One of the main considerations for many people planning to walk the Camino is what will it cost to take such a long journey. Before we took our trip in 2018, we did extensive research on the costs associated with walking the Camino and we wanted to share with you what we found as well as share with you our exact costs.
How much does it cost to walk the Camino de Santiago? For one traveler to walk the entire Camino Frances (French Way) in 35 days or less, a budget-friendly cost would range from €1,300 to €1,800. For those who want more luxury as they walk, the range is €2,700 to €3,200, These prices include airfare to a major airport, transportation, lodging, food and incidentals while you walk.
As you plan your budget for the Camino, there are many factors to consider when calculating how much you will spend.
For the considerations listed, we are assuming that you are walking the entirety of the Camino Frances (the most common route), a total of 790km, in a total of 35 days. This route has ample access to affordable albergues, restaurants, and pharmacies along the way.
After thinking about our own expenses, we realized it boiled down to two categories: one-time expenses before walking the Camino, and day-to-day expenses while walking the Camino.
Examples of one-time expenses are airfare, local transportation to your starting point, and walking gear. Day-to-day expenses would be food and lodging. Other incidental expenses include laundry, souvenirs, almsgiving, and toiletries. We will cover all of these in detail, plus as a bonus, at the end of this post you will find an exact breakdown of what we spent on our Camino that we took in July of 2018.
For the sake of simplicity, we listed all prices in euros (the current currency of Spain) so that you could more easily calculate the costs in your native currency.
One-Time Expenses Before Leaving
Airfare Cost for the Camino
For most people walking the Camino, airfare will be one of your biggest expenses. To keep this expense down, you will want to book your airfare in advance.
The traditional starting point of the Camino Frances is St. Jean Pied de Port in the southwest of France. You might be walking a different Camino route, which would affect your airfare cost. For those that are flying or taking a train from neighboring European countries, your travel costs will be significantly lower than someone flying in from China. It will also depend on what time of year you are traveling.
After researching online, we found that, when arriving from most countries outside of Europe, you can expect to pay 400 euros ($500) for ultra budget airlines and up to 1,325 euros ($1500) for standard airlines. For our Camino pilgrimage, we were able to find a budget flight on Vayama for 400 euros per person from Pittsburgh to Madrid. We were curious what flights from other parts of the world would cost, and on average this is what we found:
Estimates for basic economy round trip flights to Paris or Madrid from:
Beijing - 700€ - 1,050€
Sydney - 1,050€ -1,250€
Los Angeles - 700€ - 900€
New York - 500€ - 800€
Toronto - 700€ - 1,000€
Mexico City - 800€ - 1,000€
We have flown many times in the past, and have always found the best rates and service on Kayak.
You may find other budget airline search engines, but make sure to read the fine print on any tickets purchased from them.
Sometimes we will buy the airplane ticket straight from Kayak, while other times we will locate the flight on Kayak, and then head to the airline’s official website to complete the purchase.
We like finding the deals on Kayak first and then purchasing from the airline directly because of the added protections if the flight is cancelled. However, Kayak has been serving up some great hacker deals lately that combine multiple budget airlines in one trip, and in those cases the heavily discounted price is hard to pass up.
Total cost for airfare to your starting point: €400 - €1,250
Cost of Transportation to Your Camino Starting Point
After arriving at an airport in Spain or France, you will need to get transportation to your starting point. Thankfully, you have several budget-friendly options.
If you fly into a major airport like Madrid or Paris, your best options for getting to your starting point will be by train or bus. We arrived in Madrid and stayed for a couple of nights before taking a train to our starting point of Sarria, Spain. Our cost per train ticket was 26 euros.
The best way to find out how much tickets cost by train is to head to the websites of each country’s train system. In France, it is the SNCF railways (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer) and in Spain it is the RENFE train system.
If you decide to go by bus, there are several websites that include quotes by various bus companies. Omio is one of these and shows available bus tickets to your Camino starting point.
You may be able to find inexpensive local airfare tickets if your starting point has a local airport. Airline companies like Iberia, Vueling, Air Europa and Ryanair all offer very inexpensive flight options within Europe. You can go to the website of each, or start with Kayak.com which will compare all of the flight costs.
Lastly, taxis are a good option for those who arrive in an airport that is extremely close to their Camino starting point. These are easy to find, and you can simply contact the taxi company in the airport when you arrive.
Total cost of local transport to your starting point: €12-€100
If you are a backpacker who has had experience walking similar trails, then your cost for gear will be close to zero because you will most likely have much of what you need before leaving.
For the remaining beginner backpackers, you will want to take a moment to see what gear you have as well as consider what gear you will need. You might be surprised at how much gear you already have, further decreasing your overall cost.
If you buy most of your Camino gear beforehand (walking shoes, backpack, walking clothing, water bottle, toiletries, and Camino guidebook), you will most likely invest anywhere from 150€ - 300€ depending on the quality of your gear.
We did most of our shopping at budget stores before we left, especially for walking clothes and toiletries, and our spending on this category was on the lower end of the spectrum.
Overall we were happy with the gear that we took along. The item that we spent the most time looking into was a good backpack, and we found a perfect one made by Swiss Gear, sold at Target. It was important to us that it was durable, comfortable, affordable and had many compartments to organize our belongings. We were so happy with how it performed on our Camino pilgrimage that we continued to use it when we returned home, and we are still impressed with how it is holding up.
Total cost for gear for 35 days on the Camino: 150€ - 300€
Lodging Cost of the Camino
You will have several options for lodging as you walk the Camino. In order of affordability, these options are: municipal albergues (also known as public shelters or hostels), private albergues, pensions (guest houses), hotels, and casas rurales (country houses).
The price breakdown for a bed for one night at each is as follows:
Albergues are the most prevalent form of accommodation along the Camino de Santiago, so this is where most pilgrims tend to stay. The price is typically per person per night.
There are two different types of albergues on the Camino de Santiago, each with a different cost.
The least expensive lodging option is to stay at a municipal albergue. These are run by the local government or church and typically accept a donation (donativo) for a bed. This price is for hostel-style (or dorm-style) lodging where you will be sleeping in a room full of other pilgrims on bunk beds. Most pilgrims agree that a donation of about 4 euros is appropriate. Other municipal albergues charge between 6 to 8 euros per night per person. Reservations are not accepted; it is first come, first serve.
The second most affordable option is to stay in a privately-run albergue. Most of these albergues charge between 8 euros to 12 euros per night per person. Again, this price is for a dorm-style bed in a room full of other beds. Reservations are accepted and sometimes you can reserve for the same day, if a bed is available.
One note: many times private albergues will include extras like wifi, meals (sometimes), and towels. These can be worth the couple of extra euros compared to municipal albergues.
We were surprised by how many albergues also offered private rooms. Since we were traveling as a couple, we mostly stayed in private rooms in albergues or hotels. The cost was about the same as if we would have each paid for a bunk bed in an albergue.
While it will not affect cost very much, you will want to consider making reservations. Many people choose to walk the Camino without making reservations, in order to add to the pilgrim experience. We, however, chose to make room reservations about one month before leaving, and most private rooms were still available for reservations. For a dorm-style bed, you can usually make reservations the day before arriving.
By making reservations, you will also know, before leaving, your exact cost for each of your nights.
If you want to make reservations ahead of time (or to find out your exact costs), we found that the best site for this is www.booking.com. Grab your route planner, and type in the name of each city that you plan on staying in during your Camino. We found the reservation process seamless and enjoyed every one of our rooms. On the site, you can read reviews of each accommodation and they list whether there is a restaurant or not as well as other important information.
You can look into what lodging best fits your travel needs, but one option that is not talked about much in the Camino guides is the option to stay at apartments (much like airbnb but listed through booking.com). We stayed in a couple of apartments along the way, and found the independence and privacy worth the price. We usually had a full kitchen and bath. Keep an eye out for available apartments as you are planning.
One last lodging option for the pilgrim is to camp the Camino de Santiago. If you are staying at campgrounds along the way, it will be a comparable cost to staying at private albergues or hotels. Before deciding to camp the Camino, please check out our complete post covering everything you would need to know beforehand.
Total cost for 35 days in albergues: 280€ - 420€
Total cost for 35 days in hotels or private room: 875€ - 1,575€
Food Cost of the Camino
You will have two main eating options when walking the Camino. Depending on whether you have access to a kitchen most of the time, you can shop at the grocery stores and convenience stores and cook your food. This is the most budget-friendly option (and sometimes the healthiest).
The price for groceries on the Camino would cost about 5 to 10 euros per day.
The other option is to eat at restaurants along the way. This is the most common choice for pilgrims as you do not have to carry the food with you and you do not have to cook it.
Most lunches and dinners will run 6€ -12€, while breakfast could be a snack bar or fruit on the go.
With this, your daily eating budget would be 12€ - 24€ per day.
Total cost for food for 35 days on the Camino: 420€ - 840€
Other Incidental Costs
Other budget items to consider are laundry, souvenirs, almsgiving, and toiletries while walking. If you decide to use the available washers/dryers, laundry usually runs 2€ - 4€ per load. If you decide to hand wash, then it is free.
You may want to wait until the end of your Camino (when you arrive in Santiago) to purchase souvenirs.
Your pilgrim passport will be a couple of euros, and if you plan on receiving your compostela, you may want to invest a couple of euros for a compostela holder for the return journey.
You may encounter opportunities for almsgiving on your pilgrimage. For example, many small churches would ask for a small donation to get your passport stamped by them. Also, there were many people asking for alms in Santiago de Compostela. If almsgiving is something you would like to do, be sure to include it in your budget.
Total cost for incidentals for 35 days on the Camino: 20€ - 100€
Other Budget Considerations
You can find many ways to save money on your upcoming pilgrimage. This post was geared towards those walking the Camino Frances for 35 days. Here are some quick considerations that would save you money:
Accessing Money and Credit Cardss
Most pilgrims on the Camino will be using ATM debit cards or exchanging currency for accessing money. ATM cards are easy to use, but ATMs are only easily accessible in the larger cities. You will want to withdraw enough cash to get you to the next major city. For ATM cards, you will have a minimum charge per withdrawal for cash, usually a couple of euros per withdrawal, depending on the bank.
If you plan on using your debit card, please inform your bank that you will be traveling abroad so that your debit card transactions go through smoothly.
Most municipal albergues only accept cash (since they are primarily donation based), so you will want to have cash on hand if you plan to stay in these albergues. You may want cash on hand for other incidentals like laundry and taking a taxi, as well as smaller restaurants (who may not accept credit cards or debit cards).
We exchanged our money at our local bank before leaving for our Camino. There were fees associated with this, but we enjoyed not having to run to the ATM during our pilgrimage. If you plan on doing this, please consider using a travel money belt that you can secure under your shirt or under your pant leg to help keep your money safe.
Nowadays, very few people use traveler’s checks. We would not recommend these as they are more difficult to convert to cash.
Also, avoid exchanging currency at the airport, since these tend to offer the worst exchange rates with the highest fees.
Credit cards are a good way to pay for some (but not all) expenses on the Camino. Check with your credit company to see what their fee is for doing this (usually a couple of percentage points per transaction). Most of the credit card machines in Europe accept chip and pin, so make sure you know your pin before leaving.
How Much We Spent Walking the Camino
Here is a breakdown of how much we spent while walking the Camino back in July of 2018. For reference, we walked for a total of 10 days, arriving in Madrid and taking a train to our starting point in Sarria. We walked the last 111km of the Camino Frances staying in private rooms or apartments every night.
Airfare: 800€ for two people (400€ per person)
Train ride to starting point: 52€ for two people (26€ per person)
Gear: 150€ for two people (75€ per person)
Lodging: 372€ for two people (186€ per person)
Food: 230€ for two people (115€ per person)
Incidentals: Approximately 50€ (mostly for laundry and toiletries)
Total cost: €1,654 for two people (€827 per person) for 10 days
We hope this helps you get an idea of how much to budget for your upcoming Camino pilgrimage. We believe that the Camino is worth every penny and you will not regret taking this once-in-a-lifetime journey.