A Friend on the Caminoa helping hand on the camino frances
Albergues are essentially hostels for pilgrims. You can find at least one in virtually every town along the Camino. A night in an albergue will cost you 7-15 euros.
Albergues fall into two basic categories: private or municipals. In truth, some are run by confraternities or religious organizations as well as local or provincial governments. The least expensive and consequently the least provisioned are the municipals. They are a very good deal though. I once walked with a couple of young gentlemen whose daily budget was a measly 10 euros. By cooking their own food, staying in municipals and having the treat of only one café con leche every day they managed to walk most of the trip on their very tight budget.
In the albergue you’ll usually find rooms with bunk beds and a washroom to shower and change. Most good albergues have bunk beds in rooms of 8 or less, however there are rooms in albergues that accommodate over 100 sleeping people. You *may* also find:
A typical albergue room
Amenities you MAY find at an albergue
- A working kitchen
- Laundry (either DIYor a service)
- A shop of Camino supplied
- A vending machine with food
- More comfortable single (not bunk) beds
- A pilgrim’s meal cooked by the proprietors or by other pilgrims
- Double rooms
- Massage chairs
- An itinerant physiotherapist or massage therapist that helps soothe the aches and pains of the walk
- A bar
Although you may feel like you are too old for bunk beds and hostels, many of the people staying in them are retired people in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Staying in the albergues isn’t just a cheap way to get along the camino – it’s where people relax after a long day of hiking. They share meals, they make friends, write in journals and rest. If you aren’t staying in the albergues you’ll miss most of the opportunites to meet fellow walkers on the trail. I have heard many Camino travellers who stayed in booked accommodation on a scheduled ‘tour’ regret that they missed ‘the social stuff.’
Another commonly heard complaint of people with booked accommodation was that they hated having to be in a specific place on a specific date – so they couldn’t take a slow day when they were tired or walk a little further when the terrain was easier.
A lovely Albergue garden