Hostels for Pilgrims: The “Albergues”

The facilities along the most popular route of El Camino de Santiago, also called El Camino Frances, are very good. You will find one pilgrims’ hostel or albergue (as they are called in Spanish) in nearly every village you walk through. Some of them are very small, just for 8 or 10 people, and others are very big, for 100 or even 200 people. Their size usually depends on the importance of the village. Besides, in many of the albergues, especially in the bigger ones, you can get your Pilgrims credential or Credencial del Peregrino if you have finished your old one or you just arrived in El Camino de Santiago.

They are usually modest but clean and with hospitaleros (the Spanish word for the hostel staff) sometimes doing voluntary work always willing to help you or to talk or eat with you. Their price varies between 5 and 10 euros and some of them don’t have a fixed price but they only ask a donation or contribution.

As I have already said the facilities for the pilgrims are enough and of good quality along all el Camino de Santiago but they are especially good in the last part within the region of Galicia where the regional government operates them. They have a fixed price of 5 euros (in the year 2011) and they are quite big in order to have enough acommodation for the increasing number of pilgrims in the last part of el Camino de Santiago, especially in the last 100 km.

Some of the albergues close in the winter months, i.e. December, January and February. During this time it may be better to plan exactly the starting and end point of every stage so as to be sure you will arrive in a village with an opened albergue. Despite the fact that you may find this a disadvantage there are other advantages of doing El Camino de Santiago in this time of the year such as the tranquility and peace you will find.

During the rest of the year most of the albergues are opened and you won’t find any problems. The last time I did el Camino de Santiago in the summer of 2007 I didn’t even bother about carrying a guide or plan my stages. I simply walked as much as I felt like every day and I never found problems of accomodation.

In the future, I will include a list with all the albergues along el Camino de Santiago and their characteristics and opening times but by now I just wanted to make at least a generic explanation so that you can be relaxed enough about the accommodation in el Camino de Santiago.