The keys to the Camino de Santiago in 2020: Data, routes, pilgrims

2020 leaves us with very different keys, being impossible not to mention COVID-19 and the impact it has had on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims, and of course all the businesses that live off the Jacobean Route.

Camino de Santiago | Foto de Emma Heath

Camino de Santiago | Foto de Emma Heath

✔ The keys to the Camino de Santiago in 2020: Data, routes, pilgrims.

We close a new year on the Camino de Santiago, which means taking a look at the official data provided by the Pilgrim's Office to see how 2020 has gone on the Jacobean routes. This time we will examine the Camino de Santiago data through four different prisms: the influx data (totals and month by month), habits or methods and the most popular routes. 

2020 has been a truly difficult year for everyone and, in this case, it is impossible not to mention COVID-19 and the impact it has had on the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims, and of course all the businesses that live off the Jacobean Route. The current coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in a number of sectors. As far as the Camino de Santiago is concerned, last year's statistics clearly reflect the mobility restrictions and the various measures put in place for the sake of public health.

In order to reduce contagions as much as possible during the health crisis, the limitations of services and mobility have proved to be really effective. However, these limitations have had a colossal impact on the 2020 influx data when compared to previous years 

▷The 2020 data: plummeting falls in the 12 months of the year.

In 2019 the total number of pilgrims reached 347,578 walkers, a year of records in which the influx increased by 5.82% compared to 2018 data (327,342 pilgrims). 2020 has been a year where the pilgrimage has totally plummeted if we look at the statistical reports, data that are clearly a product of the new circumstances. 

The Camino de Santiago has fallen by 84.49% in 2020 compared to 2019. If we look at the comparative of affluence month by month, we see that the beginning of 2020 indicated that it was going to be a promising year, surpassing in January and February the data of pilgrims of 2019. However, in the month of March the covid phenomenon was unleashed around the world, with the consequent plummeting drop, which left the Camino de Santiago at zero in the months of April and May. Although we see a significant growth during the months of July and August, they fall again from September, with a black autumn on the Camino. 

You can consult the pilgrims who have walked the Camino de Santiago month by month in the following list:

  • January: 1,999 (2020) / 1,651 (2019) / 1,627 (2018). 
  • February: 3,076 (2020) / 2,119 (2019) / 2,181 (2018) 
  • March: 1,710 (2020) / 7,474 (2019) / 11,056 (2018)
  • April: 0 (2020) / 31,721 (2019) / 22,068 (2018)
  • May: 0 (2020) / 46,672 (2019) / 40,665 (2018)
  • June: 12 (2020) / 49,057(2019) / 45,685 (2018) 
  • July: 9,752 (2020) / 53,319 (2019) / 50,868 (2018)
  • August: 19,812 (2020) / 62,814 (2019) / 60,415 (2018)
  • September: 10,441 (2020) / 45,649 (2019) / 47,006 (2018)
  • October: 6,418 (2020) / 36,115 (2019) / 35,602 (2018)
  • November: 586 (2020) / 8,237 (2019) / 7,651 (2018)
  • December: 99 (2020) / 2,710 (2019) / 2,517 (2018)

▷The pilgrims: more men than women

To get an idea of the profile of the average pilgrim who has walked the Camino de Santiago in 2020 we believe it is best to answer the following questions:

1. How many women and men have walked the Camino in 2020? This year there has been a fairly definite difference, with men being a majority of 30,075 (55.76%) versus the 23,860 (44.23%) women on the Camino. 

2. How has the Camino de Santiago been traveled this year? As usual, by a large margin, the majority of pilgrims traveled the Camino on foot, with a figure of 49,325 walkers (91.56%). There are many who also decide to make the journey by bicycle, 4,486 (8.32%), and lower is the percentage who do it on horseback, being a total of 59 (0.10%) throughout 2020.

▷ The Jacobean routes: a more distributed Camino

As for the routes most chosen by pilgrims to reach Santiago de Compostela, the continued growth of some secondary routes is striking. The French Way and the Portuguese Way are still the most chosen routes. 

These are the most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago in 2020:

  • French Way: 28,791 (59.87%)
  • Portuguese Way: 9,185 (19.10%)
  • Northern Way: 3,802 (7.90%)
  • Primitive Way: 3,390 (7.05%)
  • English Way: 2,915 (6.06%)

What have been the most chosen starting points by pilgrims? Given that the Camino de Santiago has a single goal but multiple possible starting points, this list is always very distributed, although traditionally Sarria is the most popular point, as it is just over 100 km from Santiago (a requirement to obtain the compostela) along the French Way. But other municipalities have also been chosen as usual starting points, such as Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Oporto or Ferrol.


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