The Camino season is back in full swing and our staff and friends in Spain are talking about how cold and late the winter has been this year. We are seeing pictures of snow, and not just in the mountains as you would expect. For some of us this spells mystery and adventure!
What is the weather like on the Camino?
Understanding what the weather is like on the Camino will help you plan and prepare for your walk and contribute to the enjoyment of your pilgrimage. Start by working out which section of the Camino you want to walk, at what time of year and for how long. Also consider what type of weather you enjoy walking in. RAW Travel staff are divided on this one; many of us enjoy walking in cooler weather, while some prefer hotter days.
Walking the Camino this week!
We have been sending hundreds of pilgrims on the Camino for many years, so we can plan a trip for you based on our extensive experience as well as our own personal journeys along the Camino routes throughout the year.
Generally the Camino ‘season’ is considered to be between March and October. Many people walk outside of these more popular times and have a magical experience. Spring through to autumn is when properties and cafes are open and when there will be others walking on the trail, and generally when the Camino offers great walking weather, with the exception of July and August on some sections.
- Spring – March, April and May
- Summer – June, July and August
- Autumn – September, October and November
- Winter – December, January and February
You can check out the weather here, Just type in the city you are starting your walk in and click on month view, which will give you a good overview of your walk each day, for places including the Pyrenees, Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon and O’Cebreiro.
What about that heat?
In Northern Spain the heat of summer is in July and August. It can be very hot and busy as this is when the Europeans also take their holidays and by far make up the greatest number of people walking on the Camino. It is not a coincidence that ‘siesta’ is a Spanish institution taken to avoid the heat of the day. A bit like Melbourne weather, the heat can be a little challenging to predict but Spain does have heat waves where the temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in summer for days at a time before returning to more hospitable walking weather.
If you would like to travel during summer, we can plan an itinerary where it is cooler, there is more shade and we can break up the walking distances so the days are not as long. I did, for example, walk in Galicia in August 2014 and experienced glorious weather around the mid-20s. The weather on this section is milder as it is lower in altitude and closer to the coast, and there can be showers at any time of the year.
Tori, one of our Camino Destination Experts, walked the Camino in summer…
Extras to include in your kit
- Sun hat
- Breathable lightweight hiking socks
- Quick dry fabric walking clothes
- Additional water bottles and rehydration salts
Walking in spring and autumn
If you are planning to walk the Full Camino in spring or autumn as we suggest, you should prepare for all types of weather as you are likely to also be walking across seasons, eg from spring to summer or from summer-type weather to autumn. The Full Camino also encompasses mountainous areas that often have their own micro climate and can be exposed to fog, rain, and even snow. It is not uncommon for example for there still to be snow underfoot in the Pyrenees in May. However, in general, these shoulder times of year offer milder weather, good daylight walking hours and more moderate numbers on the Camino.
Generally, we suggest that April, May, June, September and October are ideal times to be walking on the Camino but we always put this in perspective based on what you would like to do. We have had many staff and clients walk the Camino in successive years and experience very different conditions at the same time of year. April or October for example might have very sunny weather or very wet weather. Mornings and evenings can also be cool.
What about right now?
March can be an ideal time to walk on the Camino but if you are planning to visit areas that are above 800m and not on the coast, you can experience very cold conditions. Below are some pictures of towns on the Camino this week. This does not mean that you should not go in March. To the contrary, many of our travellers really enjoy the atmosphere that a dust of snow creates. However, you do need to be aware that it could be cold and slippery with reduced visibility – prepare accordingly.
How do I prepare for cold/wet weather?
If you are planning a trip in March or April and are travelling in mountainous regions you will need to consider the likelihood of cold weather. Extras to pack in your kit include:
- Head torch
- Layers – gloves, beanie, buff, warm socks and waterproof hiking boots
- Extra socks (in a ziplock bag in your daypack)
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof daypack cover
- Hiking poles (the terrain can become more technical to navigate with ice/slippery conditions).
Snow can typically occur at any point above 800m on the Camino and this not only includes the Pyrenees and Cantabrian mountain range (O Cebreiro) but also places along the Meseta, which is an elevated plateau and typically associated with warmer weather.
Mel, one of our Camino Destination Experts, walked the Camino in May. Here she talks about the gear you’ll need in cooler conditions…
If you are starting your adventure in St Jean Pied de Port, please be aware that the Napoleon route between St Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles is closed between 1 November and 31 March. Regardless of when you are starting your walk, it is important that you visit the tourist office the day before you are due to depart so that you know if it’s safe to walk and what conditions you will be walking in so that you are prepared.
Burgos Cathedral (copyright @diegoms_22)
You can experience snow on the Camino…
…and glorious sunshine!