Are you planning to walk the Camino and wondering when the best time of year is to walk. Here’s our guide to Summer vs Autumn on the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago offers many wonderful routes. But you can also choose what time of year to complete the Camino, which may have a big impact on your experience. We’ve completed one in the Summer (North Route) and are currently walking the Portuguese route in Autumn.
Five differences between walking in summer and autumn and what this might mean for you:
1/ Walking Hours Summer vs Autumn on the Camino
In Summer, most pilgrims will rise early and be out the door when the sun comes up. In Spain in high summer this is around 0600. This provides an opportunity to beat the heat of the day, hopefully arriving to your Albergue before the height of sun.
In Autumn, sun rises between 0730 and 0830 meaning Pilgrims tend to get a later start to the day and arrive later to an Albergue, or cover a shorter distance. Of course, you could pack a head torch and leave earlier if you wished, but the same pressure to walk quickly to avoid the heat of the day, doesn’t really exist.
2/ Temperature in Summer vs Autumn
It goes without saying that the Summer in Spain is hot. You’ll need a hat and suncream, shorts and t shirts and little else (perhaps a rain poncho.) A sheet is fine for overnight in Albergues. You’ll arrive sweaty at the end of each day but your clothes will dry quickly after a wash. The days are hard but the evenings are warm and delightful. Summer is bliss!
In Autumn, clearly the temperatures are lower and this makes walking during the day much easier. You will still need sunscreen and some days you’ll be in shorts and t shirts. But other days you’ll need long trousers and lots of layers. Lightweight and varying layers are the best. Don’t bank on being able to dry your laundry quickly either, bring a peg to hang on your bag. But the good news is, clothes need to be washed less frequently if it’s not as warm! Mornings and evenings require extra layers and you may need a sleeping bag for over night or to actually use the Albergue woolen blankets.
3/ Accommodation in different seasons on the Camino
In Summer, our experience was that the Albergues were often full or very busy. We frequently had to call ahead or make bookings online to secure our space and did have experience of being turned away from the hostels as they were full. We heard of many people not finding space and camping or sleeping in the porch of an Albergue. Private rooms, even in the most basic of Pensions, were difficult to come by at a good price as they were often filled with holiday makers.
Comparatively, in October, Albergues are less busy. Although we have experienced some being full. There seems less pressure to book in advance. We’ve also noted that private rooms in Pensions are cheap and easy to find as less holiday makers are staying in them. Overall, a much more relaxed experience!
4/ Pilgrims you’ll meet on the Camino
In Summer, especially on the longer routes you tend to meet fellow Pilgrims who are young and taking gap years before or after University or walking the Camino during a University holiday. We also met lots of teachers who don’t work during the summer.
In Autumn, our experience is that the Pilgrim crowd are a little older. We’ve met many who are retired from work and therefore can choose to travel for long periods whenever they like! (The dream!) There are some intrepid gap year students too.
5/ Evenings in Summer vs Autumn on the Camino
In the Summer, evenings after a walk can be enjoyed on the beach, picnicking or lounging in an albergue garden. Maybe hanging out on cafe terraces until late. We would always pick Albergues with big gardens with hammocks!
In the Autumn, you’ll probably not be able to hang out outside lots in the evening as its colder and darker. You will most likely have dinner earlier and then head to bed. Look for Albergues with good communal indoor space that you can enjoy no matter the weather. And pack layers for evening and maybe a good game!