If you’ve decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, you might be wondering whether you should join a guided tour or go it alone. Truth is, while you can reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela by yourself, you might be missing out.
Everyone has their own reasons for walking the Camino. It could be for spiritual reasons, for the physical challenge, to reconnect with nature, or to simply get away from it all. Whatever it is you’re seeking, walking the Camino promises to be an unforgettable adventure. From getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with like-minded travellers to discovering charming Galician countryside and eating delicious local food. But should you do a self-guided trip or go as part of a tour?
If you’re thinking of walking the Camino and crossing one of Europe‘s oldest pilgrimages off your bucket list, here are six reasons why you should do a guided Camino walk instead of going it alone.
1. Meet like-minded travellers
There’s something about embarking on an adventure like the Camino with other like-minded travellers that hits differently. When you meet new people on the road, it often forges a deeper connection that can be hard to find in ‘normal’ life. On a guided Camino tour, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with travellers from all walks of life – people who you probably never would’ve crossed paths with otherwise. Everyone will be there for their own reasons, but you’ll share the journey and the laughs, emotions and challenges that come with it. Who knows, your new walking buddies could even become friends for life.
2. Benefit from the guidance of a local leader
The Camino is well signposted so getting lost isn’t usually a problem for walkers. But if you do a self-guided walk, you won’t benefit from the amazing knowledge of your local guide. Whether it’s the history of famous sights and landmarks along the route, recommendations for local Galician delicacies and restaurants you should try, funny anecdotes or stories that bring the walk to life, your guide will be there to support you and help you get the most out of your trip. Having to rely on your travel guidebook (or Google) doesn’t quite feel the same as having an expert guide by your side.
3. Take the load off (literally)
Forget about lugging your suitcase or rucksack around with you. On a guided tour, luggage transfers are arranged for you and your bag will be waiting for you at your accommodation each day. All you need to do is bring a small day bag big enough to carry your essentials (camera, water bottle, purse, etc). When you’re walking this many kilometres every day, your feet will thank you for the lighter load.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
After walking up to 29 kilometres every day, you’ll probably fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (especially after a cheeky glass of wine or two). But if you’re a light sleeper, or you’d rather not risk losing a precious night of sleep in a noisy hostel (or a ‘refugio’ as it’s called on the Camino), then a guided tour is the way to go. Accommodation will be organised for you each night in private hotels, guesthouses and apartments where you’ll be more likely to get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed for another day of walking. Accommodation also gets booked up fast, particularly in the peak summer months, so you won’t have to worry about securing rooms in tme.
5. Eat the best local food
Torricado, tapas and tempranillo. Need we say more? Spain and Portugal know how to eat, and a Camino tour is as much of a journey for your tastebuds as it is for your feet. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to sample the local fare along the way. But the best part? Thanks to your local guide, you’ll be fed and watered in the best local joints without having to traverse the streets a gazillion times trying to decide where to eat (we’ve all been there). Tuck into Galician specialties like polbo á feira (market style octopus drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with smoked paprika), creamy Arzúa Ulloa cheese or crispy pimientos de Padrón (Padron peppers) sprinkled with sea salt.
6. Delegate the details
On a guided tour, everything is taken care of from airport and luggage transfers to accommodation and cultural activities. Some people love planning a trip and organising every minor detail, but if you’d rather switch off from playing the organiser, pack your bag and hit the trails, you might enjoy a guided tour more. Plus, you can use the time you’d usually spend planning to get excited about what you can eat and drink, or maybe even learn a few Spanish or Galician phrases. The same goes for once you’re there – your guide will take care of all the logistics, housekeeping and any potential hiccups so you can fully immerse yourself in your Camino experience.
Are you ready to walk the Camino and experience everything it has to offer? Check out our Camino de Santiago tours.