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Camino in January/February...???


New Member
I've been reading many of the posts here and have taken note of a lot of valuable information. However, I'm planning to walk the Camino Frances from Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port to Santiago (and Finisterre) next year, starting in early January and arriving (hopefully) mid-February, so I'm hoping for some specific advice relevant to my situation.

There doesn't seem to be much info about doing the Camino in wintertime and I'd be very grateful for any advice or anecdotes that anyone could share. My reasons for walking at this time are simple: I have a few weeks between finishing one job and starting another so that is the only window of opportunity at present. Even more than that, the timing would be good for personal reasons - call them spiritual and/or psychological. All I'm concerned about are the practical factors, such as the weather, availability of refugios, specific areas where snow/ice/mud can be significant obstacles, anything like that.

I'm reasonably fit, although not an experienced walker, and I have time to work on this before going. I also speak reasonable Spanish so communication won't be a problem. From what I can gather from this forum and other sites too, rain and snow can happen in May just as easily as in January (although obviously the latter is more likely) along parts of the Camino and I may even get very fine, clear winter weather which can be great for walking. I definitely want to cross the Route Napoleon and I will speak to the locals before going of course.

In short, I'm aware of some things (as far as you can be aware of them solely through internet research) but I'm very keen to learn from Camino veterans. Your thoughts...? Many thanks in advance.
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Nunca se camina solo

The best advice I was given about winter walking in Spain is to realise that conditions can be very cold and severe despite its reputation for balmy summers. The CSJ publish a booklet called the Winter Pilgrim which is essential reading. Their guide also gives helpful information including contact numbers on accomodation along the Camino Frances including some information on seasonal opening.

Enjoy the preparaton and anticipation.

rioja routard

Active Member
Hola Crazyhorse

I was in Santiago on Feb 15 with my girlfriend and we met a Polish student from Toulouse university arriving in Santiago who had set off from SJPP with the bare minimum. Even his suede shoes did not capable of doing the walk but he did it! Through snow and rain. He said he never had trouble finding accomodation, some eerily silent as he was the only pilgrim in huge hostals catering for the hundreds. He had done no real preparation but just set out and he did it. The only regret he had was not having decent walking shoes.

Seems like a good time to go?
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Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Hi, CrazyHorse.

I've walked a couple of caminos in winter (¡not the french!) and in my opinion:

You will have NO problem to find accomodation in albergues.
You will have NO problem to find hot water to take a shower.

Any (private) albergues may be closed. Ask about in the opened albergues you find. The same about bars and restaurants, any of them may be closed "on vacations".

On early january, at 17:30 sunlight dissapear. Earlier on the east than in Galicia, of course. I have a lot of problems to find yellow arrows on darkness.

In my opinion is the best season to walk.

I have to say, be EXTREMELY careful walking from SJPDP to Roncesvalles. It's a high-mountain etapa, with possibly a lot of snow and you will be alone. Talk with the hospitaleros in SJPDP about the best way to go.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.

rioja routard

Active Member

I am in O Cebreiro, in the snow. Right the real big problem is that MANY albergues are closed and some of the information given turns out to be incorrect.

We got to El Acebo after the ascent to Foncedbadon to find it closed. We had struggled in snow drifts, all energy spent to find all closed. Thankfully some really kind people put us up which was much appreciated.

We were told at Vilafranca that Trabadelo was open. I can not describe the feeling when one is at the limit of ones strength to find that an Albergue is closed. Every step was agony and I was disappointed to find it closed. We had to stay at a hostal where they reduced the price to 15 euros each.

We were told that Ruiteian was open and it literally closed on us for decorations. The idea was to rest a night before challenging O Cebriero. The hostal guy told me to close the door as he was cold and our only option was to carry on. Absolutely exhausting in a snow blizzard. So beware, many Albergues are closed. At O Cebriero is the first time I have seen any pilgrims at all.

Ok, I am going to drink some wine and chill out. We are toasting ourselves, as we made up this energy sapping mountain!

Buen camino

James Hinton and Vince Law

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Ultreya y Suseya, James! Onward and upward!

and Happy New Year too. Are you still marching in your Napoleanic-era uniforms?



I walked from Leon to SdC from 20 to 30 December 2007. You may find the following helpful when planning.

O Cebreiro - Open (Christmas Eve) Wonderful time, communal meal between about 15 pilgrims. Warm
Fonfria - closed until March
Calvor - I went via Samos, but I spoke to pilgrims who stayed here.
Samos - Open, but no heating
Ferreiros - Open, heating & dryer - but you must not use them at the same time ! Your choice !!
Portomarin - Open, but I didn't stay there.
Gonzar - open - I was having a break outside, and someone even came and asked if I wanted to stop there. I was carrying on.
Eirexe - closed for renovations
Palas de Rei - Both municipal open - the new one on the right before the town, and for me, the much nicer and atmospheric one in the town centre. Interesting showers!! (You'll see)
Melide - I didn't stop there but others did. They all said it was filthy.
Ribadiso - open, warm, kitchen, restaurant & bar closed, outside showers, but I continued to...
Arzua - Very atmospheric again, nicely equipped
Arca/Pedrouzo - open, but didn't stop there
Lavacolla - I stayed in the hostal San Paio, EUR25, nice. No albergue in Lavacolla
Santiago - Small hostel again. Sorry, Can't remember name. Other pilgrims directed me.

Monte de Gozo was also open.

Sorry to hear you were having problems, I found none last year. This year I walked from St Jean to Hornillos (1 day after Burgos) from 20 Dec to 2 Jan, and had no problems with albergues being closed - cold yes, but open.



Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I've been following a wonderful blog that sil drew attention to: There are some wonderful accounts of human encounters this pilgrim is having along the way.

She is walking in the Loire area at present, not in the mountains, and she has found recent conditions harsh"The weather's been uncommonly cold, even for the middle of winter. Three inches of snow covers the land since yesterday afternoon, sadly, not the beautiful winter-wonderlandy kind, no, the gray dingy kind under a low gray sky. After struggling through 8 kilometers of slippery unbroken trail along the left bank of the Loire this morning, I finally came out to a road, dangerously unplowed, and promptly accepted a lift into Amboise, my planned desination for the day. Walk 8, take a ride for 20... in these conditions, there's no shame. On the bright side, since I'm wearing nearly all of the clothes I've brought, I'm carrying next to nothing :)":
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