Finding Solitude On The Camino Best Times And Places For Peaceful Walking

Sometimes, you just need a quiet walk. Modern life is chaotic in many ways, and the perfect antidote is usually a bit of peace and tranquillity. Add in just the right amount of solitude, space to think and recharge, and splendid areas of nature, and this just might be the perfect remedy for our hectic lives.

Walking the Camino de Santiago, a network of ancient pilgrim routes that meet at the gates of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, has long been an act undertaken by those seeking answers, redemption – even peace.

While the camaraderie among pilgrims can be uplifting, there comes a time when we just need to be alone. To breathe deeply, put one foot before the other, and set forth. This article explores the best times and places to find peace on the Camino, ensuring a tranquil journey for those who seek solitude.

The Best Times for Peaceful Walking

Early Spring (March to April)

Walking the Camino in early spring combines the dual advantage of fewer pilgrims and nature’s fabulous blossoming, creating a staggering setting for your walk. With colours erupting around, it’s a beautiful time to be in Northern Spain. The chill in the air is usually mild – note the word usually there – and the routes are far less trodden, allowing for plenty of solitude along the route

Late Autumn (October to November)

Late autumn is another period that promises a calm, peaceful experience on the Camino. The bulk of the year’s pilgrims have already passed, leaving a gentle trickle heading towards Santiago. All around you, the landscape bursts into colour again, this time autumn’s golden and crimson tones. It is a truly spectacular time to walk the Camino.

Weekdays and Off-Peak Hours

Walking during weekdays and off-peak hours (early mornings or late afternoons) can also provide a healthy degree of solitude. The paths are less crowded compared to weekends and midday, so if you’re looking for quiet, get up early and consider a long, lazy lunch to allow the crowds to pass you as you gorge yourself on a second or third helping of Jamón ibérico.

The weekend often sees local people walking sections of the Camino, so numbers tend to swell, particularly on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.

When To Walk The Camino Irish Bank Holiday 2024

When Not to Walk the Camino if You’re Looking for Peace

The summer months, from late June to August, are the busiest on the Camino. If you happen to be walking during a Holy Year – the next few are 2027, 2032, 2038, and 2049 – things can get a little crazy.

The promise of warm weather draws big crowds, resulting in busy paths, crowded accommodations, and long restaurant waits. Some thrive in the hectic summer months, but if you’ve come to get away from it all and simply walk quietly in peace, this might not be the best place for you.

Best Places to Find Peace on the Camino

Each section of the Camino has its busy, bottle-neck sections where groups seem to converge, but there are a few sections of the routes to look out for if you’re mainly looking for peace and quiet.

Stage 3 – Camino Frances

Some will tell you that the long, desolate section after Burgos, known as the La Meseta, should be skipped, but we beg to disagree. Arriving in Burgos is always busy, but Stage 3, which begins by leaving the historic city, provides an entirely different experience. La Meseta is a vast, brooding landscape with sparse accommodation, villages, and solitude around you. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it.

Finding Solitude On The Camino Best Times And Places For Peaceful Walking

Stage 4 – Camino Frances

Stage 4 is also a good option if you’re looking for peaceful walking along the Camino de Santiago. Linking the small town of Calzadilla with the gothic masterpiece Leon, the fourth stage of the Camino is quiet, beautiful, and often undervalued by those picking a section. Before arriving in Leon, you’ll pass through Sahagún, a medieval town renowned for its architecture, and cross the iconic stone bridge into Hospital de Rio Orbigo.

Section 1 & 2 Camino Portugues

If you don’t mind Portugal instead of Spain (and really, it’s no trade-off at all as Portugal is an absolute delight), consider the Camino Portugues; walking one of the two sections from Porto to Santiago is not only breathtaking,, incorporating peaceful Portugues villages with their stone hórreos, the rugged, yet stunning Atlantic coastline, and the peaceful Rias (tributaries) that snake inland, you’re almost guaranteed to see far fewer walkers than on the Camino Frances. Section 1 links Porto with Tui on the Spanish border, with Section 2 leading you into Santiago.

The Places to Avoid if You’re Looking for Peace

The two most popular routes are the Camino Francés, especially the stretch from Sarria to Santiago and the first section that traverses the Pyrenees and plunges from France headlong into Spain. You can expect to see a high number here from mid-spring onwards. Similarly, the regions around major cities like Pamplona, Leon, and Burgos can get quite busy.

It is important to stress that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Many adore the crowds because it practically guarantees a wide range of people to walk with and strike up a conversation. A busy Camino means a more social experience; for some, this is precisely what they’re looking for.

A Search for Peace

If the noise has reached defining levels and you need to check out for a while, the Camino de Santiago is the perfect place to do it. It combines adventure with exercise, meaning with tranquillity, and culture with nature. It’s a no-brainer for those looking to escape the madness of our modern lives.

Finding some peaceful walking on the Camino de Santiago is about choosing the right time and place for your journey. Early spring and late autumn and less-travelled routes like those mentioned above offer the best chance for a calm, reflective experience many seek. Choose wisely, as every Camino is different.

Finding Solitude On The Camino Best Times And Places For Peaceful Walking