I walked the Camino de Santiago on the Camino Frances for less than €1,000, around $1,200. This does not include travel to and from the start and end.
The main costs for any of the Camino de Santiago routes are your daily budget which can be between €30 and €50. Getting to and from your start and finish points is completely dependent on where you live.
If you live in Europe it is reasonably quick and easy to get to and from any of the Camino routes. If you live in North America you will obviously have a longer and more expensive flight. (see travel page here).
One of the biggest variables is the current exchange rate between the US Dollar, Sterling, and Euro. Right now walking the Camino is cheaper than it has ever been for pilgrims from America and Britain.
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Day to Day Costs While Walking
The most popular Camino routes are the Camino Frances and the Portuguese Camino. Both of these routes have good infrastructures for pilgrims. One of the most important costs is the decision to stay in hostels, hotels, or pensions. Hostels, albergues, are the cheapest, friendliest, and best places to stay. You will have the added advantage of meeting, talking, and getting to know other pilgrims. A quick note on the hostels: most of the hostels you see in Camino guidebooks are only for pilgrims.
Day to day living can be very reasonable – but, I know of people that stayed in hotels all along the route. I have met one man who stayed in every Parador he could. I usually stayed in Albergues, but for two nights I stayed in a pension, (bed and breakfast). The pension cost about €20, (budget €30 for small towns and villages, €50 min for larger towns and cities). I stayed in a single room each time and it was fairly cheap. In small towns and villages, the cost is much less than in major cities. Expect to pay a lot more in Santiago or any of the major cities where it is about double this for a low-end hotel.
- Albergue each night – 10 to 17 euro
- Evening Meal – 10 to 15 Euro for the pilgrim menu
I would start each morning in a cafe having breakfast, about €3 including coffee. During the rest of the day, I would spend about €4 on coffee, tea, cold drinks, and ice cream. Lunch I would buy and make myself: cold meats, cheese, bread, and fruits, about €3. Sometimes I would eat in the Albergue in the evening, cooking with other pilgrims. At other times I would eat the pilgrim menu in local restaurants. In all the large cities I spent much more money. I treated myself to great food costing between €20 and €30. There are also some great seafood restaurants along the route and in Santiago de Compostela.
Total Camino de Santiago Costs per Day: 35 Euro, about $38 or £28
Hostel: 12, Evening Meal: 12, Breakfast: 3, Lunch: 3, sundries: 5 – note no beer money included here. (My words of warning: my budget for any trip has never been under my plan it has always been over)
You can walk the whole route, 31 days, for less than €1,000. But, I would budget for another few hundred if possible, if unexpected things happen.
My daily costs in 2005 were between €20-30 and I spent less than €800 in total. In 2012 walking the Le Puy route in France I spent about €50 per day. (I had more money which resulted in me spending more). I always made sure that I always had extra money for emergencies (never used or needed). My bank cards worked fine in all the Spanish bank machines and the same for my credit card.
How much did you spend per day on the Camino was a thread and poll on the forum,(now closed). Most pilgrims will spend between €20 and €30 per day, and it is very closely followed by those who spent between €30 and €40.
Travel to the Start of the Camino
Getting to the start points of any of the Camino routes is not simple and takes a little planning. The most common start points of the Camino Frances, St Jean Pied de Port or Pamplona, do not have large airports. Here is a great thread on the Camino forum if you are traveling from outside of Europe. The thread has great information on the best connections for flying to and train travel in Spain.
I flew to Paris the first time I hiked the Camino. Then I traveled by overnight train on SNCF to Bayonne. There is a connection from Bayonne to St Jean which is easy and very short. You can stay on the same train to Pamplona and get a bus from there to Roncesvalles or St Jean. The second time I walked the Camino I drove from Vienna. I left my car in the car park at Roncesvalles for four weeks, the car park is free but has no security. I was not the first or last pilgrim to do this. Apparently, a few pilgrims turn up each year at Roncesvalles asking if they can leave their car.
The amount you spend on air travel will depend on how far away from Spain you live and how you get there. Flights are a major expense. Currently, Skyscanner.com is my favorite booking engine for comparing flight costs.
Getting home. Most people book their return flights in advance. Last minute flights are expensive, especially if you are flying outside of Europe. I didn’t book my flights in advance as I wanted some flexibility for when I would leave Spain. I had all summer and did not know if I would finish the Camino before I went to France and Spain for more travel.
During August trains from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid are often booked out weeks in advance.
Last minute flights from Santiago de Compostela are expensive. I would suggest always booking a week or two in advance. If you need to be home by a certain date I recommend booking your tickets in advance, especially in July and August.
There is a rumor that goes around every year, that Spanish Airlines will provide reduced flight costs for pilgrims. I have never seen any evidence of this.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.