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When to go

Orla Joyce

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Sarria to Santiago in 17, now hope to walk the rest of the caminos over the next few years
Having started my Camino from Pamplona, I'm planning on going back to St Jean Pied to start from the start. Is there a better time of year to do this?
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
You can base your decision on weather, crowds, availability of lodging, and many more options, so it’s hard to give you a precise time. GENERALLY, going in late April could mean no snow, fewer folks, and open albuerges... then again, it may snow and it may be packed if you go during Holy Week. Really, pick the best time for you and accept the situation it presents.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Just consider that the Napoleon Pass is OFFICIALLY closed to hikers until at least 1 April each year. Snow is regular and deep. It is hazardous.

After 1 April, local authorities assess the weather and conditions at the Napoleon Pass daily. So, it can be hit and miss. Check the weather and remain flexible. The Pilgrim Office in Saint Jean Pied de Port has the latest forecast and conditions at the pass.

For reference, in 2020, Easter is on Sunday 5 April. As a general statement, each year on the Camino Frances there is a "pig in the python" scenario, where a large number of pilgrims start a Camino as they have extra time off from work. In most of western Europe, people have off on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (day after). So that is five days off work starting off. Many folks toss in a few 'bridge' or personal days to make up to a two-week period for doing Camino.

My advice to avoid this added surge and the burden it places on all Camino resources, is to avoid walking during the Christian Holy Week, immediately before Easter, and the immediate week following. In 2020, that means starting your Camino on or after 12 April.

As regards walking through the Napoleon Pass, that should mean that the pass is officially open, but subject to local advisories and control.

Hope this helps.
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Having started my Camino from Pamplona, I'm planning on going back to St Jean Pied to start from the start. Is there a better time of year to do this?
My favourite times are late march-April or late sept-oct. In fall some of the path is especially enticing, covered in red and yellow leaves.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@Orla Joyce , kia ora (greetings, good health)

I walked from SaintJean on 1 May and had low cloud from Orisson so saw none of the grandeur.

If your are set on the vistas you night consider taking up residence at Saint-Jean for a few days until you are reasonably assured of clear skies.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
I’m showing Easter 2020 on April 12th, NOT April 5th as posted by t2andreo. So adjust his stated dates a bit, but his overall advice is spot on
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
If you do not mind hotter and drier weather, time your Camino Frances so that you walk it the entire month of July. Personally I like it then. Less pilgrims it seems, warm albergues. No cold, damp floors or not having your clothes dry on the line. No soggy boots/shoes. You carry less things and can use a very small backpack. Just make sure you hydrate, have a good hat and sunscreen.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
Just consider that the Napoleon Pass is OFFICIALLY closed to hikers until at least 1 April each year. Snow is regular and deep. It is hazardous.

After 1 April, local authorities assess the weather and conditions at the Napoleon Pass daily. So, it can be hit and miss. Check the weather and remain flexible. The Pilgrim Office in Saint Jean Pied de Port has the latest forecast and conditions at the pass.

For reference, in 2020, Easter is on Sunday 5 April. As a general statement, each year on the Camino Frances there is a "pig in the python" scenario, where a large number of pilgrims start a Camino as they have extra time off from work. In most of western Europe, people have off on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (day after). So that is five days off work starting off. Many folks toss in a few 'bridge' or personal days to make up to a two-week period for doing Camino.

My advice to avoid this added surge and the burden it places on all Camino resources, is to avoid walking during the Christian Holy Week, immediately before Easter, and the immediate week following. In 2020, that means starting your Camino on or after 12 April.

As regards walking through the Napoleon Pass, that should mean that the pass is officially open, but subject to local advisories and control.

Hope this helps.
Does your advice apply to walking anywhere on the CF at all, or mainly to the beginning and end sections? I am considering starting from StJPdP in early March 2021.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
It only applies to the first day, walking from SJPdP over the Pyrenees via the Napoleon Pass. Even if this route is closed, you can use the alternative, Valcarlos Route. Both convey you to the same place, Roncesvalles.

The rest of the CF is open all year. However, many albergues and some cafes are closed until about Easter. A fair number of people enjoy walking during the off-season, from November through the end of March. You should search for those forum threads.

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
It only applies to the first day, walking from SJPdP over the Pyrenees via the Napoleon Pass. Even if this route is closed, you can use the alternative, Valcarlos Route. Both convey you to the same place, Roncesvalles.

The rest of the CF is open all year. However, many albergues and some cafes are closed until about Easter. A fair number of people enjoy walking during the off-season, from November through the end of March. You should search for those forum threads.

Hope this helps.
Sorry, I meant your comments about avoiding the weeks either side of Easter. Would you say that the whole CF should be avoided, or are only some parts likely to be super-busy?

I think I would prefer to walk the Valcarlos route in any case, so the Route Napoleon being closed doesn't affect me.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I meant your comments about avoiding the weeks either side of Easter. Would you say that the whole CF should be avoided, or are only some parts likely to be super-busy?
Easter can be a fascinating time to be on the Camino. The last 100 km will be very busy, so I'd recommend booking those nights well in advance, or even avoid that Easter week in that part if you don't want to be in "crowds." During the actual Holy Week (the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday), I would make reservations for any towns that are known for their processions - Burgos, Ponferrada, etc. I would not expect too many problems in the other weeks or even in the more "boring" sections.

Don't avoid the Easter on the Camino - embrace it, but be prepared based on knowledge of the situation!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
Easter can be a fascinating time to be on the Camino. The last 100 km will be very busy, so I'd recommend booking those nights well in advance, or even avoid that Easter week in that part if you don't want to be in "crowds." During the actual Holy Week (the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday), I would make reservations for any towns that are known for their processions - Burgos, Ponferrada, etc. I would not expect too many problems in the other weeks or even in the more "boring" sections.

Don't avoid the Easter on the Camino - embrace it, but be prepared based on knowledge of the situation!
Thank you; that's helpful and encouraging.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Sorry, I meant your comments about avoiding the weeks either side of Easter. Would you say that the whole CF should be avoided, or are only some parts likely to be super-busy?

I think I would prefer to walk the Valcarlos route in any case, so the Route Napoleon being closed doesn't affect me.
C Clearly expresses the situation accurately. During that two-week surge period, you MIGHT find accommodation issues at the major transportation-node starting places.

On the Camino Frances, this includes: Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada and Sarria. These places have good rail and bus connections.

The key to avoiding the “pig in the python’” syndrome is to avoid being in those places on a Friday or Saturday. These are the days that many pilgrims walking Camino segments arrive at these places, they start out the following day.

It’s a lot like surfing. You need to wait for undesirable waves to pass, until you find the wave you want to ride.

Hope this helps.
 
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KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
If you do not mind hotter and drier weather, time your Camino Frances so that you walk it the entire month of July. Personally I like it then. Less pilgrims it seems, warm albergues. No cold, damp floors or not having your clothes dry on the line. No soggy boots/shoes. You carry less things and can use a very small backpack. Just make sure you hydrate, have a good hat and sunscreen.
I don't mind heat at all, much prefer it over being cold or wet...Since any thought of a spring 2020 walk has now been negated for me ( I have my first grandchild arriving May 29th ! ), I'm looking to walk in the summer. My question is this: I've been told numerous times that the months of June, July, August on the CF are filled mostly with college students and families with small children. I've only ever walked in Spain/Portugal in Sept/Oct/Nov and found the pilgrims to be much more mature/retirees, etc. I don't mind walking with young people, but was told it can quickly become a raucous, college party walk, loud and crowded. I've no first hand experience in those months but would certainly welcome the input from those who have actually walked the CF in July/August or alburgue owners. I prefer a quiet, slower pace with time to relax and reflect over partying...lol
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
There are also lots of teachers in July and August. Definitely noticed a younger demographic than in September. You won't find many families with young children before Sarria.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I don't mind heat at all, much prefer it over being cold or wet...Since any thought of a spring 2020 walk has now been negated for me ( I have my first grandchild arriving May 29th ! ), I'm looking to walk in the summer. My question is this: I've been told numerous times that the months of June, July, August on the CF are filled mostly with college students and families with small children. I've only ever walked in Spain/Portugal in Sept/Oct/Nov and found the pilgrims to be much more mature/retirees, etc. I don't mind walking with young people, but was told it can quickly become a raucous, college party walk, loud and crowded. I've no first hand experience in those months but would certainly welcome the input from those who have actually walked the CF in July/August or alburgue owners. I prefer a quite, slower pace with time to relax and reflect over partying...lol
I cannot say I observed/experienced any raucous or rowdy behavior amongst the college age pilgrims I met, stayed with in the same albergues etc on the Frances. I also could not say that the pilgrim population mostly consisted of the college age. Mind you, that is just my observations and experience and of all the Camino's I have walked the worst behavior I observed was not from college age pilgrims.
As stated in an earlier post on this thread, there does seem to be a lot of educators walking in July, which to me was very nice because I have relatives who are educators.
I too think a hospitalero who has volunteered on the Frances during that time period could give the best insight.
 

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