What is the Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago in the WinterThis is one of the questions I get asked most frequently, what is the best time of year to walk the Camino de Santiago. Usually though people are asking about the Camino Frances to Santiago, and for that reason that is the route this post refers to.

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 worst winter for 15 years – last year, (2015), there was again lots of snow on the hills after Leon, however 2011/2012 was a warmer winter all over Europe.  So you can plan in advance but in the winter be prepared and check the forecast before heading up any of the hills, especially from St Jean Pied de Port.

Apart from the weather the other main problem between the end of Oct and the start of Easter is that some places are closed, especially between 15th December and 15th of January.  If you are walking at this time of the year make sure your guide book has updated information on what hostels and albergues are open.

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 of the year 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. That said the last 100km into Santiago can be wet at any time of the year, I have been caught in rain that lasted two days while walking in September.

April, May, June and September:  these are likely considered the best months to walk any of the Caminos  to Santiago.  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.  The same is true if you plan to arrive in Santiago during the week before and after the 25th July.  If you are arriving in Santiago at this time be prepared for the hotels to be harder to book and more expensive, additionally the albergues will be very busy.

There is a Spanish public holiday on the 15th Aug, (the Assumption of Mary), again I would avoid starting from St Jean or Roncesvalles on this date.  I once stayed in Roncesvalles overnight at this time and it was very crowded, the hostel needed overflow tents to accommodate everyone.  But the worst, for me, was walking the next day.  I find in general the Spanish extremely helpful along all the Caminos, however I am not used to the noise when there are many Spanish walking nearby talking on their phones, sorry Spain.  This is a local problem in every country due to the availability and cost of mobile data, while at the top of Ben Nevis in Scotland I over heard many Brits calling friends with the start of the call being – guess where I am…

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

Santiago Weather

Leon Weather

Bilbao Weather

Posted in FAQs
56 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.

    • Cindy Maddox says:

      Jenny,
      I walked the Camino from Roncevalles to Santiago last Spring. I started the middle of April and finished the middle of May. It could not have been better. We had little rain, the temperature was great and the colors were amazing. Everything beautifully green with Spring flowers in every color imaginable. I had read it could be very rainy so I had rain gear but ended up sending it home and only used a poncho. It was a
      truly amazing.
      Cindy

  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

    • Cindy says:

      You will love it. Just be prepared for the weather to turn hot. I finished the middle of May and it was getting quite warm in the middle of the day. The higher elevation will keep you cooler in the first 1/3.
      Buen Camino
      Cindy

  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.

    • Hello Hildegardsgarden
      Did u eventually walk from 16 March – if you can u contact me with the experience. I plan to start around 19/20 March 2017 and will be happy to learn about the weather & accommodation if open during Easter.
      Thank You

  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.

  12. Jim Cushing says:

    what is the general cost for the whole trip from France to Compostela? i may have to stay at hotels rather that hostels due to my CPAP machine, i can get a miniature machine. what can i expect to pay for a 30 day pilgrimage for room? for food? what is the best way to go to Fatima from there?

    • Leslie says:

      Hi Jim, for details like you ask about you would be better getting answers on the forum – http://www.caminoforums.com

      • Cindy says:

        Hi Jim
        I’m walking the French route now and have stayed several times in single rooms at the alburgues or hostels. The cost has been 22 to 28 euros for the room. Food, meals and break snacks is costing me just under 20 euros a day. I have not tried cooking at the alburgues since there is always a wait to get to the stove. Spring is wonderful, beautiful but a little wet. The weather has been cool which is great for walking. I have learned to try to make reservations at the smaller stops since even now the beds fill up quickly. I do not want to race to the next stop to get a bed but prefer to go at a rate I can totally enjoy and soak up the beauty and energy of the Camino.
        Blessing to you and your journey.
        Cindy

      • Jim in Orlando says:

        thank you…and that is for a single room. so i can figure about 45 euros or $55 per day or about $1800 for all. i hope to fly over to Fatima at the end of it.
        God luck with your journey.
        Vai com Dios.
        Jim in Orlando

  13. jenniferhofmann says:

    I agree that time of year is a frequently asked question! What I appreciate is how thoroughly this post answers the question – and the one underneath it (Will I be safe in the weather for my preferred season?”) Thanks so much for a thoughtful response.

  14. gwen07 says:

    It is official — A friend and I will be leaving the U.S.A. September 22 and arriving in Lisbon on the 23rd. 2015. We plan on beginning our trek to Santiago in Tui on the 28th – This gives us a few days of roaming Lisbon and a few points in between by foot, bus, train. I too worried about the right time of year but something tells me — especially the posts above – that any time one chooses is the right time for the Camino. If there are any suggestions as to what NOT TO MISS on our Portuguese route — please let us know — we will be two healthy, not-ready-for-the-rocking-chair middle-aged former college roommates who still have a few miles left in our radical, protest-marching shoes.

    Bien Camino,
    gwen

  15. Maria E Padilla says:

    I am planning to be in Madrid to start my journey May 6th from St Jean Pied de Port to Santigo. I am have been planning for 3 years and hope all goes well. Buen Camino, Maria Elena

  16. gustavo says:

    I have yet to make my camino.. was going last spring plans didnt fall through planning again for this spring early summer once more.

  17. Richard says:

    Has anyone walked in September? Camino Frances that is. Thinking of doing it this year or next! Thanks ver much

    • Justme says:

      Did it September 2012 and 2013. Both years the weather was wonderful. Warm and very little rain (mostly in Galicia). Many people and in some towns had difficulty finding a bed. Best time in my opinion.

  18. Marjeta says:

    Hi everyone! I’m starting from SJPDP on aprtil 22.
    Have some questions, but most of all – what’s the best guide to take with? Would appreciate the latest version with all the albergues, groceries and usefull info on. If possible to get on pdf to use on Kinde – that would be…beyond everything. 😉
    What are your experience?
    Thank you all, and – Buen Camino to all goers! :)
    Marjeta

  19. Karen says:

    Hi. I want to do the short route, 110 miles, with my son who is not a walker. Does anyone know of a book who gives advise on how to prepare for walking the trail? Any information on how to plan the trip, booking places to stay, etc. would be really helpful.

    • Leslie says:

      Hi Karen,

      I have just published my guidebook for the Camino that answers all of these questions. It is on every page of the blog now.

      Thanks

  20. Rickie says:

    What would November be like to hike Via de la Plata? It’s the only month I can’t find in the articles and forums.

  21. Ashna says:

    I will be starting SJPDP mid-March hoping to finish around mid-April to celebrate my 50th birthday. Starting preparations & getting tips for the trip. I like prepping in advance getting the best resulting in a once-in lifetime experience. I am a keen experienced hiker & high altitude climber so will relish this adventure. Need to know how much in advance to get pilgrims passport. I bought a book in Barcelona in 2010 and at the back are pages with shells on them. Is this the passport? Is this where u collect the stamps? My fiance will join me for the last two weeks and he will need to get his own passport – where do we apply?

  22. Dee says:

    Is it manageable to complete the camino in a wheel chair with a friend?

    • Leslie says:

      I have see at least one person do this, but it is fairly difficult. You either have to use the road like road bikes do or at times be carried over very rough ground.

  23. Antonee says:

    Completely lost in life, currently living in southern Spain, starting from St Jean in may with no planned dates I look forward to bumping into you all, hoping to find myself on the trail with stories aplenty to tell

  24. Natalie Valdiviez says:

    I am in planning stage for a Early June start on Camino Frances-starting in St. Jean Pied De Port. The more I investigate these websites/forums-the more drawn to Spain I become! I am a teacher and although I plan to walk alone-it would be comforting to know that others start same time and we meet at the end of day.

  25. Chris martin says:

    I do think that if you over plan you are missing much of what the Camino has to offer Don’t worry the way will look after you Chris

  26. Audrey-West Virginia says:

    I plan on starting my walk next year. Maybe around August or early September. I am giving myself time to save the money, and collect items I’ll be needing. I’ll be on a (shoe-string) budget. And, plan on getting some what fit before the walk. So, please, keep the post coming with up dated information on the Camino!

  27. Marg Quan says:

    Like Audrey-West, I’m planning on doing the complete walk next fall (preferably Sept not so hot) and would love to see this post going. There maybe a group of going but I’m not sure whose will be doing the complete walk. I’ll budget on staying in the hotels rather then the hostels.

  28. Ted Stek says:

    I just finished from SJPDP, starting on May 23 and finished on June 28, and had fairly good weather. We did have four days or rain and three days in the mid nineties. I went with my 23 year old daughter and had a great experience. I am now having the Camino Come Back Blues, so, I am actually planning to trek it again this September. I am not sure if I will do the same route again? I understand that September may be similar to May and June, so I will definitely bring my rain gear and be prepared for some hot days. On the Camino you never know. Maybe I will see you there?

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