What is the Camino de Santiago and how many people walk it per year?

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is the name used to refer to all the routes that lead to where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be buried. The Camino has been one of the most important Christian Pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years and it has started a new international rebirth.

The Camino is a journey to the religious and historical roots of Europe, it’s traveling through beautiful countryside and timeless villages, it’s rediscovering the pleasure of being in direct contact with nature.

But it is also an invitation, to rediscover yourself through introspection and new encounters, to change habits that have been making you unhappy, to build unexpected friendships and give yourself new challenges.

Find out here about our Caminos and how we can help create the Camino you are looking for.

Camino Fact Files

  • The Camino de Santiago is a network of routes from every major city in Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain
  • It is the 3rd most important Christian Pilgrimage after Jerusalem & Rome
  • It leads to the burial place of the Apostle Saint James
  • Walking the Camino on a Holy Year or during the 2016 Year of Mercy gives you plenary indulgence
  • Over 260,000 pilgrims finished the Camino in 2015

The first European Cultural Route & an UNESCO Heritage Route

In October 1987, the route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

This is what UNESCO says about the pilgrimage:

A network of four Christian pilgrimage routes in northern Spain, the site is an extension of the Route of Santiago de Compostela, a serial site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The extension represents a network of almost 1,500 km: coastal, interior of the Basque Country–La Rioja, Liébana and primitive routes. It includes a built heritage of historical importance created to meet the needs of pilgrims, including cathedrals, churches, hospitals, hostels and even bridges. The extension encompasses some of the earliest pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, following the discovery in the 9th century of a tomb believed to be that of St. James the Greater. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/669

Camino Statistics

  • Over 260,000 pilgrims finished the Camino in 2015 (10% increase compared to 2014)
  • 2.5 million people visit Santiago de Compostela a year
  • 54% of pilgrims are men – 28% are less than 30 years old – 16% are over 60 years old
  • 89% of all pilgrims walk the Camino
  • 10% cycle the Camino
  • 1500 a year ride the Camino on a horse
  • 100 a year complete the Camino on a wheel chair
2015 Statistics on the origins of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago by the Pilgrim Office of Santiago de Compostela
2015 Statistics on the origins of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago by the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela

 

  • Almost half of all pilgrims are Spanish (48%) but over 130 nationality complete the Camino
  • The next nationalities on the Camino are Italians (16%), Germans (13%), Portuguese (10%), USA (9%), French (8%)
  • The country with the highest percentage of population that walk the Camino is Ireland
The Camino de Santiago is a network of routes from every major city in Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain
The Camino de Santiago is a network of routes from every major city in Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain

 

  • The most popular route by far, chosen by 70%, is the French Way, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and passes through Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, and Astoria
  • 25% of pilgrims start in Sarria, 112 km from Santiago on the French Way
  • 12% start in Saint-Jean-Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and walk 775 km in over 4 weeks towards Santiago
  • The 2nd most popular route is the Portuguese Way chosen by 15% of all pilgrims
  • The Northern Way is followed by 15k people a year (6%)
  • The Silver Way – Via de la Plata & The Original Way – Primitivo by 8k (4%) each
  • The English Way is chosen by 7k (3%) and all other routes are barely used (0,30%)

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Ultreya Tours

Ultreya Tours is a incoming Tour Operator specialized in organizing comprehensive and highly personalized walking tours for groups and solo travelers on the Camino de Santiago. Founded and based in Santiago de Compostela, we know the region of Galicia and the secrets of the Camino by heart. Let us introduce you to our vision of the Camino.

2 thoughts on “What is the Camino de Santiago and how many people walk it per year?”

    1. Hi Toura,

      That is a very interesting question but unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to find that information as the pilgrim office only asks for the following:

      • Your starting point and the route your followed
      • Your nationality or Spanish region
      • Your age and if you are male or female
      • How you travelled
      • If you travelled for religious or cultural reasons

      They do not cross the information so I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many American women have walked the Camino for example. However, you can guess: in 2015, 13.670 American pilgrims finished their Camino and 47% in average are women.

      Also they will be releasing the 2016 statistics next month but the pilgrim office is said to have already registered over 272.412 pilgrims in Santiago.

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