Your decision on when to do the Camino de Santiago depends largely on the weather and the number of people walking with you. Some people want a private experience, others like the crowds. Others deal with the cold or extreme heat better than others.
See also: Camino de Santiago Guide
The terrain varies greatly on the Camino de Santiago. The mountain passes are extremely dangerous in winter. That isn't to say it isn't possible to do the walk in winter, but heed the advice of other travelers and the hostel staff before you set off each morning.
Follow the weather forecast. Be prepared to take a safer route and even abandon your trip if necessary.
Summer travel on the Camino de Santiago is very different from doing it in winter. Lots of people filling up the hostels means you will need to set off very early in the morning to get a good hostel. Though weather conditions are unlikely to prohibit you from finishing the Camino de Santiago, the host conditions might make the journey unpleasant or even unbearable. Drink lots of water if traveling in summer.
Camino de Santiago in January
Very cold and wet in some parts of the Camino and not many people to travel with you.
Camino de Santiago in February
Still very cold in many places, though not as bad as January. Some travelers.
Camino de Santiago in March
Weather is cool but not unpleasant. More travelers now on the route. A very good time to walk.
Camino de Santiago in April
Weather can be be quite warm in some places now.
More and more travelers on the route.
Camino de Santiago in May
Could be very hot in May, though weather varies more on northern Spain than it does in other parts of the country. Route is getting quite busy now. Some hostels may be full by the time you get to them.
Camino de Santiago in June
Hot weather can be expected.
There is reportedly a slight dip in 'traffic' in June compared to May, though still more than in April.
Camino de Santiago in July
Very hot and lots of other travelers. Can you cope with the sweaty people who haven't showered for days (because the line for the shower was too long)?
July 25 is St James's Day, a popular day for Catholics to finish the Camino. In Jacobean Years (see below), expect vast numbers of people walking in July.
Camino de Santiago in August
Similar to July.
Camino de Santiago in September
Getting cooler now, but not by much. Still lots of travelers.
Camino de Santiago in October
Weather much more pleasant now. Crowds dying away.
Camino de Santiago in November
Quite cold on some parts of the walk. Very few people walking.
Camino de Santiago in December
Cold and extreme conditions possible. Not a good time to walk.
If you have some flexibility in which year you do the camino, you should consider waiting tor - or avoiding - Jacobean Years.
What is a Jacobean Year?
A Jacobean Year (known in Spanish as Año Santo Jacobeo, in Galician as Ano Santo Xacobeo and sometimes referred to in English as a Jubilee Year, Holy Compostellan Year or just Holy Year) is when St James's Day (July 25) falls on a Sunday.
When Are the Next Jacobean Years?
The following years are Jacobean years:
What Happens in a Jacobean Year?
For Catholics, visiting Santiago de Compostela in a Jacobean year is a very important event.
- If they fulfill all the necessary requirements, Catholics will receive a 'plenary indulgence' upon visiting the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
- The Puerta Santa (Holy Door) in the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, normally closed, is open for the whole of the year.
But the main way you'll see it's a Jacobean year is that there will be huge numbers of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Numbers more than triple in a Jacobean year, with a huge concentration around St James's Day in particular. This means that walking in late June and July will see an even more competitive battle for hostel beds than usual.