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

Advertisement

See the full Camino Forum Store here with many more camino products.

Will We reach 'Peak Pilgrim' soon? On the Frances Route.

Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
What are the thoughts out there? Particularly on the Frances route of course.

Have any forecasts or predictions been made?

Will facilities just continue to grow to meet the demand?

We already see 'bottle necks' appearing at places like Roncesvalles and Zubiri in what appear to be the 4 peak months.

What might happen to slow demand, if anything?
Will the Camino become less 'fashionable' or just continue to grow in popularity?
 

Lindsay53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
Interesting question and very hard to answer. Maybe demand could be slowed by measures like no Compostela for anyone who does not walk from St Jean, or who uses a baggage service, or who does not stay in an approved albergue.... But what would this do to businesses along the way if such extreme measures were enforced?
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Interesting question and very hard to answer. Maybe demand could be slowed by measures like no Compostela for anyone who does not walk from St Jean, or who uses a baggage service, or who does not stay in an approved albergue.... But what would this do to businesses along the way if such extreme measures were enforced?
I'm not sure anything should be 'imposed'.
The Camino is there for all.......
Just curious about how it may evolve based on demand.
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018; Munich to Lindau (Germany) Sep 2020
The growth rate on the Camino Frances was already low 2019:

So it seems quite reasonable to me that we have 'Peak Pilgrim' on the Camino Frances in the next holy year 2021... with horror stories of bed races and so on... and therefore fewer pilgrims afterwards on the Camino Frances. And more pilgrims on the other Caminos.
But who knows.

But it is not so important for me. I will look at the statistics for the time I want to walk. And I look on the Caminos... and then I will know where I want to walk. Probably on Caminos, where the "growth rate" is low... or, for the more crowded Caminos... not in the "crowded months".
 
Last edited:

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
A simple edit to the Brierley guidebook could stop the bottle necks, a lot of pilgrims believe that the stages are set in stone. The bottle necks are usually at the top or bottom of the map page, so changing the maps will get rid of the bottlenecks.simples
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2020(postponed due Covid till first opportunity)
Do the official numbers just count those who complete in SDC? If so assume that there is a number that do just parts without going to SDC, complete and don't get the compostela, give up or have to leave etc. Heard the real numbers are in the 600,000?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I do agee with HadjiTom that the numbers are higher although I have no idea what that number is. There are thousands who must go unreported starting wherever and ending anyplace but Santiago. I thought I saw a post that showed an uptick in pilgrims on other Caminos, especially the Portuguese. As others have mentioned and I have experienced there are so many ways to Santiago. I have done the Norte and Le Puy also. They are both wonderful and in my humble opinion are much prettier and have better food than the CF. Especially in France. Wow wow wow to the food in French Gites! There are so many others. It is just up to the Pilgrim to go even further out of their comfort zone to discover something new about the Camino and themselves. I know everyone can’t do that but you never know how many can. I am off one day soon to start the Via De La Plata. Probably I the holy year. Kills two birds with one stone as they say. I can still walk even in a holy year, can walk a camino I always wanted to and hopefully even in a holy year the infrastructure on the VDLP can handle the larger numbers.
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (12-15); Muxia (15); Portuguese, Primitivo (17); Norte, Ingles, VF partial (18), Le Puy (19)
The official statistics do not back up the argument that traffic on the Frances has increased. In fact, if we subtract out the very busy (and increasingly busy) Sarria - Santiago section, numbers on the Frances have steadily DECREASED every year since 2015, and are now almost exactly where there were in 2011.

Thus, after subtracting out the Sarria - Santiago pilgrims, compostelas were awarded to 93,813 pilgrims walking the Frances in 2019, vs. 104,824 in 2015 (the peak year), and 93,494 in 2011. Here's the link to the official stats: https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/statistics/

There is one minor excepion to the above when you get deeper into the statistics, for they do show that the very beginning is marginally more crowded than it was in 2015. Thus compostelas were awarded to 33,197 people who started in SJPDP in 2019 vs. 31,058 in 2015. However, the numbers are sharply down for starts even from Roncesvalles and Pamplona.

Overall, therefore, what the statistics over the last 5 years show is a modest increase in starts in SJPDP, a fairly steep decrease in pilgrims everywhere thereafter up to Sarria, and a huge increase between Sarria and SDC.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence on the forum reflecting this decrease. For example, Ivar posted something several weeks ago about how the number of pilgrims at the municipal albergue in Burgos has been steadily declining.

I know someone is going to say that compostelas don't reflect the total number of walkers, and of course that's true, but there's no reason to expect that the number of people who don't get compostelas has increased in the last 5 years. I could as easily argue the contrary, and plainly, the statistics show an overall downward trend.

So -- I'd submit that the only ones with something to worry about are the people who opened more albergues, bars, etc. on the Frances in the expectations that the crowds will continue to grow. Those same crowds only exist in SJPDP and from Sarria onwards.
 
Last edited:

Roland49

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2019 July
My thoughts to this topic: if the holy year 2021 will end and the CF, CP and all other pilgrimages to SdC will not produce some hot topics on the peak months to the press / media the interest will rise more slow after the holy year, but it will rise.

As long as I follow the statistics you can end up with more / much more issued Compostelas than 500.000 in 2021. There are more walkers on the ways to SdC than issued Compostelas. As far as my experience is by talking to fellow walkers / pilgrims add 20-25% to the numbers that got a compostela.

Seriously there will be not much more space left for more pilgrims than this. 500.000 - 600.000 is max. capacity as long as there are no changes in infrastructure.
My personal opinion to holy year and holy week: a total no-no to walk towards SdC.

But it is very hard to give an answer to the question, maybe we all will be suprised by the numbers next year.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
My thoughts to this topic: if the holy year 2021 will end and the CF, CP and all other pilgrimages to SdC will not produce some hot topics on the peak months to the press / media the interest will rise more slow after the holy year, but it will rise.

As long as I follow the statistics you can end up with more / much more issued Compostelas than 500.000 in 2021. There are more walkers on the ways to SdC than issued Compostelas. As far as my experience is by talking to fellow walkers / pilgrims add 20-25% to the numbers that got a compostela.

Seriously there will be not much more space left for more pilgrims than this. 500.000 - 600.000 is max. capacity as long as there are no changes in infrastructure.
My personal opinion to holy year and holy week: a total no-no to walk towards SdC.

But it is very hard to give an answer to the question, maybe we all will be suprised by the numbers next year.
I thought about not walking in 2021. But I think it will be manageable on some of the other caminos. I plan on doing the VDLP. I think even with limited infrastructure I will be ok. But who knows till I walk in March 2021. I hope!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I thought about not walking in 2021. But I think it will be manageable on some of the other caminos. I plan on doing the VDLP. I think even with limited infrastructure I will be ok. But who knows till I walk in March 2021. I hope!
The VdLP is on my radar for 2021 too
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I walked my first Camino Frances in 1990 and that year 4,918 Compostelas were issued. I thought that it was a fairly solitary experience and I loved that aspect of it. When I returned in 2002 to walk for the second time numbers and facilities had increased enormously - there were 68,952 Compostelas that year. I remember thinking how busy the route was and wondering at the time if numbers were reaching their peak. Clearly with a track record as a clairvoyant like that I am not going to try to predict the next 10 years or so :cool:
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
What are the thoughts out there? Particularly on the Frances route of course.

Have any forecasts or predictions been made?

Will facilities just continue to grow to meet the demand?

We already see 'bottle necks' appearing at places like Roncesvalles and Zubiri in what appear to be the 4 peak months.

What might happen to slow demand, if anything?
Will the Camino become less 'fashionable' or just continue to grow in popularity?
Ask again after the next Holy Year ;-) until then, numbers will grow. After that, nobody knows ...
BC SY
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
It is my feeling (unscientifically based on anecdonal reports from a few albergues) that numbers have stabilised for long distance walkers on the Francés. But that increases from Sarria continue.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
It is my feeling (unscientifically based on anecdonal reports from a few albergues) that numbers have stabilised for long distance walkers on the Francés. But that increases from Sarria continue.
I looked at the pilgrim office statistics for the past four years a couple of weeks ago and that seemed to be the case. Small drops in numbers starting from the major towns along the CF before Sarria but strong growth in numbers beginning in Sarria itself. And a lot of growth on other Caminos. Overall growth seems to be pretty steady across the board. It seems that the message is finally getting out that "the Camino" does not mean just the Camino Frances.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Opening up alternative paths with accommodation support along the CF.
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Camino(s) past & future
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
Ripple effect allready imminent......no dip in numbers of peregrinos on Ingles after wholy week last spring ....flow just kept on and reasoning among locals was ripple from those who decided not to go Porto/Sarria on...

My reflection is that «crowding» will support the alternative Caminos in a much more direct way in the forthcoming years....the numbers of routes is huge .....thankfully.....🙏🏼
Winter Caminos on the up.....60-80 arrived each day in january.....that is tenfold only 4 years back
6DCDFA26-A42A-4D46-8BB1-9113FBF10BC9.jpeg
 

Martin Cole

Love being a pilgrim walker
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 French x3 Portugese x2 Primitivo x1 English x1, Muxia x1 Cancelled 2020!!
A simple edit to the Brierley guidebook could stop the bottle necks, a lot of pilgrims believe that the stages are set in stone. The bottle necks are usually at the top or bottom of the map page, so changing the maps will get rid of the bottlenecks.simples

I have walked the Frances three times and the 2nd and 3rd time made a point of not following Brierly stages for that purpose, amazing what you find in small towns, just a matter of a short or long day day leaving a fun stop like Leon to get out of sync.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
It will be interesting (in the clinical sense) to see what impact coronavirus has on this year’s numbers. I predict a significant decline in overseas pilgrims, and there will be more demand on private rooms as people seek to avoid crowded dorms.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Just last August I walked a section of the Frances, about 1/3 of it, and what I would say was the peak season. Plenty of pilgrims for sure, but I had no issues at all finding vacancies in albergues. That was in towns that were popular stages per the guidebooks, and ones not so much.
IMO a lot of the fears of the Frances getting too crowded are just based in rumour.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Just last August I walked a section of the Frances, about 1/3 of it, and what I would say was the peak season. Plenty of pilgrims for sure, but I had no issues at all finding vacancies in albergues. That was in towns that were popular stages per the guidebooks, and ones not so much.
IMO a lot of the fears of the Frances getting too crowded are just based in rumour.
August is the peak season in Galicia, not in the meseta so much, I find.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
August is the peak season in Galicia, not in the meseta so much, I find.
I have walked the entire and parts of the Frances during the busier months between June and September and to be honest besides the obvious increase of pilgrims from around Sarria to Santiago, I did not notice differences between the regions/sections. I think I would find it difficult to recommend one period of time over another to a pilgrim inquiring, especially since the Camino pilgrim numbers is so fluid. No way to predict from one day to the next. There could be say a very crowded weekend leaving from Saint Jean or Pamplona, and by Tuesday it is sparse in the same two locations.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
I was in the Confraternity of St James office in London yesterday talking to the manager Freddie. He said that there is concern that, other than the last 100km, numbers are actually going down and there may now be over capacity, except in Holy Years. The Portuguese way is becoming very popular. He said it could be that people look into the idea and read a lot about numbers, bed races and overcrowding, and are put off.
 

Mark T17

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo 2012
Frances Sept 2017 (bike)
I'm currently researching another Camino in 2022 and hopefully the PCT sometime after that. There's no way I would want to be in Spain during 2021 trying to do any Camino. It seems like a large proportion of the pilgrimage/hiking community enjoys camping, so to manage the crowds, perhaps Spain could develop some designated camping grounds outside the bottle necks to accommodate this community and offer a different pilgrimage experience, around the campfire at night, etc.

As for the stats, no doubt the Camino will get some bad media coverage in 2021 due to the crowds, so the numbers may drop. The 2021 holy year may also be the first real year where social media will have an impact on the numbers which has not been present in prior years.
 

Get on our Mailing list for new products on the Camino Store and news from the Camino Forum








Advertisement

Booking.com

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: 55 4.2%
  • April

    Votes: 196 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 325 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 378 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.1%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock