What is the Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago

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Camino de Santiago in the WinterThis is one of the questions I get asked most frequently, what is the best time to walk.  In many ways they are all good for different reasons, and yes I know that is a bit oblique – so I will list what is considered the best times to walk the Camino Frances – which is the main route that people walk to Santiago.

January and December: unless you are located the other side of the equator January and December are winter.  Winter in Spain can sometimes be fairly cold, in 2008 there were snow blizzards in what was the worse winter for 15 years – this year has been fine, however it has been a warmer winter all over Europe in 2011/2012.

I would not make the choice to walk at this time of the year, however many don’t have a choice due to time constraints.  Here are some threads from the forum about preparation for winter walking and some people walking this winter.

Also this post on Sil’s blog has loads of good advice from someone who has actually walked the Camino during the winter.  http://amawalker.blogspot.com/2009/10/walking-in-winter.html

October, February and March:  these months are much wetter than the rest so be prepared with rain gear.  It can be fairly cold in the mornings, however if you are lucky often the sun will burn off the frost and you will have mild days.

May, June and September:  these are likely considered the best months to walk any of the Camino de Santiagos.  During these months the weather is generally warm or hot, everything is open, and the routes are not as busy as the main summer months.

July and August:  these are the most popular months on the Camino.  I would try and avoid starting on July 25th from Roncesvalles – the feast day of St James, as it can be a very busy day.  Also there is a Spanish public holiday around 14th Aug, again I would avoid starting from St Jean or Roncesvalles at this time.  I once stayed in Roncesvalles overnight at this time and it was crowded, the hostel needed overflow tents to accommodate everyone.  But the worst, for me, was walking the next day.  I find in generally the Spanish extremely helpful along all the Caminos, however I am not used to the noise when there are many Spanish walking nearby, sorry Spain.

Below are the weather charts for Bilbao, Leon, and Santiago.  Notice how wet Santiago can be, and it is generally a bit colder in Leon.  I will be updating the packing list page shortly to include additional walking gear for the winter – however not much more is required.

Above photo courtesy of Amawalker

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20 comments on “What is the Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago
  1. I walked the camino starting from Barcelona last November, and although I’ve never walked it at any other time I thought that winter was one of the best times to walk — as long as you’re prepared with good warm clothing and a thick sleeping bag!

    It was great, though, because there were very few pilgrims, and the modern, commercialized aspects of the camino were decidedly subdued. I saw one other pilgrim in my first three weeks, and the solitude was powerful. Other people may not be looking for this, but for me it was exactly right. My fellow pilgrims tended to be the more spiritually-inclined, as well.

    Although there were a lot of difficulties with albergues being closed. I had to sleep outside a few nights in Aragon and Calunya, which was decidedly chilly.

  2. Jenny says:

    You do not mention April. Any thoughts on whether April is a good time for Camino Frances

    • admin says:

      Thanks for pointing that out.

      April is very changeable, a bit like anywhere in spring. Last year, 2012, it rained most of the month and there were some floods – that however was a bit unusual. Be prepared in April for a mixture of rain and pleasant spring days – but no real heat, which is good when walking all day.

  3. Walter Bosshard says:

    Hi,
    I started hiking from Sarria Feb. 23 2013.I had planned on hiking 27 km. but was informed upon arrival they were closed and to go 4km further. The same happened there. Fortunately I am fit enough to do a “bonus 10km”. I would recommend checking if your planned accommodation is open as there were so few travelers at that time of year. I saw no one from km 89 to km 35.
    Walter

  4. Janet darwell says:

    I plan to walk the full camino starting around the middle of may 2014 .having read all the comment on weather conditions this seems about right . Thank you everyone.Janet D

  5. Cindy Maddox says:

    I am planning to start the second week of April and walk the entire camino. I plan to stay in the hostels each night. I’d like to finish in around 4 weeks. Any advise on how far to walk each day to complete it in 4 weeks? Thank you, Cindy

  6. I walked in May 2013 and although it was cold and rainy quite a bit, the wildflowers and green fields were stunning.

  7. gustavo luna says:

    good morning all @cindy I too am planning on walking the whole thing starting late April possibly third week of april well into Nay maybe we’ll cross paths.

    • Cindy Maddox says:

      I have recently read several books on the Camino. The one I’m reading now, written 20 years ago, mentions pilgrims being robbed. Since I am coming alone should I be concerned?
      Gustavo, I hope we do cross paths.

  8. hildegardsgarden says:

    I am planning on walking the Camino March 16, 2014. Wondering what the weather will be like? any suggestions….thanks, Karen

    • Leslie says:

      You can never tell. Last year it was very bad and it rained non-stop according to most reports – but that was unusual.

  9. Anya says:

    Any advice on walking in March? I’ve heard mixed things on whether the hostels will be open or not. I’m planning to walk in either March or May, I can’t decide. Also, does anyone know anything about storing extra traveling gear at the start of the Camino? I’m planning to travel around Eastern Europe for 4 months after finishing the trail and need to have more stuff in order to do so.
    Thanks for the help and safe travels to all!

    • Leslie says:

      Most, if not all, of the hostels will be open.

      There are some places in Santiago that will store some gear for you to collect at the end, best find the info on the forum – http://www.caminoforums.com/

      I live in Prague, you should make sure it’s on your travel itinerary – it is great.

  10. Stfán Jónsson says:

    Hi. Thanks for all the good tips. I´ll be walking in June,2014. I´m wondering how many days, it takes to walk the Camino. I´ll be starting in St Jean Pied de Port, going to Santiago and then on to Finisterre. I´m used to walking, mountain hiking etc. I´m determined to enjoy the Way, and not to hurry. But I´m just concerned about, when to book the flight back. Is it a month, a bit more or less? I know this depends on many factors, but some tips would be great to get. All the best, Stefán.

  11. Kim says:

    I’m thinking of doing the Camino hopefully very soon, however I am unable to do the whole route due to work commitments, I believe you can join the route and still have your Camino passport stamped at Santiago but unsure where along the route I can join that still counts. Any ideas please.

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