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The Way of Saint James in autumn: 4 advantages and some tips

The Way of Saint James in autumn: 4 advantages and some tips

There are still some people who believe that the Camino de Santiago is to do in summer. But the truth is that autumn is our favourite season, and here we explain why.
Camino de Santiago in autumn

Summer is passing and it's time to get going and plan your Camino de Santiago in autumn well in advance: a magnificent opportunity to live a whole life experience amidst the golden and ochre colours of nature, mist-shrouded mornings and a path that opens up for you to walk. Let me tell you that autumn is the perfect time to discover the beauty and charm of this ancient route.

But what makes the Camino de Santiago in autumn such a special experience? In short, there are a whole series of reasons that do not depend on the time of year (we have already talked about a few of them here). But, in addition, the possibility of doing it in autumn adds some advantages. Let us list some of them.

Advantages of doing the Camino de Santiago in autumn

1. Milder temperatures

First of all, the weather. The mild temperatures and cool air, which are more frequent in autumn, make walking a real pleasure. You will no longer have to worry about the oppressive heat of summer or getting up early to avoid the central hours of the day, especially in areas of the Castilian plateau, where the sun is more punishing. In normal conditions, you won't have to worry about the cold of winter either, which we have also discussed in relation to the Camino.

However, let's be honest: it is true that autumn brings with it a high chance of rain, especially on the stretches in Galicia and Asturias and as we head towards the end of October and into November. But this should not put you off. Rain is part of the Camino and can add a special touch to your experience: yet another challenge to overcome. Just put on your mackintosh or one of the typical starch ponchos that are everywhere today, put on your waterproof boots and keep going. Rain need not be an insurmountable obstacle, but rather an opportunity to connect with nature in a different way.

2. Fewer crowds

The other great advantage (for many people it is even the main one) is that, at this time of the year, the summer crowds diminish considerably. If you are one of those who prefer tranquillity and introspection, the Camino de Santiago in autumn is perfect for you.

The lodges and trails will be clearer, allowing you to connect more easily with your thoughts and emotions. Imagine walking alone (or almost alone) along this ancient route, feeling the energy of the pilgrims who came before you propelling you forward.

3. A new landscape

The other great advantage of doing the Camino de Santiago in autumn is the scenery. The season paints the Camino de Santiago with a vibrant palette of colours. The vineyards are tinged with red and orange, the cereal fields take on a golden hue and the forests are dressed in ochre and copper tones. What more could you ask for?

Every bend in the road surprises the walker, giving him or her a fascinating picture. So the camera on your phone will inevitably become your main ally in capturing this ephemeral beauty (although we would always recommend that you see with your eyes, not through the screen).

4. A unique gastronomy

Finally, we could not fail to mention gastronomy. One of those reasons that every day more people recognize to venture on the Camino de Santiago is also transformed with the arrival of autumn. The spoon dishes reappear all along the Camino. But autumn is also the season of wines, mushrooms and chestnuts - and all the culture associated with these elements.

If you go walking or cycling in Galicia, you'll have the chance to take part in the magostos, the traditional and popular festivals in countless villages and neighbourhoods based around the chestnut. If you go through wine-growing areas such as La Rioja, El Bierzo or Galicia's Rías Baixas or Ribeira Sacra, you'll be able to see the grape harvest in action. And these are just a few examples.

Chestnuts are one of the autumn delicacies on the Camino de Santiago.
Chestnuts are one of the autumn delicacies on the Camino de Santiago.

Disadvantages of doing the Camino de Santiago in autumn

Like everything in life, doing the Camino de Santiago in autumn can also have its drawbacks. We have already mentioned the rain. With it appear the muddy roads and the difficulty that this means. Especially for those who choose to do the Camino de Santiago in autumn. the Camino by bicycle.

But, frankly, people with more experience on the Camino do not consider this as a real disadvantage, but as a characteristic of the Camino. After all, rains can also appear in summer or spring. Especially in places with such changeable and unstable weather as Galicia and, in general, the entire Cantabrian coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Even so, it's always good to check the expected weather (and to do so as you go along). There are plenty of websites and apps to check the weather, but Meteogalicia has a specific service for the weather on the Way of St. James with interactive maps which is very convenient if you are doing the last few kilometres.

The other disadvantage associated with autumn has to do with the fact that, at the end of the peak season, many accommodations close their doors to rest after a busy summer. In recent years, however, we have seen that more and more accommodations are extending their opening season until the end of October. So it's true: not all of them will be available. But, with proper planning, this need not be a problem. The end of September and especially October are the best months.

The Way of Saint James in autumn: walking accompanied by the sound of falling leaves
The Way of Saint James in autumn: walking accompanied by the sound of falling leaves

What is the best route?

Another classic question! All the routes of the Camino de Santiago can be done in autumn, of course. But some, due to their wooded landscapes, can be more attractive.

The Primitive Way is, without a doubt, one of the most highly recommended. The forges Asturias and Galicia that the Camino crosses gain that new aspect full of reddish and yellow tones that we like so much.

In any case, a good practice, due to the changing weather, is to opt for shorter routes and in places that have more services. Therefore, although we insist that all routes are feasible in autumn, as Galicia is the place where they all converge and have more pilgrims throughout the year, it is also easier to find services running even in autumn and winter.

The English Way, for example, is a fantastic option. Or the last kilometres of the French routes (from O Cebreiro) and Portuguese (from Tui or along the coast from A Guarda).

What do you need to do the Camino de Santiago in autumn?

Preparation is essential on the Camino de Santiago. It is all year round, but when the weather can be more complicated, planning is even more important.

To do the Camino de Santiago in autumn the first thing is to make sure that you will have options to spend the night. Our recommendation is, always, that you come to the Camino with the accommodation booked. Either in hostels or in private rooms (hotels, pensions, inns, etc.). In addition, we always insist that it is better to anticipate than to leave reservations to the last minute. Even if there are fewer people on the Camino, if there is going to be less accommodation available, the result is the same. The more margin you have, the better. And, if you do it with us, the better accommodation we can get.

The other big leg of the preparation is the backpack. Some time ago we wrote about what to pack in a backpack for the Way of St. JamesWe were referring to the different seasons of the year, because luggage should obviously be adapted to the circumstances. Whatever the case, common sense dictates: you should include a light mackintosh, thicker clothing and some warm clothes.

If you are carrying the backpack by your own means, be careful not to exceed the maximum recommended weight (the 10% rule). If you are thinking of doing that we move it ourselvesFrom accommodation to accommodation, remember that doing so will not subtract "pilgrim points".

Finally, two general recommendations which, in reality, are valid all year round and which we will never tire of repeating:

  1. Do not come to the Camino wearing brand new shoes. If you have bought new shoes, make sure you use them as much as possible before starting your Camino stages.
  2. Be physically prepared for the challenge. Here we explain in detail how you can do this (and a few other things).

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And now I ask you a question: are you ready to embark on this adventure? Will you let autumn whisper in your ear as you walk?

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