Tips to do the Camino
Summer is here and we're sure that your preparations for the Way of Saint James are in full swing: choosing a route, training, thinking about what to bring in your backpack, readying your bike, etc. Today we discuss the different accommodation options you'll find along the Camino. There are endless possibilities and it is important to know what they are and how they work to make the best choice.
A good night's rest is essential to enjoy the Camino. Take care of yourself while respecting your fellow pilgrims.
Public hostels are municipally or regionally-owned, owned by associations, religious organisations or non-profit. In Galicia, the Xacobeo manage them and are grouped into the Network of Public Pilgrims Hostels; you'll also find this type of accommodation throughout the entire route.
Their model captures the spirit of the ancient Pilgrim Hospitals, which is why they work with volunteers and have prices that can vary anywhere from a donation to €6-8. They are the most economical option but they don't admit large groups or have reservations, since they’re usually small and have a different accommodation philosophy.
How do they work?
- Rooms are shared and are equipped with several bunk beds, bathrooms and showers are communal and there may be other common areas (kitchen, laundry, living area, etc.) depending on the hostel. Many close reception for the night, so you'll have to be back by a specific time if you want to sleep. Some offer sheets, but not always, which is why we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag. And earplugs! ;-)
- You have to have Pilgrim's Credentials to spend the night in these hostels. Spaces are distributed through a rigorous order of arrival and pilgrims on foot take precedence until a certain time. If you are travelling the Camino by bicycle and during the high season, you may be out of luck. Alternatively, during busier times, municipalities tend to open up different spaces (sports facilities, tents, schools, etc.) to reinforce shelter services.
Private hostels are another option for pilgrims. As private initiatives, they vary in price (from €8-10 to €20), space, room types, facilities, amenities, etc., making them a good choice for many different types of persons and needs. Reservations are allowed in these hostels and depending on capacity, they can also accommodate groups. They are a good option, especially if you are travelling the Camino in summer and want a good night’s rest.
On the French Way, a group of these shelters formed the Camino Hostel Network in 2001 and it is currently chaired by Enrique Valentín Gonzalez, from the San Saturnino Hostel (La Rioja). This association was created to promote, support and encourage initiatives and activities in defence of the Camino's heritage, working with pilgrims, hostels and other institutions. Furthermore, it helps to publicise hostels within the Network, with the publication of its annual brochure and other outreach initiatives. Check out its website if you've decided to travel this route and the accommodation along the Way to Fisterra.
The Camino Hostel Network and Correos have been working together, meaning you'll be able to find some of our services in Network establishments. For example, you can send packages, buy stamps or arrange the transfer of your luggage from stage to stage with our Transfer Rucksack Service. If you know where you're going to stay in advance, you can make a reservation before leaving.
We offer this service on the French Way from Roncesvalles, on the Portuguese Way from Tui, on the Primitive Way from Oviedo, on the Northern Way from Gijón and Avilés, on the English Way from Ferrol and A Coruña, on the Sanabrian Way from A Gudiña and on the Way to Fisterra. As many pilgrims write letters and postcards from the hostels, we decided to place postboxes in some to assist in the mailing process.
You'll also find other private hostels along with those of the Network, including 'Siervas de María Hostel' in Astorga, managed by the Association of Friends of the Camino in the city, or the 'Alma do Camiño' and 'A Magdalena' hostels, both in Sarria, the latter managed by the religious communit. Many Friends of the Camino Societies manage their own shelters. A great choice to spend the night!
Guesthouses and cottages
These establishments are abundant, since there are many more smaller towns than big cities along the way, with steady growth in the number of pilgrims, which has encouraged many people to open such accommodation. Choosing this type of lodging may be a good idea if you want to experience the Camino with amenities and enough resources.
It may also be the case that in the middle of the route you urgently need a good night's sleep away from snoring strangers, in a room just for yourself. We have to consider that there are people of all ages and physical conditions walking the Way, and for many it is essential to spend the night in this type of accommodation.
Hotels and 'Paradores'
During your pilgrimage, you'll also pass by medium and large urban centres where the accommodation offering is manyfold. If you prefer, you can spend one or more reparative nights in some the city hotels, benefitting from a more quiet and calm visit.
We also didn't forget the most VIP option. On the different routes to Santiago, you'll find some of the finest 'Paradores Nacionales' (National Inns) from which to choose. The National Inns Network is a gathering of hosting proffesionals that has, since the beginning of the twentieth century, converted monuments with great historical value into high quality accommodations, while also facilitating their conservation.
Carlos V's Castle in Hondarribia, San Marcos in León, Ribadeo Inn, the Palacio de los Condes de Lemos in Monforte, the Mérida Inn and, of course, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos in the very heart of Santiago, the Obradoiro square, are just a few examples.
Find your hostel or accommodation at each stage
We know that the issue of where to sleep can keep you awake at night, literally. To make the task of finding accommodation easier, we recommend you visit our website on the different Ways to Santiago. For each one, information is divided into stages. At each you'll find a map, small description, advice from our postmen and women and a list of hostels, accommodations and telephone numbers for each stage. All of these documents can be downloaded from each stage or from the download section of the homepage.
No information is too detailed when you need a good night's rest, pilgrim! We hope that this article has been helpful.
Sweet dreams and Buen Camino!
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