A half-day tour of Santiago de Compostela and The Camino Way (‘Way of St. James’)
The Camino Way is a historic pilgrimage route that passes through France and Spain, stretching nearly 500 miles in total. The destination is Santiago de Compostela Cathedral where the tomb of Saint James (one of Jesus’s Apostles) is located.
Why do people walk The Way of Saint James?
Thousands of people still take this scenic pilgrimage route every year for all kinds of reasons; be it a bucket list challenge, charity fundraiser or self discovery and healing. If you walk the final 100km of The Camino Way you can collect stamps for every kilometre completed and receive a certificate at the end.
The Camino Way cruise ship excursion
I booked my half-day tour through P&O Cruises (who kindly sponsored some of my experiences on this cruise for an Instagram takeover) from the port of A Coruña – though it is possible to visit on a cruise from Vigo too.
The Santiago de Compostela tour was around 6 hours long and began with a coach journey north for around an hour, including a refreshment/toilet stop where we were given a granola bar, banana and bottle of water.
Our tour guide explained The Camino Way in great detail during the journey, passing around a map and explaining the 3km section we would be walking.
Walking The Camino Way in rural Galicia
We were dropped off near O Pino, an area of rural farmland east of Santiago, where cows roam freely in the road. It didn’t take us long to spot the symbol that guides pilgrims – the seashell – which represents all the different pilgrimage routes that meet in one place, the Cathedral of St. James.
As we began walking The Way of St. James we passed many friendly folk who’ve been walking for days and were tantalisingly close to finishing.
We also noticed many nearby farmhouses have converted their properties into cafes, bars and B&Bs to capitalise on the constant passing trade.
After dodging a heavy April shower (it is Galicia after all), we boarded the coach to Santiago de Compostela.
A self guided tour of Santiago de Compostela
The tour guide showed us into the main square of Santiago de Compostela before giving us free time to explore the small city. I headed straight to the Cathedral to see what thousands of people walk for weeks to experience. I can imagine what an achievement it must feel to walk along the cobbled streets as the twin spires emerge before your eyes.
The Cathedral was actually a bit of a building site inside, I can only assume necessary restorations works are taking place for a building that’s welcomed people for over 800 years. That didn’t stop people from taking those important steps up to St. James’s tomb where you can ‘embrace the Apostle’ by cloaking your arms around his statue.
To finish off our time there we called into a local cafe and explored the pretty side streets and gift shops that make up much of the city centre.
Is a day tour of Santiago de Compostela worthwhile?
This cruise ship excursion and perhaps most other independent day tours to Santiago de Compostela are a great taster for those interested in The Camino Way – particularly if you’re not able to do the full route or would like to in the future. The section we did was very flat and people of all ages were able to keep up at our leisurely pace.
All opinions are my own and I wasn't obliged to blog about this excursion for P&O Cruises or any other company mentioned.