Having already walked one Camino, I knew what to expect from albergue life: bunk beds, noise, and wildly variable sleep quality. Settle in for a long read, because I’m going to share everything I can remember about my accommodations on the Caminho Portugues.
Finding accommodations on the Caminho Portugues
Finding accommodations on the Portugues is different than the Francès. There are fewer places to stay, and the distance between them is greater, which means where you sleep drives other choices, like where to stop walking for the day. Like I mentioned in my budget post, I expected beds to be more expensive on the Portugues, simply because there were fewer places to stay, and was pleasantly surprised to find budget-friendly beds in a mix of new and interesting historic buildings along the way.
On the Portugues Central route, municipal albergues are scattered anywhere from 15km to 20km apart. The albergues you see listed in the guides is what you get. Occasionally, there were some unlisted guest houses or pensions advertised on signs along the trail, but treat that as the exception rather than the rule.
Limited albergue options in Portugal mean the public albergues had space identified for overflow, and some mattresses for the floor. It was really quite charming – the definition of “the Camino provides.” I saw people arriving late into the evening, exhausted, taking any space that was left. The albergues made good use of their “extra” space, sticking pilgrims in hallways, dining areas, even sun loungers!
In Spain, there are more albergue choices, and a wider range of price points. There were also more places to stay, generally, than what is listed in guides. Most places we stayed were full, but there seemed to be enough beds for everyone, even though the public albergues in Spain didn’t have overflow – at least not in September.
In Spain, the public albergues are part of the Xacobeo-Galicia network and have the same check-in procedures, sellos, and lodging rules. These albergues also use Galicia’s free public wifi, but you have to provide your phone number to receive a login code through SMS text, and at no point could I make it work with my North American phone number. Your mileage may vary!
Where I stayed on the Caminho Portugues
|Best Guest Hostel||No||€18.50|
Porto’s Best Guest Hostel is in a terrific central location. It’s close to São Bento rail and metro stations, near the Sé cathedral, and in the middle of Porto’s many, many tourist-friendly shops and restaurants. Breakfast was included, too!
|1||Matosinhos||Vila do Conde||22 km||22 km|
|Albergue Santa Clara||25||Yes||€7.50|
Santa Clara is a relatively new albergue, with spacious rooms and single bunks! It’s centrally located, convenient whether continuing on the Coastal route or heading inland to the Central route. Machine laundry on site and plenty of space for drying items in the sun on the wide upstairs patio. They gave me a great map for connecting to the Central Route, too!
|2||Vila do Conde||São Pedro de Rates||15 km||37 km|
|Albergue de Peregrinos||30||Yes||donativo|
The Rates albergue is more modest, with ample sleeping space, but more rustic shower and hand laundry facilities. Plenty of space for drying things in the wide courtyard. A bar-restaurant across the street provided cheap and cheerful meals. The albergue in Rates had the absolute best sello (or carimbo in Portuguese) of my entire walk. They were two-colour, there are two of them, and they are glorious:
|3||São Pedro de Rates||Tamel São Pedro Fins||26 km||63 km|
|Casa da Recoleta||41||Yes||€5|
Tamel’s public albergue is a welcome stop after a long. unrelenting uphill climb. The bunks are packed in pretty closely, but I was so tired after the hill it was no problem for sleeping. There’s a canteen with all sorts of food, snacks, and beverages. The night I stayed, the restaurant across the street with the peregrino menu was closed, so they had a menu of various filling meals delivered. I had a giant turkey dinner for €5.50! Then, the bread van arrived and I stocked up on buns that were €0.30 each – great fuel for the next day!
|4||Tamel São Pedro Fins||Ponte de Lima||25 km||88 km|
|Albergue de Peregrinos||60||No||€5|
Ponte de Lima was my favourite town along the way, and among my favourite albergues. We were early enough (ie: first in line and it opened at 4pm) to get beds in the upper room, which had no top bunks. Heaven! Except for the 4:45 am wake-up call by a large, loud group of Italians who carried on conversations and let their phone notifications beep away, all at full volume. The albergue has a large, new kitchen, and clotheslines on the top deck for drying. The only noteworthy downside is that it has a shower room instead of individual shower stalls.
|5||Ponte de Lima||Rubiães||18 km||106 km|
|Albergue de Peregrinos||34||Yes||€5|
The Rubiães albergue was among the most fun. We arrived early, it opened early, there were lots of washers, and most people hung out in the sunny courtyard – drinking Super Bock from the shop across the street, watching laundry dry, and getting to know one another.
|6||Rubiães||Tui, Spain||20 km||126 km|
|Albergue de Peregrinos||36||No||€6|
The Tui albergue is in an historic building, the rooms overlooking the Rio Minho and a last look at Portugal. The albergue was newly renovated inside, and quite modern, though it does have a shower room instead of individual stalls. It also had the strictest hospitalero on the Camino. She thoroughly scrutinized the credencials of everyone, particularly the fresh walkers who arrived before us. She concluded there was no way they could have walked from Ponte de Lima that morning (more than 40km away), and sent them packing to a private albergue. Tough cookie!
|7||Tui||O Porriño||18 km||144 km|
|Albergue de Peregrinos||52||No||€6|
The albergue in Porriño opened very late, and there were other options in town, but we chose to wait it out. Next to a small, pleasant brook, it’s a purpose-built facility that is modern and spacious. The town is a short walk (5 minutes or so) and there were plenty of dining options nearby.
|8||O Porriño||Redondela||16 km||160 km|
|Albergue Casa de Torre||42||No||€6|
Casa de Torre albergue in Redondela is an old manor house that has been renovated. Inside, it has dramatic stone walls, and very new showers and bathrooms. There was a great café nearby, and since it was Saturday, we set up shop there, enjoying the functioning wifi and watching futbol.
|9||Redondela||Pontevedra||20 km||180 km|
|Pension Casa Maruja||2 double rooms+||No||€17.50|
Pontevedra is worth discussing further. There are two large albergues, the municipal one that is approximately 1.5km before the town, and a large private one on the edge of town. Pontevedra itself is an interesting town with lots to see in do in the medieval centre, so my group chose to bypass those early albergues, assuming we’d find something not in the guide. Wrong. Soon, it started to lightly rain, so our search became a scramble for beds, any beds, that were not out in the rain. After an unsuccessful stop at the only albergue in that part of town, we were directed to a small pension, Pension Casa Maruja, that had exactly two double rooms left for bargain price of €35 each. If you’ve been following along, that’s almost as much, in total, as I had paid for accommodations up to this point.
At Redondela, all of the Caminho Portugues routes converge, and there are a lot more people walking to Santiago. After our experience looking for beds in Pontevedra, we decided to make the end of our Caminho as relaxed as possible, and booked accommodations for the remainder of the walk.
|10||Pontevedra||Caldas de Reis||21 km||201 km|
|Alojamiento Caldas de Reis||2BR apt||No||€20|
Funny story, two of the people in my group had job interviews, so we got an apartment for this night for maximum professionalism(!). This was a great option for us, but we were quite separate from the Camino “cohort” we had gotten to know over the last 10 days. This apartment was in the town centre, near the famous hot springs, and very close to a grocery store. They also offered the second-best stamp of this Camino: a jazzy wax seal.
|11||Caldas de Reis||Padrón||18 km||219 km|
This was the only private albergue I stayed in the whole time. It was a splurge, but it was also worth the money, particularly for the berth-like beds. It was also the Santiago side of Padrón, which would save a bit of time and walking the next day.
|12||Padrón||Santiago de Compostela||25 km||244 km|
|Hotel Oxford||1 quad room||No||€25|
We booked a quad room at The Oxford before our booking spree in Pontevedra because we knew the date we had to be in Santiago. It was located very close to the Cathedral, a short walk from the pilgrim office, and had everything we needed for our night of recovery in Santiago. There are certainly cheaper places to stay, but this was a nice place to regroup before our group split up and everyone moved on to the next stage of their travels.
What can I expect at the albergues?
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m an albergue veteran, so I knew what to expect. Here’s my newest albergue tip: if you’re an early riser, pack everything the night before and work out your exit path in advance. The bunks in albergues on the Portugues were pretty close together, and it could be an obstacle course with everyone’s gear laying around.
Also, don’t choose a bed next to a door or the bathroom if you can help it.
There are few hard and fast “rules,” just do your best to apply common sense and basic decency and you should have a great albergue experience:
- Be quiet and respectful of others who are sleeping
- No food in the beds
- Turn off the notifications on your phone. ALL OF THEM.
- Keep your backpack off of the bed
- Pack everything the night before to minimize morning noise. Take you bag out of the bunk room to rummage around it in and get your toiletries and whatnot.
- If you use the bathroom in the night, or leave early in the morning, be quiet, keep the light to a minimum, and don’t talk until you’re outside.
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