Skip to content
Alternatives to Camino de Santiago

Alternatives to Camino de Santiago

The Camino is many things. It’s challenging and exciting, spiritual and peaceful. It’s also a walking trail that is at the top of people’s wanderlust wish lists and, as such, it can get busy in peak season. If you don’t get in quickly to book the Camino Frances route, for example, there may be no room left at the inn. So, you may want to seek out some alternatives to Camino de Santiago routes or, if you have completed the camino already, perhaps you’d like to take another pilgrimage route outside of Spain. If you love a camino, check out some of our other favourites. 

Via Francigena

The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage route that opens up the sacred heart of Italy’s much worshipped interior. Originally, it was a route taken by the ecclesiastical elite between Canterbury, Rome and the sacred town of Santa Maria di Leuca. Today, it’s broken into various segments within Italy, and can be walked or cycled, the longest being between the magnificent walled city of Lucca and Rome, walkable over 22 days. Follow a soulful southern section between Rome and Terracina in the province of Latina, or seek out its northern nirvanas between Pontremoli, in the heart of the Lunigiana and Lucca. There is also a segment on Sicily.

Walking the Via Francigena between Lucca and Siena is the prettiest of pilgrimages through Tuscany.

Camino le Puy

The Chemin du Puy or Camino le Puy, also known as the Via Podiensis, is one of four ancient routes through France that historically joined up with the Camino de Santiago. However, it’s now a complete camino in its own right. Covering an epic 750km, between Le Puy-en-Velay in the Haute Loire and St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, just 8km from the border with Spain, you can walk the whole thing in 40 days. Trek through the Auvergne, volcanic landscapes of the Velay, wild moorlands of Aubrac plateau, the Lot Valley and Pyrenean panoramas. Most people choose to walk it in sections, such as between Lectoure to Aire-sur-l’Adour through the vineyard-filled Armagnac region, or the last section Aire-sur-l’Adour to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, with views of the snow-capped Pyrenees. Each section is also fully accessible by rail, giving it a truly eco blessing. j

Camino Mozárabe

The Camino Mozárabe was originally a pilgrimage route for Christians heading to Santiago de Compostela from southern Spain. Today it’s a 620km trail, and its name is derived from the Mozarabs, or Christians living under Muslim rule for 700 years. It’s divided into several sections between Almería and Santiago, so although it is strictly one of the Camino de Santiago routes, it’s much lesser known. Also, we only offer one of the sections along the way, although it is definitely an ethereal one. You can either walk (120km) or cycle the 145km section of the Camino Mozárabe between Granada to Córdoba over eight or seven days respectively, with some spectacular landscapes and heritage influenced by both Muslim and Roman culture and style along the way. Highlights include the Alhambra de Granada, the Mosque of Córdoba and La Mota fortress in Alcalá. 

The Camino Mozárabe’s starting point is Granada and the great Alhambra. You hit the ground running when it comes to beauty on this camino.

St Patrick’s Way and the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

St Patrick’s Way in Northern Ireland is a 132km long-distance trail that takes in cultural and Christian heritage sites between Armagh and Downpatrick, as well as the natural spectacle of the Mourne Mountains. This pilgrimage walking trail offers some of the best walking in Northern Ireland and includes two days of walking among the Mourne’s range of twelve peaks, on easy walking trails. To have a more immersive walking experience in the Mournes, however, you can also choose to walk the Mourne Way, which is categorised as ‘easy to moderate’. It is most definitely exquisite though, exploring the likes of Slieve Meelbeg, Commedagh and Donard, Happy Valley as well as Castlewellan Forest Park.

Route of Padre Sarmiento, Spain

Although this route goes through Spain, and ends up in the iconic pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela, it takes an alternative route that is one for littoral lovers. Taking nine days, it follows the route created by the priest Padre Sarmiento in the 18th century along the coast of Salnés in Galicia. This is a route of wild, coastal beauty, starting in Pontevedra and continuing for 170km through the likes of the isthmus that connects O grove with the mainland, the Cambados vineyards, capital of fine Albariños and the inland forests of Padrón. The Padre certainly picked a good way.

Kumano Kodo, Japan

Japan’s ultimate spiritual trail, the Kumano Kodo, has carried pilgrims for centuries across the peaks and valleys of the Kii Peninsula, to worship at three magnificent Grand Shrines en route: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Hayatama Taisha. The Kii Mountains are still considered by many to be sacred landscapes, with nurture by nature dating back to Japan’s Heian period (794-1185) whether you were an emperor or commoner. This 258km walking route has various subsections and it’s the inland, mountainous Nakahechi section that attracts those seeking adventurous walking holidays in Japan. 

Nachi-san is a resplendent location for Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines on the Kumano Kodo in Japan.

Hærvejen: Denmark’s Camino from Viborg to Jelling

Denmark may be known for its mid-century style, but it also has a cool Middle Ages way to follow. The little-known Hærvejen, also known as the Oxen Road, dates back to ancient times for pilgrims going from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago or Rome. This part of the ancient trail, also called the Army Road, harking back to the times of war rather than wandering, takes you between two of Denmark’s historic and handsome towns, Viborg and Jelling. The former is famous for its cathedral and Old Town, and the latter for its 10th-century carved runestones, commissioned by King Harald as a symbol of the Danish conversion to Christianity. In between the two towns, you can walk mindfully for seven days alongside the dunes of Sepstrup and Vrads Sande, Lakes Hald and Bølling as well as through the heather-covered hills of Hørbylunde. 

The painted monasteries of Bucovina, Romania

The painted monasteries of Bucovina, or painted churches of Moldavia as they are classified by UNESCO, who rightly protect these eight Byzantine beauties, are a pilgrimage for many. Not just by those on a spiritual quest but also by art enthusiasts who revere these creations, and their colourful array of religious icons and religious themes. They really are masterpieces of the mountainous north and, as they are scattered across the Moldavia and Bucovina regions of northern Romania, you can trek between them. This nine day Romania tour includes a few days in the Piatra Craiului Mountains, as well as the monasteries. 

Suceviţa Monastery is just one of several stunners along this pilgrimage route in Romania.

Way of St James, Switzerland

Also known as the Via Jacobi or Jacobsweg in Switzerland, this is another one of the European network of caminos that all eventually lead to Santiago de Compostela. Although Switzerland has wrapped up its section beautifully into a chocolate box version of heavenly bites. Walk all of it in 21 days, on a self-guided tour between two of Europe’s most famous beauty spots: Lake Constance and Lake Geneva. This walking tour is long, and without any technical or trying ascents, but you can also take it on in sections: Lake Constance to Einsiedeln, between Einsiedeln to Interlaken or from Interlaken to Romont, all divine in their own way. 

Taking on a camino walking holiday is a big commitment for many people, and choosing the right path for you can be tricky. We have put together a series of blogs that can enlighten you a little before you set off on your journey. Check out The Camino de Santiago routes, Best time to walk the Camino de Santiago, Camino de Santiago packing list and Making Bhutan easy and enlightening.