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What is open on Camino Frances in Winter?

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
I have done a Spring Camino on St James Way (10 years ago) and only a partial of Portugal in 2014. Now I would like to do a repeat of St. James or Frances Camino during the winter (work schedule makes it possible). I will start in Pamplona. I continue to read that many places are "closed" Does anyone have an updated list of best places to stop and stay on the Camino Frances for mid December to mid January 2022. I'm concerned about Christmas holidays combined with covid combined with winter combined with not a lot of other pilgrims on the way to assist with information. If there is a list please share - otherwise cross your fingers for me! LOL
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Who knows what the future will be?

In the happy, easier past years
accommodation started to close mid October but some place was always open. Hospitaleros usually could give advice on who/what was available on the next stage. There were no summer crowds and beds/bunks were available. I usually slept in an albergue, often the sole pilgrim, but also in back rooms of an open bar/restaurant.

Walking off-season in winter during those past years I rarely saw more than 20 pilgrims at one time. There usually was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those on the route especially during storms or difficult stretches.

Helpful passing strangers also gave advice. Little was hectic; without the hordes of summer all had time to share info.

Nevertheless whatever the "season"
the weather can change quickly.
In March 2009 an unexpected 3 day blizzard struck Foncebadon.
Similarly November 2012 I was caught in a early white-out of snow climbing O Cebreiro.

You must be prepared whenever you walk.

See also this earlier thread re Winter Walking

Good luck with your new plans.
 
Last edited:

roving_rufus

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Closer to the time then the website http://www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno/ is useful as it attempts to list what albergues are open over winter and tries to include when some of them might be temporarily shut or even if closed for Christmas. This is a project of love to help winter pilgrims and I was very thankful for it!
But be prepared to make calls or send Whatsapp messages to check things out, especially in spots which are more rural and less accomodation options even in normal pilgrim season. But Christmas is the tricker one and is probably when you will have to make sure you have somewhere to stay and will require some advanced planning
 

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
Who knows what the future will be?

In the happy, easier past years
accommodation started to close mid October but some place was always open. Hospitaleros usually could give advice on who/what was available on the next stage. There were no summer crowds and beds/bunks were available. I usually slept in an albergue, often the sole pilgrim, but also in back rooms of an open bar/restaurant.

Walking off-season in winter during those past years I rarely saw more than 20 pilgrims at one time. There usually was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those on the route especially during storms or difficult stretches.

Helpful passing strangers also gave advice. Little was hectic; without the hordes of summer all had time to share info.

Nevertheless whatever the "season"
the weather can change quickly.
In March 2009 an unexpected 3 day blizzard struck Foncebadon.
Similarly November 2012 I was caught in a early white-out of snow climbing O Cebreiro.

You must be prepared whenever you walk.

See also this earlier thread re Winter Walking

Good luck with your new plans.
Yes the sleeping in the back room of a bar/restaurant did not escape my thought process. LOL. I hike during the winter months in Canada -20C so the gear will not be an issue. But true enough about "unexpected" rain or snow. I will let you know how it goes! :)
 

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
Closer to the time then the website http://www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno/ is useful as it attempts to list what albergues are open over winter and tries to include when some of them might be temporarily shut or even if closed for Christmas. This is a project of love to help winter pilgrims and I was very thankful for it!
But be prepared to make calls or send Whatsapp messages to check things out, especially in spots which are more rural and less accomodation options even in normal pilgrim season. But Christmas is the tricker one and is probably when you will have to make sure you have somewhere to stay and will require some advanced planning
Thank you for the link! Yes, Christmas will definitely be tricky!
 
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murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
Thank you for the link! Yes, Christmas will definitely be tricky! I love the photo they have at the top of the page - it looks like the Pyrenees? I have kept debating bring crampons don't bring crampons. I know if i bring them i will curse the extra 300g of weight. If I dont bring them I will curse the lack of traction on the snow! LOLOL
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I walked the CF in November/December 2019. Of course it is a new world today. When I walked I had a link on my phone to Aprinca and Gronze.com. I also have the Buen Camino and WIse Pilgrim app. They are both free to download. No app has all the places to stay. I would also say that no app or website was except for Aprinca (which also has fewer locations) was more than about 60-65% accurate in terms of openings/closings. I only encountered a problem twice when I entered a town and thought I would stay there and the albergues were closed when an app or website had them listed as open. But it is the CF so there wasn't too long a walk to an open albergue.
Keep in mind the sage advice of mspath:

Nevertheless whatever the "season"
the weather can change quickly.
In March 2009 an unexpected 3 day blizzard struck Foncebadon.
Similarly November 2012 I was caught in a early white-out of snow climbing O Cebreiro.

You must be prepared whenever you walk.
One morning I woke up in Astorga on a cold snowy day thinking I would just go back to Rabanal. The owner of the albergue told us all we could either stay an extra night with them or take a bus to Molinaseca or Ponferrada as they were turning people back in Rabanal and the albergue was full. The police warned pilgrims if they attempted to walk to Cruz de Ferro and got into trouble they would not come and get them. Since I had to get to Santiago by a certain date to meet my older daughter I took the bus. Shortly after Cebreiro, I don't remember the little albergue I stayed at in some tiny little town that the owner told us at breakfast the path and the road was a sheet of ice and it was too dangerous to walk. It was about 5 or 6 kilometers above what i would guess was the snow line. I waited until about 10AM and continued down. It was really still slushy and muddy and still some spots with ice. She said when the camino crosses the road and goes to the right I would be fine to rejoin the path. She was 100% correct. You just never know in winter. Prepare for everything. Listen to weather reports but most of all listen to the people who live there. If they say stay then stay. if they say it is good to go then go. Nothing beats their lifetimes of local knowledge.
 

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
I walked the CF in November/December 2019. Of course it is a new world today. When I walked I had a link on my phone to Aprinca and Gronze.com. I also have the Buen Camino and WIse Pilgrim app. They are both free to download. No app has all the places to stay. I would also say that no app or website was except for Aprinca (which also has fewer locations) was more than about 60-65% accurate in terms of openings/closings. I only encountered a problem twice when I entered a town and thought I would stay there and the albergues were closed when an app or website had them listed as open. But it is the CF so there wasn't too long a walk to an open albergue.
Keep in mind the sage advice of mspath:


One morning I woke up in Astorga on a cold snowy day thinking I would just go back to Rabanal. The owner of the albergue told us all we could either stay an extra night with them or take a bus to Molinaseca or Ponferrada as they were turning people back in Rabanal and the albergue was full. The police warned pilgrims if they attempted to walk to Cruz de Ferro and got into trouble they would not come and get them. Since I had to get to Santiago by a certain date to meet my older daughter I took the bus. Shortly after Cebreiro, I don't remember the little albergue I stayed at in some tiny little town that the owner told us at breakfast the path and the road was a sheet of ice and it was too dangerous to walk. It was about 5 or 6 kilometers above what i would guess was the snow line. I waited until about 10AM and continued down. It was really still slushy and muddy and still some spots with ice. She said when the camino crosses the road and goes to the right I would be fine to rejoin the path. She was 100% correct. You just never know in winter. Prepare for everything. Listen to weather reports but most of all listen to the people who live there. If they say stay then stay. if they say it is good to go then go. Nothing beats their lifetimes of local knowledge.
Amazing. Thank you so much! What a great story :). And with your details i have decided to take my Crampons! LOL
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I love the photo they have at the top of the page - it looks like the Pyrenees?

Probably not. You will not be able to walk the Napoleon route over the Pyrenees after November 1st - that part of the Camino is closed to pilgrims between November 1st and April 1st. During that time you will need to take the Valcarlos route.
 

Michelle_McA

Paso corto, vista larga
Past OR future Camino
2021
Who knows what the future will be?

In the happy, easier past years
accommodation started to close mid October but some place was always open. Hospitaleros usually could give advice on who/what was available on the next stage. There were no summer crowds and beds/bunks were available. I usually slept in an albergue, often the sole pilgrim, but also in back rooms of an open bar/restaurant.

Walking off-season in winter during those past years I rarely saw more than 20 pilgrims at one time. There usually was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those on the route especially during storms or difficult stretches.

Helpful passing strangers also gave advice. Little was hectic; without the hordes of summer all had time to share info.

Nevertheless whatever the "season"
the weather can change quickly.
In March 2009 an unexpected 3 day blizzard struck Foncebadon.
Similarly November 2012 I was caught in a early white-out of snow climbing O Cebreiro.

You must be prepared whenever you walk.

See also this earlier thread re Winter Walking

Good luck with your new plans.
Absolutely beautiful description of what it'd be like, also considering. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this all down.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
Absolutely second the comment above by IT56NY
Quote:
‘most of all listen to the people who live there. If they say stay then stay. if they say it is good to go then go. Nothing beats their lifetimes of local knowledge.’

I was on CF same place, same time (more or less) in 2019 and the local (in bars, and also the muni hospitalero) advice on routes etc was spot on - accurate to the micro level - and generously given.
May have avoided who knows what as a consequence - a pilgrim sustained an ice-related head injury around Foncebadon in those particular days.
My mottoe now: If in any doubt or concerned - canvass (and follow!) the locals’ advice.
 
In previous years Lourdes & Jose at the Acogda de invierno Betania in Fromista produced a list of accommodation open in the winter for that year. As far as I know they run the only Albergue that opens exclusively in the winter on CF. As I am walking in December myself, I will write to Lourdes about the winter accommodation list for 2021/22 and let you know.
 

Gumba

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I am so envious. We (my family) walked the CF in 2019/20 - Dec Jan. We had the most amazing weather, sun most days and not too much wind. We would wake up to -4c and leave at around 8am at -2c but without the wind it was lovely, reaching around 10c most days. The only icy day we encountered was Belorado to San Juan de Ortaga, it was like one big long skating rink in the forest area! The kids had a wonderful time, carrying their 'frozen puddles' and smashing them along the way! Make sure you book a couple of days ahead, eg, only one place was open in San Juan de Ortega and only enough beds for 7 pilgrims. Anyone else had to get a lift into Burgos. Same for Fomista (although there is a bar/hotel that also has accommodation Hospitelaros are a great help for this if need be.

In 2018 we walked in March/April to very strong headwinds and a lot of rainy days - who knows!

Please make sure you post along the way, we are planning our Dec 2022/23 CF :)
 

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
In previous years Lourdes & Jose at the Acogda de invierno Betania in Fromista produced a list of accommodation open in the winter for that year. As far as I know they run the only Albergue that opens exclusively in the winter on CF. As I am walking in December myself, I will write to Lourdes about the winter accommodation list for 2021/22 and let you know.
Thanks so much! Amazing!
 
I have received a reply from Lourdes about the Winter Accomodation List which I believe is self explanatory:

The list of hostels is not done yet. Every year it is made new during the month of October with the forecasts given by those responsible
of shelters. It is published on November 1 and is updated every time
there is a new closing or opening until February 28. This year surely
the list will be very different from other years before the start of the
pandemic: shelters that have closed permanently, others that closed in
winter but this year they will try to recover economically by maintaining
your hostel open as long as there are pilgrims, more pilgrims for being Year
Santo and having postponed the pilgrimage due to the health situation ...
November you can access the page www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno and
her twin sister on Facebook "Aprinca Albergues Invierno", but keep in mind and Note that in December it will surely have changed as it happens every year.
If we're home, we might see each other again this winter. Now we open
the hostel from October to May intermittently, but as always,
we open if the other hostels in Frómista are closed (about 3 weeks in
Christmas).See you soon then, a hug
Lourdes
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Who knows what the future will be?

In the happy, easier past years
accommodation started to close mid October but some place was always open. Hospitaleros usually could give advice on who/what was available on the next stage. There were no summer crowds and beds/bunks were available. I usually slept in an albergue, often the sole pilgrim, but also in back rooms of an open bar/restaurant.

Walking off-season in winter during those past years I rarely saw more than 20 pilgrims at one time. There usually was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those on the route especially during storms or difficult stretches.

Helpful passing strangers also gave advice. Little was hectic; without the hordes of summer all had time to share info.

Nevertheless whatever the "season"
the weather can change quickly.
In March 2009 an unexpected 3 day blizzard struck Foncebadon.
Similarly November 2012 I was caught in a early white-out of snow climbing O Cebreiro.

You must be prepared whenever you walk.

See also this earlier thread re Winter Walking

Good luck with your new plans.

Good Advice! And Call ahead, before you walk to check on an accommodation even if it is on the winter list! If the weather gets bad, and they don’t have reservations, some of the places may simply close. It happened to us. Also between major towns don’t expect all those bars and tiendas to be open, if at all many have reduced hours. We walked in early November from Sarria to Portomarin in snowy weather and found exactly one place open.

If your accommodations offers breakfast in Winter months, consider eating there, especially if you are not-in a major town. You could walk several hours without seeing anything open,including bathroom facilities. So pack your poop bags as well.
 
Last edited:

murphyb

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
In previous years Lourdes & Jose at the Acogda de invierno Betania in Fromista produced a list of accommodation open in the winter for that year. As far as I know they run the only Albergue that opens exclusively in the winter on CF. As I am walking in December myself, I will write to Lourdes about the winter accommodation list for 2021/22 and let you know.
Amazing!
 

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