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Which Camino de Santiago guidebook should you pack for your trip to Spain? As there are several popular Camino travel guides on the virtual shelves, it can be hard to narrow it down to just one. But trust me, you’re not going to want to weigh down your backpack with more than one Camino guidebook!
When I went on my first Camino, believe it or not, I didn’t take a guidebook! What a mistake! Fortunately, lots of other pilgrims let me share theirs, and I got a good handle on what was out there.
When I was planning for my second walk on the Camino, I purchased several guidebooks to be certain about which one I wanted to carry with me on my trip.
Here are the 6 best Camino de Santiago guidebooks that I tried, and the series that’s my favorite.
Table of contents
- 6 Best Guidebooks for the Camino de Santiago
- 1. Village to Village Guide
- 2. Brierly’s A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago
- 3. Moon Camino de Santiago: Sacred Sites, Historic Villages, Local Food & Wine (Travel Guide)
- 4. Wise Pilgrim’s Guides
- 5. Cicerone’s Camino de Santiago – Camino Francés: Guide With Map Book
- 6. Michelin Guide to Camino de Santiago
- So, what’s the best Camino de Santiago Guidebook?
- More Camino Planning Resources
6 Best Guidebooks for the Camino de Santiago
1. Village to Village Guide
The Village to Village guide is one of my favorite Camino de Santiago guidebook series. These guidebooks seemingly have it all. Let us explain.
When it comes to maps, there are detailed topographic maps to scale with distances marked for each stage. Stage, city, and town maps are all included. You will also find directions on how to download a GPS track to use offline.
In addition to stunning pictures and a clear visual layout, each day’s stage overviews give you a realistic idea of what to expect while walking. There’s also practical, historical, and region-specific information to consult as you make your way from region to region across northern Spain.
Perhaps most importantly, though, the details on the accommodations are spot on! There are little icons that note how many beds, prices, and amenities for each albergue.
At the time of this writing, the Village to Village guidebooks are available for the following Camino de Santiago routes: Camino Frances, Camino Frances (Maps Only), Camino Portugués, Camino Finisterre, Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, and Camino Inglés.
One negative about these guides is that the shorter routes don’t have a lot of details about what you’re going to encounter each day. The Camino Frances guidebook was much more detailed.
2. Brierly’s A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago
Without a doubt, John Brierly’s Camino de Santiago guide is the most well-known Camino de Santiago guidebook. And with good reason, as these detailed guides have just about everything you ever needed to know about walking the Camino!
This comprehensive guide has tons of information on preparing for your Camino, daily overviews, maps, weather, services, albergue descriptions and more. As far as maps, you’ll get a contoured guide to help you understand each day’s terrain. It’s also very easy to distinguish the distance between each point on the map.
Honestly, this is the guidebook when it comes to the Camino. You’ll see people reading it at practically every stop of the way. It’s great for planning, and the only negative is that some people don’t like that the author takes up precious space (and weight) with some “mystical” local legends and detours. They would prefer the author keeps it practical.
Another plus is that books in this guide series are frequently updated. At the time of this writing, a new update for the 2023 season on the Camino Frances has been published. With the popularity of the trails growing and changes post-COVID, an up-to-date guide is essential.
Brierly covers just about every major Camino route and also provides map-only versions. He even has a Sarria-Santiago guide for those wishing to complete the last 100 kilometers of the Camino Frances. (If you’re walking from Sarria, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Sarria, Spain, too!)
3. Moon Camino de Santiago: Sacred Sites, Historic Villages, Local Food & Wine (Travel Guide)
Although this book is listed as a travel guide, Moon’s Camino guidebook by Beebee Rahman is widely known as a book to read before undertaking the Camino. While it’s filled with useful bits of information, it has too many details to make it a super practical guidebook for the trail.
The name alone Camino de Santiago: Sacred Sites, Historic Villages, Local Food & Wine tells you what you need to know. Excellently researched and written, the author goes beyond on the trail to tell about the many cultural and historical aspects to discover in Spain.
For example, she mentions what food to try, detours worth taking, and other historical details most people miss. Plus, she offers a lot of background information on the Camino that is sure to enrich your experience.
The book also includes practical planning information, a fold-out map of the entire route, and tools like Spanish phrasebook.
All this being said, if you’re taking a more leisurely Camino and transporting your pack, you may want to bring this along. The tidbits the author shares about Spain and the Camino are interesting and unlike the other, perhaps more practical, guides. In any case, we think it’s a must-read for any Camino lover — before, during, or after your pilgrimage!
4. Wise Pilgrim’s Guides
The Wise Pilgrim guides are written by Michael Matynka Iglesias who has been walking the Camino trails and taking notes since 2003.
In them, you can find detailed maps with elevation information. You’ll also get lots of information aside from the trail about each city and town like where the nearest pharmacy is.
There’s also some of the most comprehensive information about where to stay on the Camino: albergues, hotels, paradors, casa rurales, pensions, etc.
In addition to the paper guides, there are also several apps available for the different routes (The apps came first, then the paper copies). We highly recommend you purchase the app for the route you are walking. On it you can find helpful planning tools and recent information on the different accommodation options. I found the Wise Pilgrim Camino Frances app to be worth the money!
A downfall to those living in the US is the availability of these guides. Some of them you can order via Amazon, but not with Prime shipping. There are also kindle versions available for some. Otherwise, we direct you to the Wise Pilgrim website.
Lastly, these guides were undergoing updates. If you choose to go with a Wise Pilgrim guide, make sure the route you’re going on has been updated. Or, just get the app!
5. Cicerone’s Camino de Santiago – Camino Francés: Guide With Map Book
This Cicerone guide to the Camino Frances by Reverend Sandy Brown is a two-part guidebook and map book. It contains stage information, accommodation options, planning advice, and sample itineraries.
Let’s just state the obvious here. When I first heard that this was a two-part guidebook, I was perplexed. Why would anyone want to carry TWO books, I wondered? But, it really is quite handy. The guidebook has all the information you need when it comes to logistics, planning, and lodging. Then, the map book can be removed so when you’re actually on the trail, you can easily just look at the maps without lugging out the entire book. Genius!
A major negative is the weight of these two books — 18 oz (.5 kg) to be exact! This is nearly 2X the weight of some of the top contenders. Then again, if you’re transporting your pack each day, you don’t need to worry so much about weight.
As for the Camino de Santiago routes, this book only covers the Camino Frances. The author also writes on the Via Francigena, which ends in Rome, Italy.
6. Michelin Guide to Camino de Santiago
If you’re searching for a basic guide to the Camino, the Michelin guide might work for you. If you’ve been on any road trip, you’ve probably seen a Michelin guide. And if you’ve used one, you know that they are thorough!
Lightweight and super easy to follow, the Camino trails are overlaid across traditional maps showing highways, topography, towns, etc. So, those asking, “where can I find a map of the Camino?” might really like this.
Although this guide has information on lodging, it seems to have been last updated in 2013. That being said, it does only weigh 4 oz, so it might be worth it if you’re looking to save on weight! You can always pair it with an app to get accommodation information.
All in all, the format of this guidebook(let) makes the route, the elevation, and the distances super clear. Perhaps all you want to know is where you’re walking that day and don’t want all the information on places to stay, what to pack, etc. If so, consider this one!
PS: Did we mention this guide is written in Spanish? Though, it’s still easy to follow. The version being sold currently on Amazon was published in 2013. Although the map is more or less the same, some of the lodging information may be out of date. I think it’s still worth a try, especially at the low price point.
So, what’s the best Camino de Santiago Guidebook?
Seeing as there are many good Camino de Santiago guidebooks, it can be hard to choose which one to take along. However, a few certainly guides stand out from the rest.
Even though I like all of the guidebooks listed, Brierly really is the gold standard when it comes to Camino guides. For the Camino Frances, I also really love the Village to Village guidebook. You can’t go wrong with either guide. Having an up-to-date publication date is important to me as well. That being said, either Brierly or Village to Village could work if it had a more recent publish date.
Most of all, it’s important to take some sort of guidebook. Any one that peaks your interest, get! Read it cover-to-cover (or at least skim) before you go so that you can take advantage of all the planning advice it offers and get a keen understanding of how to plan each day’s stage.
In addition, you can use your guidebook like a journal. Don’t be afraid to write in it, make notes, circle where you stayed, etc. You will be glad you can go back later and reference these things!
Whatever guidebook on the Camino de Santiago you choose, ¡Buen Camino!
More Camino Planning Resources
- Ultimate Guide to Planning the Camino de Santiago
- Camino de Santiago Packing List
- How to Choose a Backpack for the Camino de Santiago
- Best Time to Walk the Camino: All Four Seasons Explained
- How to Get to St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France