El Camino de Santiago: How much does the Camino cost?

How much the Camino costs per person can vary considerably depending on a person's spending habits. The Camino caters for all budgets. A minimum budget for somebody eating cheaply and staying in albergues would be around €20 - €25 per day, however some people who have more luxurious tastes spend over double that, splurging on private rooms and good food.

Albergues

Albergues range in cost, but €5 - €10 is a good ballpark figure. It's difficult to find albergues for less than €5, and though there are some that cost more than €10, these are quite easy to avoid, especially with a good guidebook. I managed to walk the whole way from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago without ever paying more than €10 for a bed for the night. There are also donativo albergues, which do not charge you a fixed amount for staying but rather leave the decision up to you.

For a private room, expect to pay €20 - €40 per night.

A good guidebook is a great investment for the Camino. I used and recommend John Brierley's, which is by far the most popular along the way- nearly all pilgrims with a guidebook had this one. It includes information about all the albergues in each city, with directions and sometimes even a map. It includes prices plus details about the number of rooms and number of beds in each albergue, as well as a short description of them which includes information about their facilities. This is invaluable- it means you can choose the best without any extra walking around, and may alert you to an albergue with poor signage which you may otherwise pass by. It also means you know how far away the next albergue is.

Make sure the copy you buy is the most recent edition- it is updated yearly.

Food

Nearly all albergues do not provide breakfast. You can buy tea, coffee, tortilla and croissants in the bars. The croissants and slices of tortilla will generally be around €1.50 each. You can also order other items, such as fried eggs, at some places. It may not be immediately apparent whether or not they sell other things, especially if you don't speak Spanish. Either have a look around at what other people are eating or learn the Spanish words for the items you want and ask if they sell it. For instance, fried eggs is 'huevos fritos' in Spanish.

During the day, prices vary depending on where you are. Smaller towns (where you have no choice as to where to eat if you wish to stop) may charge more. A bocadillo (large sandwich made out of baguette-type bread) will generally cost €2.50 - €4 (available mainly in the bars) and a slice of tortilla will generally cost €1.50. The towns you pass through will all have some sort of supermarket, but in small towns these shops can be very small (like a convenience store) and charge up to double what their big city counterparts do. Planning ahead and buying any supermarket items in big towns will save you money, though of course that means you need to carry your purchases.

For dinner, many places offer a pilgrim's menu, which is generally €10 and usually includes an entree, main course, dessert and wine. A cheaper option is to prepare dinner yourself- many albergues have a kitchen and a simple dish such as pasta will easily cost less than half the price of eating out.

Other expenses

The great thing about the Camino is that there are very few other expenses- your daily activity is walking, which is free! If you want to pay for your bags to be transported to your next location instead of carrying them account for that. Expect to pay €5 - €7 per trip for the service.

Souvenirs

Along the way, you will likely find a number of shops selling souvenirs to tourists. You can find everything from handmade jewellery to t-shirts.

Most souvenirs are inexpensive.

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