St. Jean Pied-de-Port – This is the best website I could find for the Pilgrims’ Information Center in St. Jean. They also provide an alburgue where you can stay for your first night. In the Pilgrim’s office you can receive:
- General information about the Camino including Alburge list, Stages & Elevations, etc.
- Purchase your Pilgrim Passport
- Get the weather report and guidance of which route to take over the Pyrenees
- Ask any of your final questions
Address: 39 rue de la Citadelle, 64220 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France Google Map
Office hours: (The office holds these hours, except during holidays. Please consult their website.)
- Monday to Sunday open mid-March to mid-November, every day from 7:30 to 12:30 and then from 13:30 to 22:00.
- The office is open during the winter
- The telephone number is 05 59 37 05 09
Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Reception Office – This is the final Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago where you present your pilgrim passport, receive your last stamp, if qualified, awarded your official Compostela (certificate). The Compostela is printed in Latin, and the staff will write-in your name and arrival date. You can also purchase a cardboard tube to carry your certificate home without damage.
The Pilgrims’ Office is run by the Cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela. The Director of the Pilgrims’ Office is traditionally a Canon of the Cathedral and supported by staff and volunteers. The office provides the following services:
- Welcoming pilgrims and issuing the Compostela
- Left luggage for pilgrims (NOTE: You cannot take your pack into the Cathedral, so you could consider leaving here or in your hotel/alburgue.)
- Bicycle parking
- Toilets for pilgrims, including facilities for disabled people
Address: Rúa Carretas, nº33 (accessed from García Sabell) 15705 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña – ESPAÑA Google Map
Tel.: +34 981 568 846
Office hours: (The Pilgrim’s Reception Office is open at these times every day of the year with the EXCEPTION of Christmas Day – 25th December, and New Year’s Day – 1st January. If you complete your pilgrimage on these days your Compostela can be obtained in the Cathedral. For holiday operating times, please consult their website. )
- Monday to Sunday 8.00 – 21.00 (In Easter Time and Summer from 1st April to 30th October).
- Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 19.00: In winter: from 1st November to 30th March (except Easter Time).
Camino Santiago Forum – Ivar publishes a great forum for pilgrims to reference from all over the world. I used his community for some of my initial research. He also provides other add-on resources like blogs, pictures, etc. It is a bit clunky and takes a while to get used to; however, there is quite a lot there. If you don’t mind posting a question and receiving 50-60 different options, you will be fine with this. It is only slightly monitored, so be aware of people’s emotions flinging about. Pilgrims are very passionate about their own truths.
Other Sites & Resources
Interactive Camino Francés map – I love this map! A fellow pilgrim developed this site for you to view the entire route or glance at stages of the Camino Francés route with key villages/towns/cities. Please know this is based on his walk and pace, but still gives you a great idea of the path you are about to follow.
Luggage Transfers – Some pilgrims might need assistance with their backpacks and arrange them to be transferred from one alburgue to another. The Camino provides many reliable services for this convenience. Typically you can arrange at your alburgue; however, there are sites for pre-arranging your transfers as follows:
Luggage Storage – You might have packed too much for your Camino, or wish to have items waiting for you at the end of your journey. The Camino provides several luggage storage services in which you mail your items forward and they will be waiting for you when you arrive at Santiago Compostela. Here are a couple of services to consider.
- Casa Ivar Luggage Storage – Ivar, who publishes a Camino forum above, also provides a fantastic luggage service. I used this service, which is quite affordable! Since I brought my hiking poles and a Swiss Army knife, I decided to not check my backpack. I stored everything in a backpack duffle and checked on the plane. In St. Jean Pied-de-Port, I walked to the local post office, where they provided a box, and shipped to Ivar in Santiago de Compostela my duffle and a few other items I wanted at the end of my Camino. Ladies, this is a great way to have your makeup and a few pairs of nice clothes/shoes waiting for you at the end of your journey!
- Correos – The Spanish post office can transfer your luggage; however, they mainly provide a shipping and storage service. So like luggage storage with Ivar above, you can send your luggage or items to a post office in Spain, for example, Santiago de Compostela, and then pick up when you arrive.
Albergues_Camino_Francés_Dec_2017 – Here is a recent list of alburgues along the Francés route, courtesy of the Camino de Santiago Forum. When you arrive in St. Jean, you will receive a similar document that informs you of all the alburgues, dates open, and other helpful information. If you don’t start in St. Jean, consider downloading and printing this list and keeping in a waterproof bag. It might come in handy!
Hotel Bookings – Every once in a while, if budget permits, you might want to book a hotel or private room. In most of the larger cities, and for the times I needed a better night’s sleep than when staying in the alburgues, I use Booking.com. I found this as one of the best online sites (they also have an app so check out your app store) for booking hotels and pensions internationally. If you book ahead and your walking schedule changes, you should be able to change or cancel your reservation. However, make sure to look at the cancellation policy each time you book.
Spain vs. USA Crime Rates – I have sensed fear from some pilgrims as they embark on this life-changing adventure. Some are unfamiliar with visiting foreign countries and others believe there is a high crime rate in Spain. So for those who have been researching about crime on the Camino or have loved ones who are doing the same – out of fear – my advice is to STOP and review this site. One dear pilgrim shared this site that compares the crime rate of Spain vs. the United States. It’s eye-opening! One is more likely to experience a traumatic event in their own town or city than walking on the Camino. The Camino is safe and the Camino is sacred. Please don’t let fear get in the way of your amazing journey.
Spain Crime Rates – This site is managed by the U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council and provides informative travel tools and crime reports for countries all over the world. As mentioned above, don’t let fear get in the way of your adventure spirit; however, do be aware of your surroundings. I typically reference this site each time I visit a new country for crime reports, travel guidance, and other traveler toolkit items.
Training Program for 20-30km – This is a great site for an eight-week training program before your Camino. I did not get the luxury of following this before my walk, but if I had the time, I probably would have. My training was walking and hiking in Tahoe in the mountains about 5-7 miles (8-12 kilometers) a day. My body was pretty conditioned, but not ready for a heavy pack. The first week of my Camino was essentially my training period. I definitely suggest long walks and varying elevations with your loaded backpack before your Camino.
NOTE: We are not medical or health professionals. Please consult your doctor before beginning any physical training program.
More resources on the way…