The weather on the Camino de Santiago
One of the things that worries all the pilgrims is the weather on the Camino de Santiago and what to do if it rains. This concern is normal if we consider that, regardless of the route chosen, all roads to Santiago end up crossing Galician soil. A land of impressive green colours, the fruit of its intense and frequent precipitations.
Now we will talk about the odds you have of finding rain during your pilgrimage and what to do if it rains on the Camino de Santiago. Although the rain is not the best travelling companion, if you go prepared, it can have its own charm.
Galicia: aguas mil (It rains a lot)
Yes, you are reading it properly: “Galicia: Aguas Mil”. Galicia is among the rainiest places in the world, along with places like Bergen (Norway).
Therefore, the odds that on some of the stages of your Camino de Santiago, the chances of rain are very high. In the Galician community, you could say that it rains one day out of every three.
Obviously, this figure changes according to the region of Galicia that you cross on your route, as will the intensity of the rain that you will find. Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of all pilgrims, records the year up to 140 days of rainfall. Exactly! Almost every other day!
In fact, the rain is so integrated into the Galician culture, that more than 70 different words are used to describe it. Here we leave a small list, which includes only from A to C, so you get acquainted with the famous Galician rain:
- Arroiada or Chuvazco: strong and intense precipitation.
- Babuña, Barbuza, Barral, Barrufa, Barbaña, Barruñeira, Borralla, Boubizo: All are used when it rains often and in a not-so-intense form.
- Ballón or Bategada: heavy and intense rain.
- Balloada: Used when the rain starts suddenly and falls intensely for several days.
- Barruzada: When the rain falls finely but is persistent.
- Barruzo or Pandora: Small and not intense rainfall, but well accompanied by fog.
- Basto or Bátega: Intense rain that starts suddenly, but has little duration.
- Cairo: Heavy rainfall and of short duration.
- Cebrina or Cebrisca: Stormy rain and snow with strong winds. .
- Chaparrada or Chaparrazo: Rain, strong, intense and short-lived.
On which routes of the Camino de Santiago it rains most
The northern routes such as Camino del Norte or the Camino Primitivo, have an oceanic climate, dotted with areas of mountain climate. The oceanic climate is characterized by mild temperatures and abundant rainfall due to proximity to the ocean.
On the Camino del Norte it’s almost certainly going to rain. The odds are very high, especially in autumn and spring. On the Camino Primitivo, the probability of rain is somewhat inferior.
The Camino de Santiago Frances, that goes a little further south, runs, mostly through regions with a continental Mediterranean climate. The weather on this route along the Camino de Santiago is characterized by long and cold winters; and short and warm summers. On this route, there is a strong contrast of temperature between day and night.
On the other hand, the Caminos in Portugal have a continental Atlantic climate. On these routes of the Camino de Santiago, except for the entrance to Galicia, the weather is milder and the probability of rain is not very high.
At what time of year does it rain the most on the Camino de Santiago
As in all of Spain, the rainiest months on the Camino de Santiago are autumn and winter. The odds of rain begin to increase from October, reaching its highest point in December and January.
From there, except for the months of April and May, in which there is a certain resurgence in rainfall, the probability of rain decreases. The weather on the Camino de Santiago during the months of June, July and August is drier.
But diminishing does not mean disappearing! If you embark on the wonderful adventure of doing the Camino in June, in Galicia you can catch a storm at any moment.
Despite the bad weather that is encountered on many routes of the Camino de Santiago, there are many people who choose to make a pilgrimage over the winter. These months have a much harder climate, but they hide other landscapes and a lot of peace and quiet.
Practical advice to combat the rain on the Camino de Santiago
The weather on the Camino de Santiago should never make you renounce your desire to pilgrimage to Compostela. No matter what time of year you have days to escape onto the Camino, the rain should not be a problem if you know how to go well prepared. Let’s see what to do if it rains on the Camino de Santiago!
Sometimes the showers warn of their arrival and if so, our advice is that before the imminent rainfall, look for a place to shelter yourself. If the rain is intense and prolonged, one option is to reduce the kilometres of that stage or take transport to the destination that you planned to reach on that day.
At other times, downpours come unannounced. If it rains without notice, what you must do is to find a tavern or some village, among the many that you will find in the Camino de Santiago, to take refuge and have a hot drink.
Take a break
If in the weather forecast you see that in the middle of your Camino de Santiago, they announce several days of bad weather, you can consider taking a break in a typical village or town and to spend some days there. When it rains on the Camino de Santiago many villages are transformed into lively places, where pilgrims chat together, while waiting for the storm to die down.
If it rains, study the different variants on the Camino de Santiago
In some sections of the Camino de Santiago when it rains the ground becomes unstable or very slippery. If the weather is bad, study the route well and analyze if you should take some of the variants offered by the Camino de Santiago to avoid moving through areas where it can be easy to slip.
One example of this is the Camino de Invierno. When it rains in O Cebreiro, that dreaded ascent can become a real hell. It is for this reason that many pilgrims when they find this section of the Camino Frances with bad weather, they divert along the Camino de Invierno, which also is perfectly signposted
Prepare for rain, no matter what
The most important thing about what to do if it rains on the Camino de Santiago is to know what to take in your backpack. In fact, although the weather forecast does not predict rain during your journey, in your backpack, you must have material to help you cope with possible drizzle that may arrive unannounced.
Here are some things that can be useful if there is bad weather on the Camino de Santiago. Depending on which route you choose you should go more or less prepared, but remember that, sooner or later, you will end up arriving in Galicia and there, probably, no one will save you from having to cope with some showers.
Take some waterproofs
A Pilgrim’s poncho, a raincoat or an umbrella should go in your backpack no matter what, regardless of the time of year you plan to pilgrimage and the route you make. If it rains on the Camino de Santiago, you will greatly appreciate having loaded the small extra weight that any of these three elements in your backpack.
If your question is: Pilgrim’s poncho, raincoat or umbrella, what’s better? Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Imagine how easy it is to encounter a rainy day on your pilgrimage to Compostela, well, there is a pilgrim’s poncho, designed especially for them. These raincoats have a rear extension that serves to cover the backpack and cover up to half of the thighs, approximately.
The downside of these is that being larger than a raincoat-jacket, they are a bit awkward and can reduce mobility. In addition, to access the backpack you have to take it off.
Waterproof jacket and backpack cover
The other option is to wear a rain jacket that is smaller and complement it with a waterproof cover for the backpack. The drawback of this option is that between the back and the cover, there is a hole, so if it rains a lot on the Camino de Santiago, it is likely that the water will seep and ends up wetting your backpack on the inside.
Some backpacks have closing points to avoid the above. Another option is to carry a waterproofing spray and if it rains in the Camino de Santiago, apply it on the inside of the backpack.
Is an umbrella useful if it rains on the Camino de Santiago?
In addition to ponchos and raincoats, some pilgrims opt to use an umbrella. We do not recommend it, because if it rains and there is wind on the Camino de Santiago, it won’t help you to protect yourself. On the other hand, using an umbrella involves always having a hand occupied and not allowing you to cover your backpack properly.
The advantage of umbrellas is that they allow you to enjoy much more of the noise of nature. The ponchos, especially, are quite noisy because of the plastic.
If it rains on the Camino de Santiago, you will be glad to have chosen waterproof boots. If your feet get wet, you’ll probably end up having a really bad time with the blisters that will appear with having wet feet.
How to protect non-waterproof boots
However, if you already have boots and these are not waterproof, you have some options that can help protect your feet. One is leggings, a kind of raincoat for boots. These are useful whether your shoes are not waterproof or heavy rains are expected because in those cases, even waterproof boots can get wet.
Another option is over boots, designed to go by bike. Although they do not have a reinforcement on the sole, they protect footwear quite well.
How to dry shoes
If it rains on the Camino de Santiago and your boots get wet, a trick that works very well is to put newspaper inside. When you get to your end of the stage ask your accommodation if they have old newspapers or buy one. Open your boots as much as you can and put paper balls inside them.
If they are very wet, change the paper throughout the afternoon. So you get them to dry faster and the next morning, they’re like new.
Other useful things if it rains on the Camino de Santiago
In addition to the above, you could say that are the essentials, there are other things you can put in your backpack and that will be very useful if it rains along the Camino de Santiago. Some of them are:
Over-trousers are items that make any trousers waterproof. They are more useful than waterproof trousers because you can use them only if it rains on the Camino de Santiago and not every day.
These are ideal for routes or in times when you expect a lot of rain and where you will inevitably have to walk through it. If you don’t expect so much rain, they’re not so essential.
Put a couple of plastic bags in your backpack. You will find them especially useful to keep your wet clothes without wetting the rest.
But in addition, they are not only useful if it rains on the Camino de Santiago, but also will serve you to keep garbage when you make some stops. Always keep a few plastic bags handy, they’ll save you from more than one tricky situation.
If it rains a lot on the Camino de Santiago, you will accumulate a lot of wet clothes. An infallible trick is to carry a few safety pins to hang some items on the outside of the backpack.
You can do it when it stops raining, but if it rains a lot and you wear a backpack, you can place it between the backpack and the cover. This trick can save your life!
Now that you are an expert and you are very clear what to do if it rains on the Camino de Santiago, do not think any more about it! Do not expect it to be the perfect season to complete the Camino de Santiago, any time is ideal and no month is free from the rain.
If you want to help you organize your pilgrimage to Compostela, do not hesitate to contact us. In addition, with our car assistance service and backpack transfer between stages, they could be very useful if it rains during the Camino de Santiago.