There are a surprising number of Camino de Santiago apps, but not all of them are high quality or useful. We’re here to help you to figure out the best Camino apps for planning and navigating your pilgrimage. This article will help you decide whether you need a Camino app at all— or whether a guidebook better would be better for your needs. Then scroll through our list of the 5 best apps, which includes features and pro/cons for each.
I’ve been on the Camino Frances several times and know a thing or two about how to navigate it. But don’t take my word for it, because I’ve also crowd-sourced opinions from other pilgrims on which Camino apps they found the most useful.
(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)
Do You Even Need a Camino de Santiago App or Guide Book?
If you are concerned about simply finding your way along “The Way”, particularly on the Frances route, you need neither an app nor guidebook. The main routes are very clearly marked. Most people who get lost do so because they set out at pre-dawn, they try to take an ill-marked alternative route, or they have become too tired to pay attention.
Many people simply go to their start point and head west, having faith that the Camino will take care of them. You’d be surprised at how well that works!
However, if you want some back-up, here are some things to consider when deciding whether to take an app for the Camino, or a guide book or both.
Pros/Cons of Using a Camino App
- They do a good job of indicating where to find particular services along the route.
- Some of the apps allow you to design your own custom stages.
- Real-time mapping shows you where you are and where you are going. This is helpful if you are a nervous hiker– but seriously, trust what I said above about it being hard to get lost.
- They are inexpensive or free.
- They provide little/no historical or cultural context.
- The albuergue lists may not be up to date…or complete.
Use the apps if: You want to keep it ultralite and you like the idea of real-time mapping.
Pros/Cons of Using a Physical Camino de Santiago guidebook
- The guidebooks do a good job of providing cultural context and historical information for notable sites along the trail. This also includes things like calling out special church services along the route, museum logistics and festivals.
- When there is an alternative routing, the guidebooks will indicate why it’s worth taking and they’ll provide routing information. Some of the apps don’t always do this.
- The guidebooks offer suggestions for stages and distances- which can be a good thing if you are trying to stick to a hard timeline.
- If you do an ebook guide, it’s ultralight.
- Even if the guidebooks are updated every few years, it’s impossible for them to have the latest albuerge information.
- The guide books do a fine job of providing trip planning advice (packing lists, foot-care advice etc), but this information is also widely available on the web (and from my links below). So those sections aren’t necessary once you set out.
- The physical books add about 1 lb (.45 kg) of weight to your pack, which matters when every bit of weight really counts.
- The ebook guides can be hard to read on a phone in sunlight.
- The guidebooks offer suggestions for stages and distances- this can be a bad thing because other hikers are using those same stages. This causes choke points on the trail. Also, slavishly sticking to pre-determined stages puts you at risk of ignoring your own physical or spiritual needs on any given day.
Use the guide guide book if: You really want the historical context. If you like the idea of a physical books and don’t mind defacing it, you can tear out the necessary pages you go, lightening the load.
If this sounds good to you, we have a whole other article that spotlights the best and most useful Camino guidebooks.
The 5 Best Camino de Santiago Apps
The app names can be confusingly similar, so look for the icons above in your app store.
There are quite a few Camino apps available, however, not all of them are professionally developed. For simplicity, I’m only recommending guides that are in English, have been developed for both iOS and Android platforms, and that are recommended by the Camino community.
Wise Pilgrim (by Wisely)
For $.99, the Wisely app provides a lot of value in a very clean design. It will help you stay on the trail, and includes mapping for alternative routes. The UI has access by region, making it easy to find services for wherever you are at the moment.
Wisely has listings for albuerges, pensiones and casa rurales which indicate the availability of services such as laundry, meals or wifi. These are available in the regional sections and also conveniently searchable from the accommodation section.
The map is easy to read and available for offline use (but you’ll need to download it in advance). Unlike most of the other apps, the Wisely maps also show detail for businesses and services in each town. In addition, you can press and hold on your starting town for the day and it will calculate that day’s cumulative mileage for you.
The elevation profile is useful for gauging not only mileage but also elevation gains and it will remember at which stage you last viewed it. But it takes a bit of getting used to.
The Frances app does not include Finesterre/Muxia, but you can purchase it for additional $.99. They also have versions which cover the Primitivo, Ingles, Portugues, Invierno, del Salvador, San Salvador, Norte and Vía de la Plata trails.
The albuerge listings have easy to navigate phone numbers, website info and emails as well as Booking.com links (when available).
Pros: Very clean design and easy to navigate. Good map with lots of detail.
Cons: No custom stages.
Guide of the Way of St. James (Buen Camino app)
This free Camino app has a lot of nice features. Most notably, it includes downloads for the French, Baztan, Norte, Primitivo, Aragon, coastal Portuguese and Aragon routes. They tell you what to expect along the route but don’t offer much historical or cultural context.
The first screen shows an easy to read list of towns along The Way with distances in between, making it an easy at-a-glance way to plan your stop point for the day.
The app has an unhelpful elevation profile which shows relative elevations, but gives neither actual elevation in meters nor kilometers between towns.
They do offer real-time route mapping, but Buen Camino uses Apple maps, which I find less reliable than Google maps. Getting into the map is awkward as it’s not on the main menu and you have to navigate to it from a city page. But– it is available for offline download.
The albuerge listings seem fairly complete with all of the requisite information and it has website info, phone numbers and indicates those that can be pre-booked on Booking.com.
Cons: Uses Apple Maps. Bad profile map.
TrekRight’s $9.99 Camino app differs from the others in that it does provide more historical and cultural context for the towns that you’ll be transiting. They also have some interesting content extras, such as videos that have been loaded in by the community. The app also has a place where you can log your own notes.
TrekRight has the full Frances route, plus Finesterre and Muxia. But they don’t offer routing for other Spanish Caminos.
Their maps work best if you download them in advance, otherwise you get limited detail. They have the best profile map of all of the apps, which gives a good visual cue to both distances and elevation, and you can turn it horizontally for even more detail.
The app allows you to choose between the Brierly, the Eroski or completely custom stages. You can navigate to the route summery > route sections and choose “edit” to change your daily stages.
The app has good listings of available accommodation, it only shows easy “at a glance” listing of the available services for the albuerges, but not hotels and guesthouses. So, you have to click into those to find out what they offer.
I found the UI for this app to be frustrating and felt that I had to dig too much to figure out how to change the stages and get info on albuerge and town services. But once you get used to that, it’s a good app.
Pros: Better historical and cultural information. Content extras. Custom routing.
Cons: Clunky UI. Poorly detailed maps. Higher price.
Guthook Atlas Guides
$7.99 for St. Jean to Santiago, with a free version for the St. Jean to Pamplona segment. They also offer a Norte route. They are an experienced app developer, with 43 long distance routes in their portfolio.
Guthook offers online and offline mapping with a pretty easy to follow UI. They have a community based ethic, so you’ll find notes and reviews from other pilgrims that can help you find food or decide if a particular albuerge is right for you.
Unlike a few of the other apps, their profile map does a great job of showing distances and elevation, however it doesn’t label the towns in an easy to view manner.
They do not have good information on town services and their albuerge listings are thin. They also don’t offer any historical or cultural information. This app is a good stripped down guide if you just want to keep an eye on the trail.
Pros: Easy to use map. Decent profile map.
Cons: Weak on albuerge listings and services.
Camino Tool Way of Saint James
This free tool has a surprising amount of data. They offer routing, stages and albuerge suggestions for all of the major Camino routes. It comes in one Camino app, rather than requiring you to download individual sections. But you can simply filter for the route that you want.
The app allows you to create a customized plan from the start, using a simple questionnaire. It will then suggest where to stop each day and make albuerge and dining recommendations. You can change your plan on the fly by deleting their recommended stop and adding your own. However, this feature was a bit buggy and editing stages can be frustrating.
You can also link directly to Booking.com (for those lodgings who accept it). But it opens up in a browser window, rather than the app, which is less convenient.
They offer profile maps, but just from one town to the next, which makes them far less useful for multi-day route planning.
Pros: Free and fairly comprehensive. Available offline.
Cons: Buggy stage tool, no historical context.
Other Helpful Tech Resources and Documents
Sometimes there is so much information in a Camino app, that you can get lost looking for a specific thing. These additional online resources are great at serving some very specific needs.
GPS tracks: If you just want to keep an eye on the trail and aren’t concerned with historical context or albuerge information, then grab the GPS tracks from the Camino Forum for the Frances. And here’s another link for the Portugues. You can then install them into Google maps or Maps.me (for offline use).
Albuerge lists: The most complete and current albuerge list comes from the Camino office in St. Jean. If you are starting there, you can pick-up a paper version at the Pilgrim office. If you are starting elsewhere, then download a PDF from the Camino Forum for the Frances or this one for the Portugues. They are a bit out of date, but still very useful, at-a-glance sources. The Forum also maintains a listing of “favorite albuerges“, which are notable for their religious services, group meals, beautiful setting or on-site amenities. It’s worth seeking out a few of those while on the trail.
Profile Map: I was frustrated by the user interface from all of the app-based profile maps. And yet, a good profile map is essential for planning your distances for the next day or two. Download this Frances version from the Forum and keep a paper copy or PDF on hand.
Gronze: Gronze.com is a website dedicated that does a good job of showing the standard stages and albuerge options for six Spanish Camino routes. It doesn’t have a profile map and doesn’t have info on available services (such as pharmacies). It’s in Spanish, so you’ll need to set your phone to translate to English.
AllTrails: AllTrails is not a good all-around app for the Camino because it only has distances and an elevation map. It doesn’t list services, albuerges or other info. But if you just want to keep an eye on where you are, it’s excellent for that. You can download the trails for offline use and they have options for the full Frances, the Portuguese and the Via de la Plata. It also has smaller segments for the Frances, such as from popular start points like Leon or Sarria.
Whats app: What’s app is a cross between a phone app and a messaging app and it’s widely used everywhere but the US. As long as you have wifi or a data sim, you can use it to call ahead to albuerges and create group chats with your new Camino friends.
Camino Booking resources
- You can pre-book some albuerges and guesthouses through Booking.com.
- SCNF is the train booking service for France.
- Renfre is the train booking service for Spain.
- Trainline is an aggregator service that allows you to book train service throughout Europe and it has a more graceful user interface than Renfre.
- ALSA is the primary bus service in Spain.
Camino de Santiago Planning Resources
- Budget your Camino with this article outlining costs for three different budget levels plus a FREE spreadsheet tool.
- Check out my Camino packing list, which includes a FREE downloadable checklist.
- Get ready for your pilgrimage using our Camino training guide, which includes trail tested tips and a 12-week fitness planner.
- If you are planning the Frances, use our guide for getting to the start point in Saint Jean.
- If you are planning to spend extra time in country, check out these travel guides for Spain.
- Facebook groups: The Camigas Facebook group is a very friendly and active group for female pilgrims. Other good Facebook groups include: St James Way walkers, Slow Strollers on the Camino and American Pilgrims on the Camino.
- Read up on the Camino with inspirational memoirs and fiction set on the trail.
- Or if you prefer films, check out our list of the best Camino movies.
- Get inspiration and advice on doing the Camino Solo.
- Learn why, despite how hard it is, I went back for another round.
- Learn more about local culture and history with these fiction and nonfiction books on Spain.
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