pilgrims on the camino frances

The Camino de Santiago Hits Record Numbers in 2019

The pilgrim’s office closes 2019 with one of the highest records in history, 347,578 people received their Compostela certificate last year, this is 6.17% up from 327,728 in 2018. Although, this figure doesn’t represent the whole number of people who walked the Camino de Santiago in 2019, as some pilgrims decide not to end their journey in Santiago de Compostela.

With all the renovations going on along the Camino and with new infrastructure being developed as preparation for the Holy Year in 2021, it is expected that figures will continue to grow in the years to come.

Here below is an analysis of the most relevant data coming from the pilgrim’s office 2019 stats and some trends and predictions for 2020 and the Holy Year in 2021.

Male vs Female Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela

By gender, women have been dominating the figures from 2018. In 2019, 177,801 women walked the Camino, 4.72% above the number of men (169,777). In comparison to 2018, 7.86% more women walked the Camino in 2019.

More and more women hitting the road is more than a trend, it is a fact. Here at Follow the Camino, we have a growing number of solo female travellers and women leading groups of other female friends as a customer. Certainly, a group to keep an eye on.

By age, the group from 30-60 years old represents 54.52% of the total number of people who did the Camino in 2019, followed by under 30 (26.74%) and over 60 (18.73%).

Top countries recorded by the Pilgrim’s Reception Office

Spain, Italy, Germany, United States and Portugal, continue to be the top five countries from where pilgrims come. It is not by chance that the first three countries and the fifth one dominate the list, as some of the main routes to Santiago de Compostela start in those countries. So the Camino is more well-known and popular in those countries.

In the case of the United States, I’d say that the growing popularity of the Camino de Santiago between Americans pilgrims is firstly, thanks to the movie The Way. This film directed by Emilio Estévez and starring Martin Sheen has strongly contributed to its popularity.

The Martin Sheen movie marked a “before and after” in the Camino de Santiago, one example of this is how the number of pilgrims on the Camino coming from the USA multiplied after 2010, the year when the movie was first released in the United States and Spain. The number of people coming from the United States grew from 6th place to 5th place in 2013 and 4th place in 2015 up to now.

Secondly, we can’t ignore the power of word of mouth. When people are touched by this life-changing journey, with the diverse amount of people they meet on the way, the Spanish culture, the exquisite culinary experience and traditions, those people become promoters of the Camino.

Most of the pilgrims who have had the opportunity to walk the Camino once have gone back again and again. They talk about their experience to friends and family, they write about it, they record their journey and then create documentaries or short movies. That’s the way the Camino adventure essence spread around the world and the numbers continue to rise. 

Most Popular Caminos in 2019

From 2016, when the Pilgrim’s office first started to show the Portuguese Coastal Camino stats, this route’s popularity has drastically grown from being the 7th most popular way to be the 3rd most preferred Camino route in 2019.

The Camino Frances (189,937) continues to be the most popular Camino representing 54.64% of the total (347,578). The Camino Portugues continues to occupy second place, with 20.81%. of the total.


The Camino de Santiago popularity continues growing year on year, maintaining an average growth rate of 7.27% over the last 4 years.

Women walking Solo or as a group of friends or family leader is continuing to grow. The Camino de Santiago is a safe place full of culture, amazing people and experiences like no other place.

The previous Holy Years stats show a jaw-dropping increase above 86.55% in 2010 and 141.16% in 2004. What will the 2021 Holy Year hold? With all the renovations going on, including the Santiago de Compostela cathedral renovation, signposting improvements, new facilities and all the promotion from the Spanish tourist board, this is an indicator of a very successful 2021.

Here at Follow the Camino, we already have customers who have booked their Camino 2021 with us, so they are sure they will have the best accommodation available and that they will have their luggage transferred from hotel to hotel so the only thing they have to do is to enjoy their walk. Are you planning to walk the Camino in 2021? Contact us to help plan a tailor-made Camino for you.

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