When people say they want to ‘walk the camino’ they tend to mean the Camino Francés or The French Way, so called because it comes from France. The favourite starting point these days seems to be the small French hamlet of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, right by the border. It involves starting your first day with a very steep walk, for no other reason than crossing the border into Spain. Most Spanish long distance pilgrims start in the next town just inside the border, called Roncesvalles. The Camino Francés then stretches through the North of Spain all the way to Santiago.
But the Francés is not the only camino. Camino means way or road, and many of the medieval roads led to important pilgrimage sites like Santiago, Rome or Nidaros.
With the increased number of walkers on the Camino Francés, many pilgrims seek more solitude and the added challenge of the Camino del Norte, which follows the coast of Northern Spain westward and then curves down to Santiago.
Some take on the Via de la Plata, starting in the south of Spain and walking north to join the Camino Francés in Astorga and follow that in.
Others prefer to walk north from Lisbon or Porto in Portugal and into Galicia that way.
There are also other caminos to choose from, long and short walks that will bring you to – or closer to – Santiago and the cathedral of St James. Medieval pilgrims started their pilgrimages at their own front door, and some modern pilgrims still do.
Have a look at the links and info on my main page and give it some thought before you decide to walk the Camino Francés. It is a very sociable, relatively easy route with good infrastructure but it is not the only way to Santiago.