Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement

Those misleading pilgrim office statistics

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
One of the ways I moonlight is to offer free advice to first-time pilgrims on Facebook groups, and recently I had a chap tell me that he wanted his camino (Frances from SJPdP) to be solitary, so he'd decided to go off-season in April! I had to stifle a chuckle to myself, as anyone who's walking during that month will know that things get totally booked-out and backed-up around that month, especially in those first few stages. Solitude in April isn't likely to be an option.

His information had come via the Santiago pilgrim office - that oft-repeated statistic than July and August are the busiest months. If only I'd had a euro for every time someone recommends going in April or May to avoid the summer crowds! A closer look at the statistics show however there's no way of separating by month the ones who've walked five days from the ones who started in France (or earlier). Yes, there are stats of starting points and stats by month, but not stats by starting point per month, which is the information you'd need to pick apart which are the busiest months at bottlenecks such as Zubiri or Cebreiro. This means the pilgrim office stats can be extremely misleading for someone intending to start at St Jean.

The SJPdP pilgrim office releases its own stats, which shed a completely different light on the busy season on the pre-Sarria road. May is the actual high-point, closely followed by September and April. How different that is from the reported high-season of the Summer!
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Yes. It's pretty well known that the Spanish tend to walk in the summer but others tend to avoid the hottest times of the year, so May from SJPDP and arriving in June at Santiago would be the busiest time. However, the Spanish tend to walk the final 100k for the compostela. So, oddly, this would suggest that starting in SJPDP in July and walking through the heat would be with fewer companions. Walking in the winter would be with even fewer, of course.
It's obvious the spring and autumn weather would be the best walking times, and so attract the most pilgrims. If they want to take the road less travelled they could go for the Norte or the via de la plata.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
April and May ARE very good times to walk the Camino, even the Frances. In my repeated experiences, there is a lot of rain and fair amount of light snow at higher elevations.

But you MUST avoid the period of 10 days to either side of Easter Sunday. This includes Semana Santa / Holy Week and Easter Week.

Fundamentally, this is because for that two-week period, most universities are closed at least part of the time, and most European countries have national holidays on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. So, if you toss in a handful of personal or holidays off from your job, one can easily do a week to 10-day portion of a Camino. This is a very popular option.

As a result, there is a short-term surge in Camino use in parts of late March, April, or sometimes even into the beginning of May. It all depends on when Easter Sunday (Julian Calendar) falls that year.

This date phenomenon produces a pronounced "pig in the python" effect at this sliding two-week time. As the Sunday date for Easter slides around, you must plan ahead.

Also, and just for reference, the annual "pilgrim season" unofficially starts each year with Semana Santa or on Palm Sunday. From there we are off to the races until October...

For example, I Googled "when is easter in 2020?" The answer came back immediately... Sunday 12 April, 2020.

Hence, I fly from Miami to Sevilla on 22 April, arriving 23 April to start the Via de la Plata... or at least the first portion of it, soon thereafter. I plan to be walking for maybe three weeks, then spend a week or so reconnecting with friends and colleagues at Sanitago before flying home on 18 May.

Parenthetically, the Pilgrim Office at Santiago, is OPEN on Easter Sunday. It ONLY ever closes on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The 'hip seasons" of April and May are great times to walk the Camino as long as you think, and plan ahead. I always try to get off the Camino by the second week of June, as the universities worldwide let out and Camino usage surges through the end of August, and even into September. This past season, the seasonal surge did not abate until the very end of October.

I hope this helps.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
On the other hand all of my three Caminos were in February - I found the Portuguese route very flat, food better and not crowded at all in February. I am from Maine so as long as it was above freezing in the morning and getting up to about 50 F by noon I was happy. I also did not stay in the crowded albergues, choosing quintas, casa rurals, pensions and 2, 3 and 4 star hotels instead to insure a good night's sleep.
 
Last edited:

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
April and May ARE very good times to walk the Camino, even the Frances. In my repeated experiences, there is a lot of rain and fair amount of light snow at higher elevations.

But you MUST avoid the period of 10 days to either side of Easter Sunday. This includes Semana Santa / Holy Week and Easter Week.

Fundamentally, this is because for that two-week period, most universities are closed at least part of the time, and most European countries have national holidays on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. So, if you toss in a handful of personal or holidays off from your job, one can easily do a week to 10-day portion of a Camino. This is a very popular option.

As a result, there is a short-term surge in Camino use in parts of late March, April, or sometimes even into the beginning of May. It all depends on when Easter Sunday (Julian Calendar) falls that year.

This date phenomenon produces a pronounced "pig in the python" effect at this sliding two-week time. As the Sunday date for Easter slides around, you must plan ahead.

Also, and just for reference, the annual "pilgrim season" unofficially starts each year with Semana Santa or on Palm Sunday. From there we are off to the races until October...

For example, I Googled "when is easter in 2020?" The answer came back immediately... Sunday 12 April, 2020.

Hence, I fly from Miami to Sevilla on 22 April, arriving 23 April to start the Via de la Plata... or at least the first portion of it, soon thereafter. I plan to be walking for maybe three weeks, then spend a week or so reconnecting with friends and colleagues at Sanitago before flying home on 18 May.

Parenthetically, the Pilgrim Office at Santiago, is OPEN on Easter Sunday. It ONLY ever closes on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The 'hip seasons" of April and May are great times to walk the Camino as long as you think, and plan ahead. I always try to get off the Camino by the second week of June, as the universities worldwide let out and Camino usage surges through the end of August, and even into September. This past season, the seasonal surge did not abate until the very end of October.

I hope this helps.
When everything is going well I will see you in Santiago.
I'm voluntering again till May15th. this time with Marianne.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
no way of separating by month the ones who've walked five days from the ones who started in France
You can see the number that leave from SJPdP in the statistics.

If you subtract the ones who started in Sarria from the number who walked the Camino Frances, you can get a feel for the numbers that join part way. The data does allow you to identify the short and long walkers, even their exact starting points. What does not show in the numbers is the time lag -- those walking the last five days of June show up in the July numbers. Those who start from SJPdP in June show up in July. You could refine for the uncertainties if you want, but it seems like a lot of work!
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
You can see the number that leave from SJPdP in the statistics.

If you subtract the ones who started in Sarria from the number who walked the Camino Frances, you can get a feel for the numbers that join part way. The data does allow you to identify the short and long walkers, even their exact starting points. What does not show in the numbers is the time lag -- those walking the last five days of June show up in the July numbers. Those who start from SJPdP in June show up in July. You could refine for the uncertainties if you want, but it seems like a lot of work!
Have you found the stats for starting points by month, Falcon? I'd love to see those. They'd let you build a hotspot map of the camino, month-by-month.

Without a month breakdown the stats aren't very meaningful. Sure you can subtract the Sarria pilgrims from the total, but you end up with an aggregate which doesn't tell you anything about how the month-by-month distribution differs by start point. We know the exact numbers that join half-way, for the whole year, but we don't know when they join, which is key for identifying the busiest times.

Or put another way, assuming the percentage of short-camino walkers is constant through the year probably leads to inaccurate conclusions, like thinking Pamplona would be the busiest in July and August.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
But you MUST avoid the period of 10 days to either side of Easter Sunday. This includes Semana Santa / Holy Week and Easter Week.
No, sorry, but there's no 'must' about it! Semana Santa came partway through two of my caminos, and I enjoyed every bit of the experience, both times - increased numbers notwithstanding.
The processions and the company of families walking the way were two of the best parts of those caminos. Here's a photo from inside the amazing church of San Francisco in Villafranca de Bierzo, as the church ladies were preparing flowers before a procession:

View media item 4968
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
As usual, I served half a loaf... My advice to avoid Semana Santa is to avoid the temporary overcrowding on some stretches of popular Camino routes, especially in larger towns or cities where people and families accumulate to celebrate the Holy Week and Easter festivities. Many commercial places of lodging, non-albergues, are full. Many shops and services may have sketchy operating hours.

On the other hand, and as in your experience, if you are actually drawn to or looking to participate in, or observe some of these really ornate celebrations, processions, and festivals, then by all means, have at it. The Spanish people still take observing their Christian and Catholic faith VERY seriously.

My point, and I have now elaborated and explained it better I think, is to know what to expect. If it is not your cup of tea, then yes, avoid it. But, if you want to be part of it, then do plan to be around.

To be truthful, as I was planning my 2020 Camino, I noticed that Easter was on April 12 in 2020. That means Semana Santa starts the previous Sunday (Palm Sunday). I actually toyed with the idea of starting at Sevilla during Holy Week Semana Santa, and arriving before hand to spend the Palm Sunday weekend in a Sevilla hotel.

Then my wife told me I would only be permitted (by her) to walk not more than 2 (ish) weeks. As I have friends I need to meet at Santiago in early May, that forced me to push the Camino to the end of April. So, now, I will depart Sevilla on 25 April, to walk the first third to half of the VdlP. I am planing daily stages now.

Sigh...
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
April and May ARE very good times to walk the Camino, even the Frances. In my repeated experiences, there is a lot of rain and fair amount of light snow at higher elevations.

But you MUST avoid the period of 10 days to either side of Easter Sunday. This includes Semana Santa / Holy Week and Easter Week.

Fundamentally, this is because for that two-week period, most universities are closed at least part of the time, and most European countries have national holidays on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. So, if you toss in a handful of personal or holidays off from your job, one can easily do a week to 10-day portion of a Camino. This is a very popular option.

As a result, there is a short-term surge in Camino use in parts of late March, April, or sometimes even into the beginning of May. It all depends on when Easter Sunday (Julian Calendar) falls that year.

This date phenomenon produces a pronounced "pig in the python" effect at this sliding two-week time. As the Sunday date for Easter slides around, you must plan ahead.

Also, and just for reference, the annual "pilgrim season" unofficially starts each year with Semana Santa or on Palm Sunday. From there we are off to the races until October...

For example, I Googled "when is easter in 2020?" The answer came back immediately... Sunday 12 April, 2020.

Hence, I fly from Miami to Sevilla on 22 April, arriving 23 April to start the Via de la Plata... or at least the first portion of it, soon thereafter. I plan to be walking for maybe three weeks, then spend a week or so reconnecting with friends and colleagues at Sanitago before flying home on 18 May.

Parenthetically, the Pilgrim Office at Santiago, is OPEN on Easter Sunday. It ONLY ever closes on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The 'hip seasons" of April and May are great times to walk the Camino as long as you think, and plan ahead. I always try to get off the Camino by the second week of June, as the universities worldwide let out and Camino usage surges through the end of August, and even into September. This past season, the seasonal surge did not abate until the very end of October.

I hope this helps.
I left SJPP on 31 Mar last year and only had a problem getting a room on maundy Thursday, I had intended to stay in the village just before Astorga, but I had to break my rule of not stopping in large towns, because all the rooms were full because of the festival in Astoria. I still got a bed in a 4 person room at the first albergue in Astorga. We arrived at 16:30 and there were still plenty of places. I think a lot of peopl panic and book places when it is not needed. At all other times the Albergues were half full. In sarria I even left one albergue to check in to one across the road because after returning at 21:30 the room was full of screaming teenagers. I just walked across the road and got another bed.
 

Kelly Ann

Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
On the other hand all of my three Caminos were in February - I found the Portuguese route very flat, food better and not crowded at all in February. I am from Maine so as long as it was above freezing in the morning and getting up to about 50 F by noon I was happy. I also did not stay in the crowded albergues, choosing quintas, casa rurals, pensions and 2, 3 and 4 star hotels instead to insure a good night's sleep.
Terry, any of your favorite quintas, casa rurals, pensions and/or 2, 3 and 4 star hotels you can pm me about that you particularly liked and can suggest please?
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
Terry, any of your favorite quintas, casa rurals, pensions and/or 2, 3 and 4 star hotels you can pm me about that you particularly liked and can suggest please?

Hi Kelly Ann
I stayed at the Poet's Inn in both Lisbon and in Porto - staying for three days in Porto to take a break and see the museums. Only about 15% of Pilgrims are on the Portuguese- but just 1% of all pilgrims start in Lisbon. I had a private room at both and they were both had great locations and directly on the Camino route.
Tomar in Portugal was wicked cool with Templar Castle there! Stayed at Pension Residential Luz very cheep at 20 Euros.
Roast Suckling Pig at a nice hotel in Mealhada called Tres Pineiros best meal!
Best Albergue was O Ninho in Rubias.
Best luxury accommodation was Quinta Casa do Rio in Balagaes ( a mile off the Camino) had a hot tub!
Paradore Hotel in Tui when you cross over to Spain was very swanky.
Second day out of Lisbon for lunch best seafood right on the river was Restaurant Voltar Ao Cais ("Return to the Dock") had the best marinated octopus and seafood soup for lunch stopping in the town of Alhandra right on the Camino route next to the Bombeiros Voluntarios de Alhandra Hostle.

The Portuguese people are nicer, language more lyrical, route flatter, food better, less crowded with pilgrims most not doing their very first Camino like route Frances.

Terence Callery
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
Yes. Go to the month and year, and look next to the Precedencias graph. It shows the number that started at particular cities.
Ah this is fantastic. For some reason it wasn't working for me on the English version of the site, but I switched to the Spanish one and you get nice interactive pie charts now. Great news - muchas gracias!

My task now is to scrape all these stats and build an interactive camino heat map showing how busy each section is during the year!
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
an interactive camino heat map showing how busy each section is during the Year
A worthwhile project for which many will be grateful I'm sure. If you could, it'd be good to express some idea of growth in numbers because all your numbers will be changed by the Holy Year. Pilgrim numbers are expected by the church to approach 600,000 that year but personally I think the vast majority of the growth will be religious people walking the final 100k for the compostela, and there won't be that much of an increase in the more far-flung areas or the routes less travelled such as the Norte or the via de la plata.
(For those walking the Frances in the Holy Year, from sarria there is a bus to orense and the final section from there to Santiago is much less travelled.)
 

Advertisement

Booking.com

Similar threads

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 57 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 202 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 330 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 96 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 25 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.0%
  • September

    Votes: 386 29.0%
  • October

    Votes: 159 11.9%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top