I haven’t written about the topic of costs on the Camino before so I thought I would dive into my experiences with money over the last number of years. It’s important to start out by saying that everyone’s experience is different. You may choose to avoid albergues and have a more comfortable Camino, thereby increasing your costs. You may prefer to wild-camp, sleep in donativo albergues, buy food in supermarkets and cook yourself. More and more people prefer to organise their Camino through a travel agency and stay in hotels. Personally, I have always preferred albergues and I like the ‘menu del peregrino’ (daily 3 course meals). My Caminos have generally last 12-13 days and I have spent on average €25-€35 per day, which includes food, accommodation and incidental costs during the day.
So I will break down daily costs under accommodation, food, and incidental costs.
Accommodation can be broken down into albergues, hostales, casa rurales or pensions, and hotels. Albergues cost from €5 up to €15. Some albergues are donativo also, which mean that they accept a donation of your choice. It’s important to note that this does not mean they are free! Albergues would provide bunk beds in dormitory-type rooms. I much prefer these as they increase the chance of meeting people!
Hostales, casa rurales, and pensions offer private rooms with an en suite bathroom or shower. Some would include a meal as standard and costs tend to range from €25-€45. I like to stay in pensions the night before I start out, and after I finish. Great examples of these would be Casa Waslala in Belorado and Posada Regia in Leon.
And finally, there are hotels which tend to cost the most. Rooms cost in excess of €60 per night. Whilst these offer great comfort, it might be worthwhile rechecking the reasons you are walking the Camino if you are staying in one of these each night!
I tend to eat meals in the nearest restaurant and chose the “menu del peregrino” aimed at pilgrims. This was usually the same “high on carbohydrate/low on calorie” meal, and after a while, it did get boring. It usually consists of three courses with ice cream or some fruit to finish up and cost €10. But you are well fed by the end.
You have the option also of veering away from the “menu del peregrino” and choosing one of the restaurant’s own menus. You are then sampling traditional food at a slightly higher cost.
Alternatively, you can purchase your own food and make dinner at the albergue where you are staying. Another cost-effective idea is getting together with friends and sharing the costs. If there are 8 of you, you could have a hearty meal plus wine for €5 each. Now you can’t go wrong with that…as long as you aren’t washing up!!
From the moment you start walking until the finish for the day, there will be costs that you incur. These include numerous cafes con leche, multiple cervezas, tortillas, fruit for snacks and some chocolate for energy. These would also include trips to museums or cathedrals (some do charge for entry). I usually purchased chocolate, fruit, and something to make a sandwich with the evening before, and that kept me going the next day until I had finished walking. The cost? A little under €10.
Budgeting is pretty important, however, so it is important to over-budget than under-budget.