Littered with quaint villages, historical sites and some seriously beautiful scenery, it's no wonder the Camino de Santiago is one of the greatest walks in Europe—not to mention the incredible Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which marks the end of the pilgrimage. From meeting like-minded travellers to eating delicious local food to the sense of accomplishment after completing one of Europe's oldest pilgrimages, the Camino is an unforgettable adventure. But when exactly is the best time of year to do it?
When is the best time of year to walk the Camino de Santiago?
The best time to walk the Camino really depends on the type of experience you'd like to have. The most popular Camino de Santiago walking routes start in southern France, Portugal and Spain, but you only need to walk the last 100 kilometres to Santiago (from anywhere in Galicia) to get your Compostela (official certificate of completion). Galicia experiences a mild oceanic climate with warm summers and cool winters, so it's possible to walk it all year round in terms of weather. If you're doing one of the longer walks through Spain or France, you might prefer to avoid doing it in July and August if you don't like the heat as this is when temperatures are at their highest.
The summer is also the busiest time of year along the Camino and it can be difficult trying to secure accommodation unless you book well in advance. Summer might not be ideal if you're looking for a more peaceful experience. The shoulder months in early autumn and late spring offer the best of both worlds as the weather is pleasant and the crowds are small enough. Winter is the coldest and quietest time on the Camino trails, but it can be one of the most serene if you're prepared and have the right gear for cooler weather.
The summer (June through September) boasts fantastic weather with reliably clear skies, warm temperatures and very little rain. Galicia remains fairly mild in the summer with average highs of 23°C which are ideal for walking. There might be the occasional mini-heatwave where temperatures top the low 30s, but generally, you don't have to worry about swelteringly hot temperatures. As we mentioned before, summer is when pilgrims flock to the Camino in their thousands and most routes are highly trafficked, particularly as you approach the last 100 kilometres to Santiago, so bear this in mind if you prefer smaller crowds. Overall, summer is a great time to walk the Camino, but it might not be the best option if you’re looking for a quieter and more peaceful experience, or if you're doing a last-minute trip (accommodation books out months in advance during the peak season).
Autumn temperatures average a pleasant 17-19°C in Galicia, but it's often a few degrees warmer at the beginning of the season. Rainfall is low until mid-October when daily showers become more common. As well as pleasant weather, you'll also be able to book accommodation more easily in autumn and avoid long queues at the most popular sites and checkpoints along the pilgrim route.
Winter in the Mediterranean isn't so bad. The coldest months in Galicia are January and February with average daytime highs of 11-12°C, though it can feel much cooler with the wind. Galicia experiences a fair amount of rainfall throughout the year, but November is the wettest month so you might want to avoid doing your trip then if you're not a fan of walking in the rain. Despite the cooler, wetter weather, walking the Camino in winter offers a much quieter experience which you might enjoy if you're looking to get away from it all. You won’t get the same buzz of watching the world go by as you eat dinner on a balmy summer evening, but it's a beautiful time to hike along the Portuguese Coast into Spain, or through the rolling Galician countryside from Sarria. For winter walks, you’ll need to pack warm, windproof and waterproof layers to ensure you stay dry and comfortable.
If you'd rather not hike in the beaming summer sun, spring in Galicia is ideal with daily highs averaging a manageable 14-16°C. There's still a decent amount of rain, but it starts to reduce as summer approaches. The walking routes are also much quieter and it’s easier to book accommodation ahead of the peak season. If your trip coincides with Easter – one of the most revered holy festivals in Galicia – then you might get to experience some of the festivities around the region like the Easter of Viveiro in the province of Lugo or the holy music concerts in Santiago de Compostela.
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