Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend winter on the Camino? While most pilgrims prefer to walk the Camino de Santiago in the warmer months from spring to autumn, the number of pilgrims hoping for a winter walk is increasing every year.
With this in mind, we’ve gathered together some useful tips for those hoping to spend the festive season walking. As always, you can contact us with any specific questions you might have.
Tip 1: There Are Less Pilgrims Spending Winter on The Camino
One thing you should be aware of if you’re planning to spend winter on the Camino is that there will be significantly less pilgrims on the various routes. If the social aspect of the Camino is something that you want, you may find yourself feeling a little bit disappointed.
However, on the flip side, you can almost be guaranteed a quiet and peaceful journey, ideal for some contemplation about life. So, if you are looking for a social experience, this might not be the right time for you to travel.
But if you’re the kind of pilgrim looking for the solitude that a quiet Camino can bring, we would highly recommend spending winter on the Camino.
Tip 2: The Best Route to Walk in Winter
As it’s the off-season, many hotels and guesthouses on the Camino will be closed for the winter months. This is especially true in the smaller towns and villages and on less popular routes.
The most popular routes and bigger towns will be more likely to have accommodation and restaurants open at this time of the year. For example, if you are walking the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago, the most popular section, we will be able to accommodate walkers.
However, if you are interested in walking any other section or route of the Camino de Santiago, please check with us well in advance as the team will need to contact all the hotels individually to check if they will be open during the festive season.
Don’t worry though as the majority of the routes finishing in Santiago de Compostela should be available over the festive season, but do let us know your plans in enough time.
Tip 3: Book as Far in Advance as You Can
If you really want to spend Christmas or any part of winter on the Camino, we really recommend booking your trip as far in advance as possible.
With enough notice, we’ll be able to liaise with hotels and figure out if there is availability for your chosen dates. If you are more of a last-minute or spontaneous booker, we will do our best to accommodate you where we can, but be aware that we may not be able to guarantee everything you are looking for.
Tip 4: The Weather Will be Unpredictable
During the winter months, the weather, like in many parts of the world, can be unpredictable. During this time of the year, we would advise against walking mountainous areas like the Pyrenees and O Cebreiro as there is a risk of snow.
However, in other areas like from Sarria to Santiago, the weather is generally mild (although it can be rainy) and perfectly fine for walking.
For more information about spending winter on the Camino de Santiago or to book your holiday for next year, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Tip 5: Take The Right Winter Gear
Pack high-quality gear to ensure you are comfortable no matter what the weather may be. It’s best to wear layers of clothing, which can be removed depending on the conditions.
Bring a decent waterproof jacket (and trousers) in case it rains and make sure you break in your walking shoes before you go.
Tip 6: Start Early
You will have shorter walking days during the winter, so make sure you start as early as possible, ideally as soon as the sun rises.
Try to make the most of the daylight, however, in Galicia you should still have about 10 hours of daylight in November.
Tip 7: Taste Santiago
If you are travelling in December and early January, make sure to join in the festive atmosphere and stay a couple of extra nights in Santiago. It’s the perfect time of year to explore this fantastic city, enjoy its cozy cafes and comforting cuisine.
If you can, stay in the magnificent 5* Parador dos Reis Catolicos, which was built over 500 years ago as a pilgrim hospital. No matter what you do, make sure it includes a hot chocolate with churros – the perfect treat after your trek.
Camino Winter Walking Tips
- Be sure to wrap up in the cold.
- Make sure to bring a pair of gloves and a warm hat if you are planning a walking holiday during the winter months.
- Waterproof walking shoes and shoes with gripping soles are always a good idea for any time of the year but especially in the winter months when you might expect to experience some rain.
- Always check the weather forecast in advance of your trip.
- If ice is forecast it would be a good idea to bring extra layers of clothing and a face mask. Walk with your hands out of your pockets. If you slip on an icy patch your hands will be your protection.
Why We Love Winter Walks
Crisp, fresh air mixed with peaceful walking trails and charming Spanish towns. This sums up the winter Camino experience. Depending on the time of year some of the facilities and services may be closed so it is always best to check with our Camino travel experts in advance of your trip.
For more winter Camino tips, advice on the different Camino de Santiago routes and to book your Camino trip, contact our travel specialists