The accommodation on offer to pilgrims varies a little from country to country, hence we have divided this page into three parts.
Accommodation in Spain
There are hostels – known as refugios or albergues – all along the Camino Francés, and on a growing number on other routes. These hostels only admit pilgrims carrying a Pilgrim Record or credencial who are walking, cycling or horse-riding the camino. Some do not admit pilgrims with vehicular back-up i.e. using luggage carrying services. Hostels can vary from just a few beds to accommodation for several hundred pilgrims, can be in any sort of building from renovated churches or barns to modern purpose-built dormitories and rooms. Some will have very up-to-date facilities including internet and coffee machines, some will be very basic indeed. Generally most will have bunks and hot showers, some will have cooking facilities, although utensils can sometimes be scarce. You need a sleeping bag (and, at busy times, a sleeping mat).
The pilgrim hostels are run by a variety of organisations from the church to local municipalities to local or foreign pilgrim associations. Some of these do not make a fixed charge but ask for donations. These establishments should not be regarded as “free”, please pay what you can afford and think is reasonable since without your support these hostels would not be able to operate. Often – especially in summer – a volunteer warden (hospitalero/hospitalera) is in charge. These volunteers may be local people who regularly give up their time to help pilgrims or may be members of foreign pilgrim associations who serve for two weeks per year, usually paying their own fares and often their own food expenses too.
Some hostels are only available in school holidays; some close in the winter; camping is frequently available. There is no advance reservation, and beds are allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Don’t be surprised to be offered space on the floor at peak times. Priority may be given in the busy summer months to individual walking pilgrims with no vehicular support. Groups of more than 5 or 6, and cyclists, may be asked to wait for admission until early evening; at other times discretion will be used. There will also be basic rules about lights out/no smoking/use of kitchen etc and we ask that you always respect such rules and the decision of the wardens with regards to admission and other matters. In extreme cases of very bad behaviour which endangers, or seriously disturbs or offends other pilgrims, a warden is entitled to confiscate and destroy the offending party’s Pilgrim Record or credencial and eject them from the albergue.
There are also an increasing number of private albergues, especially along the Camino Francés. These may offer more facilities than the municipal or volunteer-run accommodation but usually cost more. Some private albergues will accept advance bookings and pilgrims using luggage-carrying services.
Charges for all types of albergue vary between €5 and €15 per night. Sometime private rooms are available at extra cost.
There are also usually pensiones, hostales, casa rurales and small hotels to choose from if there is no albergue accommodation available or if you would like a break from dormitories.
The Confraternity produces guides detailing the accommodation options on all routes. Our Camino Francés guide is updated every year on the basis of feedback from returned pilgrims, other guides are regularly updated. Please see our shop for details. Please also see the following links for information on albergues on various routes:
Wisepilgrim produces inexpensive guides in the form of apps, these include lists of albergues and cover Camino francés, Camino Aragonés, Finisterre to Muxía, Camino Primitivo, Camino Invierno.
Accommodation in France
There are gites d’étape all along the le Puy route (which coincides with the national long-distance footpath, the GR65). They cost €10 – 25 a night, and are open to anyone. You get a bunk and blankets, so need only carry a sheet sleeping bag. There are hot showers, and they generally offer cooking facilities. They accept reservations (which are essential for the busy July-August season). However, If you do reserve ahead, please don’t book more places than you need, and do cancel in good time if you don’t in fact need the bed, this avoids tired people being needlessly turned away from accommodation.
There are fewer gites d’étape on the Arles route, but a growing number on the Vézelay route. All are listed in the Confraternity’s Guides available from our shop. The local tourist office (syndicat d’initiative) should have lists of gites d’étape and campsites, opening hours/dates and prices.
Gites d’étape et Refuges has lists of places to stay on various French routes.
For a guide to gîtes d’étape throughout France (@€25), contact: Annick & Serge Mouraret, 74 Rue Albert Perdreaux, 78140 Vélizy France. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
A recently-founded association, Les Haltes vers Compostelle, links people offering pilgrim-suitable accommodation, gîtes d’étape and other. Their members are well worth seeking out, since they offer a particularly pilgrim-friendly welcome; at present most of them are located on the le Puy route: the full list is here. Go to their website for a full list of members, and their locations. You can contact them at email@example.com.
For a list of places offering a Christian welcome along the le Puy route, visit the Webcompostella site, and follow the link “Chrétiens qui accueillent”.
Accommodation in Portugal
There are an increasing number of albergues on the Portuguese route, in addition to the usual hotels and pensiones. Where possible, advance booking is advisable in the summer holiday months since many locations are popular holiday destinations.
It is also possible to stay overnight in certain private homes or at volunteer firefighter stations. Please note there is no obligation in these cases to accept pilgrims, it is a service that is offered in a spirit of goodwill. In many places the volunteer firefighters no longer offer this service, we suspect they were being overwhelmed by demand.
The Confraternity sells guides to the Camino Portugués in the online shop.
The Via Lusitana website has a list of places to stay, the Portuguese version of this website has been noted to be more up-to-date than the English version.