24 Photos That Will Make You Want To Walk Camino de Santiago

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Camino de Santiago is a 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain. I walked “The Way” in 2012, and it has thus far been the most transformative travel experience of my life. I’m starting to see a lot blogs with pilgrims documenting their trips to Santiago de Compostella this summer, which allows me to relive my time in Spain vicariously. My uncle Jim is walking to Santiago, too! Although, he is not blogging about it. Every summer, I start to think back on my journey, and the many lessons it taught me. Every photo I took tells a story, and captures a moment in time that made me the person I am today. Here are 24 photo moments from my journey to Santiago.

24 Photos That Will Make You Want To Walk Camino de Santiago

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1.) One of my very first photos from day 1 after leaving St. Jean Pied de Port at 6:00 AM. On this day I would cross from France into Spain and begin my pilgrimage towards Santiago. It was upon taking this photo that I had my “I’ve arrived” moment. Camino de Santiago St Jean Pied de Port

2.) Within a few miles of beginning my walk, I met an Argentine fellow who was living and working in Sweden. My time in Argentina had taught me enough Castellano to carry on a decent conversation, and this gave me a lot of confidence as I headed into Spain. We made sure to take photos of each other to capture the morning majesty of St. Jean Pied de Port. 8001717609_ae6a07c2cb_o

3.) This photo is a look back on the trail before crossing into Spain and descending to my first stop, the town of Roncesvalles. There were sheep, horses, and green hills in every direction. For a split second, the world stopped spinning, and I was just a part of it. 

Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

4.) Everyday on the Camino, you pass through small villages and towns. You’re dirty, you’re tired, you’re hungry, but you’re a pilgrim. We all shared in the struggle together. It was a strange feeling to see the big cities ahead and only want to pass through them. The trail was my home, and the pilgrims were my family. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

5.) The bridge in Puenta La Reina is the junction of the French Aragonese Way. In the morning, with the arches reflecting into perfect circles, it was hard not to just stop and admire how lucky I was to be there. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

6.) Walking in to the town of Cirauqui was when I really started to hit my stride. I no longer had doubts or anxiety. My legs felt fresh and ready to walk each morning, and my mind felt free and clear. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

7.) It had been a long day when I reached the beautiful town of Najera, amongst cliffs of red rock. I sat down with fellow pilgrims over a pizza dinner, and discussed the all important “how do you derive happiness in life?” question. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

8.) Some days are filled with picturesque beauty, others are a never ending run of the same scenery. It’s a bit like life in that regard. I found that regularity defined perfection. With each step I took, the way I saw things began to change. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

9.) The sunflowers on the Camino were the anthem to my summer. Resembling the sun itself, reflecting warmth and happiness, even in stormy weather. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

10.) Chasing shadows at dawn was a ritual I learned to love. I left Castrojeriz to get an early jump on the heat of the Meseta, and caught this stunning moment just after daybreak. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

11.) Every now and again I would look down at my feet and think about how many pilgrims had walked the exact same steps over the hundreds of years before my time. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

12.) This view caught me off guard, as the sun opened up a keyhole portal in the sky. It was like a dream upon waking, only in existence for a short moment. It made me think of how many similar moments I had missed, by simply not being present. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

13.) I had never been much of a morning person before the Camino. As a pilgrim, no one tells you when to get up or what to do each day. Still, I found myself waking up before sunrise to catch the day breaking over fields of sunflowers.Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

14.) Sometimes it’s the simple things in life. Every morning I would start the day with 5-10km of walking before grabbing a coffee and pastry at the first cafe I came across. For lunch, I would eat a bocadillo, and for dinner, I would order a special from restaurants from their “Pilgrims Menu”. My favorite snacks were breads and fruits. It was so nice to share food and stories with other pilgrims, enjoying the shade from trees that protect pilgrims from the sun, year after year. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

15.) There was nothing quite like the smell of the boot room or boot rack. At most albergues, the host would ask that you leave your boots in the lobby before heading to your room. Each pair had a story, with wear marks and tears to tell you where they’d been. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

16.) With only 100 km left to go, I was overcome with excitement and sadness at the same time. I was so delighted to be closing in on Santiago, but I didn’t want the incredible journey to end. The Camino is the perfect metaphor for the journey of life in this regard. I’ve learned how to enjoy the path to every destination. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

17.) There were many places along the Camino where I considered moving in and staying for a while. So many of the small towns and villages were picture perfect. One notable building was the white structure in the photo below, just outside Villafranca.Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

18.) Staring up at the gates of Santiago de Compostella after walking nearly 500 miles was something I’ll never forget. Words can’t describe the energy and enthusiasm emanating from the pilgrims streaming into the cathedral grounds. ICamino de Santiago Photos Photography

19.) The swinging of the botafumiero is one of the most iconic images from inside the cathedral. I was very fortunate to catch the proceedings just as I arrived. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

20.) After walking through the cathedral, I made my way to the pilgrims office to receive my Compostella. It was just a piece of paper, but it meant so much to me. 

Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

21.) The only token of the Camino that meant more to me than my compostella was my pilgrims passport. On it’s pages were the stamps of each albergue I stayed at. From start to finish, a journal of The Way. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

22.) After Santiago, I knew I had to continue on to Finisterre. Finisterre translates to ‘the end of the earth’. At the lighthouse on the cape, lies the final waypost reading 0’00km. There is no further a pilgrim can walk from there. The landscape and climate began to change as I walked closer to the coast, it was a very fitting end to such an adventure. 

Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

23.) I met new friends on the way to Finisterre and we enjoyed a lot of time on and off the trail recounting our favorite moments and stories. Learning to listen and not just hear was a lesson that has stuck with me.  There is no rush to finish a conversation when you have all day to talk. It’s amazing how this can change the dynamic between friends. Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

24.) As I approached the lighthouse in Finisterre, I knew my beautiful journey had come to and end. Words failed me then, as they do now. I returned home a new man. Pilgrims walk down from the lighthouse and burn their clothing in a symbolic gesture to signify the shedding of their old self, and their rebirth as someone new, washed clean. Fog rolled in over the water as I took it all in, watching the sun set. A month of memories flashed though my mind, and I felt the pilgrimage come to a story book ending. 
Camino de Santiago Photos Photography

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24 Photos That Will Make You Want To Walk Camino de Santiago


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137 thoughts on “24 Photos That Will Make You Want To Walk Camino de Santiago”

  1. Stunning photos, Drew! The Camino has been on our list of trails to do for a while now. Your beautiful photos and insightful comments make me want to be there now!

  2. This has been on a “maybe” list for a long time but your pictures and words have drawn me in again. A gorgeous post that goes beyond the visual. How long did it take you (and others as well).. realizing that the time is relative depending on how many non-walking days you take or how much you walk each day? Also I have about accommodation (of finding it) being challenging? Was that your experience? Thanks so much.

    • Glad to hear this pushed it from the “maybe” list! It took me 23 days to Santiago and 26 to Finisterre, but most people hike at a much slower rate and finish in 30-35 days. I just really like covering 20 miles a day on trips like this, as my mind really slows down and finds clarity when my body hits the wall. Accommodations are not a problem at all over the first 669km. It’s the final 100km that are a bit tough. One only needs to hike the final 100km to receive a compostella, so you’ll find many people who start from the town of Sarria for this purpose. I would just call ahead each day to book a reservation during this section. It really limited the freedom I had on the first 669km, but it wasn’t too bad.

  3. A beautiful synopsis Drew. It’s all clearly still very fresh in your mind. It is for me too, and my pilgrimage was also in 2012. I don’t think a day passes when I don’t think about some part of the Camino. Thanks for an even more nostalgic day than most. I often wonder about doing it again. Is it something you’ve considered?

    • Thanks! It’s hard to get the Camino out your blood once you’ve become a pilgrim 🙂 I hear similar accounts from other pilgrims, so I don’t think we’re alone in that. The Camino taught me so many life lessons and changed me in a lot of ways, so it’s hard not to notice the little things from day to day. Like you, I’ve definitely considered walking again. On one hand, it would be great to go back and walk the Frances again to relive the glory of 2012, and gain the insight of another walk. On the other hand, there are so many other great treks around the world that I’m excited to get out and experience. It’s a tough call, but I’m sure I’ll find myself back out there at some point.

      • Absolutely breathtaking drew can you tell me what is the best time of year to walk the trail

      • Thanks, Michelle! It really depends on your preferences. Most people like to hike in late spring or early fall for nice weather. I choose the dead of summer, as I like hot weather and am not a fan of rain. The temperature is much more pleasant in fall and spring, but you’ll get a little more precipitation. Most pilgrims walk from May to September though, so any months in between will be manageable.

    • Nice! Yes, the stamps make for a very special souvenir. I have the passport framed and hanging by desk to look at each day!

    • Yes! It’s an incredible journey, and well worth the time spent on trail. My list grows longer everyday, I feel like I should just take a year and get as many treks done as I possible before I go crazy!

  4. Great post – we all have so many “caminos” of different sorts in our lives – they can be very different types of walks but being a pilgrim is a common denominator. – FromSwamptoSummit.com

  5. These are gorgeous photos. I was all set to walk the Camino at the end of this summer but it will have to wait a few years until I finish Peace Corps. I frequently look at the guidebook I purchased for my trip and look forward to whenever I finally get to walk the Walk. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experience 🙂

    • Thank you, Tessa! The Peace Corps will be an incredible journey. Where will you be serving? I almost joined the Peace Corps before I went to grad school. Part of me wishes I would have gone. Have fun!

      • I will be serving in Ukraine beginning in October, provided that the situation there does not worsen. And hey, it’s never too late for Peace Corps, maybe one day you’ll still join. It’s an adventure I know will change my life and I can’t wait!
        Anyway I enjoy your posts and hope your adventures continue as well 🙂

      • Wow, that’s great! Hopefully things will remain stable in the region. That sounds like a great opportunity. Make sure to post about your Peace Corps experience when you get out there!

  6. Your photos are absolutely beautiful! Every time I read your latest hiking post, I realize how I missed the boat, only to find the enjoyment of hiking upon my retirement. Trying to make up for lost time, but I know I won’t have an experience like this one. 🙂

  7. Fantastic, that. The Camino is something I’ve always wanted to walk. Your words and pictures fill me with enthusiasm.
    Cheers, Alen

  8. Wow, absolutely stunning photographs and a fantastic summary of what it is like to be on the Camino. I’m being bashed over the head right now with waves of nostalgia… Love it – thanks for posting this!

  9. I’ve been to Santiago de Compostela once and it’s really an amazing and holy place where I can see a lot of pilgrims doing el camino de Santiago. Great job, Drew!

    • Hi Claudia! And Buen Camino! I used my iphone 4S when I shot this in 2012. I wish I could go back and use my current camera, a Sony a6000. I guess I’ll just have to return soon!

  10. Such an awesome write-up. The Camino is definitely on my bucket list, and your post gave me so much to look forward to! Thanks for sharing your journey!

  11. I love this post Drew!! The Camino de Santiago has been on my bucket list for many years. I’m feeling very motivated right now and thinking of booking my ticket to begin the last week of August.

  12. Now, more than ever, I am bent to start working out to get fit so I can walk the Camino. Very moving and inspiring post, Drew, thank you. May our good Lord continue to bless you.

  13. Wow..breathtaking photo’s, I can feel your heart in your words…its easy to tell you found a piece of your soul here! 🙂
    I knew pretty early in life that I would one day travel this old road! And in September of this year I finally get to walk my Camino! Your photos feel like home to me..it’s a place I’ve imagined for years.. thank you for sharing your precious memories x

    • Thanks, Sandie! It’s been four years now since I walked the Camino, but it still feels like yesterday. The Way had a profound impact on my life. It’s great to hear that you’re fulfilling a life long dream to walk the way of St. James. Buen Camino!

  14. Drew, as I’m planning to hike El Camino this September, I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your blog and discover your insight on the hike. These few pictures are just absolutely fabulous and I know that I’ll have a fabulous trip too.
    Thanks for the beauty and inspiration.
    I’ll keep browsing through…

    Happy hiking!

    • Thanks for stopping by the blog! It’s great to hear you’ll be walking in September. I actually journaled and took a lot of pictures on the Camino, I just need to upload them to these Camino posts. I’ve been focusing on my hiking, gear, and trekking posts and have gotten a little behind on the updates. Hopefully I can add more to the daily Camino Posts soon.

  15. My husband John did this trek 2 years ago and returned talking non stop about it, almost to the extent of…yawn. Now I to am about to go on it, initially to do the coastal route which he was keen to do, but with hip/knee problems we are going to stick to this one, as it appears not as difficult. He assures me he will enjoy it again and see and enjoy it differently again. He says he could walk it every year and enjoy it. So from a couple that had never walked/treked before we are excited, and committed.

    • I was a lot like you husband. I couldn’t stop talking about the Camino for years 🙂 So great to hear that you’ll be walking The Way! I’d really like to walk the Norte some day, but like your husband, would have no problem returning to walk the Frances. It’s an incredible trail.

  16. Great photos Drew! I walked The Way in Sept/Oct 2014. Tremendous experience. The meditation, scenery, people, and food AND wine all made for a beautiful pilgrimage. I have excited and bored many of my friends with the magical moments that seemed to occur almost daily. I am currently planning a return trip in Oct 2017. Again, thanks for posting the photos and I really enjoyed your video as well. Buen Camino!

  17. I’m starting my Camino on 7th of September and these stunning photos and your comments have made me even more excited at the prospect, if that is possible. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hello, Sally. I don’t think anyone is ever too old. I met countless pilgrims north of 60 enjoying the way. They may have taken a little longer to finish, but they still enjoyed it. Some walked the full Frances, and others started 100-200km from Santiago to walk the final stages. The key is to walk your own Camino and enjoy it!

    • Never too old to do it provided you are fit and patient. At 60 yrs old, I did my first trial camino, a 115km frrom Sarria to Santiago in September 2004 and enjoyed it very much. After doing prep long walks at home, I returned in the Spring 2007 to start in Roncesvalles and in Spring 2011 to start in St Jean Pied de Port. Best season, although it may rain, temperatures are cool and not so crowded. Buen Camino!

      • Thanks for the comment! Such an inspiring anecdote for those looking to walk as they get older. My uncle is in his mid 60’s and walked the Portuguese route last year and the Camino Ingles this year. He trains like a pro and does a lot of prep to keep himself in top shape. He also walked to Finisterre and Muxia this summer. Life just begins after 60 for some. Enjoy it!

  18. Thanks for sharing your great captures of your Camino experience. Enjoyed them and remembered my own caminos on 2007 and 2011. Saludos!

    • Thanks, Lillian! Great to hear from a fellow pilgrim. So cool that you were able to walk twice. I’m looking forward to going back to walk the Norte or Portuguese route someday.

  19. Hi..fantastic photos..always wanted to do this but have got caught up with treks like Everest Basecamp, kilimanjaro & Mt.Kenya. I am hoping to volunteer in Kenya in the slums in 2017 so I guess I’ll have to slot in the camino for 2018….did u do the walk through a company and how much did it cost..like u I’d prefer to do the 20 miles a day as I have young family n would like to not be away too long in one trip….well done …🍀

    • Thanks, Mary! You’ve done some pretty amazing treks. I’m hoping to do Everest and Kilimanjaro soon. I just walked on my own. No guide services are needed on the Camino. It’s nice to have the freedom and flexibility to choose your own way. I spend anywhere from 10-30 euro a day depending on my accommodations. The longer days made it easy to keep costs down. Hopefully you can make it out soon!

  20. Thanks for the greatstory and stunning pictures.
    Almost like bieng back.
    My first though is “I got to go back – got to”

  21. Thanks for your great pictures n comments. It’s been in my bucket list n hope to walk with my wife n highschool buddies. We have mobility n health issues but are determined. Not sure about the luxury of 20-35 days though so the last 100km might be our ticket and we definitely would like our compostelas. Hope to greet u with buen camino soon!

    • Walking the final 100km would be a nice compromise. I took 22 days to reach Santiago, but walked a lot of days close to 30 miles. If you only have a week or so, start in Sarria and you’ll still receive a Compostella. The tough part is that you’ll find that last stretch to be a bit of a mad house with a lot of fellow walkers and most accommodations booked solid. It lacks a lot of the Camino spirit and pageantry because of the crowds.

  22. Reblogged this on The Camino Provides and commented:
    Here’s some inspiration with stunning photos of the Camino Francés for #FridayFaves. Drew’s blog has a lot of great info on hiking gear and ideas for training hikes as well. I hope the Camino beckons Drew back someday. I would love to see his perspective on the Camino del Norte.
    Trail to Peak has been added to my Favorite Camino Blogs page at caminoprovides.com/favorite-camino-blogs/

  23. Wonderful to look at the points where they were. Thank you for your photos are beautiful. Sam photographs but mine are not as beautiful as yours. Buen camino friend. Andrew- pilgrim .

  24. The beauty of these images and your thoughts behind them has my eyes tearing up. I will be on the Camino next year gathering my own images, insights, revelations and, of course, love and laughs,

    • Thanks, Barb! I’m glad my photos and captions were able to provide a little inspiration. Great to hear you’ll be walking the Camino soon to make your own memories on The Way!

  25. How I enjoyed savoring your pictures. Each reminded me of my pilgrimage on the Camino, even though I walked in April, May and June of 2010. You have captured the essence of the ever changing landscape.
    Mary O’Hara Wyman
    Grandma’s on the Camino

  26. Excellent words and images. I will be starting early September. I hope my images can do the Camino the justice your images did. Great work!

  27. Will be heading directly to the Catedral de Santiago de Compostelo tomorrow, and won’t be doing the camino. However, upon seeing your amazing photos, the camino is definitely an exciting endeavor that one should accomplish even if once in his lifetime. Thanks for inspiring – hope to do it in the future.

  28. Thank you, these photos are truly inspirational. I’m planning on hiking the Camino in September/October. Do you think it’s safe for a women to do alone?

    • Thanks, Jenny. Great that you’re planning to walk the Camino in the Fall. It’s pretty safe to walk the Camino alone as a woman. I met countless women along the Way walking by themselves. For the most part, you’re never really alone 🙂 There have been a few incidents over the past years though. It’s best to take caution.

  29. Such a lovely collection of beautiful photos and heartfelt words. Thanks for taking the time to assemble and share. Your post is a real treat.

  30. Amazing photos, great story. planning that walk for the fall to come, is camping along the way difficult to be? looking to have my own daily speed

    • Camping is pretty difficult from what I’ve read. Walking your own speed is very easy even without camping though. You’ll be able to find accommodations every 5-10km in most places.

  31. Very inspiring pictures! I’m thinking about walking the camino in the fall 2017 (From mid-september to mid-october) – At what time of year did you walk the camino?
    And is there anything I should have prepared from home? I mean like the passport og accommodation in Compostela?

    • Thanks, Josephine! Fall 2017 would be a great time to walk. I walked in July/August. It was very hot, but I live in a hot area, so I’m used to it. I picked up my passport in St. Jean, but you can get one mailed to you at home if you prefer doing that.

  32. Great descriptions and photos Drew, thankyou. I am a mature age lady, fit enough and curious. Is the trail a safe one for a single traveler please…….regards Jean from Australia

    • Jean, the Camino’s pilgrims are mostly ’empty nesters’ and it is very safe. I have recently completed it and I met one 80 something year old lady, lots in the 60-75 range. Men, too. Some younger folks, too, but not so many people with dependent children at home for obvious reasons. Walking the Camino does take a substantial investment in time. I saw two family groups, one with a disabled daughter, doing the Camino, too, so it really is a wholesome adventure. I also met a group of mature ladies from a Newcastle (Aus) Catholic Church. They were a lot of fun.

  33. I always laugh when I see that view of the bridge at Puenta La Reina. I somehow missed it and couldn’t figure out why. Until of course I realized I had walked over it in my pre-dawn exit from town….

  34. Love your pictures and commentary. I made the pilgrimage in autumn 2016, at 65 years old, solo, and carried my pack. Overweight and previously inexperienced, I trained gently for about a year,and walked at a comfortable pace
    Since completing, I have concentrated on simplifying my life, getting rid of “stuff” and sold my flat, so as to be able to travel more. I intend to do Camino Francis again next year as there is still much to learn.
    Can I reassure others that it was the one place I have felt safe (with reasonable common sense) to be a woman alone. There were many solo female pilgrims and I found it so heartening that there were so many strong, younger women out there.
    As a metaphor for life, the Camino gives so much. The singularity of purpose united us all, and the friendliness and mutual support across so many nationalities was wonderful to be part of.
    Thanks for the revisit!

  35. These pictures took me back to 1999 when I walked these same steps. Your comments were exactly what I would have said. It was so good to see it like,this again. Helen Wade.

  36. Just finished the Camino 2 weeks ago and it’s hard being back, off the trail. Most people don’t understand the Camino, what it is, how it shapes you. I loved every minute of it and miss my Camino friends. Thanks for your pic’s they are beautiful and they remind me that I’m not alone…

  37. Hey drew how long did it take to do 500 miles and was that hiking the Napoleon way.now just wondering is it possible to cycle the 500 miles on the Camino kind regards peter. Ireland

    • Hi Peter, I walked the 500-mile Frances route in 22 days. That was back when I ran marathons though 🙂 I recently walked the 150-mile Portuguese route from Porto with my family over 10 days, which was a much more enjoyable pace.

      I’m hoping to visit Ireland soon to drive the Wild Atlantic Way!

  38. Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing.

    I have a question. I am new to hiking and was wondering how you get your gear from the states to host country. How do you pack it for the airlines and are there things that you prefer to purchase upon arrival at host country? Camino de Santiago is #1 on my bucket list.

  39. My sister and I hiked from Sarria to Santiago this April, totally lucked out on the weather, what a game changing experience. Fabulous people, great network of support facilities, unfortunately we only had school vacation week to accomplish this. Was so proud to witness Jim, from Canada, complete his full pilgrimage. Will definitely be back to travel to Finisterra or to walk the Portuguese route. Any other similar hikes you’d recommend for middle-aged adventurers? Definitely recommend the pilgrim museum next to the cathedral, great photography exhibition of Japanese pilgrimage. Ahhhh, the possibilities! Buon Camino to all who have yet to take that first step, you won’t regret it!

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