Seasonal Changes On The Camino What To Expect Each Month

Snaking its way to Santiago de Compostela along various routes, the Camino de Santiago encompasses countless awe-inspiring sights. From the rugged Pyrenees with their lofty towers, deep valleys, diverse ecosystems and the vast emptiness of La Meseta to the rolling beauty of the La Rioja wine region and the fearsome Atlantic Ocean, this is a walk that frequently leaves you speechless.

Here are our picks for natural wonders from the Camino Frances and the Camino Portuguese, guaranteed to take your breath away.

The Camino Francés

1. The Pyrenees – Gateway to the Camino

The Camino Francés begins with a formidable yet awe-inspiring challenge: crossing the Pyrenees from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Roncesvalles in Spain. It’s very much the equivalent of being thrown into the deep end, but while the muscles may burn and the heart will pound, you are walking through a truly astonishing landscape.

This segment offers stunning mountain vistas, with trails winding through forests, pastures, and high-altitude meadows. The ascent provides panoramic views of the Pyrenees’ rugged terrain, with its diverse flora and fauna, offering a memorable start to the Camino.

Where to find it: Camino Frances Stage 1

2. Alto del Perdón – The Hill of Forgiveness

Beyond Pamplona, walkers ascend the Alto del Perdón, where a modern sculpture of pilgrims brave the wind, symbolising the journey’s trials and triumphs. The summit offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding Navarrese landscape, with its patchwork of fields, wind turbines, and distant mountains. It’s a semi-challenging climb up, but the rewards are nothing short of breathtaking.

Where to find it: Camino Frances Stage 1

3. La Meseta – Spain’s Vast Heartland

There are some people who refer to La Meseta as the ‘dull’ part of the Camino, but we’d beg to disagree. La Meseta, a high plateau in central Spain, presents a different kind of beauty. Its vast, open landscapes offer a stark, minimalist effect that is both meditative, surreal – even a little foreboding. After the social buzz of Burgos, La Meseta is like walking across the moon.

The long, straight paths under the expansive sky provide a unique opportunity for introspection and solitude, with the golden colours of wheat fields and vineyards stretching to the horizon. Expect far fewer walkers in this section, so if you’re looking to get away from it all but still experience the glories of the Camino, this is where to do it.

Where to find it: Camino Frances Stage 3

4. Cruz the Ferro – Camino Symbolism

The Cruz de Ferro, or Iron Cross, stands as a poignant landmark on the Camino Francés route. This simple yet profoundly symbolic structure consists of a wooden pole topped with an iron cross, surrounded by a mound of stones that have been laid there by pilgrims over centuries.

At an altitude of approximately 1,500 metres, it marks one of the highest points on the Camino Francés, offering breathtaking views and a moment of deep reflection for those who pass by.

The natural beauty surrounding the Cruz de Ferro is as compelling as the landmark itself. The cross is nestled within the Montes de León, part of the larger Cantabrian Mountains that stretch across the northwest of Spain. An astonishing part of the Camino de Santiago. Bring a stone from home, and leave your mark on this historic walk.

Where to find it: Camino Frances Stage 5

The Camino's Natural Wonders A Guide To Scenic Spots

5. O Cebreiro – The Celtic Village in the Clouds

Entering Galicia, pilgrims encounter O Cebreiro, a traditional Galician village perched high in the mountains. This area is known for its pallozas (stone and thatch houses) and its often misty, ghostly atmosphere. The surrounding landscape, with rolling hills and lush greenery, marks a striking contrast to La Meseta and, at times, looks remarkably like Ireland.

While there’s nothing quite like O Cebreiro on the remainder of the route into Santiago, Galicia, in general, offers a convey belt of sumptuous landscapes, including thick forests, mountains, hills, and the impending Atlantic.

Where to find it: Camino Frances Stage 5

6. Finisterre – The End of the World

For those who continue past Santiago, one of the Camino’s great natural wonders awaits. The small town of Finisterre lies 91km west of Santiago and is connected via the Camino Finisterre, a Camino off-shoot for those looking to escape the business of Santiago and end their Camino at a place the Romans once considered the end of the world.

Standing high on a hillside overlooking the raging Atlantic Ocean, it’s easy to imagine this as the edge of the world – vast, empty – powerful beyond mere humans. The coastline here is rugged, steep, and spectacular. If you want to end your journey away from people with the full force and beauty of nature, come to Finisterre.

Where to find it: Camino Finisterre

The Camino Portugués

1. The Coastal Route – Along the Atlantic

The northern section of the Camino Portugués hugs the Atlantic Ocean for most of the way, providing thunderous vistas every day. You’ll often find yourself just staring out to sea while walking – there’s something deeply peaceful, almost mesmerising, about walking next to water for long periods.

With a refreshing sea breeze, the sound of waves, and the sight of pristine beaches and rugged cliffs, it’s hard to go wrong in this part of the world.

Where to find it: Camino Portuguese Stage 1 & Stage 2

The Camino's Natural Wonders A Guide To Scenic Spots

2. Ponte de Lima – Ancient Crossings and Riverside Beauty

Ponte de Lima, one of Portugal’s oldest towns, is renowned for its Romanesque bridge spanning the tranquil Lima River. The surrounding area, with its lush riverbanks and traditional vineyards, provides a picturesque setting that highlights the region’s natural and historical heritage. This is an area where it feels like life has been slowed down. People don’t rush, and lunches take longer – life has a different pace.

Where to find it: Camino Portuguese Stage 1

3. Rivers and Rias – Welcome to Galicia

Upon reaching Valença do Minho, walkers find themselves at a fortified town on the border with Spain, overlooking the Minho River. As you make your way North, you’ll eventually cross a series of estuaries – or Rias, as they call them in Galicia,.

These Rias offer something completely unique on the Camino de Santiago. Many include quaint towns or villages and rolling hills that rise away from the water’s edge. You’ll find small beaches tucked into coves and fishing boats meandering their way out to sea.

This area may not have the awe-inspiring power of the Pyrenees or the raw emotion of the Cruz de Ferro, but this peaceful walk through the Galician heartland is simply unmissable.

Where to find it: Camino Portuguese Stage 2

Embracing Nature

From the majestic Pyrenees and the emptiness of La Meseta to the rugged Atlantic coastline and the verdant landscapes of Galicia and northern Portugal, the Camino provides abundant natural splendour.

The city and the thriving towns are always fun and exciting to visit, but what most remember best about the Camino de Santiago are those moments when you’re alone, or walking with a friend through a landscape that completely captures you’re imagination. You’re not worrying about work or what time to pick the kids up, you’re simply present and feeling incredibly grateful to be alive and capable of walking the Camino.

The Camino's Natural Wonders A Guide To Scenic Spots