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Reasons to go on a pilgrimage during summer … and reasons not to


Shutterstock | Gena Melendrez

Daniel Esparza - published on 07/15/22

Legendary pilgrimage routes are especially attractive during the summer month -- if you can stand the heat, that is.

Going on a summer pilgrimage has its (many) advantages and disadvantages. It is true that, for most of us, this is the only time of the year when we can take one or two weeks off. And although these holy routes and places can be crowded and unbearably hot, there are plenty of good reasons to visit them during the summer, especially when compared to other seasons, despite the high temperatures.

But, as with almost everything, there are two sides to every coin.

1. More daylight.

The long days of summer give you some extra time not only to complete the specific stages of the route you choose, but also to wander around some other places you will discover while on your way. Also, if your summer pilgrimage route goes along the coast (as is the case in some parts of the Camino de Santiago or the Maltese Camino), you will have beautiful beaches to enjoy. Along many interior roads, rivers, natural pools and municipal pools are available.

You must keep in mind, though, that during these months there is less chances of rain (meaning perhaps some of these streams will be rather dry), and that beaches and pools will surely be crowded. Remember, Mediterranean countries register record temperatures during these months: Walking on roads where there is no shade can be incredibly tiresome. That is why most pilgrims get up really early and only walk half the day.

2. Local festivities.

During the summer, lots of European villages and towns celebrate their patron saints. From late June to early July, for example, Spanish cities celebrate St. John, St. Peter, St. Christopher, and San Fermín, one feast after the other, for two whole weeks in a row. If you plan accordingly, you can go through several different towns during their local holidays.

However, most services can be overwhelmed during these months, and chances are that you will have to compete with everyone around you to get a bed in an inn.

3. You get to travel light.

Forget about bulky winter clothes and puffy jackets. A small, comfortable backpack will do.

But summer rain can surprise you when you least expect it, so carrying a poncho will come in handy.

4. Increased possibilities of making friends.

The most famous pilgrimage routes (Santiago, the Jordan Trail, the Maltese Camino) are popular summer destinations, and people go there in droves. Whereas this might mean less time to be alone with yourself, praying, meditating, or contemplating, it also means you can get to make new friends in an ideal circumstance.

Still, even if these trails are rather long, perhaps you will have to go the extra mile (no pun intended) to find some solitude.

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