Hundreds of thousands of people make the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago every year and the numbers keep on rising. You may be considering making the pilgrimage yourself and are making plans in advance of what a journey can be, if you take the French Way, of up to 780 km, mostly on foot if you are wanting to be traditional.
Walking the Camino de Santiago in one fell swoop is practically impossible. The French Way would take you almost 78 hours even if you walked at 10 kilometres per hour. Your journey is likely to take you between 30 and 35 days to complete, unless you are superhuman, because you are unlikely to walk more than 25 kilometres each day.
Sleeping Options on the Camino de Santiago
It should be quite obvious by now that you are going to need a place to rest your weary head if you are walking the Camino de Santiago, but what options are available to you, how much do they cost and are they readily available? These are the sort of questions you should be asking yourself before embarking on what an epic journey will be. The simplest and cheapest accommodation option is to take a tent with you. Mankind has used tents for thousands of years and it is easy to see why. Tents are a mobile home of sorts that are, usually, light, easy to transport, easy to build and do a sound job of protecting you from the elements.
Although cheap, tents do have disadvantages to bricks and mortar accommodation. One is that you must carry your tent around with you. While modern tents are often constructed of light materials, you will likely need several other items such as sleeping bags, pillows, groundsheets and whatever else you require based on what you consider to be your creature comforts.
Hostels and Hotels on the Camino de Santiago
There are hundreds of hotels and hostels along the Camino de Santiago and these are bar far the most popular choice of pilgrims looking for somewhere to sleep for the night. These hotels and hostels can become difficult to pre-book during the more popular times, such as when the weather is better, but you can still often find a place to stay in the bigger towns along the route. Hostels are known as albergues and there is a vast network of them along the Camino de Santiago, particularly on the French Way, which is also called Camino Frances. For an authentic experience look for the albergues run by hospitaleros who are Camino volunteers. You cannot book these rooms in advance because they are offered to pilgrims on a first come, first served basis. Please be aware that albergues are offered to walking pilgrims over others making the journey by other methods such as car or horseback. Pensiones, or guest houses, will allow you more privacy as they are usually family-run properties where you have your own room and bathroom; some even provide dinner. Pensiones are more expensive than albergues, with the latter being available from as little as €3 per night.
Your final option is a hotel. These are only usually available in bigger Camino towns and vary wildly in prices based on how busy they are and the star-rating of the property.