The Camino – a spiritual journey, religious pilgrimage and epic adventure all in one. Regardless of your reason for adding this trip to your bucket list, one thing is for sure – it probably isn’t going to work out as you planned!
That’s where guide books come in. It’s a hotly contested debate amongst pilgrims as to whether or not a guide book is necessary. While some pilgrims swear by them to help their weary brains hunt down the nearest alburgue as quickly as possible, other pilgrims prefer to rely on the word of other pilgrims to guide their journey. And then there is the question of whether the additional weight is worth the information contained in those pages?
To be on the safe side, we recommend taking a guide book just in case you happen to fall into the former category. If you end up not using it, you can donate it to another pilgrim (that’s what we did!) Lots of guide books also contain guidance on setting spiritual intentions before you set foot on the Way – so this can be great to read through ahead of time, too! There’s something seriously exciting about fingering through the images of places that you aspire to walk through!
There are a lot of guide books out there, so to help make this aspect of your Camino journey as easy as possible, we spent some time sifting through the best Camino guide books for you!
Top 10 Best Camino Guide Books
Best for Camino Francés:
A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley
Camino de Santiago (Village to Village Guide) by Anna Dintaman
Best for Camino Portugués:
A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierley
Best for Camino del Norte:
Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago along Spain’s Northern Coast
Best for Camino Finisterre and Muxia:
A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Ingles & Camino Finisterre
Best for Camino Sarria:
A Camino Pilgrim’s Guide Sarria
Best for Camino Via de la Plata:
Walking Guide to the Via de la Plata and the Camino Sanabres
Best for Camino Inglés:
Camino Inglés: Ferrol to Santiago on Spain’s English Way
Best for Camino Primitivo:
Camino Primitivo, Oviedo to Santiago on Spain’s Original Way
Best for Camino de Madrid:
The Camino de Madrid Handbook
Best for Camino Francés: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley
We love this comprehensive guidebook. It contains all the information, maps and images needed by the pilgrim who plans to walk the sacred Way of St. James. Now printed more compactly, and with the latest updated maps and photos, this super lightweight companion will ensure that you travel carefree all the way from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.
If the Camino Frances is your chosen route, A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley is a must read. The author carefully included detailed town plans, route overviews, and even daily stage maps. It also concisely outlines your accommodation options for each leg, including albergues, hostels, and hotels for those pilgrims looking for a little more luxury (crucial to plot your rest and stopping points, for sure!) The cherry on the cake is the beautiful pictures peppered throughout this gem of a Camino guide book.
With this guide book in your arsenal, you’ll be able to be as prepared for the un-preparable as possible.
Best Alternative Guide Book: Camino de Santiago (Village to Village Guide) by Anna Dintaman
In her book Camino de Santiago (Village to Village Guide), Anna Dintaman offers a regional introduction to the different areas along the Camino with stories about the rich local culture, beautiful fauna and flora and appetizing traditional foods. Anna even included listings of restaurants that serve gluten free or vegetarian food, along with a phrase book to get you chatting away in Spanish!
The comprehensive ‘Village to Village’ Camino guide book leads you from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela on the Way of St James and throws in a bonus for the Camino Finisterre to Muxia, for those looking to add some extra layers of dust to their shoes!
As a female traveller, the author included special considerations for mothers travelling with children – neat, right? As well as all of the extra bells and whistles, this guide book has the basics well and truly covered with 135 illustrated and detailed town maps, seasonal information, albergue listings, and even lists private accommodation on offer in each town.
This book is now available on Kindle, and offers detailed colored maps with GPS files, ready to download, for each day’s walk.
Best for Camino Portugués: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierley
Did you opt to take the scenic and breathtaking Portugese route to Santiago? A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Protugués by John Brierley is a user-friendly Camino guide book that fits right into your pocket!
This guide book walks you through the 610km long journey from Lisbon to Santiago, including 24 daily stage maps and a comprehensive accommodation guide. The latest edition boasts information for routes along the coast, as well as the Litoral Trail! For those more spiritually inclined, it also includes great inner guidelines to support you on your personal journey. Also, we are huge fans of the colorful maps, detailed town plans and overview route planners.
This one should definitely be on your packing list if you’re interested in a pocket-sized, comprehensive Camino guide.
Best for Camino del Norte: Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago along Spain’s Northern Coast
This very popular Camino guide book is a great all-in-one guide for those that wish to join the ranks of the millions of pilgrims in traversing the rugged northern coast of Spain on the Camino del Norte.
Jam-packed with practical information on what to pack, how to travel, where to stay and more, the Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago along Spain’s Northern Coast, makes for a delightful and informative read!
Are you a maps person? If so, you’re in luck – this guide book’s got 143 of ‘em! We feel spoiled for choice with topographical maps to guide you through every stage of your journey… For well over 800km! It has pilgrim and private accommodation details including estimated prices, contact details, descriptions, and lists each town’s local amenities and scenery.
Definitely a great read, and even better Camino guide!
Best for Camino Finisterre and Muxia: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Ingles & Camino Finisterre
A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Ingles & Camino Finisterre will show you how to journey to Santiago, and depart from it, if you have a couple of days extra to spare! We found that this book especially captures the magic and mystery of the Camino in both a spiritual and practical manner, and that it should be commended for striking such a great balance.
Its pages gracefully guide prospective pilgrims through the Camino Inglés, including the ancient mysteries surrounding this rugged yet popular pilgrimage. If you’re into history, this route brushes against the enchanting rias of Northern Galacia that served as a route for medieval seafarers.
The Camino Finisterre winds through culture-rich valleys, to beautiful towns full of flavor and history. Referred to by most pilgrims as ‘most memorable’ when referring to their travels, this Camino guide for the Camino Finisterre will make sure you don’t miss anything on your journey to the end of the earth.
Best for Camino Sarria: A Camino Pilgrim’s Guide Sarria
A Camino Pilgrim’s Guide Sarria is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese – talk about multilingual! This Camino guide book captures the 3 routes from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela – the Camino Inglés, the Camino Finisterre with the Muxia alternative and the Camino de Santiago from Sarria.
It’s pocket-sized and lightweight which we love, and contains every reference a pilgrim would need to make their journey to Compostela!
It features some great advice on preparation, detailed town and stage maps and descriptive information on the landscape and terrain that is walked daily. Of course, it also contains lists of alburgues, hostels and other private accommodation, in addition to fun details about the local culture and heritage if that’s your thing.
As a nice finishing touch, it’s been recently updated to include the latest maps and photos for your viewing pleasure!
Best for Camino Via de la Plata: Walking Guide to the Via de la Plata and the Camino Sanabres
Directly translated as ‘The Silver Route’ the Via de la Plata dates back to the Roman times, when this route was (as its name suggests) used to transport silver from the mines of Asturias to the Mediterranean port of Cadiz. Cool, right? Nowadays, it’s a path walked by many pilgrims to the tomb of St James.
The Walking Guide to the Via de la Plata and the Camino Sanabrés, offers updated and improved maps with stellar details and vibrant images for each town and village passed through. It clearly describes what every pilgrim can expect, including walking distances, altitude profiles and landscapes.
Route confusion on the Camino is real. That’s why we appreciate the notes in this guide book about the most derailing and misleading signage on this route! Phew!
If you like details, then this is the book for you. It makes planning easy with mindfully collected information about accommodations, shops, restaurants, stores, banks and other necessities. In other words, this book has the essentials covered!
Best for Camino Inglés: Camino Inglés: Ferrol to Santiago on Spain s English Way
This is a pocket-sized Camino guide book that gets straight to the point. The Camino Inglés: Ferrol to Santiago on Spain’s English Way guides us along the path from A Coruña and Ferrol – also known as the path travelled by British pilgrims arriving by sea.
Filled with the mystery and wonders of the Galacia forests and the enigmatic cultures of the land, this easy to read Camino guide shows you how to complete the journey in as little as 4 days. It boasts full-color maps of every stage throughout the journey to ensure that you can always pinpoint where you are and where you are going.
It includes details about trip planning, route tips, and comprehensive details about accommodation with everything you need to know about both albergues and private lodgings for every budget.
Best for Camino Primitivo: Camino Primitivo, Oviedo to Santiago on Spain’s Original Way
If you like a good dose of cardio and mountain climbing with your soul-searching, this is the route for you. We’re told that the beautiful European mountains of Asturia on the Camino Primitivo will not disappoint. And, if you feel like extending your Camino, this route combines beautifully with the Camino del Norte for a longer pilgrimage! As this pilgrimage is a little more physically involved than the others on this list, a guide book to help you prepare is probably not a bad idea.
The Camino Primitivo, Oviedo to Santiago on Spain’s Original Way is a pleasure to read, and helps us navigate through beautiful villages, and over breathtaking platos.
Best for Camino de Madrid: The Camino de Madrid Handbook
One of the lesser-walked paths, this 13 Stage, 320 km pilgrimage starts in the beautiful and historic San Juan Bautista in Madrid, spans all the way to Sahagún.This path is perfectly enchanting with loads of interesting detours, and coveted “secret spots” – intriguing, right? Often named as one of the most challenging routes, lots of soul-discovery is reported on this variant of the Camino.
The Camino de Madrid Handbook by Jefferey Barrera, journeys through Madrid to Segovia, into Valladolid and onwards to León and beyond. It guides us through castles, artistic heritage sites, and over the Fuenfria Mountain pass at an altitude of 1796 meters – the highest point of any of the Camino routes in Spain!
This comfortably sized Camino guide book has a record of the distances between towns, where to stay, what to eat and what to look out for. We love that it also includes all route alternatives! And as you know, we’re a sucker for a book with pretty pictures. This one is no exception with its colorful photographs and maps.
The Benefits of Using a Guide Book on Camino de Santiago
- Easy maps to finding your location and planning your journey.
- Great guides on where to stay and what to eat.
- Expert advice from those who have gone before.