Albergues and Refugios are hostels – but hostels only for pilgrims. Therefore you need a Pilgrims Passport to stay in one. Pilgrims passports are issued at quite a number of places. Firstly, from your home country confraternity, if you are a member; at some Albergues (cost is normally only a few euro). St Jean Pied de Port, Roncesvalles, and Pamplona, where most people start are the main centers where pilgrims passports are issued..
This list albergues not comprehensive – it is impossible to compile a completely up to date list of Albergues. New albergues are being opened all the time. Private Albergues will be found in addition to what is listed below.
Please remember that almost all the people that will greet you in an Albergue are volunteers. This is their way of giving back to the Camino de Santiago, please treat them with the respect they are due, without them the Way of St James would be much more difficult for all.
The facilities vary greatly. Some albergues are warm and cozy (Grannon), – some are old school buildings that lack any atmosphere, some have washing machines, but mostly it will have to be done by hand. Every one which I stayed in had hot showers. Most have kitchens, but in most towns there will be a bar that serves the “Pilgrim menu”, this is usually cheaper, but with little choice, (about €7 to €10). However some Albergues, like Granon, will serve a communal evening meal, (donation and washing dishes, if so inclined). A lot of Albergues now have internet connection.
The house rules vary – but most will be open from 4pm and close in the evening at ten or eleven – beware at some they will lock you out. Some will wake you at six in the morning – and normally out by 7am. Pilgrims are allowed one nights stay; unless medical grounds force the person to rest, this happens, sore knees, feet, etc.
The closer you come to Santiago, the busier the Albergues, patience is a requirement not an option. However it all is an incredible experience, see it for what it is, a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. 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.