We always say that the Camino begins when the thought first enters your mind and heart. Wanting to do the Camino is almost like an inner calling from our experience.
Once you know you want to do it, many questions will come to your mind. One of the most important questions is “How do I do this!?”
Many people prefer to let a specialist handle the logistics of their trip. But how do you pick the best Camino tour company? It can be confusing when you start googling and find that there are many different options with a wide range of prices and schedules!
We completely understand. That is why we will give you an overview of what you need to take into consideration in order to pick the best Camino tour company. There are important things to look out for so that your experience is, not only a safe one but a fantastic one!
You may not know it, but new Camino agencies open every day, some of them in Spain, others in different countries or even just online. The prices vary a lot from agency to agency. If you are comparing different options, you may be wondering why there are such big price differences between them?
To pick the best Camino Tour Agency, please take into consideration these 8 factors:
- Compliance with the Law
- Level of Service, Support, and Comfort
- Shared or private bathroom.
- Cleanliness (to avoid bed bugs)
- Meal options and quality.
- Material and Equipment
- Insider Information: Details you might not have thought of that only the experts know.
- Different Routes
- Ethics, Professionalism, Experience
- Spirituality: A life-changing experience or just a tour? Maximize your personal and life-changing Camino experience
- Reviews from other Pilgrims
The Camino itself is very safe. Here we are referring to your safety regarding legal issues. This is one of the most important factors to pick the best Camino de Santiago agency. Anybody can make a pretty website and have fancy descriptions, but how do you know they are legitimate? This is an important factor to take into consideration before you make any payments.
Is your Camino agency legal?
There are many Camino agencies that are not legal (even some that claim they are official)! Only legally constituted Spanish Travel Agencies are, according to Spanish legislation, able to organize and sell organized packages or tours in Spain. It is considered a ‘Tour package’ when your trip is over 24 hours, includes one night of sleep or if two services are combined (transportation and accommodation for example).
This is important because there have been cases in the past where the travel agency closed or went bankrupt, took the clients money and left them clients hanging. If the services you hired are not legal, you have no way to complain or take legal actions against them.
The requirements to be are legal and official Travel Agency or Tour Operator in Spain are very strict. Official Tour Companies offer guaranteed protection by the state, so you will never be left hanging, no matter what happens. Spain wants to make sure that people feel safe coming to Spain and offer comprehensive protection and guarantee this to its tourists.
Marly Camino is proud to be an official Spanish Travel Agency registered to Spain’s General Tourism Board with license number CYCMA 3031. We are proud and happy to tell you that our license guarantees the fulfillment of our obligations to our clients.
Camino de Santiago tour companies are there to support you, but you must choose what level of support you would like. For many, after walking for several hours, it is wonderful to enjoy a comfortable bed to sleep in, a clean bathroom, taking a long shower and eating a delicious meal.
Full-support (Guided) vs. Self-Guided
Deciding if you would prefer to do the Camino on your own or with the support of a guide is an important first step. Camino Tour Companies that offer self-guided Caminos usually offer booked accommodation, luggage transfer and an itinerary as part of the package. You then walk on your own. Marly Camino has the added benefit of a personal welcome where we prepare you for your Camino and personally give you all your materials.
Full-support or guided Caminos usually include van support along the way. Your guide doesn’t necessarily walk with you, but there is a van which accompanies you and meets you at different checkpoints along the way. At each checkpoint, the van and guide will be available for anything you may need. You can also leave things in the van like an extra pair of shoes, a jacket, or even hop on if you do not wish to keep walking.
There is a wide range of accommodations on the Camino. The most basics are the ‘albergues’ or public hostels which don’t take reservation and work on a first come first serve basis. Camino de Santiago tour companies work with different accommodations of different price ranges and levels of comfort. Some are on the Camino itself and can be reached by foot, and other more beautiful, charming or high-end accommodations can be often be found just off the Camino path.
The key factors to consider with accommodations are:
Marly Camino gives you the opportunity to stay at lovely rural manors and beautiful Paradores carefully selected for their quality in our Guided Caminos, and simple but clean accommodations in our Self-guided Caminos.
You may not want to carry your backpack and all your belongings on your back, which is totally understandable! You can just carry a small day pack and have a company pick up your luggage in the morning and drop them off at your next accommodation. Reliability is a very important factor!
Some Camino Tours include van support, like in our guided Caminos, and in this case, it is the support van that transfers your luggage. The important thing is knowing that your luggage is always safe and under control.
Transfers and Vehicles
Many companies like ours assist you with transfers to cities that are difficult to get to on the Camino. Most our routes include transportation to the starting on the Camino from a main city, for example, from Madrid to Sarria or from Pamplona to St. Jean Pied de Port.
If your Camino Tour does include van support, make sure that their vehicles are legal, insured and in good conditions. For example, Marly Camino’s vans are of the best quality, our drivers are qualified and include you, beverages, snacks and most times wifi.
Unforseen circumstances: Can you count on them to help you if you need it?
In a foreign country, where you might not speak the same language, you might need some extra support! It is good to know that somebody is there to help you in case something important comes up or in case of an emergency. The Camino agency that you choose must have English-speaking staff available to you and good contacts in all cities to solve any emergencies. You should ALWAYS feel comfortable calling them in case you need anything, at any time.
In Marly Camino’s guided tours, you even get a phone with a Spanish SIM card to go with you along the way. If you need anything, just call us, at any time!
A backpack with Camino Goodies
Think about your every-day on the Camino and then think about the many small things that you will need. Would you need to purchase everything? Marly Camino provides all pilgrims with a complete pilgrim’s kit: A backpack that can be used as a daypack, full of Camino goodies. Check out everything that it includes HERE
Program and Information
What kind of Camino materials will you receive? At Marly Camino, we give you a full day-by-day program that includes recommendations, reflections and useful phone numbers for both our guided and self-guided Caminos.
The details: birthdays, greetings…. your feet?
Talking about making Pilgrims feel special, the details REALLY count. When you are greeted with joy and lots of information, when an agency celebrates your birthday or a special occasion, making you feel special that day. When your feet and legs are taken care of…. It really makes a BIG difference. Every detail counts.
The Willingness to help you even with small things is very important in your decision to pick an agency, For example, have you thought about blisters? Blisters and other minor physical pains can really make a difference in the quality of your experience. Marly Camino’s guides are trained to take care of your feet and well-being. We take care of EVERY detail.
Additionally, it would be great that your Camino Tour Company offers the right health insurances for to be fully covered in case of any eventuality. At Marly Camino, we believe our pilgrim’s health is a priority, so we’ve got your back.
Make sure the Botafumeiro is guaranteed.
One of the best and most important moments on the Camino de Santiago is the Botafumeiro experience. Botafumeiro is the Galician “censer”, a famous Camino symbol that you will bring lots of emotions and that you can only see at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Make sure the botafumeiro is included:
This is a beautiful experience that NOT every Camino tour Company includes. In fact, most Camino companies DO NOT offer it, or can’t guarantee it.
Don’t miss out on the beautiful Botafumeiro Experience, with Marly Camino, you will FOR SURE see it.
Check the dates and the different routes that each company offers. If you have doubts about which route to pick, call your Camino Company! They have to be able to better explain and compare the different Camino de Santiago routes.
New Camino travel Companies appear every day, remember that the more experience an agency has, the better they are able to handle any situation (good or bad). Pay attention to their commitment to transparency and ethics and pay attention to the way they handle customer service with care and professionalism.
Do they see you as a person or a number:
There are many companies that produce mass tours; the Camino tour company that you choose should make you feel valued and special. Some people are more independent and others need more support. Your Camino tour agency should respect the way that you like to travel, but maintain the levels of respect, quality, and support. Each person is different. You want to go with a Camino company that treats you like the special person that you are.
The Camino de Santiago has an incredible and powerful impact on your mind and spirit. Pick a Camino agency that values the inspiration and spiritual impact that the Camino experience offers. Marly Camino’s guides have been trained to ensure that you feel the magic of the Camino within yourself and of course, in case you need, you can have a shoulder to cry on, a smile to give you a push during difficult moments along the way, and friendly conversation in case you want to talk.
Nowadays the Internet lets us have a good view and compare through the experiences of others. Check the different sources of information and social networks for the different tour companies. Check the comments. Most of the times, they should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Call or email the different agencies or have them call you, they should be able to help you pick a route, they should be able to give you any advice, they should be able to make you feel comfortable. At Marly Camino, we love to hear from you and will be happy to answer any questions. Please call us at or email us at [email protected]
Dear Pilgrim or Future Pilgrim, do you have a better idea of how to pick the best Camino Company? Please send us your comments using the form below.
It seems like you offer everything we are looking for in our Camino tour!
My husband and I are considering walking the Camino this summer (probably mid-July) and would like information on pricing (with/without airfare-coming from Philadelphia and prefer direct flights), logistics (airport transfers & backpack transfers), accommodations (we prefer paradores and comfortable private rooms with private full bathrooms), etc. We love typical Spanish food so local restaurants serving traditional dishes is our preference.
We only have about 10 days so we would like to start in Sarria and just do the last 100km to Santaigo and qualify for our compostella certificate and then continue on to Finisterra before going home.
Which airport is closest to Sarria?
We can leave from Philadelphia or Newark (whichever is cheapest and flies direct)
Muchas gracias, Teri and Andy DiStefano
Hi, Teri, one of our Camino consultants will be contacting you soon, answering all your questions and with a customized itinerary. Saludos!
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Five years ago, for my 70th birthday, I walked “The Way” with MARLY CAMINO. I had contacted many tour companies, and after careful consideration decided on Marly…not only did they listen, they created the Buen Camino for me, my family, and lifelong friends, all of us, shall we say, “mature” women.
Marly has left all 9 of us with lasting memories and tales to tell…we still talk about our own personal journey to this day.
Marly’s attention to detail is unsurpassed, their staff so very professional, and guide and driver amazing!
Oh, Beautiful memories Susan. We are so grateful for your words, and even more, for those lasting memories we left in all of you, and believe us when we say, we also, do remember all our pilgrims with so much love! We hope to see you back soon! Buen Camino
Hello, my name is Leslie Acoca .
I’m considering a self guided tour this June (flying from Philadelphia and returning home to walking the entire distance if possible- preferring either the French way or starting in Pamplona. I’de like this to be a highly spiritual journey- I’m wanting to change my life- . One challenge is that I am highly allergic to all fish and seafood so will have to have meals that exclude these entirely. Ideally, I’de like a private bathroom and clean sheets but do not want an expensive hostel- if possible.. I would like to be safe but not isolated..love to meet interesting folks along the way- but will be focused on my own growth.
This will be my fist time on the camino.. May we have a conversation?
email: [email protected] (to choose a time to speak)
Hi, Leslie, thank you so much for writing. One of our Camino Specialist will be contacting you soon. Buen Camino!
I am planning a guided Camino De Santiago pilgrimage sometime in 2019 around July to September. I would like to know how much it will cost me. Thanks.
Thank you for writing George, soon one of our Camino specialists will contact you. Buen Camino!
Hi, David, soon one of our Camino Specialist will contact you. Buen Camino!
I would like to obtain details and approximate cost for a self guided camino de Santiago package for the full camino frances, from St. Jean Pied de Port to santiago. I would not like to walk more than 12 miles per day. Only one person, maybe two.
I am 64 in very good physical conditions, but a very light sleeper and not looking forward to Albergues. Modest hotels will be fine. Timing: Starting on early September 2018. I will pay separately for air fare. I am fully bilingual English/Spanish.
Hi, Mario, thank you so much for writing. Soon one of our Camino Specialist will contact you with all the details regarding your Camino. Have a great day, Buen Camino!
I would like to do the walk to Camino Santigo from St Jean. around Sept 8, 2018. Coming from Orlando Fl. Would like flight information and full itinerary. Also I would like clean accommodations. And daily support . Traveling first couple of days with my daughter then on my own.
Hi, Jill, thank you so much for writing. One of our Camino Specialist will contact you soon. Have a great day, Buen Camino!
HI My husband and I would like to walk the Camino from around Sept 16 the last 100 km from either the french way or the portugiese I believe but would love more info from you. Costss, accomodations, etc. My husband is legally blind but a good walker. We may have his 15 lb dog with us unless we can find a place for her. Thank you. Best, Tori
Hi, Tori, thank you so much for writing us, I have passed your contact to our Camino Specialist. They will contact you soon. Have a great day, Buen Camino!
I would like to get pricing on the full Camino starting at St. Jean Pied de Port.
Mid September to mid October 2019.
I will turn 70 on this pilgrimage so it will be a spiritual/meaningful /soul search experience.
I’m in excellent shape hiking 14ers in Colorado and hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim last fall.
I would like pricing on guided and self guided tours. I would like to stay in the hostel a few nights but mostly inexpensive Paradores. Shared bath ok, but want clean accommodations. I love Spanish food!
Also provide quote with and without air from Denver, Colorado.
I can walk up to 15 miles per day and would need to finish in 30 days.
Hi, Kenna, thank you so much for writing, I have passed your request to one of our Camino Specialist, they get in touch with you very soon. Have a great day and Buen Camino!
My wife and I will be walking the Camino de Frances, self-guided, but would like help with the accommodations along the Way. The idea of 6 weeks of albergues doesn’t appeal to my wife. Our trek starts in April 2019. Absolute start depends on availability of rooms but mid April is our goal. Please include estimates of cost, including airfare from Houston TX
Thank you and hope to see you along The Way
Hi, Darryl, thank you so much for writing, we understand that choosing the best or right accommodation should be crucial in our journey, and in especial for the sake of our rest. We took note of your request and passed it to our Camino Specialist. They will get in touch with you briefly with the info you need for this amazing adventure. We hope to see you soon along the Way too. Buen Camino!
My husband and I are interested in walking the Camino de Santiago this September 2018, if there is space available. We have several questions. Please contact us. Thank you!
I would like to walk the Camino Frances from SJPD from October 19 and finishing Nov 26 of this year.
I’m not interested in fancy accommodations, just a clean pension. I’ll be traveling alone, but would like to take meals with other pilgrims. I desire luggage transfer. I’m a 66 yo woman, in good shape, desiring a spiritual experience.
Hi, Patricia, thank you for writing, soon one of our Camino Specialist will contact you with all the info requested. Have a great day! 🙂
I am planning on hiking the entire 500 miles; more than likely I’ll be traveling by myself; my husband can’t take that much time from his business! I’m 65 years young and an avid hiker. I’m considering your tour company. I’ll need flight info, accommodations info…basically everything! Not crazy about hostels!
Dear Victoria, thank you so much for writing us this way. Soon one of our Camino Specialist will contact you 🙂 have a wonderful day!
Hi. We have two couples, confirmed maybe some additional folks wanting to do full walk. All in our 60s. Starting mid April thru May. Would like hotel type accommodations vs hostels. Could we chat with someone about various options ? Thanks ! Steve
Hi Steve, thank you for writing, one of our Camino Specialist will be contacting you soon. Have a great day!
My family of 4 would like to do the Camino sometime in March or April 2019. We would prefer a guided tour with accommodations in good hotels. I would like more information on the tours available.
Hi Myra, thank you so much for writing us this way. I have passed all the details to our Camino Specialist, they will contact you very soon. Have a wonderful day!
Hello. I am a 55 yr old widowed female. I am in good shape and I’m interested in walking El Camino. I have up to 3 weeks in April 2019 to do the pilgrimage. I’m not sure which route to choose or even the amount of days a first timer should attempt. I have many questions. Please advise. Thank you.
Hi Adriana, thank you for writing us this way, I have passed all your details and in no time one of our Camino designers will contact you. They will answer all your questions and will help you plan your Camino. All the best and Buen Camino!
Hi. My wife and I are wanting to walk the full Camino , starting at the beginning of May2019.
We were wanting to have our bags transferred and hoping to complete the walk in approx 35days.
We would prefer reasonably tidy accommodation with our own bathroom .
Look forward to hearing from you.Regards Mike
Hi Mike, thank you for writing, we will contact you soon with all the information needed. Have a great day!
I am interested in doing the last 100km of either the CF or CP spread over 11 or 12 days. I can’t decide which route to take yet. I also need assistance on which airport to fly into and other transportation. Looking at starting around the last week of Sept.
Thanks for writing Diane, soon one of our Camino planners will contact you with all the information you need for this wonderful route. Buen Camino!
Hola, mi esposa y yo estamos planeando hacer el Camino de Santiago, comenzando en Sarria ya que son los últimos 114 kms aproximadamente.
Nuestra fecha es comenzar a caminar el 30 de Septiembre y caminar por 9 días, llegando a Santiago el 9 de Octubre. Así podríamos pasar un par de días en Santiago ya que hay bastante cosas que hacer en esa bella ciudad.
Queremos hospedarnos en habitaciones privadas, no albergues, tener nuestros equipajes transferidos a los destinos destinos.
Quisieramos ver la opción de tour guiado y también caminando nosotros mismos.
Hola Arturo, gracias por escribirnos, dentro de poco una de nuestras asistentes del Camino te contactará y dará toda la información y opciones de este plan tan maravilloso. ¡Buen Camino!
I am interested in walking the last 100km in July 2019
Would like guided tour with luggage transport and accommodations
Please advise as to whether this is available
Hi, Sherri thank you for writing, we will contact you very soon with all the datails about your tour. Have a great day and Buen Camino¡
Hi. I sent an email earlier for a quote for the last 100km next April 27, 2020 self-guided. Please include details and price for the guided tour as well. Thank you.
Hi Rene, thank you for writing. We will also include this in your quote. 🙂 Have a nice day!
My name is Lynn and I am interested in walking the Camino in September or May with my adult daughter. We are still working out the dates. If we left in Sept. we would leave on the 9th and would walk into mid.Oct. I am assuming the weather is pretty nice this time of year. We would like to walk alone, but have support if needed. We also would like to book hotels and breakfast for comfort. I wanted to get an idea of how many days the 500 miles generally takes and also the cost of booking hotels.
I look forward to talking to you.
Thank you for writing Lynn, we have passed your request to our Camino planners, in no time they will contact you with all the information about your soon-amazing adventure. Buen Camino!
My name is Helen and I am planning on walking the Camino in the fall of 2020. It will be the year of my 60th Birthday! I know I want to walk the French Way but I do not have a clue where to start. I am hoping you can help me.
Looking forward to talking to you.
Hi, Helen thank you so much for writing, we will be contacting you soon and help you plan your special Camino in 2020. Have a great day!
We are a young Destination Company based in the Philippines and specializing in pilgrimages. We would like to know more of your Camino experiences and tours so we can share them with our pilgrims who are interested in joining one. Our official website will be launched soon.
Looking forward partnering with your prestigious company soon. Thank you for your attention.
Dear Loulette, thank you so much for writing. We will contact you very soon. We haven’t received the ending of your email address, we will try .com.ph, could you please send us an email to [email protected] in case you don’t hear from us in a couple of days. Buen Camino! 🙂
Would you please forward me information – I would like to walk the last 100 km of the Camino starting in Sarria. I’m hoping to do a guided walk and stay in moderate single accommodation with private bathroom please. My plan is to start 21 September 2019. I would like my luggage forwarded and walk around the 15 km a day please.
I’ll look forward to receiving information from you regarding availability, itinerary and costs.
Thank you so much,
Dear Miesje, we have received your information correctly, soon one of our Camino planners will contact you with all the details of your Camino. Have an amazing day!
Interested in pricing want to walk Sept 25-Oct 9 flying from Phoenix
Hi, Tracy thank you for writing, we will contact you soon with all the information about your Camino.
I wrote last week and was advised someone would contact me. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened? I may have somehow missed it – if so, would you please send me details again?
Dear Miesje probably our email was marked as spam, try checking the junk mail folder or sending us an email to [email protected]. 🙂
My wife and I are looking at doing the whole Camino walk from France to Spain next year, we are aiming for September/October timeframe. We are both in great shape and would like to do the walk in 30 days to include travel time as we will be coming from Canada. We would like to have our luggage secured and forwarded to our daily destination. We would also like a room at every location with our own bathroom. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Dear Dan, it´s a pleasure to greet you, one of our Camino planners will contact you very soon with all the information regarding your Epic Camino. Have a marvelous day and Buen Camino!
I will be travelling solo and I have 35-40 days to do the whole Camino. I will be travelling late April 2020 for my 50th birthday 🙂 I will book my flights from Canada to wherever I need to start. (I’m wanting to start in France, but not the northern route, and would like to land in Spain) I would prefer transfers where at all possible. I speak only English, however I am going to learn some Spanish in the mean time 🙂
Dear Lisa, it is a pleasure to greet you, it is such a wonderful plan, celebrating your birthday along the Camino and put some practice of the Spanish you will learn in the meantime. I have passed your contact to our Camino Designers. They will contact you soon with all the information regarding your adventure. Have a great day, Buen Camino!
I was wondering how much your company would charge for a 3 person pilgrimage starting in Sarria for the last 100km? April 13th to 19th 2020 would be the dates we are looking at.
Hi, Dihan, it is a pleasure to greet you, one of our Camino Designers will contact you today, Buen Camino!
Two women looking for a trip late May 2020 from st Jean pied de port to Santiago. Daily mileage should be a max of 20 miles per day, (perhaps 35 total days), unguided but luggage transfer and hotels with bath included. Please let me know how you would put this together. Thanks!
Hi Terri, it is a pleasure to greet you. One of our Camino Designers will contact you soon. Have a wonderful day!
Planning to walk the Camino this summer and need help?
I would like to know your opinion on the best route for me. I just lost my wife after a 35 year marriage. She passed away 2 1/2 months ago. I am drawn to do a spiritual pilgrimage and need help planning it. I’m 60 years old and in great health. I’ve been hiking every day for the last 2 1/2 months since my wife passed.
Please contact me at your earliest convenience so that I can begin to plan this excursion. Thank you
Planning to walk the Camino this summer and need help?
I would like to know your opinion on the best route for me. I just lost my wife after a 35 year marriage. She passed away 2 1/2 months ago. I am drawn to do a spiritual pilgrimage and need help planning it. I’m 60 years old and in great health. I’ve been hiking every day for the last 2 1/2 months.
Please contact me at your earliest convenience so that I can begin to plan this excursion. Thank you