When is the best time to do the Camino de Santiago? This is a common question and one with many answers. Most pilgrims embark on their Camino journey generally from Spring to Autumn, with July and August being the busiest months; however it is a personal choice.
Some pilgrims prefer the quietness of the winter months, despite the fact that the weather can be unpredictable and some services might be closed.
There are three main factors pilgrims should consider when planning their Camino: weather, route and number of pilgrims on that trail.
WEATHER ON THE CAMINO
The weather will vary greatly depending on the Camino route you are taking and the regions you are passing.
The Camino Frances covers 500 miles, nearly 800 kms of trails, from the Pyrenees, across the Meseta Plateau, the Mountains of Leon and into Galicia; and each region has its particular climate.
If you are walking the last stretch in Galicia, the region’s mild Atlantic climate means Summer temperatures don’t get as high as other regions along the Camino Frances. It also means higher chances of rain in the Spring and Autumn months.
Mountainous regions such as the Pyrenees, the Mountains of Leon, El Bierzo and the Cantabrian Mountains will have cooler temperatures than lower ground, even during the Summer months.
Summer can bring very high temperatures in the La Meseta Region for instance and most of the Via da la Plata is not recommended in the Summer months.
It is important to check the forecast for the different stages before you travel so you can pack accordingly.
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO ROUTES
The Camino Frances is the most famous trail and also the most popular to this day. If you are looking to meet other pilgrims along the way, this route, along with the Camino Portugues are the best choice. They are particularly popular from June to September.
The Camino Frances has many services for pilgrims such as hotels, hostels, restaurants… but some of them might not be open during the quieter winter months. Services on less known routes are likely to be closed in the winter too.
Also it is worth bearing in mind the hours of daylight will be greatly reduced from the end of October until January/February.
Spring and Autumn months are generally less busy than Summer but the weather can be ideal for walking, with mild temperatures. Mountain regions such as the Pyrenees can experience snow fall still in early Spring and the Route Napoleón on the first section of the Camino Frances is closed generally until April.
Coastal trails like the Coastal Camino Portugues, Camino del Norte and Camino Fisterra are best experienced from May until September, when the weather is dryer, warmer and you can enjoy the seaside and beaches along the way in full.
The best time to do the Camino de Santiago is quite a personal choice and will depend on what you expect from your experience.
NUMBER OF PILGRIMS
If you are looking to experience the most social side of the Camino and meet other pilgrims, May to September is probably the best time to travel. July and August are the busiest months on the Camino trails, particularly on the Camino Frances and Camino Portugues which are the most frequented.
Spring and Autumn, which mark the beginning and end of the walking season, are the best time to do the Camino de Santiago if you’d prefer a quieter trail. You can also opt for trails with less affluence of pilgrims such as the Via de la Plata, Camino Ingles, Camino del Norte or the Camino Primitivo.
SPECIAL DATES AND FESTIVALS
Easter time and St James Day in July are two special dates for pilgrims on the Camino. Some pilgrims find Christmas time is a special time to experience the Camino trails.
The grape harvest in wine regions such as La Rioja, El Bierzo and Rias Baixas takes place in September and October and it is a lovely time to walk these routes.
There are many festivals along the different towns on the Camino routes, big and small, which can be fascinating to experience but in some cases they might pose difficulties in relation to accommodation so we recommend booking your stays well in advance.
For more advice on the best time to do the Camino de Santiago, more details on our Camino tours and Camino Guided Tours or to help you plan your trip, contact our travel experts.Contact Us