The Best Options for a Second Camino
Don’t be surprised if after completing a Camino you have the urge to go back for a second some time later! As you accept the calling to make another pilgrimage the question becomes: Do I take the same route again? Or do I choose a less well trodden route?
Sticking to what you know
The first option is to do the same route as you did before. You probably remember a few tricks that you can do this time around, or some amazing cafe you stumbled upon you’d love to visit one more time. Don’t forget that amazing little Church in that village you walked to by mistake! A large part of the experience is the people you meet and share your time with. This can be good and bad. On the upside, a colourful bunch of new characters can be shine a new light on a great experience. On the downside, it might just not be the same to relive the same places without the memorable people from before. It’s worth bearing in mind that the other routes are rich in history and beautiful scenery as well.
Same route, different season
That said, one great idea is to walk the same route as before but at a different time of year. If you walked from St Jean Pied de Port in Summer, then early Spring or late Autumn will be a different experience altogether.
You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw,
see in springtime what you saw in summer, in daylight what you saw at night,
see the sun shining where you saw the rain falling,
see crops growing, the fruit ripen, the stone which has moved,
the shadow that was not there before.
Lanzarote Notebooks (1994) Author – José Saramago
The Camino Francés
If you took a more niche route the first time around, the Camino Francés could be the perfect option. Aside from the peak summer months when it can get excessively busy, looking at the numbers you can see pilgrimsvoting with their feet as per the merits of this way.
The Camino Portugués
Assuming you’ve done the most popular Camino Francés, the Portuguese route is a great option for a second Camino. Its far less busy, but still has enough pilgrims that you’ll make some great friends along the way. The landscape is not quite so beautiful before Porto where there’s a lot of walking on main roads. If you have a couple of weeks however it’s a perfect fit to walk up from Porto and have a few days to spare for tourism.
Another Trail Altogether
Perhaps you could try something completely different? There’s lots of other long distance pilgrimages in Europe. For those looking for a religious route there’s the route from Lisbon to Fatima in Portugal, of around 150km. You can even extend this by walking the Camino Portugués route backwards to Lisbon. For breathtaking scenery you could try the 96 mile ‘West Highland Way’ in Scotland or the 93 mile ‘Alta Via 1’ in Italy. A great long distance option is the 435km trail ‘Kungsleden’ in Sweden. Also known as ‘The King’s Trail’, the Swedish route has general use huts dotted along the way, and camping availability. Due to the weather, its advisable to do the Swedish route only in the warmer months. You can read more about it here. Reading some of that website has got me inspired already:
Here, you will chop wood, light a fire in the stove, cook food, fetch water, do dishes and clean. You sleep with your own sheets or sleeping bag in dormitory-style rooms equipped with bunk beds, mattresses, pillows and blankets.
So what’s it going to be?
Whatever you do if you have an open mind free from heightened expectations you’ll have a fulfilling experience. If you want to take the same route again, try going in another season. If you make the Camino to Santiago de Compostela but want to try another route, the Camino Portugués is a good option (or the Camino Francés if you haven’t done that yet!). Don’t be constrained to going to Santiago de Compostela – there’s great range of other Camino’s in Europe both for those going for religious or other motivations.