February 12, 2004

Guidebooks for the Camino de Santiago

All of the Camino de Santiago is marked with yellow arrows that show you the route. If you look for the arrows, you will have no problem following the route. There are usually maps in the guidebooks that will help you find your way and that tell the distance between one place and the next. If you lose track of the arrows and you get off course, the majority of the maps are useless and you will either have to ask someone you come across or look for the next closest town. But if you are careful, you will not have any problems. The guidebooks also help you learn a little about the history and the art of the places you pass through. They also show you pilgrim refuges, but no guidebook is complete because the refuges change from year to year.

There are many types of guidebooks; choose the one you like the most. Here are some comments on some of the guidebooks:

The Essential Camino de Santiago

Published by the Association of the Friends of the Camino of Madrid. This is a guidebook put together by pilgrims and others who know the Camino very well. The most novel features are the scale maps of the entire route that let you know where you should go if you are lost or if you modify the marked route. The book has a lot of suggestions on following the Camino. The historical explanations are brief and the “guide to services” section is simple, but sufficient.

Guidebook for the Camino de Santiago

Published by El Pais-Aguilar. This is the most widely used because it is well written and has many photos. The maps are schematics and are not to scale which does not make them very useful, but just follow the yellow arrows on the Camino. If you get off course, however, these maps will not help much. The guidebook points out very few places of historic or artistic significance. However, it very thoroughly explains the services you can find on the Camino. It divides the Camino into suggested stages, but it is better not to follow the suggestions too closely.

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