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Camino de Santiago de Compostela - cycle or walk?

edited January 2011 in - Spain and Portugal
Can anyone tell me more information about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and whether it is better to walk or cycle? I know traditionally you should walk the route, but is it possible to cycle too? And do cyclists have to take a different route or is it the same one? Anyone with past experience walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago please let me know your thoughts.
Also how long would I need to do the route from St Jean de Pied to Santiago? How many km do you have to walk/cycle each day and is the route really mountainous or quite flat?


  • edited 4:08AM
    Sarah, you can walk or cycle the camino - it just depends on how much time you have and which you prefer to do. Cylcists can mor-or-less follow the walking trails but there are somne places where it is recommended that cyclists take an alternative route, either a small road or even a main road.
    If you are thinking of doing the Camino Frances (which is one of about 15 routes in Spain) you can walk it in 32 - 40 days and cycle it in 10 - 12 days. Walking pilgrims cover about 5km per hour and walk an average of 20km – 25km per day. Cyclists are able to cover about 12km per hour and will cycle between 60km and 80km per day. You go from St Jean (163m) to the pass ( 1337m) to Roncesvalles (952m) and then a roller coaster trail through vineyards, farms, through the high plains which are 800m average to another 1500m pass and a 1300m pass.
    For more information and a good place to ask questions of experienced bikers, join the Yahoo Bike forum:

    You can hire a bike in Spain, complete with pannuiers etc or take your own.
  • edited 4:08AM
    Hi Sil,
    Thanks for your's really helpful and I'll take a look at the cycle forum that you mentioned. Have you done the Camino yourself? The St Jean de Pied to Santiago is the one that I've heard the most about...I also recently read about one that goes along Spain's north coast - do you know anything about that route?
    Thanks again.
  • edited 4:08AM
    I cycled it with friends a few years back and I have to say that it is the best trip I have ever done.
    We straddled the pilgrims route, spending some of the time on it, some of the time on the road.
    We flew into biartizz then took the train to St Jean de Pied.With bikes, the biggest and really only trouble we had was bringing them back, you had to go to Madrid at the time and it was a rush and a bit suspect trying to get the bikes on the train.I believe that some flights now service Santiago itself.
    We did the trip in about 12 days but that is because we got distracted by some of the wonderful festivals :)
    You can do anything from 20km to 140km a day depending on the terrain.
    The tough sections that I remember were the Pyrenees and the mountains near Leon.

    The northern route is called Napoleons way\French route as far as I remember, I doubt its as well services as the main route but I really know little about it.

    Word of advice travel light!! only bring what you need, if in doubt probably don't bring it.

    It is truly an amazing trip
  • edited 4:08AM

    I cycled the route in 2000 and is was one of the best things I've ever done. We camped along the route pretty much anywhere we wanted as the local's are used to the pilgrims, highlights were farmers fields, peoples back garden and the best was right on top of a mountain.

    We made friends along the way and had a truly life changing experience.

    A few years later one of my friends that cycled with me the first time went back to walk it with his girlfriend. He said it was a completely different experience due to the speed of travel you take it all in more. He said you couldn't compare them as the experience was so different.

    It took us three weeks to cycle the route and we started it a little way in so didn't do the whole route.

    Walking obviously will take allot longer so it depends on how much time you have.

    If you do cycle the post before is right regarding getting your bikes back to the airport if you don't fly from Santiago. It's pretty difficult.

    Either way walking or cycling you'll have a fantastic journey.

  • It depends on why you are following the route (which by the way starts way back in Europe (I think Copenhagen is even on it) certainly Christchurch, Brugges and Trier are on it).

    If you are following the route for a bike journey I think you need a bike, if for some sort of spiritual cleansing I guess take anything you want (See Pilgrim Snail at Amazon who took a trombone)
  • edited 4:08AM
    I cycled The Camino Frances last June and it was really a very good experience.
    Some times now i find myself thinking about the good moments i lived there.
    You can take a look the video i made:
    And some details (portuguese) about each journey:

    As we read and hear many times, the important thing is to go and not the way you go!

    Ultreia et Suseia
  • edited 4:08AM
    Myself and girlfriend both fit at 60 are looking to walk the Camino for short distances during late summer 2012. Problem would be carrying our packs but have heard there are taxis that take packs on ahead to next stop. Is this possible to organise before we leave UK and also book hostels.
  • edited May 2012
    Hi all, my wife and I walked the camino from sarria to santiago last year in May: we took a luggage transfer service with this company: Hope that will help
  • edited 4:08AM
    I was very interested in what Rich said about his trip camping/biking almost all of the spain piece, to Santiago on the camino. I would like to hear more, for instance, why 15 days, and how fit you have to be to carry yr own camping equipment. I like biking/camping and it would be more spontaneous to camp when and sort of where you want, and the fact that you can save money that way. I am also flexible with time and like to stop sometimes and really see the architecture and places, will go with a pal, am wondering what is good advice about doing that kind of trip. I would go next May into June, since I have an academic schedule- can't go before May 10 or so and assume that earlier is slightly less crowded than later if in the summer. If Rich or someone can say more or give me any links/bks info regarding that type of trip, I'd be grateful: [email protected] . I also speak Spanish, German and French, so can read stuff other than English too.
  • edited June 2012
    I would say walking is better than cycling.
  • edited 4:08AM
    I cycle but my partner does not. How difficult is the ride? Are there hills throughout or just on the French part of the trail? Basically, can a beginner cycle this trail?
  • edited 4:08AM
    My husband & I walked with a group from Tui to Santiago in 2009. It was a fantastic and spiritual experience. We have now been invited to join some of the same group to finish the route from Santiago to Finisterre. The trouble is I now have problems with my knees made worse by walking but OK cycling. So my question is could I cycle this particular part of the route? In order to travel back to Santiago with the rest of the party by bus I would be probably be taking a folding bike. Any information would be welcome
  • edited 4:08AM
    Is it safe not to book accommodation beforehand? Would one be risking not finding accommodation? We are a group of 5 and will be cycling the French Way from St Jean to Santiago. Your comments are appreciated.
  • edited 4:08AM
    Is it safe not to book accommodation beforehand? Would one be risking not finding accommodation? We are a group of 5 and will be cycling the French Way from St Jean to Santiago from the 10th to the 19th August. Your comments are appreciated. thanks
  • edited 4:08AM
    I just the saw the video of the cycle trip. I was wondering how far you had to walk with your bikes as you were unable to ride?

    Also how much of the trip is uphill?

  • edited April 2013
    I have only done a small portion of the Camino de Santiago in the Basque Country. The good thing about walking is you can obviously meet people a lot easier than if you are on a bike. So that might be something to consider. Also, I would really recommend taking a little break around Pamplona or so and venture to the Basque coast. It is really beautiful and there are some amazing villages and cities, like San Sebastian and Bilbao. It might be more difficult to do something like that though if you have to worry about what to do with your bike. But if you are just hiking, you can take a bus and visit some interesting areas and then go back to the camino and start where you left off. Just an idea!
  • Hi Sarah,  Ive jut come across this site and thought I would add some feedback as I have a group of friends doing a cycle / walk combination on the Camino at the moment.  They are riding the flatter sections and walking either end. They went through an Aussie company(Raw Travel) that sorted out their luggage, bikes and accomodation for them and are having a great time, despite the heat!!!
  • edited November 2013
    Hi Sarah,
    Some sections on the camino are not very prepared for biking. But most are, and often you will find good alternatives to the toughest parts. 
    Please, have a look at this page: and please contact me if you have a further questions. 
    I live right on the camino in Leon, in Spain, so I can even tell you todays weather :-)
    Best regards

  • Dear All,
    We are an association for sustainable mobility at Santiago de Compostela. We want to improve the entrance of the pilgrims to the old town specially for biking people arriving at Santiago. Thus we have launched a petiton to our town hall to convert one of the narrow streets in the old town, still opened to motorized traffic,  as pedestrian and cycling. This will improve the last step of the pilgrimage just arriving at Santiago. Please sign the pledge.

    Faustino, President of Composcleta associationúa-de-san-pedro?share_id=rSxChquxjh&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition
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