What is Food Like on the Camino de Santiago? Pilgrim Menus…

Yes, what about food? A question that had not occurred to me before going to Spain and France to start my first Camino. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Spain and France on numerous occasions before and I love the food. Compared to the usual British cuisine I find it tastier.

All that said, the food along the Camino was not what I had become used to or expected in Paris or Madrid.

The Pilgrims Menu

Pilgrims Menu

During the first two weeks, I ate out every night. In every town and village along the way, you will see the option of the pilgrim’s menu.  It is stated as three courses normally.  However, the three are not like you would expect in your local restaurant. The starter is normally a small bowl of pasta or if you are lucky a salad.  I hope you like chicken.  The main course of the menu was nearly always chicken – I did get a bit tired of it.  The third course is normally fruit or yogurt.  When I say fruit I mean an apple or an orange put down in front of you.

The Pilgrim’s menu will normally include wine or water.  I found the menu fine, it was enough to fill me and I am a big guy.  I was never left hungry.

My Eating Along the Camino

In the morning I just wanted coffee to start with. I had a snack bar that I had bought the day before most of the time. Then I would walk to the first bar. It would normally be full of pilgrims getting breakfast and like me their first coffee of the day.

The walk to breakfast could be 5km but normally much less. If the Albergue I had stayed in was in a large enough town there would be a bar open about 6.30 or 7.00 am so breakfast would be had there.

More and more of the hostels now serve some sort of breakfast.  Normally it is continental – cold except for the toast.

Lunch had a little more variety, I got used to a Spanish dish which is made of egg and potatoes – Tortilla de Patatas – and I would often have this in a baguette. Sometimes I bought tuna, or cold meats, fruit, and some bread; then I would stop along the way during the hottest part of the day and rest and eat. However, many pilgrims push their walking quite fast so that they are finished walking for the day by this time. See What is a usual day like?

There are small shops in villages, so buying your own food to cook in the evenings in Albergue is also possible. I did this mostly during the last ten days or so. Pilgrim’s menus become very boring night after night – very much the same from village to village.

Once I had met and traveled with others it was easy at night to all get together and pay together to cook food between us. Cheaper – but more importantly more convivial. Most Albergues had cooking facilities, see the Albergue list for kitchens.

Some of the hostels serve an evening meal.  The ones that I enjoyed the most like Granon were communal affairs.  For me, there was something very special about these meals eating together.

Treating Yourself

I love my food.  During the Camino was a time that I could eat anything and not have to be concerned with putting on weight.  I had no idea at the time but I lost a lot of weight while walking.

There are two areas that stand out to me as great places to eat.  Pamplona had the best tapas that I have ever had in my life.  I could sit and eat them all night if I could.  So if you stay over there it is worthwhile splashing out.

Towards the end of the Camino as you near the sea, seafood is available everywhere.  We treated ourselves to a slap-up meal in Santiago and again in Finisterre.  But even the smallest of bars have great squid.

Being a Vegan or Vegetarian

I am neither I love my meat too much.  However it is possible to be both or either along the Camino, it does take a bit of work and some planning.  See this post for more information on being vegan on the Camino.

5 thoughts on “What is Food Like on the Camino de Santiago? Pilgrim Menus…”

  1. hhmm …it always amazes me how many different ways the Camino appears to people. I walked 4 Caminos and had some of the most delicious meals including pilgrims menu, other than seafood specifically Sardines I don’t recall of having a lot of repetitions …may I suggest trying some of the regional varieties next time??
    Bon Camino
    PS: After about 1000km in 30 days I gained 10 pounds!

  2. Best meal on 4 Caminos was at the Cafe Casanova in Estella. Pilgrim meal was fantastic–Trout about 50 CM long or a BIG dish of beef and pork–9Euros.
    Hamburgers–Was refused lettuce, tomatoes and onions on a hamburger even after offering to pay more for them as ONLY sandwiches have those on them–got a bagette with two dried up burgers with nothing else on it!
    ALWAYS carry some food with you as you can not eat during Siesta nor on Sundays in most villages.

    Extreme—two Israelites who carried ALL of their Kosher food AND kosher cooking pots and pans

  3. Al, I will try to match your extreme! 🙂

    We met some older Korean folks who brought their own chefs with them on the Camino. These young guys backpacked the pots and pans and all the Korean foods. And sometimes we even shared some of their leftovers that they couldn’t take to the next town. Incredibly good food!

  4. Walked with many Koreans who carry or buy food to be cooked by themselves. Leftovers were put into plastic containers for the next days lunch and frequently the early risers cleaned out the community refrigerator taking the Koreans food with them! The korean women are fantastic–no 10% BS for them–carry whatever you want! Earmuffs in YOUR pack? They have them!


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