What to Expect in Every Season

Photo by percds/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by percds/iStock / Getty Images

The season you choose comes with its own special flavor.

May 17, 2015 crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain with freezing rain.

May 17, 2015 crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain with freezing rain.

Everyone has favorite seasons, types of weather, and temperatures. You either enjoy lots of people or fewer people. Travel costs, crowds, and availability of accommodations vary with the seasons. Here is what you need to know about each season on the Camino to help you decide what will suit you best. 

The weather across northern Spain is VERY diverse. In recent years on the Camino Francés we have encountered everything from sleet and temperatures in the 20’s crossing the Pyrenees in mid May, to scorching heat in the 90’s in summer between Burgos and León on the Meseta, to rain so heavy peregrinos (pilgrims) needed to stop every hour to take off their boots and empty out the water. To find out the range of temperatures and rainfall throughout the year use your Internet browser to search, “annual weather in Burgos, Spain” (or whatever city you want to research along the route you are considering) and several helpful weather websites will pop up with lots of information. 

As you might expect, weather is one of the main factors affecting the Camino experience. Therefore it is also one of the determining factors for the number of peregrinos walking at any given time. If you want a more peaceful walk in spring, with fewer peregrinos on the Camino and fewer tourists in the cities, March, April and early May might suit you best. Airfares and other travel should be cheaper in this “shoulder season” (not “peak season” and not “off season”), and seasonally driven accommodations and cafés generally open the week after Easter to begin receiving guests. Daytime temperatures are nice for walking, nights can be cool, and you will undoubtedly encounter a number of rainy days. Spring flowers, crops and trees are bursting everywhere. Autumn provides a similar peace and absence of crowds. Albergues and hostels are generally open through October. Airfares drop in price after the demands of peak summer travel, and it’s harvest time on the farms and vineyards along the Camino. September and much of October have less rain than the spring. In general, pilgrims walking in spring and autumn are people who are not restricted by a school or university calendar. 

If you like hot weather, lots of people, and excitement, then summer will suit you best. The temperatures will be the warmest of the year in July and August, and the demographics of the Camino shift to include an increase of high school and college students on their summer breaks. Accommodations may be completo (no vacancy) and even food and water supplies can be strained to accommodate the swell in numbers. May and June are also becoming busier because of the increased numbers during the rest of the summer. Travel costs are higher in the summer because of the higher demand for flights, train, and bus services. If you are limited to travel during the summer, but are hoping for fewer people, consider walking one of the less travelled routes. The Camino Francés is always the busiest route, but also the route with the most accommodations and other pilgrim infrastructure. The Camino Norte and Camino Portugués are becoming new favorites with summertime pilgrims who hope for more quiet. 

If you like cold weather and solitude you might prefer a winter trip. Travel costs will be the cheapest of the year, but you will need more gear, and many albergues and other pilgrim-driven services are closed. Plan for less daylight, which means fewer hours of sunlit walking.