Are you getting ready to do a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela but you are in two minds about it? When is more convenient to go, what to bring, how not to get lost… Don’t worry, here we explain you everything you need to know about the Camino de Santiago.
When is better to do the Camino de Santiago?
High temperatures can be a problem, so the best choice is to avoid them. And in winter there are some stretches as the climb to O Cebreiro in the French Way, that are especially hard because of the snow and the cold. For these reasons, it is convenient to plan your route when the weather is benevolent.
The average temperature in Santiago de Compostela is usually 25 Celsius in July and August, two of the most popular months among the pilgrims. If you prefer to take some precautions and not to be exposed to heat strokes, in spring the average temperature is around 20 Celsius even if the mornings are cold. In case the temperatures are high and you are on the way, we advise you to drink plenty of water, to avoid the sunny areas and to protect your skin with a good sun cream. Furthermore, during spring there are many rainy days, so we recommend you to bring a waterproof raincoat in your backpack.
Autumn months are characterized by the cold and the rain. Most of the pilgrims plan their trip between April and September. Because of this, it is easy to find closed hostels, bars and restaurants from October. This is not a problem if you book in advance.
Snow, water and cold are part of winter. This is a hard time to walk not only because of the meteorological conditions but also because there are less pilgrims with whom to share the experience. Nevertheless, a lot of those that choose the Winter Way, for instance, claim that this is one of the incentives. If you are motivated and your material is appropriate, winter is not a problem at all to arrive to Santiago.
What clothes do you need to pack for the Camino de Santiago?
It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter the season you choose to walk or ride the bike to Santiago de Compostela, but to be sure about the clothes and shoes you will wear. In addition, it is advised to use sun cream even if it is not a sunny day.
T-shirts, trousers, socks… try to look for hiking clothes that are good for perspiration. The best choice is to bring short and long trousers, or even one that can be dismantled. There are many pilgrims that prefer the leggings rather than hiking trousers. This is a matter of taste, bring what you feel more comfortable with.
You should try to avoid socks with seams in order to help to keep away the blisters. It is enough with two or three t-shirts, three pairs of socks and three underwear. If you go to walk during winter, remember to put in your backpack thermal t-shirts to be protected from the cold and a raincoat for the rainy days. If you want, you can include a pair of trousers and a t-shirt in order to have some street clothing for when you arrive to the hostels. Also, you can take a hoodie in case it gets cold.
We highly recommend you not to wear your shoes for the first time during the Camino de Santiago. At least, you should wear them a couple of days before starting the trip to make them softer and prevent the blisters. The most advised shoes are the hiking ones, mostly those with short leg that allow the feet to sweat. Besides the shoes to walk, remember to put a pair of flip-flops, very useful at the hostels.
Besides the clothes, what else do you need to include in your backpack for doing the Camino de Santiago?
Appropriate clothes and shoes are fundamental in order to do the Camino de Santiago. Nevertheless, there are other things that can be useful during your peregrination.
It is recommendable to bring a small first-aid kit with some basics: plasters or dressings for the blisters, disinfectant for the injuries, cream for the muscular pain and some painkiller. In addition, you can include a small towel and a swimsuit in case you feel like taking a bath in a river. Also, it is useful if you are doing a coastal route near the sea or your Way is the Sanabrian or Via de la Plata that cross Ourense, famous city because of its thermal baths. Lastly but not less, put also a toiletry bag with some small bottles of shampoo and shower gel.
Many times, before starting a trip, we believe that we will need a lot of things and we start to fill our luggage with some useless stuff. Try to be practical and think that you are going to do a peregrination in the middle of nature, so it is important to be comfortable. Moreover, there are plenty of restaurants, supermarkets and all sorts of shops you can visit during your Way if you need to buy something.
Even if you test your backpack on your shoulders before leaving your home and you think it doesn’t weight too much, remember that you will have to walk with it for a lot of kilometres. There are some days 15 kilometres long, but on the other hand there are some more than 30 km long! For this reason, experts recommend to bring between seven and nine kilos, the most. But if you want to avoid carrying the backpack with all your things, Galiwonders helps you to plan your trip including luggage transfer.
Everyone can walk the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is suitable for everyone if you feel like doing it. The age, the sex, the origins… there is no factor that can be a problem when the moment of starting this adventure arrives.
For example, it is an activity that women do as much as men. In all the routes it is possible to find travellers from both sex that decide to reach Santiago alone or with the company of their family or friends.
Age is not an obstacle. You need to know that the time and the stages of the Camino de Santiago are flexible, so each person can do it at her or his own pace. There are some days more than 30 km long, that can be split in two. And some short stages that can be put together in case you fancy walking more that day. Babies and kids, of course, should go accompanied by an adult, but of course, they will also be able to say: I walked the Camino!
Even though for walking the Way it is not necessary to be an athlete, it is better to be as much in fit as possible. There are some stages that go across a mountainous land or have no asphalt, that can pose a problem. But no worries! It is enough if you train a bit before doing the Camino. We recommend you to walk daily in a different type of land and walk some extra kilometres each time. That will help you to increase your resistance and to strengthen the legs. Nevertheless, remember that there are many official routes and some are easier than the others. Don’t hesitate to write or call us to get more information about our tours.
One Camino for each pilgrim
The Camino de Santiago has many official routes. Before deciding to do one or another, get some information about them and think about what interests you the most. Do you like the sea and you fancy a coastal Way? Choose the Portuguese Coastal Way. Do you love being surrounded by people? The French Way is the most popular among the pilgrims. Aren’t you afraid of the difficult stages? Dare to walk the Primitive Way.
Although each person can start her or his own peregrination from their houses, you don’t need to walk so much to get the Compostela. Pilgrims that want to obtain this document should walk at least the last 100 kilometres or ride the bike for the last 200 kilometres of an official route until reaching Santiago de Compostela. There is also another requirement: to have at least two stamps per stage, one at the beginning and one at the end.
Precisely, the amount of pilgrims that arrive in Santiago de Compostela by foot, is the biggest of all the categories. Around the 90% of the people that decide to do any of the routes arrive by walk. The second option regarding to the popularity is the bike, while the third is the horse-back riding. The Pilgrim’s Reception Office in Santiago de Compostela includes in its annual report the number of pilgrims that arrive in wheelchair and those who choose the sailboat.
Nevertheless, each pilgrim can do the Way of Saint James as he or she prefers. For this reason, it is easy to find in the Camino people with a tractor or riding a donkey.
All you need to know to avoid getting lost in the Camino de Santiago
It is very easy to follow the signals on the Way. Along all the routes, you can find different signals that will guide you to reach your final destination: Santiago de Compostela. The most common are the yellow arrows drawn in many places and the milestones. Those are perpendicular stones placed at the crossroads where you can read the number of kilometres left to Santiago. The milestones were used by romans and nowadays indicate where to go; it depends on the direction the scallop shell is pointing to.
If you choose any of the most popular ways you will walk most of the time near other pilgrims, and that will help you to orient yourself. People from the villages of the Camino are always there to give a hand if it is necessary, so you can also ask them if you get lost.
Santiago’s festivity: July 25th
July 25th is Santiago Apóstol (St James Apostle) festivity and Galicia’s Day. During the night from the 24th to the 25th, it is possible to see on the front of the Santiago’s Cathedral a story through projected images and the fireworks over the building, visible from different spots of the city. It is, probably, the moment of the year with more people in Santiago and a good chance to enjoy the outdoor concerts and the attractions of the fair.
The celebration of Galicia’s Day the same day as Saint James Day, and it started in 1920 thanks to the Galician association called “Irmandades da Fala” (Language Fraternities). During the dictatorship of Franco, this festivity was banned. In 1979, the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Government) established July 25th as the official day of the region.
And if you still feel like having more…
… carry on until Fisterra. Romans believed that this was the last populated place on earth and many years later here was build the Finisterre Lighthouse. This is the most popular destination of the Camino for those who don’t stop in Santiago de Compostela. Going to Finisterre means walking four days more, six if you decide to reach Muxía. The reward is to enjoy the landscape of A Costa da Morte and see the ferocity of its see.
If after reading this post you are sure about when to do the Camino de Santiago and which route to choose, contact us.
And if you still have doubts, send us an email and we will help you to plan your perfect Camino.