Poppies blooming along St James Way
Camino de Santiago Basics

Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago: All Four Seasons Explained

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So you’ve heard of this trek of a lifetime called the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Gaining popularity in the last few years, it’s certainly a “must do” for those that hear its majestic call to unplug and walk. But, what’s the best time to walk the Camino de Santiago when it comes to weather, events, and more?

In this article, we’re going to give you an overview of the best time to walk the Camino as well as let you know which months to avoid! So if you’re planning a trip and wondering what’s the best time to go on the Camino de Santiago, then read on to learn more.

Quick Answer: When’s the Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago?

In general, the best time to go on the Camino is in the late spring or early fall. This is the perfect time when it comes to Camino weather — the temperature is not too hot and not too cold. Plus, it’s just outside when the hordes of pilgrims arrive during summer break, which is the busiest period. Specifically, May, June, September, and October are the best months to walk the Camino. 

The peak season on the Camino is July and August. You can expect hostels to be near-full and more noisy group tours, especially as you get closer to Santiago.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds completely, consider a winter Camino! However, not all albergues are open, and winter can be quite frigid! Brrr! It’s best to avoid visiting during this time if possible. But, it’s doable if you come from a cold-weather climate and are used to bundling up and being outside. Of course, take appropriate cold-weather safety precautions. You can also consult a tour company that can work to secure albergue space and suggest alternate routes if trails close due to snow.

Scroll below to learn more about Camino’s seasons and get a breakdown of what you expect when going on the Camino de Santiago!

Is the Camino open year-round?

Pedrafita do Cebreiro in winter
Pedrafita do Cebreiro in winter (Photo Credit: percds)

Technically, yes, the Camino trails themselves are open year-round. However, fewer albergues (hostels) are during the winter months. Typically, albergues open for the tourist season starting as early as mid-March and closing up as foot traffic dies down at the end of October. They remain closed for the winter months. The great news is that there are many Camino routes, so you could choose a route that better fits the time of year you’d like to go. For example, the Camino Portugues which starts further south is a popular choice in the cooler months.

When is the Camino busiest?

Yellow Arrow along Camino trail
Yellow Arrow along the Camino trail (Photo Credit: Fernando Pereira)

The busiest time on the Camino is during the summer months, specifically from July to August. This is when pilgrims from all over head to the Camino to walk in the sunshine. Plus, many people have off from work and school, with some European countries like France practically shutting down in August!

If you love the heat and don’t mind being around crowds, the high season is a fun time to go to Camino. You’ll have an opportunity to meet pilgrims from all over the world, and the spirit of the Camino is certainly alive as everything from tourist shops to laundromats will be open and buzzing. The weather can get quite sweltering during this period, but it also means there’s less clothing to pack — no jacket required!

With lots of people hiking the Camino in the summer, it’s a good idea to book your accommodations in advance as you get closer to Santiago (Consider booking 1-2 days in advance starting in Sarria). Further out from Santiago and on quieter routes, you don’t need to worry quite as much about finding a place to stay each night.

Also, Holy Week, Easter, St. James’ Day, and other Catholic holidays tend to be super busy periods on the Camino.

When’s the Camino the least crowded?

During what is typically referred to as shoulder season, which is from March to May and September and October, you’ll find fewer crowds on the Camino de Santiago routes. Your first choice accommodation will be easier to find and the trails will be a little more open, allowing you a chance to experience some quiet moments.

From December to February, you can expect some trails to be near-empty. Reportedly, some pilgrims have even ended up being the only person in their albergue. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you like that — I ended up alone in an albergue peak-summer, and even though the Camino is relatively safe, I was scared come nightfall! Also, the good news for cold-weather lovers is that cool, wet conditions will prevail during this time.

Editor’s Note: Although the Camino de Santiago is relatively safe, stuff happens! Start your journey off right by insuring your trip with a trusted partner like World Nomads. Travel insurance can cover trip interruptions, injury, and other mishaps like theft. Don’t walk the Camino without travel insurance — we certainly don’t! Get a quote.

A Month-by-Month Guide to Hiking the Camino

Still not sure when you want to go to Camino? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect each season so that you can plan your Camino!

Camino de Santiago in Winter (December, January, February)

Pilgrims walking on a winter Camino near Burgos (Photo Credit: Carlos Mateo Garcia)

Average Temperature (depending on route): 37°F (3°C) – 59°F (15°C)

Highlights: Cold weather | Solitary Camino | Most albergues closed

Holidays/Festivals: Christmas | New Year’s Day | El Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) | Opening and closing festivities during Holy Years

Low season begins on the Camino in November; it’s by this time of year many albergues close for the winter season and the weather begins to turn.

If you’re visiting the Camino in December, try to finish up your Camino by Christmas. Firstly, it’s always fun to be in Europe in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the Camino is no different. In the larger towns, you’ll find the main squares all lit up. Astorga has a particularly beautiful display and festive activities. Plus, it’s reported that the week between Christmas and New Years is pretty dead and pilgrims have had some trouble finding accommodation.

But, never fear, those desiring a winter Camino are back on the trails in January and can enjoy wintry conditions through early March (especially on the northern-most routes).

Of course, with winter conditions comes trail and business closures. Stay in constant communication with albergue owners who can advise you on the safest routes to take, open albergues and businesses, and weather conditions. You’ll also need to take precautions to dress appropriately.

As for accommodations, expect to walk further to whichever albergue is open, and bring a cold-weather sleeping bag. Not all albergues have heat, or they heat them just for a few hours before lights out!

Aside from Christmas and New Years, Spain also celebrates Three Kings’ Day on January 6th and exchanges gifts. Additionally, if Easter arrives early, you may find more pilgrims on the trail during Lent.

While a winter Camino isn’t for most, it’s time to visit if you love cold weather, the best flight deals, and desire a more solitary Camino.

Camino de Santiago (March, April, May)

Poppies blooming along the St James Way
Poppies blooming in spring along the St James Way (Photo Credit: Lunamarina)

Temperature (depending on route): 48°F ( 9°C) – 70°F (21°C)

Highlights: Calm before the storm | Mild weather | Spring blooms | Albergues re-opening

Holidays/Festivals: Rayo Milagroso | Holy Week & Easter | Carnival

While the mountain passes along the Camino Frances may not have completely thawed out, you may certainly begin your Camino in March. The Camino in the spring is an awesome time to do the trek, thanks to the mild weather and spring blooms. You won’t want to miss the spring poppies, for example.

The weather on the Camino in spring is cool to mild, making it absolutely lovely weather to walk in without getting too hot or needing to bundle up (although April can be quite rainy). So, bust out your best merino wool long sleeve top, and get going! A lightweight sleeping bag is likely necessary in March and April.

Things really start to pick up again in Camino by May. This month, the weather becomes warmer and there are more dry days. Everything is open yet it’s not quite as crowded as it is during peak season. May is, in our opinion, one of the best times to do the Camino! 

Depending on the year, Holy Week and Easter may fall in March or April (signaling the albergues to open). You may want to book ahead on Easter, and definitely keep your ears open as to whether or not you should book ahead during Holy Week — though this may only be a real problem during a Holy Year when the trail sees an influx of visitors.

Another noteworthy event on the Camino Frances in March is the Rayo Milagroso festival. Ring in the spring with this intriguing phenomenon, where a ray of sunshine hits the church in San Juan de Ortega at just the right angle, at just the right time. Many of the other routes hold unique festivals as well, and if you’re lucky enough to encounter one, you’ll be in for a big treat.

All-in-all, there are fewer crowds, spring blooms, and accommodation will be open making spring a good time if you want to finish your Camino before the heat sets in.

Camino de Santiago (June, July, August)

Villares de Orbigo on the Camino Frances
Villares de Orbigo on the Camino Frances (Photo Credit: Martin Ibenburg)

Temperature (depending on route): 54°F (12°C) – 82°F (28°C)

Highlights: Perfect for Sun-lovers | Start of peak season | Most Crowded 2 Months

Holidays/Festivals: St. James Day

We’re well into the Camino season once June rolls around. The weather in Camino in June tends to be favorable, with clearer skies and warm weather. June sees its fair share of tourists, but it’s the last chance to enjoy the Camino before the heat and crowds set in, if that’s what you’re after.

July and August usher in the height of the Camino season! The Camino during these months is lively and full of activity, as pilgrims fly in from all over the world to take advantage of summer break. Depending on the route, expect the Camino to be hot with lots of sunshine, perfect for sun-lovers.

Since it’ll be hot on the Camino during the summer, wear a large-brimmed sun hat and lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing. Sunscreen and a buff are necessary, too, to keep from getting burned. And don’t forget to stay hydrated (water is readily available along most routes)! 

As St. James Day is July 25, many pilgrims like to arrive in Santiago de Compostela to celebrate on that day. Expect it to be crowded around this time.

Although the summer is hot, it can actually be nice to walk in the heat. Best of all, you can carry less, clothes dry quickly on the clothesline, and no hair dryer is needed. Demand for hostels goes up, so it’s a good idea to book in advance by 1-2 days as you approach Santiago.

Camino de Santiago (September, October, November)

Camino de Santiago in Fall
Camino de Santiago in the fall (Photo Credit: Carlos Mateo Garcia)

Temperature (depending on route): 41°F (5°C) – 63°F (17°C)

Highlights: Temperature drops | Students are back in school | Last month to start before the season ends | Mild weather

Holidays/Festivals: Magosto | All Saints’ Day

After the highs of the summer, the pilgrim crowds start to thin out in late September/early October. Fall is a good time to walk to enjoy decent weather and to enjoy the changing of the seasons. Watching the leaves turn and vineyards turn is certainly a feast for the eyes! Actually, I’ve heard many pilgrims say fall is their favorite time of year to do the Camino!

One downfall to walking in the fall is that the temperature can be quite variable. Rain and possibly even frost (toward the end of fall) are on their way! The change in weather means that you need to take more gear than needed. For example, you’ll carry a jacket you won’t use until the last week or two! Rain could also be a factor.

By early November, most albergues will close as the Camino season is more or less over. Temperatures will also begin to drop considerably. Therefore, if you do want to do a fall Camino, you may consider heading home by the beginning of November.

While you’re in Galicia, check out the Magosto festival, where you can eat all the roasted chestnuts your heart desires. All Saints’ Day is also celebrated, and if you’re in Santiago, be sure to visit the Boisaca Cemetary. It will be decorated with flowers and is a sight you won’t want to miss!

Last Words on Camino Weather

In our opinion, June and September are the best times to go on the Camino. We prefer warm — but not too warm — weather on the Camino so we don’t have to worry about drying our hair or carrying a lot of extra cold-weather gear. It’s also just outside of peak season, but it’s still plenty lively!

It’s important to note that conditions range from trail to trail and year to year. There are years when it’s perfectly mild in the winter or blistering hot in early June, for instance. The terrain will also change as you reach Santiago, which is nestled in Galicia, which tends to be greener, cooler, and wetter. For example, we hit a heat wave 107°F (42°C) on the Camino Frances in early summer, but days later I was wearing everything I owned to stay warm at night as I moved north!

Whatever time of year you prefer to walk the Camino, always do your research. Furthermore, teep an eye on the weather along the Camino before you leave and daily on the trail.

Rest assured, no matter what time of year you go, you’ll have a great time! Buen Camino!

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