The Camino de Santiago, an age-old pilgrimage that meanders through the heart of Spain, has maintained its enduring allure, attracting pilgrims from every corner of the globe.
In the year 2021, the Camino continued to beckon individuals, each driven by their own unique motives and aspirations.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of the Camino de Santiago statistics 2021, offering insights into the pilgrimage’s ongoing significance and enduring appeal.
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Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Statistics 2021
The year 2021 was no exception, as pilgrims continued to tread the Camino’s sacred trails, each with their unique motivations, backgrounds, and stories.
Pilgrims finishing the Camino
The Camino de Santiago has witnessed fluctuations in the number of pilgrims over the years. In 2021, the statistics presented a revealing picture of the pilgrimage’s popularity:
- 178,914 pilgrims completed a Camino route in 2021.
Comparing this to previous years, it’s clear that the Camino’s numbers saw a substantial rebound from the lows of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted pilgrim numbers.
The year 2021 marked a pivotal moment in the Camino’s history.
With nearly 179,000 pilgrims completing their journeys, it was a year of resurgence and recovery.
How do Pilgrims Get to Santiago de Compostela
The journey to Santiago de Compostela is a remarkable one, marked not only by the destination but also by the diverse paths pilgrims take to reach it.
Here, we explore the various methods that pilgrims employ to travel to this sacred city and fulfill their Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
- Walking – 167,731 pilgrims
- Bicycling – 10,781 pilgrims
- Horseback – 199 pilgrims
- Sailing – 165 pilgrims
- Wheelchair – 37 pilgrims
These statistics illustrate the diverse means of transportation chosen by Pilgrims, with walking the remaining the most prevalent method.
The Camino on Foot
Walking is undoubtedly the most traditional and iconic way to complete the Camino.
Pilgrims, known as “peregrinos,” lace up their hiking boots and embark on foot from various starting points across Europe, depending on their chosen route.
Whether they choose the popular Camino Francés or opt for one of the less-traveled paths, the act of walking is deeply ingrained in the Camino’s spirit.
In 2021, the statistics reflected this enduring tradition, with 167,731 pilgrims choosing to journey on foot.
The Camino by Bicycle
Another increasingly popular way to experience the Camino is by bicycle. Pilgrims seeking a different kind of challenge and adventure can choose to pedal their way to Santiago.
This method allows for a faster pace and covers more ground in a day, making it a preferred option for some.
In 2021, 10,781 pilgrims opted to cycle parts of the Camino.
The Camino on Horseback
Pilgrims who are experienced riders or simply wish to embark on a horseback adventure can do so on specific Camino routes that accommodate horses.
In 2021, 199 pilgrims rode on horseback.
Sailing to the Camino
In 2021 there was 165 Pilgrims that arrived by sailing to a port and walking to Santiago.
The Camino by Wheelchair
There are still sections of the Camino that can be traversed by wheelchair.
In 2021 37 people gained a Compostela for completing the requirements in a wheelchair.
The Busiest Months on the Camino
As you would imagine the warmer summer months are the busiest on the Camino with August once again being the busiest month.
- August – 43,576
- September – 37,462
- July – 33,963
- October – 31,170
- June – 14,825
- November – 9,094
- May – 4,295
- December – 3,236
- April – 1,024
- March – 194
- January – 60
- February – 14
Nationalities of Pilgrims on the Camino
One of the most enchanting aspects of the Camino de Santiago is its ability to transcend borders and draw pilgrims from across the globe.
In 2021, this international pilgrimage lived up to its reputation as a diverse melting pot of cultures and nationalities.
As pilgrims embarked on their journeys, they carried not only their physical belongings but also their unique backgrounds and experiences.
Let’s delve into the captivating tapestry of nationalities that converged on the Camino.
Naturally, Spanish pilgrims formed a significant part of the 2021 Camino cohort, with 122,128 individuals making their way to Santiago de Compostela.
For many Spaniards, the Camino de Santiago represents a profoundly spiritual journey within their own homeland.
It’s an opportunity to explore their country’s rich history and traditions while seeking personal growth and reflection.
Beyond Spain, pilgrims from various corners of the world found their way to the Camino in 2021. Here’s a glimpse of some of the countries that were prominently represented in the Top 10:
- Portugal Pilgrims – 9,410
- Italian Pilgrims – 7,817
- German Pilgrims – 6,575
- American Pilgrims – 5,668
- French Pilgrims – 4,478
- Poland – 1,841
- Holland – 1,808
- Mexico – 1,526
- UK Pilgrims – 1,450
Other Diverse Nationalities
The beauty of the Camino lies in its inclusivity, and in 2021, the list of participating nationalities went even further.
Pilgrims from countries as diverse as Iceland, Estonia, Iran and Peru embarked on their spiritual, cultural, and physical journeys.
While Spain and other prominent pilgrim-sending nations are consistently present, it’s the broad representation of smaller and more distant countries that adds to the Camino’s unique charm.
These statistics underscore the global allure of the Camino de Santiago, welcoming pilgrims from a multitude of countries.
The diversity in nationalities mirrors the Camino’s ability to unite people from different walks of life, fostering a rich exchange of cultures and stories along the path to Santiago de Compostela.
It’s a testament to the Camino’s universal appeal and its power to bring the world closer together through a shared experience of discovery and transformation.
Camino de Santiago Age Groups
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that transcends age, gender, and background. In 2021, the demographics were as diverse as the pilgrims themselves:
- Age 18 to 45 – 84,561
- Age 46 to 65 – 67,691
- Over 65 – 14,343
- Under 18 – 12,318
These numbers show that the Camino welcomes people of all age groups, making it an inclusive and intergenerational journey.
2021 was also a year when the split between Male/Female was closer than ever with nearly the same amount although there is some uncategorised being registered.
Reasons for Pilgrims doing the Camino de Santiago
Pilgrims embark on the Camino for various reasons. In 2021, their motivations were as follows:
- Religious & Other – 77,297
- Religious – 65,064
- Not Religious – 36,552
These statistics reflect the diverse reasons people undertake the Camino, be it for spiritual reflection, a blend of religious and personal experiences, or non-religious purposes such as leisure or just a plain old adventure.
A Holy year on the Camino can be a big deciding factor on the numbers.
The most popular Camino Routes
The Camino offers an array of routes, each with its unique charm and allure. In 2021, the popularity of various routes was evident:
- Camino Frances – 98,091 pilgrims
- Camino Portuguese – 34,248 pilgrims
- Camino Ingles – 10,980 pilgrims
- Camino Primitivo – 10,143 pilgrims
- Camino del Norte – 10,195 pilgrims
- Portuguese Coastal Camino – 7,942 pilgrims
- Via de la Plata – 9,623 pilgrims
The Camino Frances remained the most popular route, drawing the majority of pilgrims in 2021, followed by several other scenic routes that continue to captivate the hearts of those seeking a unique pilgrimage experience
Popular starting points of the Camino
The starting points for the Camino are as diverse as the pilgrims themselves. In 2021, the following Top 10 starting points saw significant pilgrim activity:
- Sarria – 55,582
- Tui – 15,170
- Ferrol – 10,574
- Porto – 8,724
- St Jean Pied du Port – 8,150
- Oviedo – 5,792
- Cebreiro – 5,000
- Valenca do Minho – 4,888
- Leon – 3,987
- Ponferrada – 3,704
These statistics highlight the different entry points to the Camino, with Sarria consistently being the most popular choice among pilgrims.
St. Jean Pied du Port attracted a substantial number of pilgrims beginning their journey on the Camino Frances, and Irun serving as the starting point for the Camino del Norte.
The Camino de Santiago is a timeless pilgrimage, an extraordinary journey that continues to inspire and captivate the hearts of people from all corners of the world.
In 2021, amidst the challenges of the previous COVID year, the Camino demonstrated its resilience, drawing 178,914 pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, motivations and age groups.
While this is a positive sign of recovery, the 2021 figures are still significantly below the pre-pandemic levels.
As we look ahead, it is evident that the Camino de Santiago’s enduring spirit remains unwavering. The pilgrimage invites all, irrespective of age, gender, or background, to explore, connect and discover the extraordinary within themselves and the world around them.
The Camino is not just a path; it is a transformative experience that celebrates the human spirit’s resilience and determination.
It is a journey of the soul, offering solace, reflection and renewal to all who seek it. Most of all its an amazing experience as well.
Statistics powered by the official Pilgrims office in Santiago de Compostela.