The Camino de Santiago is a unique adventure that can be enjoyed any time of the year. However, each season has some pros and cons.
Discover the differences between doing the Camino in each season.
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When is the best time to do the Camino?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions amongst pilgrims each year. As usual, it does not have a straight answer, since there is not a better or worse time to do the Camino. It all depends on what type of experiences you want to take back home.
When considering the seasons, it is not just the weather that you need to look at (too hot in summer, cold, rain and even snow in winter…), it is also the influx of pilgrims, which will vary during different times of the year.
Many experienced pilgrims recommend to do it in spring (April and May) or in autumn (September and October), when hostels are still open and the weather mild.
THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO IN WINTER
During winter, you might face some of the most adverse weather conditions. In fact, according to statistics, only a small number of pilgrims embark on the Camino in the coldest months of the year.
Undoubtedly, the most severe weather event you can find is snow and ice.
If we turn the clock back to the Templars times, we will find out that pilgrims in the French Way used to divert south towards the Valdeorras region once they arrived at Ponferrada. They wanted to avoid the climb to O Cebreiro and escape the damp cold and thick layer of snow that would cover the paths for weeks. That alternative route received the name of Winter Way.
This season has some pros, though. Budget-wise, due to the lower influx of pilgrims, you can expect to spend a little less on accommodation and meals. In addition, keeping these key tips in mind when planning your itinerary, you can counteract the adverse weather.
In terms of accommodation, public hostels remain open all year round and, on the upside, you will not have any difficulties to find a place. Just be aware that not all of them have heating.
In case you want to stay in private accommodation, plan and book in advance, since many of them close during wintertime.
It is important to take the daylight hours into consideration, which are reduced considerably in winter. On the other hand, there are less sunny days in comparison with other times of the year, so you will not feel as exhausted.
Keeping all this in mind, we recommend the Northern Way for the winter, as it runs alongside the Cantabrian coastline, where temperatures are milder than in inland Spain during this time of the year.
THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO IN SUMMER
It is the busiest time to do the Camino, since it is when most people can take more time off to enjoy the jacobean routes.
Moreover, during the month of July, Santiago celebrates its local festivities, with special focus on the 25th, which is the day of the Apostle James, also known as the Day of Galicia, which gathers people from all over the world, giving pilgrims a new insight into the Camino.
Weather-wise, you can be quite certain that you will not encounter any rain along the way, but you need to be prepared for high temperatures: wear light breathable clothes and make sure you always have water to keep hydrated.
If you wish to know more about how to prepare for the Camino de Santiago, here you can read the full article on preparation for the Camino.
During summertime, due to the large volume of pilgrims in the Camino, you might find it difficult to find a place in a public hostel, forcing yourself to get there early and almost turning your walk into a run.
Even if you prefer private accommodation, you should book in advance so as to avoid surprises.
In this season, depending on what you are looking for, we highlight the following route features:
- Northern Way: mild temperatures and a rich scenery and patrimonial wealth.
- Portuguese Way: a unique natural setting.
- French Way: lots of other pilgrims from all over the world to share this experience with.
THE CAMINO IN SPRING AND AUTUMN
Both seasons are good for doing the Camino de Santiago when it comes to weather. Temperatures are mild, although there could be some odd showers.
On the upside, the influx of pilgrims decreases a little compared to the central months of the year, although you will still have the chance to meet other people, avoiding, at the same time, the solitude of the winter months.
Moreover, finding accommodation in public hostels will not be a problem and, if you opt for the private ones, they will still be open too.
For these seasons, we recommend the following:
- Primitive Way (autumn)
- French Way (spring)
- English Way: this route is gaining more and more popularity, mainly because of its natural resources and because its course is rather short. From Ferrol its around 119 kilometres and, if you choose to start from A Coruña, it is just 75 km.
In a nutshell, there is not a better or worse time for doing the Camino de Santiago if we follow some basic planning tips.
Although the weather can play an important role at the time of deciding on the dates for our Camino, doing it is what counts, as no matter the season, it will be an enriching experience.
If you are already looking forward to your time in the Camino after reading these tips, don’t hold back, start planning!
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