As European hiking trips go, the Camino is pretty inexpensive, but it certainly isn’t free and you need to plan carefully, especially if you are doing a long stretch of trail. Use this Camino de Santiago cost calculator to help you figure out exactly how much to budget for the Camino.
I walked 300 miles of the Camino in 2014 and in 2019 am going back to complete the Frances trail. This Camino de Santiago budget is based upon my experience and is also informed by a survey that I conducted among members of several Camino Facebook groups.
GET A FREE PRINTABLE CAMINO PACKING LIST + BUDGETING SPREADSHEET
This will also sign you up for the Wayfaring Views Newsletter
This cost calculator will help you decide what level of budget is right for you and give you specific costs for various line items. You can also put the advice from this article into practice by signing up above to get a free Camino budget spreadsheet tool AND printable Camino packing list.
(This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase, I’ll make a small commission.)
What Camino de Santiago Budget Level is Right for You?
A very diverse group of 300,000 people take the Camino pilgrimage every year. Pilgrims are a mix of age, gender and profession from over 170 nationalities. I didn’t want to assume that my budget level is your budget level. So, this Camino budget tool offers three different levels of budget so that you can pick the level that is right for you.
The Low Budget Pilgrim
You are a low budget pilgrim if you are trying to keep your costs as low as possible. You will stay primarily in parish or municipal albergues, which usually feature larger dorms with kitchens. They also sometimes offer a communal meal. You won’t eat out much, choosing instead to prepare your own food. You will carry your pack the whole way (rather than using a portage service) and hand wash your clothes. You will try to make do with the gear that you have or shop for gently used items.
The Medium Budget Pilgrim
The medium budget pilgrim uses a mix of municipal/parish and private albergues. The private albergues also have kitchens and often feature smaller rooms and laundry facilities. You might splurge on a guest house or hotel once or twice. You prepare some of your own food, perhaps shopping for your lunch and snacks in a grocery store. You will often eat out for dinner, sometimes choosing the fixed price pilgrim meal. You will sometimes use a laundry machine, rather than hand washing. You may portage your pack a time or two. You have some new gear that you need to purchase for the trip.
The High Budget Pilgrim
The high budget pilgrim chooses to stay primarily in private accommodations like guest houses, hotels and casas rurales, only occasionally using an albergue. This sort of lodging usually offers breakfast with a private room and sometimes a private bath. You eat out most meals, occasionally choosing nicer restaurants. You may choose to have your bag portaged more often. You purchase most of your gear new.
Camino de Santiago Costs for Daily Expenses
These are rough daily expenses for food, lodging and incidentals. I recommend that, whatever your budget, you add in an additional 15% for unexpected expenses. I had to visit a medical clinic while others reported having to replace broken shoes or lost gear.
Budgeting for Food
All of the larger towns and cities have grocery stores so you can save money by purchasing and carrying snacks and lunch items. If you are with a group, or make friends on the road, you can gang together and make group dinners. All of the smaller cafes and restaurants offer pilgrim meals for €9-10 and even their normal fare isn’t expensive. Red wine is a steal at €2 per glass.
If cooking, find others in the albergue with the same taste and pool resources.”Annie
Budgeting for Lodging
Some of the municipal and parish albergues are “donativos”. This means that they don’t have a set rate but request a donation. This does not mean that they are free. Pay what you can, at least as much as other municipal albergues charge and more if they offer a communal dinner. If you want an upgrade, you can find listings of guest houses and hotels in the Brierly Camino guide. Booking.com is also a good source for small hotels and guest houses.
If you want to treat yourself with a total splurge, you can spend a night in one of Spain’s historic Paradores. They are all over Spain and you can find three along the Frances Camino route in Leon, Villafranca del Bierzo and Santiago.
“For a splurge, have a massage”Donna
Budgeting for Incidentals
According to my own experience and the survey, the most common incidentals will be trips to the pharmacy for blister bandages, anti-inflammatories and other first aid supplies. Compeed blister bandages are my friend…but they’re an expensive friend. You should also think about budgeting for: museum entrance fees, a local sim card, laundry machines and ATM fees.
If you are going to have your luggage portaged, plan for €5 -7 for each portage through a service like Camino Facil and El Camino Correos. If you are doing a longer trip in Europe and want to lighten your pack, you can ship luggage ahead to Santiago. It will cost roughly €50 to do that through the Correos service.
How to Pay for Things on the Camino
Cash is king on the Camino and while you can use credit cards in some places, you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of cash on hand. Most of the larger towns and cities have ATM machines. But there are plenty of one horse towns along the Camino that don’t.
This is not hyperbole. I stayed in Villavante, which is just before Astorga. The town had no ATM, grocery store or pharmacy, simply one albergue and one horse wandering around throughout the town.
Both the Brierly guide and the Camino Forum list of albergues do a good job of indicating what sorts of services are offered in each town.
Budgeting for Camino Transportation
For travel from your home to a Camino gateway city (such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona or Porto), your travel costs will vary wildly. If you are already in Europe, plan to spend €100-200. If you are coming from North America, Australia or Asia, plan to spend €500-1,000. You can keep an eye on fares using Skyscanner’s calendar function.
Once at your gateway city, you’ll need to transport yourself from there to your start point on the Camino. This will cost you €25-100. For instance getting from Madrid to Saint Jean by train and bus will cost ~€65. Check out the Rom2Rio website to help you estimate your costs.
Once on the Camino, you may also incur some incidental transportation costs if you decide to skip a segment. If you chose to do that, plan for roughly €1 per kilometer of transport.
Camino de Santiago Costs for Gear
Your Camino budget for gear is a very personal thing and depends upon how much you already have in your closet. For me and most of the survey respondents, the most common items purchased specifically for the Camino were: backpack, trail runners, pack towels, socks and clothing in tragically practical “action adventure” wicking fabrics.
Create your own checklist by reading my Camino packing list. It says it’s for chicks but dudes can use it too. I field tested this list and it also includes suggestions from the Camino community. You can also go price shopping by checking out Camino gear in my Amazon store.
“Cheap gear isn’t necessarily bad gear”Andy
Additional Resources for Planning Your Camino
- Head back up to the top of this page and sign up for the FREE budgeting spreadsheet and packing list.
- Read up on the Camino with this list of 31 books featuring: guidebooks, inspiring memoirs and wacky tales of derring do.
- Get inspiration from women who have done the Camino solo.
- Check out this astonishingly thorough packing list.
- Join the Camigas Facebook group. It’s an active community of lady pilgrims.
- Join the Camino Forum community. They have lots of resources and a place for asking questions.
- Join the St James Way walkers Facebook group.
I hope that this resource for Camino de Santiago costs has been helpful for you. If you have questions, please comment below. If you have already done the Camino and have some budget tips to add, please do that as well.
Happy trails and Buen Camino!
Share this Camino de Santiago cost calculator with your pilgrim friends and pin this post.