Autumn is a quiet season when the daily rhythm of life returns to normal. The Camino de Santiago also follows this trend and, after the thousands of pilgrims in the summer, the routes calm down in the coming months.
If you’re looking for a relaxed Camino, without crowds, more at your own leisure, this may be your best option. You’ll just have to organize your route and your equipment very well. Here are some tips for travelling the Camino in autumn and some things to do during this season.
You will probably know that there are a few Caminos. When you figure out how many days you’ll have, choose your route accordingly. Your own physical condition and means of transport will determine how many kilometres you can cover in a day. Something else to consider is that some Camino hostels and businesses close during the autumn and winter months, when the number of pilgrims significantly decreases on the Route. Find out your different public and private accommodation options ahead of time.
The big difference in autumn is that you’re dealing with changing weather conditions on the Camino routes that cross the northern part of the peninsula — meaning almost all of them. And from there, once you arrive in Galicia, chances are it will be raining more or less all of the time. There are routes where the climate is milder with less difficult areas. The Portuguese Way is, for instance, an interesting option if you have a few days, since the weather of the Rías Baixas is more temperate than other areas of Galicia on the French Way, the Primitive Way or the Northern Way.
The Vía de la Plata is one of the more stable routes in terms of climate. You may even experience heat waves in November! From Astorga, this route joins the Camino Francés and will take you back to Bierzo and O Cebreiro, areas with bad weather that are best to avoid. If you plan well and keep cognizant of the weather forecast of the Camino, you can change your plans to avoid complicated situations.
In Benavente you can get on the Sanabria Way, redirecting to Puebla de Sanabria. The other option is to continue until Ponferrada and get on the Camino de Invierno, which originated to avoid the mountainous areas by which the French route enters into Galicia during the rainiest and coldest seasons.
What can you do on the Camino de Santiago in November?
Even though it is the low season for pilgrims, towns that you’ll pass by on the Camino go on about daily life with special dates and celebrations. Why not participate in some of them?
Visit a winery on the Camino
Travelling the route is a great way to discover first-hand the lands from which these wonderful and internationally-renowned wines come from. Find out if there is a winery that you can visit in the area.
Stop by a Magosto festival to eat chestnuts
The magosto (or amagüestu, magosta, castanyada, Gazteinerre…) is a typical celebration in many places in northern Spain, so it is very likely that you’ll find one along your route. It is celebrated on All Souls’ Day and in Galicia there is a special tradition in the province of Ourense. The origin of the festival is the celebration of the harvest, and the chestnut is the star along with news wines and meat products, such as chorizo. Depending on the area, rituals vary, but chestnuts and fire are always present.
Take a mycological tour and go looking for mushrooms
Many areas on the Camino are filled with mushrooms during this time of season. But never (and we must stress: NEVER) pick them or taste them if you don’t know what you’re doing. With expert mushroom pickers, many mycological tours are organized where you can learn to distinguish between delicacies and toxic and deadly mushrooms, such as Amanita Phalloides. At the very least, you should try a local mushroom dish.
Written by El Camino con Correos.
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