, all conversations were in Spanish. Also, as noted in this thread, it is usually easier (and generally less expensive) to call ahead in Spanish for accommodations rather than using online booking services.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
No importa el camino que elijas, estás en España. Hay hispanohablantes a tu alrededor. Para encontrar más peregrinos españoles, si fuera yo, miraría los caminos que parten del Sur del País. El Camino Francés tiene gente de todo el mundo por lo que el idioma es más diverso. La única parte del Camino Francés donde el español prevalecerá más será, como se ha visto históricamente, desde Sarria hasta Santiago de Compostela. Sin embargo, escuché que este grupo está dominado por peregrinos en edad de estudiantes.

No matter which path you choose, you are in Spain. There are Spanish speakers around you. To find more Spanish pilgrims, if it were me, I would look at the roads that start from the South of the Country. The French Way has people from all over the world so the language is more diverse. The only part of the French Way where Spanish will prevail more will be, as has been seen historically, from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. However, I heard that this group is dominated by student-age pilgrims.
 
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ChichiPerez

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks so much for your responses everyone!

I am leaning towards Pamplona to Burgos because, as has been mention, maybe friendship groups would be already formed by Astorga/Sarria, and so might be harder to meet people? Has anyone walked from Astorga/Sarria and found that to be true?

Anyone that's done the first half does it feel sad/disappointing to stop at Burgos, or wherever and watch everyone else keep going, or do many people do this?

Thanks again!
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Thanks so much for your responses everyone!

I am leaning towards Pamplona to Burgos because, as has been mention, maybe friendship groups would be already formed by Astorga/Sarria, and so might be harder to meet people? Has anyone walked from Astorga/Sarria and found that to be true?

Anyone that's done the first half does it feel sad/disappointing to stop at Burgos, or wherever and watch everyone else keep going, or do many people do this?

Thanks again!

If I were you I would not overthink it.
The concept of a " Camino family " is really overrated IMHO.
Every day on the Camino is a chance to meet new people.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
While there will be Spaniards galore from Sarria, they travel in posses of friends or schoolmates or whatever, and you will be most able to secure your goals by following one of the less-frequented Caminos, such as the de la Plata, the Vadiniense, or from Madrid, or the Aragonese or Castello-Aragonese. On these routes (although I've not walked the Madrid), there willl be almost nobody but hispanophones. On the Castellano-Aragonese I met none but Spaniards. People were friendly and convivial, in spite of my absolutely-dire Castilian, which was steadfastly ignored as conversation flowed.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Anyone that's done the first half does it feel sad/disappointing to stop at Burgos, or wherever and watch everyone else keep going, or do many people do this?
Lots of people walk partial Caminos. They set their goal for the year, which might be Burgos or another place. Some of them intend to come back to pick up the Camino from the same place. Others aren't fussed. For them, the Camino isn't about reaching a destination. They feel that Camino is about being on the Camino. Whether that feels satisfying to you, only you can tell.

Being forced to give up a Camino because of injury or other events is another matter - I have talked to people about that disappointment and it can be profound.

I think that if you speak Spanish and you are not too shy, you will find it possible to have lots of good conversations anywhere on the Camino. I do have the impression that there are some cliques that are hard to "break into" in the very busy parts of the Camino. I haven't experienced the CF, but I noticed this on the way from Santiago to Finisterre. I never felt lonely when I was alone. The only time that I felt lonely was the day when I got the cold shoulder from some other pilgrims.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
Normally I would suggest a less popular camino if you want to speak Spanish, but for this year I do think the Francés is your best bet. If you choose a less common route, you risk not meeting very many pilgrims at all.
True, true. But meeting ans socializing less with fellow pilgrims often translates into meeting and socializing more with locals, which can be of help if one wants to practice one's Spanish.

A potential concern this year for the less common routes is infrastructure. In general, these routes don't have much infrastructure, but they don't have many pilgrims either, so what they have is enough. If a lot of the municipal albergues are closed this year, that "enough" might turn into "not quite enough" leading to longer stages than anticipated. But if enough are open, these might be the best bet to practice Spanish.

Then the question arises: "What sort of Spanish?" Spanish as it is spoken in Galicia is not the same as Spanish as spoken in Catalunya or Andalucia. What we think of as "Spanish" is often referred to in Spain as "Castilian". If one wants to practice this sort of Spanish, perhaps it is best to walk In Castile. If walking the Camino Frances, then the idea of starting in Burgos makes sense from this perspective. If a less common route is okay, the Camino Madrid may be a good choice from this perspective.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I’m a little late to this thread, but I don’t think anyone suggested the thing that immediately popped into my mind until @David Tallan’s very good suggestion — you might want to consider walking a camino where you will have lots of opportunities for interactions with the normal people living along the route. On caminos like the madrid, the Olvidado, the Invierno, and many other untraveled routes, you will be something of a novelty and you will walk through lots of villages where people will be delighted to chat with you. I think everyone who has walked these routes and has made an effort to interact has a lot of really wonderful memories of conversations with Spanish villagers — usually elderly, but not always, but always (in my experience) kind and happy to talk.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
August is a busy time on the Camino Frances after Sarria. Most of the pilgrims at that time are Spanish.

If you are looking for the opportunity to chatter in Spanish while walking, that would probably be your best opportunity, although I'd guess that many of those Spaniards will already be formed into groups. If you are looking for the challenge of being forced to be self-sufficient in Spanish, then another less-traveled route might be better - you will have fewer people to talk to, but Spanish will be useful.

If I were you I would not overthink it.
The concept of a " Camino family " is really overrated IMHO.
Every day on the Camino is a chance to meet new people.
I agree with this. The Camino Frances will be sociable, if that's what you want. If your main objective is to speak Spanish, you might be disappointed, but then again, you might get exactly what you want. In any case, you will probably get a very satisfying experience.
 

jsalt

Jill
Year of past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
My thoughts would be NOT the Camino Frances. I have never had to speak Spanish on the CF. Nor the Camino Portugues. On the more isolated routes, like the Camino de Madrid or the Salvador, the locals don’t speak English so much, so then you HAVE to say a few words in Spanish. But then these are strange times, so you may find only Spanish speakers anyway on any camino. I wish I could go in August . . . 😢
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
A friend of mine recently finished walking the Camino Mozarabe as his second Camino. His first was the Camino Frances. He commented "On the Camino Frances I met the world. On the Mozarabe I met Spain."
I didn’t see this comment on my first skim through the thread, but this is an excellent way of explaining what I wanted to express in an earlier post.
 
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Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
My thoughts would be NOT the Camino Frances. I have never had to speak Spanish on the CF. Nor the Camino Portugues. On the more isolated routes, like the Camino de Madrid or the Salvador, the locals don’t speak English so much, so then you HAVE to say a few words in Spanish. But then these are strange times, so you may find only Spanish speakers anyway on any camino. I wish I could go in August . . . 😢
I'd be careful not to equate opportunities to speak English with a lack of opportunities to Spanish. Is it easy to avoid speaking Spanish on the CF if that's what you want to do? Yes. Is it easy to speak Spanish on the CF if that's what you want to do and if you speak it "quite fluently" as the OP does? Also yes.

From my experience, when I speak to locals in Spanish anywhere in Spain, they almost always respond in Spanish. Which is not the case when speaking Portuguese in Lisbon, for example. So as long as the OP is proactive in starting conversations in Spanish, they should be fine.

@David Tallan and @peregrina2000 make valid points about having more opportunities for conversations with locals on less popular caminos, but in my experience, these interactions tend to be much shorter than interactions with fellow pilgrims. If you're hoping for an hours-long conversation over drinks or a meal, that's much more likely to happen with pilgrims than with locals. So I would still recommend going where you're most likely to find pilgrims, which in 2021 means the CF (and the CP, but for obvious reasons I wouldn't recommend walking through Portugal if you want to practise Spanish).
 

Via2010

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
If you want to practice your Spanish, you should opt for one of the less popular Caminos, e. g. Via de la Plata/Sanabrés, Camino de Madrid.

I walked the Camino Portugues from Porto twice and rarely met any Spanish people there. So is the camino Inglés (many Italians and Germans). The Primitivo is some what mixed, the French Way is the most international one, but most pilgrims speak English. In my experience the Via de la Plata, especially in Extremadura, was the camino where I really improved my Spanish.

But this may prove true for the Mozarabe and the Camino de Madrid as well. The less crowded the camino, the more you are compelled to interact with the locals and to use your language skills.
 

JoroAtanasof

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF may 2018
CP july 2018
CP Coastal august 2019
Hi All. I'm new here and hoping to do the Camino this coming August. I'll have 2/3 weeks to spend in Spain so could do a 11-14 day camino. I have read many posts about two week caminos and what route is recommended but none with my specific question.

I'll be going alone and hoping to meet some people. I speak Spanish quite fluently but am out of practice these days as I'm back living in Ireland so would love a route that has lots of Spanish speaking pilgrims to chat to. For this reason am I right in thinking that the Camino Portugués would not be for me? I could be wrong about that.

So with that in mind I'm thinking about either starting at Pamplona and going to Burgos or starting at Astorga and going to Santiago.

Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Muchas gracias!
With the time that you have you can do Camino Primitivo I think at least 60 % of the people walking it now are Spanish.
 

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