It’s fundamental to plan ahead when thinking of walking the Camino de Santiago. For many people, the Camino is one of the most important experiences of their lifetime and, for this reason, this experience should be as close to perfect as possible. Among the most relevant aspects of planning this experience is choosing the best months to walk the Camino. Crowds and high temperatures are always best avoided, and so July and August should positively be crossed off your list of possibilities.
It’s also important to be aware that the regions you’ll be crossing – the Minho, in Portugal, and Galicia, in Spain – have well defined seasons. This means you can expect hot summers and cold, humid winters, with a few microclimates in between. Aiming for the best combo of no crowds and mild weather is the best strategy to make the most of your experience.
Can you imagine enjoying the towns and cities along the Camino, whether on the Coastal or Central variants, without extreme weather and crowds everywhere? Sounds perfect to us!
If you’re looking for a solitary type of experience, a time for introspection and tranquility, and a few days of persistent rain are not a problem, then the months of March and April or October and November are ideal. In these months the days are shorter and the temperatures remain mild, despite the likelihood of a few rainy days.
If for you the Camino is a sensory experience that includes getting to know the local communities and fellow pilgrims, discovering landscapes and all the stunning aspects Nature has to offer in spring and autumn, then the months of May, June and September are your best option. This is when you’re guaranteed to have sunny days with an enjoyable temperature, even if with a small rain on occasion, making it the best time to walk this ancient pilgrimage route.
Those following the Central Camino will find that Ponte de Lima and Valença do Minho (both in Portugal) and Pontevedra (in Spain) provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local monuments and landscapes, all the while being excellent cities for rest days.
With its own legend dating back to the Roman period, Ponte de Lima allows for carefree strolls along the banks of the Lima river with the central plaza, called Largo de Camões, as the perfect spot to relax with a drink and a local snack. The medieval bridge and the Gothic church are also mandatory stops when visiting the oldest Portuguese town. From the top of a hill and inside a fortress, Valença do Minho invites you to go inside its walls. Wander through its traditional streets admiring the long-standing churches and all the small local shops. Pontevedra, in Spain, boasts its fully pedestrian historical centre full of plazas where you can enjoy local tapas. Its unique market, the bridges, historical churches and the city’s museum are also on the list of things not to be missed!
The ones who choose the Coastal Camino will get a delightful mix of history, tradition and coastal landscapes by staying in Viana do Castelo (in Portugal), Baiona, Vigo and Pontevedra (all in Spain).
Known as “princess of the Minho”, Viana do Castelo is the keeper of a series of treasures: from its pristine coastline, to the historical buildings, the museums and the Santa Luzia Basilica, built on top of a hill and allowing for spectacular views over the entire area. Baiona is where you can find the imposing Monte Boi peninsula and the Monterreal Fortress. This charming coastal town is home to the Caravel Pinta Museum as well as several small beaches. Also on the coast, you’ll find Vigo with its unique old part of town, cathedral and Castro fortress.
Last but not least, walking the Camino in the less crowded months allows you to fully enjoy the delectable local cuisine of Minho and Galicia without having to face crowded restaurants, cafés and bars. The Minho region takes pride in its traditional corn bread (broa de milho), cured bísaro pork and caldo verde (a thick soup made with cabbage and potatoes, which you can also find in other parts of the country). Fresh seafood and shellfish dishes are also on offer and, being Portugal, you can be sure to find bacalhau (salted cod) cooked in a large variety of ways. Finish off your meal with a sweet leite creme and don’t forget to taste the local wine, the crisp vinho verde. When in Galicia, you can’t miss the caldo gallego (a rich vegetable soup) besides a multitude of seafood dishes, empanadas and tapas to choose from. Wash it all down with the local Albariño wine and don’t forget the delicious tarta de Santiago for dessert.
2021, the first Holy Year since 2010, and 2022 (as the Holy Year has been extended due to the pandemic) will be very special years for the Camino de Santiago. Holy Years happen whenever St. James Day (July 25th) falls on a Sunday and, generally speaking, these are years when you can expect a larger influx of pilgrims. If walking the Camino de Santiago in a Holy Year is on your bucket list, don’t waste time and book your tour as soon as possible in order to guarantee your place. Check out our options in https://waytosantiago.com/
Our tireless team is available to help all those who wish to discover the Camino de Santiago in a calm and comfortable way.