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The Rain in Spain

There are many excellent weather sites on the web these days. Here are some links to Weather Online for towns on the Camino Francés. Gives current conditions and 5-day forecasts, plus satellite pictures and weather maps.

Pamplona | Logroño | Burgos | León | Santiago

To help your planning, here are 30-year averages for the same towns plus Ponferrada, extracted from information from the Instituto Nacional de Meteorología. For full details, see their website. (For France, see below.) Note that these are for the main towns and do not reflect the variety of weather you will encounter on the Camino; see climatic zones below. You may select:

  • either a month for temperatures in all these towns in that month

    January | February | March | April
    May | June | July | August
    September | October | November | December

  • or a town for temperatures for all months in that town.

    Pamplona | Logroño | Burgos | León | Ponferrada | Santiago

France: 30-year averages by region are available on Météo France's website.

Climatic zones

It's a common mistake of those who only know Spain from Mediterranean beaches to think that it is always hot, sunny and dry. It is a very mountainous country and the weather can differ considerably depending on where you are and at what time of year. Broadly, the Camino Francés can be divided into 4 zones:

  1. the Pyrenees: snow is possible at any time during the winter, say November-March; at other times, rain and low cloud can make visibility very poor. If the weather is bad, stick to roads rather than paths, and/or use a lower-level route. On the other hand, if the weather's fine, the views are glorious.
  2. the Meseta: the high plains of Castile. The camino only touches the northern edge of this, but still it can be very hot and dry in summer and there is little shade. Hyperthermia is a very real risk. However, because it is around 800m up, it can also be bitterly cold and raw in winter, and at night, even in summer. Spring (say, March-April), on the other hand, is a revelation: wall-to-wall wildflowers and a barrage of birdsong. Autumn is generally parched and sere; all browns and yellows. Because it's generally very dry, it can be exceptionally clear when there is no heat-haze.
  3. the mountains of León and Cordillera: a common mistake of those who do not know Spain is to think that once you have crossed the Pyrenees, it is downhill all the way. Far from true! To reach Galicia, you must cross two mountain ranges that are roughly the same height as the Pyrenean pass. Like the Pyrenees, these too may well be snow-covered in winter, and/or damp and cloud-covered at other times.
  4. Galicia: a changeable, mild Atlantic climate. Rarely very hot or very cold, but often very wet - and very green. Santiago for some reason is particularly damp: the wettest town in Spain (its annual rainfall is more than twice that of towns in Britain regarded as damp, such as Manchester). E Galicia is noticeably drier. The climate is very familiar to those who know W Britain or Ireland (or W France), though a few degrees warmer. Lots of what the Irish call 'soft rain', which can be rather depressing. But then the front goes through, the sun comes out, the wind sweeps away the mist, you get exceptionally clear weather, and you think 'what a wonderful place'.

Of course, these zones are not exact, and there are transitional areas such as La Rioja or the Bierzo. Also, the only predictable thing about weather is that it is unpredictable. I have been on the Meseta in early March with temps of 25°C+, and in November when everyone was well wrapped up. I have crossed the Pyrenees in November in brilliant weather - and in awful weather in October. There's a lot of luck in weather.

2001, header changed October 2009