One question pops up frequently on the forums: “How much does the Camino de Santiago cost?” and it’s a good one. However, there’s no really easy answer because it depends.
Budget for the Camino de Santiago
Your budget for the Camino should account for most of these factors:
- Length of trip
- Style of accommodations: from municipal albergues and donativos (paying by donation) to casa rurales and hotels, the options and costs vary wildly. (Donativo/€5 to €50-60/night)
- Food and beverage intake
- Donativos (donations elsewhere for sellos/stamps, donation-based snack stops)
- Additional transportation if you take the train or bus to jump ahead. (Research train costs on RENFE, bus costs on ALSA)
- Backpack transportation if you send your backpack ahead. The daily rate is about €7 a day from St Jean to Sarria, then €3-4 a day from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela.
- First aid/medical care: plan to buy additional bandages, tape and mystery potions, hope for the best.
- Contingency for unanticipated expenses, souvenirs and anything else you purchase along the way
For future planning, I’d set a daily budget of €35 per day (2014) for the Camino Francès, which would provide enough flexibility for me to spend a little more some days, and make up the difference on cheaper days. Your mileage will vary for Camino routes beyond the Francès, largely due to different accommodation options. Other sources I’ve read peg the albergue prices a little higher on other routes, so you’ll want to adjust your budget accordingly if you’re walking another route.
My daily expenses on the Camino de Santiago
To give other pilgrims planning their budgets an idea of what my Camino cost, I kept track of my expenses in an app, dutifully updating when I could remember.
To help with your own planning, here are a few notes about my expenses. I walked 15 days from León to Santiago de Compostela, so if you are walking a longer (or shorter) route, adjust accordingly.
Expenses not included: Transportation to León and from Santiago de Compostela, airfare, pilgrim credential, phone plan, Camino gear, daily expenses before and after completing the Camino, and a daytrip to Muxia and Finisterre.
Albergue: For the night before I started in León, I booked a private albergue room in advance, which cost double my daily accommodation elsewhere. With a couple of exceptions, I stayed in bunks in private albergues. To help with your planning, albergues get more expensive as you get closer to Santiago de Compostela – from Sarria onward, there wasn’t a private albergue bed for less than €10. Finally, in Santiago de Compostela, I shared a private hotel room with a friend. Santiago has a complete range of accommodations, from albergue beds to five-star hotels, so your expenses at that point will really depend on your taste. For more information about where I slept on the Camino, check out my Sleeping and Accommodations post!
Food: All of the food I paid for out-of-pocket is included. A few albergues included a continental-style breakfast at no additional cost. A day of eating included one or two morning coffees (generally €1-€1.50 each), a croissant, a bocadillo or light lunch and the menu del peregrino for dinner. I also bought light snacks to carry with me and eat while I walked, which normally consisted of an apple, granola bars and cashews. These amounts also include alcohol, so if you don’t drink or drink a lot more than I do, you can adjust your daily expenses accordingly.
Important metric alert! A caña of beer ran from €1.20 to €2.
Donativo: There are many churches and stops along the way where it is customary to offer a donativo for a sello (stamp). My priciest donativo was at Convento e Igrexa de San Francisco, where I gave €5 for my Cotolaya, the document given to pilgrims receiving the Compostela in 2014 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimage from Italy to Santiago.
First aid: I needed to buy bandages, tape, antibacterial ointment and cold medicine along the way. Expense-wise, I got off very, very easy, as I had taken a lot of blister prevention and treatments (like Compeed) with me.
Souvenirs: I wouldn’t suggest buying a lot things along the way, since you’ll have to carry them, but I did pick up the occasional doodad as a reminder of my journey. I also bought a cardboard tube for transporting my Compostela for €1 (there’s a deluxe model available for €2), as well as the Certificate of Distance Traveled (€3).
A lot of people buy shells painted with the St. James Cross and just about every pilgrim I saw had one dangling from their pack. They started out quite expensive in León at €4, but were €1 by the time you got within a few days of Santiago de Compostela.
Other: My miscellaneous expenses included postcards and stamps, laundry, and replenishing of toiletries like toothpaste and soap. I didn’t really think I’d be paying for laundry, since there was sink laundry just about everywhere, but sink laundry has its limits. My Camino buddies and I often put together a load of laundry for a wash and dry in the machines at the albergue, which usually ran €3 per wash and €3 per dry.
Your individual costs and budget will be as individual as your Camino experience, but I hope this overview gives you an idea of the costs associated with being a pilgrim and what your daily budget will look like once you’re out on the road. Buen Camino!
If you’ve completed the Camino de Santiago, how did your budget work out? Any tips for saving money or finding good value for euro on the Way? If you have Camino budget questions, ask away in the comments or tweet them to me at @bitesizedtravel!