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The best time to walk the Camino de Santiago

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.

Early morning weather on the Camino de Santiago in late September
Late September on one of the Camino de Santiago routes

When is the best weather to do the Camino de Santiago?

It’s one of the most FAQs on the Camino de Santiago we get. 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.

Alya in the field of poppies on the Camino in May
Alya in the field of poppies on the Portuguese Camino in May, a good month to do the Camino

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.

Muxia on a rainy day in November not a good month for walking the Camino
Cold overcast and rainy weather on the Camino Finisterre in November

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.

Pilgrims lined their backpack waiting for an albergue to open
A backpack line in front of the public albergue on the Camino Frances at the beginning of September

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. 

Nice sunny weather on the Camino del Norte in October
Beautiful weather on the Camino del Norte at the beginning of October, a good time to walk the Camino without tourist crowds

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. 

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Tim Allen

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

Hello, and thanks for the helpful hints. We are walking from St.Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre starting May 9th. We have purchased a thicker version of a sleeping bag liner, but would like your thoughts on whether or not we should also carry a sleeping bag? Thanks,

Tim Allen

Friday 11th of March 2022

@Stingy Nomads, Thanks for the info.

Stingy Nomads

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

Hello, Tim. You don't need both if your liner is warm enough you don't have to carry a sleeping bag as well. Having either of them will be fine. Many albergues especially private have blankets. It won't be very cold in May. I walked the Camino Frances in September and was fine sleeping in a thin summer sleeping bag. Buen Camino

Susan Doyle

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

Thanks for all the great information. My daughter and I are planning to walk from Tui to Santiago from 20th April this year. I’m looking at waterproof trousers and either a short anorak or a longer rain jacket. Would you recommend a packet down quilt jacket underneath either of these options?

Stingy Nomads

Friday 4th of March 2022

Hello, Susan. Thank you for the comment. For Portuguese Camino in mid-April, I'd suggest packing a rain jacket and a long-sleeve fleece top or a packet down jacket and a rain poncho. A down jacket and a rain jacket it's too much it won't be that cold. We usually wear a combination like this hiking high in the mountains when it snows. You'll be sweating in both jackets after 1 hour of walking with a backpack. Buen Camino

Harriet

Sunday 6th of February 2022

Totally agree with Theadora this is the best Camino source of info. Was wondering about taking a warm weather jacket as I'm leaving st jean pied de port on April 24th. Do I need a warm jacket or am I ok with layers and wind/waterproofs. Just wondering about that 1st high stretch to Roncevalles. Would love your opinion. Thanks

Stingy Nomads

Sunday 6th of February 2022

Hello, Harriet. Thank you very much for your comment. I walked the Camino Frances in September which is a bit warmer than April-May and I had a thin down foldable jacket that I wore quite often in the mornings and evenings. If you have a small light jacket I'd suggest taking it with you. Otherwise, a fleece top and a thin rain jacket will be for mornings and evenings too. Buen Camino

Theadora

Sunday 30th of January 2022

Hello! Absolutely love all the helpful advice on your website! I'm really hoping to do the Camino this year but only have time in April and late July. Leaning towards the Camino Frances but I'm not sure. It would be nice to have some other people on the route so it's not too lonely. Which do you think would be best time/ route? Would really appreciate any tips :)

Harriet

Sunday 6th of February 2022

@Theadora, Hi Theadora I'm doing a week of the camino starting in St Jean pied de port on April 23rd...maybe see you there 👍 Good luck on your walk

Stingy Nomads

Sunday 30th of January 2022

Hello, Theadora. The Camino Frances is the most popular route there will be some pilgrims even in April. Weather-wise it might be a bit chilly at night and in the morning but overall April is a good time to walk this Camino. The end of July is the peak season for the Camino Frances there are usually many pilgrims. It gets quite hot in some parts of the Camino e.g. the Meseta. I'm not sure how busy it'll be this year it depends on travel restrictions and the situation in general. The Portuguese Camino from Porto might be a good option for July. It's the second most popular route but it's not as busy as the French Camino. It's a bit cooler in that part of Portugal and Spain. If you don't mind many ascents and descents on the route you can walk the Camino Primitivo. July is the best time for walking it there will be other pilgrims on the route that time of the year. Buen Camino

Tonje

Thursday 13th of January 2022

Hii! I'm planning to do a Camino route this April, starting around 8th or 9th, so I'll be walking through Easter. I wondered your thoughts on which route too choose, it's either The Northern or The French, but I can't decide. Also, if you have any input on whether it's a good idea at all since it's Easter? Will the albergues be open at all? Any other advise or help is also much appreciated:) I've done a lot of short hikes before, but nothing of this magnitude and I will be walking alone

jenny

Monday 24th of January 2022

@Tonje, We walked the Camino Frances in April/May and were there for Easter/Holy Week. It was wonderful! The albergues were open but PACKED. Lots of Spaniards walk during the holiday. Aside from that complication, it was a great time to be there. If you will be getting your food from markets, be sure to shop during the day. We were stuck eating from a vending machine on Easter because everything was closed. A plus of being there for holy week are the processionals - parades through town celebrating different parts of the story of the resurrection.

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 13th of January 2022

Hello, Tonje. Many albergues open after Easter but there will be some open earlier especially on the French Camino. For the scenery, we personally prefer the Northern Way it's a coastal route. The Camino Frances has more albergues both public and private, and overall accommodation is cheaper there. Many public albergues on the Northern Camino were closed last year because of the Covid. There is no information yet if and when they're going to reopen maybe this year maybe not. I guess it depends on the situation. I'd recommend booking private albergues in advance at least for the first week (and for the Easter holiday) to make sure every night you have a place to sleep and see how it goes after that. You can find downloadable PDF files with albergues and hotels for both the French Camino and the Northern Way in these posts https://stingynomads.com/camino-del-norte-stages/ and https://stingynomads.com/camino-frances-walking-itinerary/. The Northern Camino is a bit more challenging than the French route longer with more ascents and descents and longer distances between albergues. Weather is another reason to choose the French Camino. In April it still might be rainy and chilly on the Northern Coast of Spain. If it's your first long walk, you're going alone, and it's in April if I were you I'd choose the Camino Frances. There will be more pilgrims on the route even in April. On the Northern Way out of season, you might feel a bit lonely. If you really want to do the Northern Way you can always check in advance for accommodation options and decide based on this. Even if you start walking the Northern route you can always take a bus or train to one of the towns/cities on the French Camino and continue your pilgrimage. It's not something that many people do but it's an option. I hope it helps! Buen Camino

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