Camino de Santiago cost + planning tips

One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive about Camino de Santiago is about the cost. We decided to put together an article dedicated not only to the Camino financial side but also on some tips to plan your Camino easier and better. And there’s a very helpful resource at the end of the article – it has to do with Camino accommodation, but read further to know what it is.

Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago Mougas

Table of contents

Planning your Camino de Santiago

As much as we’d like to enjoy the spontaneous vibe of Camino de Santiago, the experience and the trip themselves need some planning. At least you should be clear if you’re ready for Camino, how long you’d like to walk, when to go, which Camino route to choose and how to best prepare yourself for Camino – mentally and physically.

How long does it take to walk the Camino de Santiago 

If someone can have a straight clear answer to that, without knowing the pilgrim in the subject, then someone is lying to you. Yes, you can get all the maps and guides with stages and distances of any Camino route. You can ask your friends who did it. You can plan day by day and fit part of a Camino in your time constraints.

And you’ll be wrong to have any expectations of how many days you’ll need to cover from A to B on the Camino. The only best thing is to walk it without any expectations. Without pushing yourself too hard, enjoying every minute, every step and every encounter that happens. Camino knows itself better where and when to take you!

We could only suggest you try with some suggestions for stages for the first 1-3 days of the Camino until your body starts talking to you and you start hearing your own rhythm. When you feel it, you’ll know how much you can walk a day, how much rest time you need, how long you need to stay in a place for sightseeing, etc.

Best time of the year to walk the Camino de Santiago

Summer months are generally high season. Weather is sunnier (could be even too hot), more people on the Camino. This means finding an albergue or even a hostel to sleep in becomes a challenge and even a competition. 

Winter is cold, rainy, some sections of the Camino get snowfall and become foggy, so they are even dangerous (usually alternatives exist). Walking in the rain is no fun but there are noticeably fewer people on the road.

Spring and autumn look like the perfect mix of the above so all our four Caminos so far we’ve done in April/May and September. As Camino de Santiago gains popularity, those transition months become a kind of a high season and we’re starting to think we should go before mid-April and in October. 

Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago Armenteira
Just in time for winemaking

Which Camino route to choose

For our first Camino (we thought it would be our only Camino) we chose to start from Leon and walk the French Way until Santiago (we wanted to be sure we’ll reach Santiago with the time we had). When we started planning the second, we said ok – let’s finish Camino Frances from the start. We stopped somewhere before the endless fields of Leon (time constraints again).

For our third Camino, we’ve already had enough of the most crowded French way and that’s why we chose the picturesque Portuguese Way – it’s a coastal route. It was totally chilled-out, beautiful, so we decided we’ll do it again two years later at the same time of the year. It was much more crowded, they registered 90% growth since last year.

Now we’re thinking of Camino Ingles, Camino Norte, and other self-made Galicia coastal routes. The ocean combined with all the greenery is just something that attracts us. Plus fewer people walking the above so no need to race until the next albergue. Well, for the latter we’ll see when we start our next Camino (hopefully) next year.

If you’re walking the Camino for the first time, maybe you’ll want to go for the classical French way. Or you might go unconventional and try one of the other routes. Make sure you leave 4-5 days to walk to Finisterre and Muxía (or bus to them if you have less time or you’re sick of walking).

Camino de Santiago gear 

We pretty much use the same gear for all the Caminos, replacing some socks and T-shirts mainly. And of course, some walking sandals. We have our Camino de Santiago packing list, and we use it for every new Camino.

Well, we have some new additions (long live Betadine), but basically, we’re always very picky about what to carry on our back for the 300+ kilometers. Every extra gram seems to be starting to bother us with every day of walking. 

Camino backpack

Choosing the best Camino backpack seems to be one of the biggest issues for future pilgrims. Well, our strategy was to find something of 35-40 liters that wasn’t too expensive. That’s how we got a model from Decathlon that’s is not available anymore. It is good enough for 4 Caminos plus I don’t know how many hikes and a few trips in the trunk. The best part of our Camino backpacks was that each of them cost like 20 euros back in 2016. 

If we decide to renew our Camino backpacks, one thing we’ll look for is more compartments and pockets – it’s definitely easier not having to take many things out before you reach the one you’re looking for. Otherwise, our old-school 20-euro Quechua backpacks are perfect for Camino!

Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago from Portugal to Spain

Physical preparation for walking a lot every day

We’ve never done any specific physical preparation for walking the Camino before we actually start walking the Camino. It’s true our lifestyle is very active, we practice lots of sports, do yoga, and dance a lot. 

Walking the Camino is another kind of endurance workout. I’d love to call it – endurance with blisters. You have to learn to walk with all the pain, blisters, injuries – that’s part of the divine plan.

Before our first Camino, we went on a weekend walk of 9 kilometers on an eco-path, with backpacks “full” of sandwiches for lunch. We felt so great that nothing can kill our spirits, lifted so high. Well, nothing except for arriving in Leon 4 a.m. sleep-deprived with nowhere to go (on a cold April night), wondering streets full of drunks for 10 kilometers, then walking our first Camino day for at least 20 more. Yes, that stroll on the eco path was a decent workout for the Camino.

Before our last Camino, we walked 28K to Mount Ruen and back. Which would be equal to one of the tough Camino days. We felt so good but the next day we didn’t have to walk 28 more, nor the day after that. So if you plan to work out for the Camino, make sure you train for at least a couple of days in a row, with a backpack comparable to what you plan to carry on the Camino, and with all the complications that happen with the “endurance with blisters” workouts.

Mental preparation for walking the Camino

To be honest, mental preparation is just as important as the physical one. When we know we have a long stage with lots of kilometers coming, we prepare mentally and just walk it. When we leave a slow day with fewer kilometers to walk, it’s easy to get demotivated and our bodies just refuse to put a lot of effort.

It’s very important to set your mind not only on the whole Camino you plan to walk but also on each day / each stage. If you’re focused and stay positive, you have much better chances to finish the day and the whole Camino in good physical and emotional shape. We always try to remember that the mind is more important than matter. If you set your mind on something, it is just bound to happen. Camino is a mindset before anything else.

Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago Vilanova de Arousa

Camino de Santiago cost

We wouldn’t bother you with just spitting a total amount of a Camino for a certain amount of days. We’ve already put together an article with the best Camino de Santiago tips, and below we’ll share tips on how to plan your Camino budget so that you take into consideration all the main sources of spending money. You will find how much we usually spent on transportation, accommodation, food, gear, and other misc expensed that contribute to the cost of Camino de Santiago.

Flights and transportation to the start of your Camino

Every time we started conceiving the idea for another Camino we do a flight check. We can’t afford the luxury to start the Camino from the doorstep of our home (yet) so we need to fly somewhere to save time. 

We check flights to Madrid, Barcelona, Porto (for the Portuguese way), then flights back from Madrid, Santiago de Compostela. Recently we find flying cheaper than combining flying with a train in Spain, for example. But you can play around and find out the best option.

In the best case, we managed to secure a 50-euro flight to Madrid + 20-euro bus/train at the return deal. This means we spent 140 euros for return tickets to the start of our Camino and from Santiago de Compostela back home in Sofia.

Gear

How much you’ll spend on Camino gear is totally up to your lifestyle. If you generally walk a lot and do a lot of sports, you’ll probably have most of the gear for you. If you decide to go on a budget, we suggest buying a cheap backpack for up to 20-30 euro and walking shoes/sandals for up to 50 euro. That’s our policy so far and we couldn’t be happier.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying expensive gear, as long as you don’t brag about it (check our Camino etiquette article for reference). It’s perfectly OK to invest in some good quality gear for the Camino, especially if you expect to do a couple of Caminos or you just walk and hike a lot.

Let’s talk about walking sticks. Keep in mind, that if you decide to buy them on the spot, the choice might not be huge at all, and the price is tuned up for pilgrims. I bought some low-quality sticks when I had an injury on the second Camino for 20 euro, they fulfilled their purpose but were definitely overpriced. The affordable option comes from the forest – pick a good piece of wood that’s already broken and you can use to support yourself.

Accommodation on the Camino

Well, accommodation on the Camino varies in price. In the donativo albergues, it’s up to the pilgrim to decide what amount of money they want to donate. There’s usually a box where you put your donation. Municipal albergues cost 5-6 euros per night in 95% of the cases. Privately owned albergues start from 8 to 15 euros per night, and prices go higher for fancier ones or for hostels, hotels, etc. It’s really hard to tell as prices literally rise by the year.

For example, in Portugal we pay the average price of 12-15 euros per night per bed, in Spain, there seem to be more options and we can go down to 10 euro per night on the good days. If it’s the high season and you can’t race to get municipal albergues, then you may have to spend more on the more expensive options, which are always present and always above 20 euro per night.

If you don’t mind spending money on accommodation, there’s nothing wrong with that, and options (especially in bigger towns and cities) are almost unlimited. It’s just not our style of Camino. Unless we’re forced to do it because everything affordable is already taken.

Spain, Camino de Santiago accommodation - albergue

Food and drinks – the fuel for pilgrims

Everybody’s heard of the pilgrim menus – the set menus, designed to feed hungry pilgrims for a good price. They start at 10 euro and can reach up to 20 euro per menu. We usually avoid them, as first, the food variety is not great and doesn’t cater to non-meat-eaters, and second, there is just too much food for one person (or at least we can’t finish it). We usually combine three people for two menus, two for one, etc.

The good thing is that if we order something from the regular menu, usually the price per person goes about 10 euro (a salad and a sandwich, let’s say). So sometimes it could be better without the pilgrim menu.

Drinks in restaurants and bars vary, but we usually pay 2-3 euros for a beer. The water we refill from fountains on the way and tea/coffee would come for 1-2 euros or for 3-6 euros for a breakfast menu. Pilgrim breakfast usually consists of coffee, fresh orange juice, and a croissant/toast with butter and marmalade.

The cheapest and most delicious options are to buy food and drinks in supermarkets. If you need to cook, you can choose albergues with kitchens. You can do a scrumptious dinner and prepare some food to go for the next, even breakfast to eat before you hit the road. The best thing is that it could all cost you as little as 7 euros for three meals with drinks included. All you have to do is cook, pack, and carry until you eat it. We usually have huge dinners with drinks, and stuff for breakfast on the road, and it costs something like 5 euros per person. Supermarkets for the win!

No matter how you choose to take care of food, don’t forget it’s the main fuel for pilgrims – don’t go hungry, stay hydrated, and allow some indulgences from time to time! We recommend eating a lot of fruits and also raw nuts, you’re going to need that energy!

Spain, Camino de Santiago food - tortilla, pimientos del Padron, beer, bread

Laundry

One crucial part of a nice Camino experience is to stay clean. While bathroom and shower facilities are usually included in the price per night of the albergue, laundry services are, most of the time, not!

If you want to handwash your clothes, you basically need a bar of soap and that’s it. Most of the albergues have handwashing facilities and even soap for free. If you want to do it automatically, then you need to plan some money for laundry. Laundry starts at 3 euros per load, drying too. Sometimes albergues do this for you and you pay like 5 euros in total. The good news is, that you can combine your dirty clothes with other pilgrims. In bigger towns and cities, there are automatic laundry booths where you can wash and dry for less than an hour. The price starts from 3 euros for smaller washing machines to 5-6 for bigger. Drying is charged by the minute (10 mins, 20, 30,…) and costs about 2-3-4 euros.

What we do is combine our clothes – 3 people usually can wash all their stuff together, do the laundry every 3 days, so we kind of spend like 2 euros per wash per person, so it’s about 10 euros for laundry for a 2-week Camino.

Others – medicines, gear on demand, sightseeing, and entertainment

You never know what medicines you might need (except for those you know you’ll need). Sometimes the Camino first aid kit doesn’t even get touched, sometimes you need new stuff. For example, we paid 7 euros for foot glide anti-blister cream, 10 for heal skin support cream, 5-6 euros for Ibuprofen, 20 euros for bed bug allergy treatment, etc. It’s good to bring some medicines from home, especially when you know you might need them.

To buy gear on-demand on the Camino is never cheap but sometimes you have to. Like the super-designed-for-walking socks, I had to buy them because I ruined 2 pairs by walking. Or the walking sticks.

Some of the places of interest on the Camino (museums, churches, galleries) may have an entrance fee. You’ll spend more money if you decide to hit the bars, go to the cinema/theater, take a paid tour, or do something that is not just walking the Camino. When you plan your budget for Camino de Santiago, keep in mind that sightseeing and entertainment come with a price.

Book your accommodation on the Camino de Santiago

*In the spirit of full disclosure, this article contains some affiliate links. If you book through those links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep The Magic of Traveling going!

If you’ve reached this section, then you’re probably desperate as we were at times on the Camino. You’ve probably hit mid to high season or just too many people and probably couldn’t find an affordable albergue so you had to book not-so-affordable options. We’ve been there and the feeling is not nice. That’s why we put together a list of albergue you can book so at least you have a place to stay.

As you know, municipal and donativo albergues can’t be booked, you have to race to get a bed in them during crowded times. So we wanted to give an opportunity to all those who don’t want to or can’t race with other pilgrims. Because Camino should be related to nothing but love, and we know competition kills love. Next in line come private albergues, guest houses, and hotels – we tried to pick low- to mid-range priced accommodation on the Camino, because who wants to break the bank? We believe this compromise option in the middle is the best solution that combines the Camino atmosphere and not having to pay lots of money.

Our “Camino de Santiago accommodations to book” list will be ever-growing and updated as often as possible, so we rely on you to send us your suggestions for albergues on the Camino one can book. The other condition is that you have firsthand experience with your proposed albergue and that it can be reserved in advance, preferably online. If you want a great resource on all the albergues on Camino Portugues, check out this sheet by Christian with all the places you can stay along the Camino Portuguese!

  • Porto O2 Hostel Amazing old building, great location in Porto, clean and very reasonably priced. We highly recommend it even if you’re not walking the Camino and just visiting Porto. €15 pp
  • Povoa de Varzim (a bit north of Vila do Conde) Casa Fragosa – Alojamento local A bit expensive but we had no other choice. Quirky design and feels so good with the cork interior. €22 pp
  • Fão HI Ofir – Pousada de Juventude We loved this pousada de juventude – if the weather permits, take a dip in the swimming pool. €12 pp
  • Esposende Sleep&Go This place returned our faith in the Camino. Hospitaleros are amazing and the whole place is clean and homey! €12 pp
  • Viana do Castelo We recommend HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude – it offers double/triple/quadruple rooms and still some Camino chill (€12 pp). Or you can check out Albergue | Hostel de Santa Luzia – it has literally no soul, but the views towards Santa Luzia church and the ocean, especially at sunset, are priceless. €15 pp
  • Vila Praia de Âncora – our favorite place to stay in Northern Portugal. We like the most affordable albergue option which is Hostel D’Avenida. €14.5 pp
  • Villadesuso Alojamiento Camino Portugues Oia has a funky opening time but you can have a self-check-in if you own a phone to talk through it with the hospitalera. €12 pp
  • Ramallosa Pazo Pias It offers only double and single rooms, including deluxe rooms with private bathrooms. For pilgrims, there’s a great deal on the double and single rooms – the flat rate is 15 euros per pilgrim. €15 pp
  • Redondela A Casa da Herba with very friendly hosts (€10 pp) or Santiago de Vilavella with semi-private bunk beds (€15 pp).
  • Milladoiro (if you want to enter Santiago well-rested) Albergue Milladoiro. One of the fanciest albergues we’ve ever been to. But who doesn’t deserve a lit bit of luxury just before the end? €17 pp
  • Santiago de Compostela Hostal Costa Azul if you want to be near the cathedral (€18.5 pp). Albergue Seminario Menor – the seminary and Camino atmosphere (€12 pp)! Albergue Acuario – one of the most affordable and chill albergues in Santiago (€10 pp). Dream in Santiago – quite new and fresh, fully equipped kitchen and a friendly host (€12 pp).
  • Muxía Bela Muxía is a cozy, well-situated albergue full of great mood. Currently, it features double and triple rooms and apartments for up to 4.

*All pricing as of September 2019

So that were our best tips on planning the Camino de Santiago for you. It’s not hard to plan the Camino de Santiago cost, as long as you know all the main sources of spending. We wish you happy planning, fewer costs, and most important – Buen Camino!

Camino de Santiago cost + planning tips Pinterest
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