Christmas is a time of year when the Camino de Santiago does not usually receive many pilgrims. As we all know, at Christmas time it is usual to meet up with family and friends, those who are close by and also those who come home for Christmas. This, together with the rather harsh weather at the gates of winter, with cold, rain and perhaps snow and storms, explains why these are not the preferred dates for pilgrimages.

However, and Even if you can’t imagine it, there are some reasons to go on a pilgrimage adventure (never better said!) during these special dates. We‘re going to tell you all about it, because in this article we’ll see what’s involved. Doing the Camino de Santiago at Christmas, with its pros, cons and some tips.

Pilgrims at Christmas

As I said, my pilgrim friend, few pilgrims set out to walk a Jacobean route at Christmas, things as they are. This does not mean that there are not, and they are usually experienced pilgrims who already know the Camino de Santiago at other dates, know what it entails and can imagine what it means to do it in the last and cold weeks of the year: basically, adverse weather and fewer services available.

Snowy mountain of O Cebreiro

It is true that it is advisable to choose a route that runs through roads where the weather forecast is a priori more benign than in others, keep in mind that in Galicia it rains a lot and as far as services are concerned, it would be best to choose the one that best suits you. traditionally the most popular routes throughout the year, since the likelihood of finding available services and accommodations will be higher than on other less traveled routes on an annual basis.

The Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim’s Office tells us that, obviating the fateful 2020, In December 2019 there were 2,710 pilgrims who applied for a pilgrimage. Compostela being the TheFrench Way of Santiago, the Portuguese Way of Santiago and the Portuguese Way of Santiago along the Coast routes with the highest number of pilgrims.

The routes of the Camino de Santiago at Christmas, which one to choose?

As we pointed out above, we must follow two criteria: the weather and open accommodations, speaking clearly and soon, and the ones that offer better weather and more services are the Portuguese route and the French route. Are we playing it safe, or maybe going on an adventure?

To be on the safe side

The Portuguese Way of Santiago and its variant along the coast come from Portugal and enter Galicia from the south, a latitude that statistically offers more pleasant temperatures, between 8º and 15º on average in Portugal, about 5º lower in Galicia. This reduces the cold that can be encountered on more northerly roads.

As for accommodation and other services, being a very busy routes annually, you can still find hostels, guesthouses and hotels operational even at Christmas, particularly in the last 100 kilometers from Tui. In addition, there are people who travel on holiday at Christmas, not pilgrims, and this period of the year is still a time of year with some tourist demand, especially on the north coast of Portugal or southern Galicia.

Panoramic view of Tuy in winter

For its part, the French Way of Santiago is the leader in terms of pilgrim traffic, even though it is a colder route than the Portuguese one, as it is further north, although perhaps with more services. You have to consider where you want to start this journey. We want you well, and we do not recommend you to do it from Saint Jean a-Pied-de-Port, Roncesvalles, León and O Cebreiro, high passes and mountain passes of more than 1.000 m above sea level are waiting for you: snow, wind and cold and icy cold and storms and cold, as well as poor visibility. It’s a risk you shouldn’t take and you could leave to another time of the year.

On the other hand, it is a good idea to do the last 100 kilometres from Sarria is a good idea, because at its maximum altitude of just over 700 m above sea level it is difficult to find snow (although not impossible). It will be cold and there may be morning mists, but that can be solved with a good pilgrim clothing and accessories. As for accommodation, we insist, it is the busiest and best provided with accommodation, so you will not have any problem.

On an adventure

As for the rest of the routes, of course you can do them, but you have to consider that, for example, the weather on the Primitive Way of Santiago can be very hard, as well as in some stretches of the North Way of Santiago. The Winter Way although very appropriate for this time of year, passes through some high areas and may give you complications, and in terms of services can give you problems in this time of low season, as well as the the English Way of Santiago the Via de la Plata the the Way of Santiago of Sanabria or the Way of Santiago of Finisterre and Muxía.

To consider

Of course, we only give you advice that comes from our experience, but you can make the way you want. Just keep them in mind and plan your route well: check weather forecasts and book accommodation before you leave. In addition, there will be fewer hours of sunlight for walking, something you have to take into account when planning your stages.

The obradoiro square at Christmas

Although you have to keep in mind that, in general, the weather will be colder and there will be less accommodation, these disadvantages are also accompanied by advantages that may encourage you to make a pilgrimage at Christmas, so let’s go with them!

The benefits of going on pilgrimage at Christmas time

We are very positive and always find the good side of things. At Christmas you will find few pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, an advantage if you are looking for evasion, introspection, intimacy, reflection and finding yourself. On the other hand, many people want to to disconnect and spend an alternative Christmas, and in this the Camino de Santiago is a very good option.

In addition, the landscapes that you will find in the countryside will offer you beautiful winter pictures, and if you are lucky to find some snow, it is always an added value. You will also pass through towns and cities with their Christmas lights, which will give you all the warmth you need.

Christmas lights in Vigo

Very important is the contribution of spirituality that you can feel on the Camino de Santiago at Christmas time. Christmas comes from Latin and means “birth”, and as you know it celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, very close to the Apostle Santiago. With regard to the latter, it is precisely at Christmas time when a very important episode in the history of the history of the Way of Santiago, the Traslatio o viaje de los restos del Apóstol de Palestina a Galicia: every 30th of December this episode is celebrated, with mass and botafumeiro included in the Cathedral of Santiago. You can make your arrival in Santiago coincide with this day, and thus have an exceptional end of the year.

In addition, many well-known pilgrims at Christmas have told us that in the accommodation, especially in hostels, they often celebrate Christmas dinners with a fraternal and fun atmosphere, where you can feel at home, but with new people. Who knows, a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve of pilgrims can be very inspiring.

With my burrito sabanero I’m on my way to… Santiago de Compostela!!!!

This is what the carol sounds like, but with our pilgrim version. You can do the Way of Santiago singing to Christmas, perhaps alone or accompanied, with your dog or even by bicycle. We can help you with everything, and we guarantee you that it is possible to make a pilgrimage at Christmas, just as Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men do every year on their way to our homes.

Happy Camino, pilgrim!