Are you planning cycling Camino de Santiago? If you have been contemplating to visit this popular cycling destination, I will share to you our experience in cycling Camino de Santiago. This travel guide should take you to all the nitty-gritty of planning and executing your trip of cycling to Camino de Santiago.
We will also try to answer the following questions. How many days do you need to complete cycling Camino de Santiago? How much money do you need to reach this destination?
Before Cycling Camino de Santiago
First of all, if you are already a regular biker, you will have your own bicycle and all the materials for cycling Camino de Santiago. If you are bringing your bicycle in a plane, the prices are around 50-60 euros extra charge. That is if you are coming from Europe in a cheap flight company. If you come overseas maybe they will include in the flight ticket. It depends on the flight company. I paid 50 euros extra for bringing the bicycle back from Helsinki to Madrid. The good thing is that you can pack everything together inside a box, your bicycle, your panniers and even bicycle clothes.
If you are not bringing your own bicycle, you should know that you will find cheap bicycles and bike accessories for your trip in Spain. You can buy a bicycle and accessories around 400 euros to be ready for cycling Camino de Santiago. You don´t need to carry many things for cycling Camino de Santiago. You will find the most of the things during the Way.
How many kilometers per day for cycling Camino de Santiago?
This will depend on how fit you are or how much time you have to finish Camino de Santiago.
I can recommend you to do from 60-70 kilometers per day until 100-120 kilometers per day. It is very easy to do 60 kilometers per day. If you aren´t fit, you can still easily do 60 kilometers per day. If you are fit, you will able to do 100 or more kilometers per day.
Which accessories should you bring for Camino de Santiago?
I’ve already talked about what accessories you need for traveling by bicycle. If you want to know what you need for a bicycle trip, check here. You will read how I cycled from Spain to Norway in a low budget. I did 5 months cycling in Europe and almost 10 000 kilometers. What things were inside my luggage and tips for your bicycle trip. It’s an information-packed guide for you to do a long bicycle trip.
You will find a bicycle shop every hour while cycling Camino de Santiago. So, if you decide to go very light, you can do it!
I recommend you to have the following accessories for Cycling Camino de Santiago:
– Tubes – A couple of them, it should be enough. Just in case, you have to use both immediately.
– Multi Tools – In case you have a flat tire, you will be able to repair it. Don´t forget your air-pump to blow the tire. Also, it can help if you need to adjust your saddle, your brakes or your tires.
– Make sure that you are bringing a couple of water bottles and cages. You will find water everywhere when cycling Camino de Santiago. Finding water will not be a huge problem for you.
– A lock for the bicycle. Make sure that you tie your bicycle when you stop cycling.
– Optional to bring your speedometer, maps and GPS.
– You will carry everything inside the panniers. You will have enough space for your clothes, toiletries, accessories.
– Bring your bicycle clothes. Make sure that you have dry clothes for cycling the next day. It is important for you to check the weather.
– You will have to cycle on the road a few kilometers. The Way is not always going for secondary roads. Sometimes you need to take National Roads, as we call them in Spain. Wearing your helmet is obligatory. There will also be a lot of traffic. It’s a pain on the neck to cycle in the roads in Spain. But sometimes, there is no choice!
The Weather: Best season for Cycling Camino de Santiago
The best season for cycling Camino de Santiago is from April to June. Also, September and October are great months for cycling Camino de Santiago. In these months, the weather should not be too hot, not unlike in July or August, which are also the most crowded months for cycling Camino de Santiago. I cycled to Camino de Santiago on April, and it was rainy for a couple of days. It wasn’t very touristic at those dates (that was around July or August). Once, you get close to Galicia, last part of The Way, Camino de Santiago becomes very touristic in my own opinion.
July and August is too hot for cycling Camino de Santiago and the Albergues (place to sleep for free or with donation) are very crowded. Outside these months from November to March. The only problem for cycling Camino de Santiago is the cold weather.
If you want to check more information about the weather in Camino de Santiago, read this link.
Different Ways to reach Camino de Santiago
The most popular Way in Camino de Santiago is Camino Frances (starting from France and finishing in Santiago de Compostela). The distance is around 800 kilometers. It means from 7-10 days, and it should be fine for cycling Camino de Santiago.
There are a variety of ways you can accomplish cycling Camino de Santiago. In my case, I did from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela. The experience was great, especially at the beginning of the Way. I was cycling alone. But everyday, I met some pilgrims walking Camino de Santiago and I can find free accommodation or with donation during all the Way. I did around 600 kilometers cycling Camino de Santiago and another 100 extra kilometers to reach Finisterra.
If you want to have more information about Camino Frances, and about the different routes for cycling Camino de Santiago, check this link. You can also get information stage by stage in the different routes.
The Credencial (passport for cycling Camino de Santiago)
You need to get your Credencial before starting cycling Camino de Santiago. Credencial is like a passport for pilgrims. Where you will get stamps from the different stages that you are doing during Camino de Santiago. You need to show your Credencial in the Albergues (places for sleeping for free or with donative). Otherwise, they don’t allow you to sleep there.
How to get Credencial?
It´s very simple! Before starting Camino de Santiago, you can ask local people. There are many local churches in every city where you will be able to get your Credencial. They will provide your Credencial or they will tell you where you can get one. Prices are from 3-5 euros. You can also get Credencial for free in a few places. But there are just a few of them available.
How to get the stamps in your Credencial?
You will get your stamp in the Albergue (pension or hostel during the way) at the end of the day . If you aren´t sleeping in Albergue or you forget to put your stamp. There are different check points during Camino de Santiago where you will be able to get your stamp.
Apart from the stamps. Your Credencial is very important to sleep for free or paying very little money while you are cycling Camino de Santiago. Albergues will ask you to show them your Credencial. If you aren´t bringing your Credencial, you will have to look for accommodation in a hotel or hostels. But, you won´t be allowed to sleep in the Albergues.
The best Albergues in Camino de Santiago are before getting to Galicia. Sometimes, Albergues provide you free breakfast. But, once you get to Galicia, you can´t get free accommodation or with donation. You will have to pay 6 euros in the Albergue. I was sleeping in a couple of Albergues in Galicia and they didn´t have tools for cooking in the kitchen.
If you want to know 28 ways to sleep for free while traveling, check this link. Some of them are useful for cycling Camino de Santiago like camping, couchsurfing, churches, warmshowers and some of them more.
If you want to get your certificate in Santiago de Compostela. You should complete at least 200 kilometers, if you are cycling Camino de Santiago. For people who went walking or riding a horse, they need to complete at least 100 kilometers of Camino de Santiago. When you get Santiago deCompostela, you will look for the tourist information where you can get your certificate. You need to show them your Credencial for proving that you did at least 200 kilometers and get your Diploma.
After reading these advices, you are ready for cycling Camino de Santiago.
During The Trip: Cycling Camino de Santiago
Supposedly, people should be walking or riding a horse in Camino de Santiago. These people are prioritized, compared to those cycling Camino de Santiago. When I did Camino de Santiago, I didn´t have any problem to get accommodation. But this was traveling there during the lean season. All the Albergues that I used until I got Galicia were for free or gotten from donation. You can find information about your accommodation for Albergues and also for the stages in this link and information about the address to find the Albergues. There are usually Albergues every 5-7 kilometers during Camino de Santiago. That should be less than half an hour by bicycle.
Before getting to Galicia (last part of Camino de Santiago), it was easy to find Albergues. All of them were really good. They have blankets, hot shower and everything that you need into the kitchen. These were either offered for free or through donation.
You will also find maps for your route and information for next destinations in the Albergues. Maps to visit the city and places where you can find food, clothes or whatever needs for pilgrims.
The most of the Albergues open between 2-3 pm. If you get there sooner, they will give you a place to place your belongings. So, you will be able to go around the city. Or just going around there to find a supermarket to cook by yourself or eat in a restaurant. It depends on how much budget you are using for cycling Camino de Santiago. In the morning, you need to leave the Albergue around 8 am. You aren´t allowed to stay more than one day in the Albergue. Unless you are sick or another similar circumstances.
I would say that you can cycling Camino de Santiago in a low budget. You can spend starting from 10/20 euros per day. It depends on how much budget do you have. You can do almost 0 euros if you want to. You can pitch the tent for free and you can do dumpsterdiving.
If you pay for accommodation or with donation. It shouldn’t be more than 5 euros for sleeping per day. Cooking your own food, if you join to more people in the Albergues. You can manage better your budget sharing expenses for the food. You will enjoy meeting different pilgrims and who knows maybe you will meet someone who travel with. The best reward after cycling Camino de Santiago for bikers, it’s that you can find a litre of beer for less than a euro in the supermarket. After a long day cycling Camino de Santiago having beer and eating food is the perfect plan before resting.
Stage 1: Madrid- Segovia, 120 km. Climbing Navacerrada Mountain, 1 880 meters altitude. It was the hardest day during Camino de Santiago. It´s always great to visit Segovia and visit the acueduct.
Stage 2: Segovia-Valladolid, 115 km. It was the easiest day. It was flat the whole way. I was cycling around countryside and the experience was great. I almost couldn´t see anyone during the day.
Stage 3: Valladolid- Leon, 115 km. I got lost from the route of Camino de Santiago. It was raining the whole day. I slept in my tent.
Stage 4: Leon- Rabadal del Camino, 95 km. It was hard day rainy and windy. But the landscape was really nice.
Stage 5: Rabadal del Camino- Ponferrada, 40 km. Uphill and downhill the whole day. The best reward was enjoying Ponferrada city.
Stage 6: Ponferrada-Puerto Marin, 135 km. Long and hard day climbing two mountains. Getting to Galicia became very touristic Camino de Santiago.
Stage 7: Portomarin- Santiago de Compostela, 100 km. It was very easy day. Getting Santiago and getting my official Certificate of cycling Camino de Santiago.
A normal day cycling Camino de Santiago was starting around 8 am and ending 4 pm. I was cycling around 6 hours per day and resting a couple of hours during the way for eating and drinking.
Tips for the route
You don´t need to use Gps or even a map, The Way is well marked. If you aren´t sure about were to continue ask another pilgrims or jsut ask locals. They know perfectly where is the Way.
The route is easy to do. There are some stages that are a little bit hilly. When you go up later you need to go down. The Way is a mixed of ways composed of roads and bike paths.
You need to be careful! Sometimes you need to go with your bicycle on the road. Highways are full of traffic. And in Spain, drivers don’t respect bicycles, unlike the great way cyclers are treated in other European countries. Make sure that you ride your bicycle very close to the edge of the road for cycling safe.
Keep clean the way! You can find a place to throw your trash everywhere. You can keep the plastics and the trash in your bags. You will find a place to throw them every half anhour.
When cycling Camino de Santiago, getting food will not be a problem. I would say that you can find food every half an hour cycling. There are small towns where you can find supermarkets, bars and restaurants every 10 kilometers.
If you want to spend more money, there are cheap restaurants and bars on the Way. If you want cycling Camino de Santiago in a low budget, you can buy food in the supermarket and cook by yourself. When I was cycling Camino de Santiago during the day. I was having a really good breakfast, toast, milk and cereals. I was buying bread and embutido (Spanish ham, chorizo, cheese) to make a sandwich to eat half of the way. It´s good to carry chocolates or energetic bars just in case you need to eat sugar. At night, I usually cook pasta or rice for dinner.
While you are cycling Camino de Santiago, you will spend many calories during the day. Approximately, between 400-600 calories per hour cycling. It means that at the end of the day, you will spend around 3,000 calories just cycling.
The only problem with food when cycling Camino de Santiago is during Sundays. On Sundays supermarkets will be close. So, try to plan in advance, so yo will not have a problem. It happended to me one Sunday, having problems finding food. But, luckily there is always a place where you can get some food.
The route is very easy to follow. But, sometimes it will be a little bit hilly. I did the Way from Madrid. On my first day, I climbed Navacerrada mountain, almost 2 000 meters, before getting Segovia. It´s really hard to climb, with your luggage, a mountain like Navacerrada. Sometimes, I was pushing my bicycle to make the Way easier. On the Way to Galicia, you will find the Cebreiro mountain easier to climb than Navacerrada. The good thing when climbing is that later on, you will have free kilometers going down the mountain. Be careful when you go down with your bicycle and try to go on the right side of the road to avoid accidents with cars. You will go so fast going down because of the luggage.
Things that I like about cycling Camino de Santiago
People were so nice and very helpful with the indications for the route just in case you get it wrong. I got confused one day and I couldn’t find any Albergue to sleep in. Because, I was outside of Camino de Santiago, I asked locals where to pitch the tent. And they showed me a great place covered from the wind and the rain inside the church. Not only did they show me the place, but they also came back with food and water for me. Just to make sure that next day, I will have enough energy for cycling Camino de Santiago.
I could find water and food during the whole Way very easy.
I found the Way very clean and well marked. You can find a place to put your trash every half an hour cycling Camino de Santiago.
I enjoyed meeting people in the Albergues and sharing stories and tips with them. The most of the people were walking Camino de Santiago.
It was really easy to find accommodation and very cheap during the whole way. Not only because it was cheap but also for the quality of the Albergues. I was treated really good by the people. They were very helpful at every moment.
I liked to stop for resting during the Way and have cold beer. There are some supermarkets where you can find cold beer. It’s perfect for resting, having a beer and eating a sandwich before continuing your Way.
I enjoyed meeting locals while I was having a break for eating or resting. They will go close to you and they will ask you where did you start The Way? And you will have a nice talk. And people will say to you: “Buen Camino” which it means Have a good trip!
Landscape is great. You can see mountains, rivers, cities. There is too much variety.
Things that I didn´t like when cycling Camino de santiago
The worst part of the Way, based in my experience, was getting to Galicia, around where Camino de Santiago becomes very touristic. Sometimes, it reminded me of Asia, of people shouting at you, “Stop here for a coffee!”, or “Stop here for lunch!”. In Galicia, small and quiet towns were full of businesses and they lose their beauty. Despite all these, I have to admit that the landscape is captivating.
I sometimes didn’t like when you are forced to cycle on the road. The road is full of cars and there is a little space for you and your bicycle. It is a little bit dangerous when you go on the road and cars pass very close to you.
Albergues in Galicia were worse quality than the other part of the Way. Yet again based on my experience, they were very simple. You will find the basic things like bed and hot shower. But if I compare with the rest of the Way, they aren’t very good.
After Cycling Camino de Santiago
There are many options for you:
Resting in Santiago de Compostela while meeting more pilgrims and sharing your experiences during the way.
Enjoy Spanish food, some beers and sight-seeing in Santiago de Compostela.
You can go to Finisterra, the end of the world. It´s 90 km far from Santiago de Compostela. I did after cycling Camino de Santiago. The views in Finisterra weren´t the best and the weather was so bad. I really liked a couple of towns before getting Finisterra. Great views and great beaches, perfect for resting, watching the landscape or for taking pictures.
The best thing that I can recommend you after cycling Camino de Santiago is to keep cycling til the North of Spain to Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country. The landscape and the views that I saw while cycling to North Spain made cycling Camino de Santiago, much worthier.
If you continue cycling til North Spain, be ready to go up and down all the time. It will be a little tough, however, the experience is well worth it. I enjoyed having local contact and camping in the North of Spain.
After these recommendations, I hope that you found useful information for cycling Camino de Santiago. Enjoy cycling, enjoy Spanish people and Spanish food!
If you want more information for cycling Camino de Santiago, check this link. You will find more information to cycle Camino de Santiago.
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