Stages 29-33, 115km
-Sense the excitement of the increased pilgrim numbers in Sarria as many pilgrims begin their Camino.
-Enjoy lovely, relatively easy walking through tiny hamlets that almost run into each other.
-Try the famous Galician delicacies, especially the pulpo (octopus) in Melide.
-Explore historical Santiago de Compostela.
-Obtain your credentiale from the pilgrims office for competing your Camino.
-Attend the pilgrims mass at the cathedral and hopefully witness the botafumeiro, the swinging incense burner, a true iconic image of the Camino.
Walking from Sarria to Santiago is enough to earn your Compostela when you reach Santiago Cathedral. As such it is a popular option for those wanting a short taster of the Camino and you will often find a lot more Pilgrims on the trail from Sarria onwards due to this reason. The fresh energy that these Pilgrims bring to the walk can help re-invigorate those who’ve walked the longer distances and add some fresh faces and conversations for company along the last sections.
The terrain in this part of the Camino is a nice landscape of rolling hills and verdant countryside, with a lot of the route passing through shaded woodland paths and fields. If you want an enjoyable walk through rural Spain then this is a good section to choose, the walking is not necessarily easy as there are plenty of small hills but not as arduous as the big climbs further back.
Whilst this is by far the most popular section of the Camino, if you’re looking for history, delightful Camino towns and varied countryside you might be disappointed if you just did this section. Of course you have the reward of arriving in Santiago to keep you motivated.
Another thing to be aware of for this section is that now that you’ve passed the mountains and are nearing the ocean, the weather in Galicia can be notoriously fickle. It has one of the highest rain averages in Spain so come prepared.
The villages and towns in this section have a limited number of accommodation options and the better places with private rooms get booked out in advance, so don’t count on getting a bed easily in the busier months as there is also more pressure on the allergies.
Hints and tips
-SARRIA: While this very Camino’ey town is part of pretty much every itinerary, often for two days, it’s actually quite an unremarkable town with very little to see. But a lovely day trip can be had by catching the public bus to Lugo, a fortified historic town about half an hour away.
-CASTROMAIOR: About 9 kms past Portomarin lie these rarely visited ruins. Although just 150 metres off the Camino, it’s not well sign posted and not visible from the path so very few pilgrims stop here. If you can find them you’re likely to have them to yourself.
-MELIDE: There are a few historical places here but on the whole not one of the highlights. But what it is famous for is their pulpo, or Galician octopus. Try it at the Pulperia A Garnacha restaurant on the main road into town on the left. Delicious!
-MONTE DE GOZO: If you’ve seen the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen, you’ll know the scene where they come upon the statues of the two pilgrims pointing towards Santiago, with the cathedral in the background. These statues are easy to miss. If you stand in front of the main monument at Monte de Gozo and face Santiago, the statues are at about 10 o’clock, on top of the hill. You will be able to see the path up to it.
-SANTIAGO: To get the credentiale (certificate of completion) they now use a ticket system. You need to go to the pilgrims office and take a number. You can monitor where they’re up to and when they’re within about 30 people you can go back to the office to collect it. This way you don’t have to actually wait at the office. But go there straight away if you want to get it the day you arrive as they may already have too many people waiting to get them that day before closing. Then you will need to get there first thing in the morning to guarantee you’ll get yours.
To see all the different altitude profiles of each stage of the Camino please click on the link below which you can view over two pages as a PDF:
This was produced by the French friends of the Way of St. Jacques