Summer is a wonderful and oft-overlooked time to experience the Camino de Santiago. As many people know, spring and autumn attract most pilgrims, but we’re here today in praise of summer and all the magical moments that await you on a sunny walk. Here are some great reasons to do a summer Camino.
Summer Equals Social
The summer is a great time to experience the social side of the Camino. There’s a wonderful atmosphere along the various Camino routes, with pilgrims visiting from all corners of the world. The restaurants are packed with locals and tourists alike and the bars are buzzing.
The atmosphere in the summer really is incomparable. People naturally feel happier in the sun and if you are walking the Camino in summer, you’re likely to see a lot of locals out and about, as well as students and families on their summer holidays. So if you’re looking for a fun atmosphere and a chance to meet lots of different people, this is a great time of year to walk the Camino.
Summer is the Time of Festivals
There’s something so magical about a summer festival. There’s a great atmosphere and summer is also the time when all the music festivals take place in cities, so there’s a great chance of spotting some buskers and other spontaneous musical performances.
Along the Camino, there’s a variety of fun and special festivals taking place in summer. The most important is of course, St. James Day on July 25th. This is a huge celebration in the city of Santiago and is a particularly wonderful time of the year to visit the Galician city.
Other festivals of note in the summer include Arde Lucas in Lugo, a colourful and historic festival that transports attendees back to the 3rd century and the famous San Fermin festival in Pamplona. Check out our 2023 festival calendar for more information about all the best Camino festivals.
Summer Weather on The Camino
While the weather in southern Spain can reach very hot temperatures, it is much cooler and more pleasant in the north of Spain along the Camino routes. Of course, the more north you go and the closer you are to the coast, the cooler the weather will be. You can see this in the weather chart below.
The Camino de Santiago is in northern Spain so the temperatures are much lower than the 40 degrees in the south near Seville for example. Camino cities like Bilbao stick closer to 25 in the middle of the summer. This is much more manageable for a walking or cycling holiday and there is even still a slight chance of rain during these months.
Even Santiago de Compostela sees highs of 26 degrees in mid-July and there’s still the threat of rain too. Galicia and the Basque country are much more suitable for walking in the summer. Though it’s quite southern, Porto’s coastline reduces the temperature, with mid-July temperatures remaining in the 20s.
Packing For Your Summer Camino
A benefit of walking the Camino during the summer is that your packing becomes a little bit easier. While rain and some chilly weather is possible, it’s much more unlikely. You’ll be able to pack lighter with T-shirts and shorts and fewer layers too.
Even more essential in summer is remembering to pack suncream and sunglasses to protect your eyes and body from the sun’s rays. See our packing list for tips on the best items to bring on your Camino. We also have an article with the best packing tips for summer that is sure to help you. While not as tricky to pack for as clothes and walking accessories, don’t forget to think about what snacks to pack for your Camino!
Best Routes for Summer
While you can walk all of the Camino routes in summer, you’re more likely to have the best experience on the coastal routes as the sea breeze will give you a welcome burst of freshness as you walk the trail, especially if you live in a cooler climate. For us, the summer is all about the coastal routes, they are perfect for the sea breeze and the ocean views look even more magnificent in the sun!
Delight Your Senses Along The Camino del Norte
San Sebastian to Bilbao is a perfect choice for a summer Camino. This section of the route takes pilgrims along the green hills of the Basque coastline and passes the historic town of Gernika (you might recognise the name from Picasso’s masterpiece) before reaching Bilbao, home to the renowned Guggenheim Museum.
Another coastal treat for the summer is Bilbao to Santander. Beginning your walk in the Baque city of Bilbao, leave this arty haven behind you as you walk this challenging route. Think seaside views and a gorgeous contrast between modernity and tradition that you won’t find anywhere else in Spain. The Camino del Norte is a really special route and it looks even more spectacular in the sun.
Explore The Wonders of Portugal on The Camino Portugues
Perfect for a summer break on the Camino, the coastal Camino Portugues route has everything you would want from a summer walking holiday. On the Portugese Way, you will experience unspoiled traditional villages, delicious seafood and wine, beautiful coastal views and a popular social route to Santiago.
There’s a reason the Camino Portugues is one of the most popular routes. Highlights include the full Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago and also the last 100km from Vigo to Santiago. If you’re tight on time, you can also choose to walk shorter sections of the Camino Portugues, with a short 3-day break from Porto to Viana do Castelo proving popular with time-restricted pilgrims.
Try Something New Along The Magnificent Rota Vicentina
For breathtaking cliff views and a sea breeze like no other, look no further than the Rota Vicentina in Southern Portugal. Also known as the Fishermen’s Trail, this route is a great alternative to the traditional Camino de Santiago routes.
The Rota Vicentina hugs the western coastline of the region and the trail finishes at the Southwesternmost point of Europe at Cabo St. Vincent and Sagres. This is a spectacular trail that meanders along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Read about this exciting route on our blog.
Take a Step Back in Time on The Camino Finisterre
The Camino Finisterre is the only route starting in Santiago and it takes you all the way to Cape Fisterra, which was once believed to be the very end of the world. It was here on the Costa da Morte where pagans believed the sun died and the worlds of the dead and the living became closer.
The cooling Atlantic breeze and the shorter walk make the Camino Finisterre the perfect option for a summer Camino. If you are keen to try out this route but would rather end your trip in Santiago, you can actually also walk the Camino Finisterre in reverse!
If you’ve any questions about booking a trip, our routes, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us.