Many people preparing for the Camino want to know when is the best time to do it. In general spring-summer months, April to September, are the best time to walk the Camino de Santiago. To narrow the period down you have to decide on the Camino route you want to walk. Routes through Southern and Central Spain are better to walk in spring before it gets too hot. Coastal or mountainous routes in Northern Spain are nice to walk during the summer months.
There are several aspects to find the best time for you to walk the Camino. First of them is the weather; you don’t want it to be too hot, too rainy or too cold. Second, crowdedness, it’s important to consider if you’re going to walk one of the popular Camino routes. You don’t want to worry every day about not being able to find a place to sleep. Third, prices, it’s closely related to seasonality. Some coastal Camino routes e.g. the Camino del Norte go past very popular summer holiday places as a result accommodation prices increase significantly during the peak summer season. Let’s look at these three aspects in detail.
When is the best weather to do the Camino de Santiago?
We’ve walked seven Camino routes during different months; April, May, June, September, October, and November. As you can see we have never walked the Camino during the peak summer months of July and August because it gets too busy and too hot. Spring is our favorite time to walk the Camino especially southern routes; it’s warm and sunny but not too hot, there are not too many people, and fields are covered in flowers.
As I already mentioned best months for walking vary depending on the Camino route. Let’s focus on the 7 main Camino de Santiago routes and the best months for walking each of them.
Camino Frances goes through Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla y Leon, and Galicia. It is by far the most popular route especially the last 100 km from Sarria to Santiago. The best weather months to do it are May, June, and September. It’s warm but not too hot, there is not much rain. I walked the French Camino in September. For most of the month, I had really nice and comfortable weather with a couple of rainy days (in Galicia) and a couple of hot days (walking through the Meseta).
Camino Portuguese starts in Portugal and finishes in Galicia, Spain. It’s the second most popular Camino (starting from Porto or Tui, very few pilgrims start in Lisbon). Pretty much the same months as for the previous route; May, June, and September. July and August will be fine too in Northern Portugal and Galicia it doesn’t get extremely hot even during the peak summer months but you still can get a couple of scorching days. If you’re planning to walk the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon then April and May are your best months in that part of the country it gets very hot in July and August. We walked this route in May starting from Lisbon and had lovely weather all the way with maybe one or two rainy days.
Camino del Norte passes through the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. It is the third most popular route. It follows the beautiful Northern coast of Spain, therefore, summer months June to September is the best time for walking it. It doesn’t get as hot here as inland on the Camino Frances. We walked the Northern Camino in October. For the first two or three weeks, we had really nice and warm weather. By the end of the month when we reached Galicia it got cold and rainy, we even got some snow.
Camino Primitivo route goes through Asturias and Galicia. It’s a mountainous route through the area that sees a lot of rain in spring/fall and quite a bit of snow in winter. June to August are the best months for walking here. The warmest months with the least rainfalls. We completed the Camino Primitivo at beginning of June but were quite unlucky with the weather we got a lot of rain in the mountains. It wasn’t cold just rainy and overcast.
Via de la Plata is the longest out of the discussed 7 Camino routes. It starts in Andalusia and crosses Extremadura, Castilla y Leon, and finishes in Galicia. In Andalusia and Extremadura, it gets extremely hot in summer, July to September day temperatures are over 40C°. It’s a very dry area with few towns and villages. This route is not recommended to walk in summer. April, May, and October are the best months to do it. We started walking the Via de la Plata in mid-April. It was nice, warm, sometimes a bit overcast but overall very comfortable weather for walking.
Camino Ingles, the shortest Camino route that finishes in Santiago de Compostela. It goes through Galicia where it never gets really hot but it rains a lot. Summer months, June to September, are the best time for walking this Camino. We walked it in June and had lovely weather; warm and sunny days with no rain.
Camino Finisterre is the only route that starts in Santiago de Compostela. It’s a short route in Galicia that leads to the coast. Just like with the English Camino June to September are the best months for walking it. We did it in November after completing the Camino del Norte and had terrible weather; strong wind and heavy rains for the entire week.
Find out more about average weather conditions in different regions of Spain.
If you planning your pilgrimage we have some tips regarding training for the Camino de Santiago that you might find helpful.
When is the busiest time on the Camino?
According to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela in 2019 (data for 2020 and 2021 can’t be considered as average), 347 578 pilgrims arrived in Santiago.
Some Camino routes get extremely busy during the peak season, some don’t see many pilgrims overall. The summer months of June, July, and August are in general the busiest time in the Camino de Santiago. In 2019 47% of pilgrims arrived in Santiago in these three months (June – 14%, July – 15%, August – 18%).
The Camino Frances (54,6% of pilgrims completed this route in 2019) gets overcrowded between June and the beginning of September especially the last part of the route from Sarria (27,6% of pilgrims). There are many organized Spanish groups that do that part. The main problem with too many pilgrims is finding budget accommodation. Some parts of the Camino have limited options e.g. the Meseta. If you arrive too late or don’t book a bed in advance you might be forced to continue walking till the next town or take a taxi and drive to the nearest available hotel. Luckily the part from Sarria has plenty of albergues despite many people it’s usually not a problem to find a bed.
The Portuguese Camino from Porto (27% of pilgrims) is another route that gets busy during the months of July, August, and the first half of September. It’s not as bad as on the Camino Frances there are different route options; the Coastal Route, the Central Route, and the Spiritual Way. Pilgrims are distributed between these routes.
The Northern Camino (5,5% pilgrims) is another route that depends a lot on seasonality not only because of pilgrims. The Camino goes through very popular beach holiday places in Northern Spain that see thousands of tourists during the summer months. Due to the high demand prices on accommodation increase significantly from July to mid-September. Some cities and towns don’t have many public albergues sometimes you have to stay in hostels and hotels.
As for the other Camino routes, they get busier during the summer months but never overcrowded. If you want to walk the Camino in July or August and don’t like crowds choose one of the lesser-known routes e.g. Camino Primitivo, Camino Ingles.
If you’re seeking solitude on the Camino you can either walk any route off-season or choose one of the off-the-beaten-track Caminos e.g. Via de la Plata, Camino de Madrid, Camino Sanabres, etc. It’s important to remember the fewer pilgrims are on the route the less infrastructure it has. Such routes are not the best options to walk as your first Camino de Santiago. They’re for more experienced pilgrims or long-distance walkers.