• Get your Camino Frances Guidebook here.
  • For 2024 Pilgrims: €50,- donation = 1 year with no ads on the forum + 90% off any 2024 Guide. More here.
    (Discount code sent to you by Private Message after your donation)
  • ⚠️ Emergency contact in Spain - Dial 112 and AlertCops app. More on this here.

Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Have you walked the Invierno to avoid the Sarria crowds?

Kasee

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances: '22, '23, '24
Portugues: 23
Invierno: 24
I'm walking my second Frances in May/June of this year. I walked it last Fall from SJPP to Fisterra and Muxia and was jarred by the "conga line" of people who joined up in Sarria. The Invierno sounds like it might be a way to miss the crowds on the way to Santiago, but many of the forum posts talk about how there isn't a lot of support as far as route markers, bars, and places to stay. Many of the posts are a couple of years old, so is this still true?

I also may be walking alone. Is it "safe" for an older woman? (I'd feel safe on the Frances, for sure.)

I'll be bummed to miss out on O'Cebriero, but are there places that are equally as enchanting? I just ordered the Brierley guide, but wanted to hear what others have experienced.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
It's very different from the Francés. You'll need to be a bit more self-reliant and adventurous.

My experience from 2019, pre covid:
There are many many fewer pilgrims, and a slowly growing infrastructure. I stayed in only one albergue, the rest were hostels or pensions.

Many days I encountered one other pilgrim, but more often none at all.

Many days I found no open bars, sometimes one. There were more of course in bigger places like O Barco, A Rua, Quiroga, and Monforte.

I wouldn't call it 'enchanting' but then I wouldn't call the Francés that either. But I had a profound walk. And the landscapes you pass through are more varied and historically interesting than on the Francés. And yes. It felt very safe.
 
many of the forum posts talk about how there isn't a lot of support as far as route markers, bars, and places to stay. Many of the posts are a couple of years old, so is this still true?
Have you scrolled down past the first 9 threads, which are pinned, since the new threads disappear down the page under them? (Probably we have too many pinned threads there.)

There are recent threads such as this one that go into great detail about the stages and available accommodations. I get the impression that there will be a small but steady stream of pilgrims this year.

I walked in May-June 2022, and it was certainly quiet, but I never felt unsafe as a 73 year old woman walking alone. I think I saw other pilgrims every day. The most I saw on one day was about 6. I walked "with" other pilgrims about half of the days. The route was well marked (although I always carry GPS tracks anyway). I would recommend making reservations a day or two ahead - for the convenience of the hosts as well the pilgrims, so they know to expect you. Some of them have other jobs as well as keeping lodgings.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
but many of the forum posts talk about how there isn't a lot of support as far as route markers
I would be surprised if any recent forum posts talk about lack of waymarking. It is probably the most abundantly signed camino in Spain. The Xunta has spent millions of euros putting up mojones and other markings.

The Francés from Ponferrada is beautiful, and so is the Invierno. The infrastructure is more limited as others have noted, but if you’re used to calling a day or two ahead on the Francés, that’ll work on the Invierno. The number of albergues on the Invierno has shot way up. From two or three about 8 years ago (Xagoaza, Vilamartín and Quiroga, now closed), there are way more. And there are little family run pensiones that are inexpensive and fill in the gaps.

Towns with albergues now include — Villavieja, Puente Domingo Flóres, Sobradelo, Xagoaza, Villamartín, Monforte, Chantada, near Penasillás, Diomondi, Rodeiro, Lalín, and then you join the Sanabrés with albergues in all the main places. And I may have forgotten some.

People walking this winter have run into other pilgrims. I suspect the spring/summer will see more, but no more than a handful on any given day. I have walked the Invierno three times and met a total of one, so things are definitely changing! I too walk alone, and as a 70-plus female have never felt anxious. Statistically I am way safer on the camino than at home, but I would never encourge someone who is anxious or nervous about walking alone to go for it. The nervousness or anxiety may not be justified by the facts, but it will be real and not enjoyable. There are many stretches through forests or other undeveloped areas that are a few kms from villages, nothing remote, but you will likely be alone.

Wanting to avoid the conga line is one thing, but you have to affirmatively enjoy solitude to enjoy the Invierno, imo. Between 2020 and 2022 the numbers have increased more than five-fold, from about 400 to more than 2300. But that still works out to a very small number per day.

Good luck with your decision.
 
In 2022, I broke from the French Way and picked up Camino Invierno in Ponferrada. Although a huge departure from the CF, I was really happy with my choice. I was walking in May and did not see another Pilgrim for the first three days. The route is extremely well marked and beautiful. Yes services are not everywhere like the CF, but with planning the route is very rewarding. Highly recommend for adventurous Pilgrims, who are capable trekkers and don’t mind a little solitude.
 
Make sure you download the AlertCops app. It will give you an extra layer of security whether you are walking the CF or the VDLP or the Invierno.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
Repeating stuff here but..
Signposting and waymarking isn't an issue now, but there is still only a fraction of the infrastructure of the Frances, though it's improving all the while. It's probably not a route for first timers and a little daily planning is needed..
I loved it!
 
It's very different from the Francés. You'll need to be a bit more self-reliant and adventurous.

My experience from 2019, pre covid:
There are many many fewer pilgrims, and a slowly growing infrastructure. I stayed in only one albergue, the rest were hostels or pensions.

Many days I encountered one other pilgrim, but more often none at all.

Many days I found no open bars, sometimes one. There were more of course in bigger places like O Barco, A Rua, Quiroga, and Monforte.

I wouldn't call it 'enchanting' but then I wouldn't call the Francés that either. But I had a profound walk. And the landscapes you pass through are more varied and historically interesting than on the Francés. And yes. It felt very safe.
Thank you for your insights and advice!
 
Have you scrolled down past the first 9 threads, which are pinned, since the new threads disappear down the page under them? (Probably we have too many pinned threads there.)

There are recent threads such as this one that go into great detail about the stages and available accommodations. I get the impression that there will be a small but steady stream of pilgrims this year.

I walked in May-June 2022, and it was certainly quiet, but I never felt unsafe as a 73 year old woman walking alone. I think I saw other pilgrims every day. The most I saw on one day was about 6. I walked "with" other pilgrims about half of the days. The route was well marked (although I always carry GPS tracks anyway). I would recommend making reservations a day or two ahead - for the convenience of the hosts as well the pilgrims, so they know to expect you. Some of them have other jobs as well as keeping lodgings.
Ah! I didn't see the newer posts. Thanks, I'll find them. And thank you for your thoughts! Sounds like it would be a great option.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I would be surprised if any recent forum posts talk about lack of waymarking. It is probably the most abundantly signed camino in Spain. The Xunta has spent millions of euros putting up mojones and other markings.

The Francés from Ponferrada is beautiful, and so is the Invierno. The infrastructure is more limited as others have noted, but if you’re used to calling a day or two ahead on the Francés, that’ll work on the Invierno. The number of albergues on the Invierno has shot way up. From two or three about 8 years ago (Xagoaza, Vilamartín and Quiroga, now closed), there are way more. And there are little family run pensiones that are inexpensive and fill in the gaps.

Towns with albergues now include — Villavieja, Puente Domingo Flóres, Sobradelo, Xagoaza, Villamartín, Monforte, Chantada, near Penasillás, Diomondi, Rodeiro, Lalín, and then you join the Sanabrés with albergues in all the main places. And I may have forgotten some.

People walking this winter have run into other pilgrims. I suspect the spring/summer will see more, but no more than a handful on any given day. I have walked the Invierno three times and met a total of one, so things are definitely changing! I too walk alone, and as a 70-plus female have never felt anxious. Statistically I am way safer on the camino than at home, but I would never encourge someone who is anxious or nervous about walking alone to go for it. The nervousness or anxiety may not be justified by the facts, but it will be real and not enjoyable. There are many stretches through forests or other undeveloped areas that are a few kms from villages, nothing remote, but you will likely be alone.

Wanting to avoid the conga line is one thing, but you have to affirmatively enjoy solitude to enjoy the Invierno, imo. Between 2020 and 2022 the numbers have increased more than five-fold, from about 400 to more than 2300. But that still works out to a very small number per day.

Good luck with your decision.
This is great information! Thanks for your thoughts!
 
Repeating stuff here but..
Signposting and waymarking isn't an issue now, but there is still only a fraction of the infrastructure of the Frances, though it's improving all the while. It's probably not a route for first timers and a little daily planning is needed..
I loved it!
That's great! Thanks!
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
This is great information! Thanks for your thoughts!
I have been having this conversation on the phone with another friend, who is in the same situation as you are. She has walked the Francés and didn’t love the part from Sarria. The more I think about it, it seems to me that the most important question is whether you are looking to get away from the Francés crowds or whether you are looking to affirmatively “embrace” a solitary walk. If it’s just the former, I would not recommend the Invierno; if it’s the latter, I say go for it! (I know I said that in my last post, but when I presented it that way to my friend, she had a sort of “aha” moment.)
 
The more I think about it, it seems to me that the most important question is whether you are looking to get away from the Francés crowds or whether you are looking to affirmatively “embrace” a solitary walk. If it’s just the former, I would not recommend the Invierno; if it’s the latter, I say go for it! (I know I said that in my last post, but when I presented it that way to my friend, she had a sort of “aha” moment.)
Laurie, you just put in words what I didn't know I was thinking. This, exactly.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I've been thinking of doing the Invierno, but don't have time to do the whole thing. If a Compestela is important to you, you can take a 6:15 train from Ponferrada that drops you in Monforte (for last 100k) at 8:00 with plenty of time to complete that stage , or part of it. The same train stops in Quiroga and, I think, Rua. Good luck, and buen camino.
 
Why? I have luckily never had a reason to have to call the Police, but why is 112 better?
Calling 112 puts you in direct contact with emergency responders. I am just not completely sure where the message you send to AlertCops goes first. Since it seems to be a place to communicate about all sorts of things, like burst pipes you come across in the middle of nowhere, lost wallets, an incident that happened last week, etc., that suggests to me that a lot of what comes in on that line is not a true emergency. So there may be another step in delegating the call to the proper channel. I have no reason to doubt that AlertCops works, but I know that 112 works instantaneously and beautifully.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Why? I have luckily never had a reason to have to call the Police, but why is 112 better?
My experience - 3am - needing emergency response for shoulder dislocation & PAIN… I wasn’t after cops (I had it on my phone ) - I was alone & wanted help from doctor &/or ambulance etc.
So 112 was the way to go in that instance.
 
I have been having this conversation on the phone with another friend, who is in the same situation as you are. She has walked the Francés and didn’t love the part from Sarria. The more I think about it, it seems to me that the most important question is whether you are looking to get away from the Francés crowds or whether you are looking to affirmatively “embrace” a solitary walk. If it’s just the former, I would not recommend the Invierno; if it’s the latter, I say go for it! (I know I said that in my last post, but when I presented it that way to my friend, she had a sort of “aha” moment.)
It’s both. After Santiago, I walked to Fisterra and Muxia, and the huge drop in pilgrims was like balm after the crowds. I also would like to experience what the Camino might have been like before it became so popular. And it will be fun to explore some new territory.
 
I've been thinking of doing the Invierno, but don't have time to do the whole thing. If a Compestela is important to you, you can take a 6:15 train from Ponferrada that drops you in Monforte (for last 100k) at 8:00 with plenty of time to complete that stage , or part of it. The same train stops in Quiroga and, I think, Rua. Good luck, and buen camino.
Thank you. I’m not in a rush, so no need to take a train.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
the huge drop in pilgrims was like balm after the crowds. I also would like to experience what the Camino might have been like before it became so popular. And it will be fun to explore some new territory.
Those sound like fine intentions. Go soon though. The snowball does seem to be rolling.
You'll never see the Francés in the same way.
 
That's great! Thanks!
I have only done the second half of this walk - To avoid the crowds from Saria. I started with no map and no idea of how well it would be marked and in the end it was easy and after meeting a camino angel it got easier. The only problem that I had was the lack of water and twice I had you rely on helpful locals. I was hoping to do the other half of this walk this year but a new camino that starts in Malta is beckoning.
 
I have only done the second half of this walk - To avoid the crowds from Saria. I started with no map and no idea of how well it would be marked and in the end it was easy and after meeting a camino angel it got easier. The only problem that I had was the lack of water and twice I had you rely on helpful locals. I was hoping to do the other half of this walk this year but a new camino that starts in Malta is beckoning.
Just curious - how much water did you need to carry to not run out of water? (your experience - as we all have different water intake requirements). Next time I do the Frances I will take this alternate route. I usually carry 2 1L water bottles, but often only fill one of them unless I know I may be on a section with less opportunity to refill. Would that likely be enough?
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
I'm walking my second Frances in May/June of this year. I walked it last Fall from SJPP to Fisterra and Muxia and was jarred by the "conga line" of people who joined up in Sarria. The Invierno sounds like it might be a way to miss the crowds on the way to Santiago, but many of the forum posts talk about how there isn't a lot of support as far as route markers, bars, and places to stay. Many of the posts are a couple of years old, so is this still true?

I also may be walking alone. Is it "safe" for an older woman? (I'd feel safe on the Frances, for sure.)

I'll be bummed to miss out on O'Cebriero, but are there places that are equally as enchanting? I just ordered the Brierley guide, but wanted to hear what others have experienced.
Why not transfer from Sarria to Ferol and walk Camino Ingles to Santiago. Much nicer way and well signposted.
 
Why not transfer from Sarria to Ferol and walk Camino Ingles to Santiago. Much nicer way and well signposted.
Much nicer than what exactly? Taking the invierno at Ponferrada allows a natural continuation on foot to Santiago, possibly with a few familiar faces from before the fork in the way. Ferrol is a 3 hour or more bus journey from Sarria to begin a different way, quite a disconnect don't you think?
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
I know that it’s difficult to predict, but based on what I’m seeing on other Invierno websites, there are people walking the Invierno now, in winter, a steady little trickle. This would have been unheard of even a few years ago, so I am betting that the numbers will go up this spring. Not crowded, but I think the odds of running into a few other pilgrims will be fairly high. Hoping to hear back from those forum members who actually take the plunge!
 

Most read last week in this forum

Ok, so inspired by the "Has the Camino lost it's way" thread. What would people change to the current Camino (CF) to make it better in their own eyes/opinion whatever that may be (without breaking...
I’ve gotten 2 separate emails over the past week supposedly from the Albergue I’ve made my reservation from in Pamplona. I’ve sent a confirmation request to the Albergue in a separate email from...
I have just seen a Facebook post from Foncebadon commenting on very heavy snow there. It looks as if the Camino route will be impassable for the moment.
So we have purchased our airline tickets to Pamplona and back home from Santiago. Now we want to reserve places to stay in SJPDP and Santiago. I'd love suggestions for both please. Where did...
Have you heard of Pena dos Corvos? It is supposed to be a high point (660m) before Portomarin. Google Maps can find four Penas dos Corvos on the north coast of Galicia, but not on the CF. A lot of...
Do you have an email address for the Hotel Continental, St Jean PdP? Google says it's temporarily closed, but if I could email, maybe I'd get a reply. I can only find a telephone number, but I...

âť“How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2024 Camino Guides
Back
Top