Choosing the right time to go is more of a personal choice than anything else. Different seasons have different pros and cons and some times of the year are definitely more favourable, especially with the weather, but even this is debatable with some people loving the height of summer or winter over other more popular times. Here is a synopsis of each season.
It’s easy to assume that Spain is always hot without a real winter to speak of. This isn’t true, especially up north and in the higher areas around Nevarra and Galicia. If you are planning on walking in winter you need to come prepared. Blizzards are frequent in the Pyrenees and snow can be found in O Cebreiro all the way through to May/June, let alone winter. Proper cold and wet weather gear and waterproof boots are a must,
The other thing to take into account is that much of Spain is closed over the winter period. Open albergues and hotels are hard to come by and you can literally stay in towns that are totally devoid of people apart from pilgrims and someone running an albergue. Most restaurants are closed so you will need to make picnic lunches frequently, and many of the water fountains are turned off to prevent the pipes from bursting.
Having said all that, this is some people’s favourite time to walk. Generally the skies are crisp and clear with bright sunshine, temperatures are mostly manageable rather than the heat of summer, and the crowds of pilgrims at every stop is mostly non existent. You will often have the hotel or albergue to yourself!
One of the most popular times to walk. Temperatures pick up but without the stifling heat of mid summer, flowers are in bloom, the shops and accommodations are mostly open (after Easter) and there’s just a lovely new-life feel in the air. But with the better conditions come higher numbers of walkers. There’s always a trade off!
Although probably the busiest time of year to walk, this is primarily because of the summer holidays in Europe. The paths are crowded and loud with groups of predominantly Spanish walkers and the heat, especially across the meseta middle section of the Camino Frances, can be like an oven with very little shade as protection. Accommodation can also be difficult to find if you haven’t pre-booked something. Very few Australians and Kiwis walk at this time.
Probably the second, if not equal, most popular time to walk. The temperatures are similar to spring. Some of the fields, especially across the meseta, can look brown after a hot summer but there are lovely autumn colours where there are trees. Depending on how long and which part you walk, you are almost guaranteed to experience some downpours so make sure to bring a good raincoat.