The Camino Frances offers a range of accommodation options, the most popular being a pilgrim hostel (in Spanish albergue/refugio/hospital de peregrinos, or in French auberge). Alternative accommodation options include private hostels (albergue turistico), hostals, rural houses (casa rurales), campsites, and hotels. In larger towns and cities there are options to cater for every budget and comfort level. An overview of the types of accommodation is available below.

Hostel v hostal

The terms 'hostel' and 'hostal' are often used interchangeably, however there are differences between the two. In Spain, a hostel is a low-priced, basic accommodation offering with fewer amenities than a hostal. Hostels tend to feature large mixed male and female dormitory style rooms with shared bathroom facilities; some may have single sex rooms, and some may offer a small number of private rooms. The rooms usually have bunk beds although some may have single beds. Hostels usually offer a communal lounge or kitchen. In France, a hostel is referred to as a gite d’etape.

A hostal is often considered a budget hotel although they do not provide the full array of services of a hotel. Hostals are often classified by a 1 to 3 stars rating system and tend to be operated as a family run business. Hostals typically offer private rooms with either a private or shared bathroom. They may also be referred to as a pension or guest house.

Pilgrim hostels (albergues)

The traditional place to stay on the Camino is a pilgrim hostel/albergue i.e. a hostel geared or exclusive pilgrims. There are two types of pilgrim hostel, public and private.

Public albergues

Public albergues are exclusive to pilgrims and only admit those with a Pilgrim Record (credencial) who are walking, cycling, or horse-riding the Camino. Pilgrim hostels are a budget accommodation option; some run on a donation basis while others range in price from €10-25 per night.

There are several types of public albergue including municipal hostels operated by local government; parish (parochial) hostels operated by religious institutions such as local churches, convents, and monasteries; and association hostels operated by local or international pilgrim associations. Municipal albergues are typically staffed by volunteers (hospitaleros/as) and tend to be in public buildings such as former schools.

Public albergues are often basic places to stay and generally comprise of large mixed gender dormitory style rooms with bunkbeds and shared bathroom facilities. They may also offer communal kitchen, dining, and lounge areas. The quality varies with some offering a basic mattress on the floor while other newer properties may provide a small number of private rooms. Some properties also permit animals.

Good to know...

In general, most public albergues:

  • operate on a first come first served basis (some give priority to walking pilgrims above cycling pilgrims);
  • do not accept reservations in advance;
  • limit the length of stay to one night, although exceptions may be made for health reasons;
  • are seasonal, typically open from 1 April to 31 October;
  • have fixed hours of operation, check-in tends to be from 1pm and check-out at 8am; entrance doors generally close at 9pm;
  • offer basic amenities e.g., do not provide bedding or towels, some offer disposable sheets.

Properties that are geared towards pilgrims yellow are colour coded yellow on our map.

Private albergues (albergue turistico)

Private albergues are operated by private individuals. While some may be geared towards pilgrims, they may not be exclusive to them. Typically, they charge a higher price per night than public albergues but offer more amenities such as laundry facilities, internet access, and meals.

These properties also offer dormitory style accommodation, and some may have private rooms. They may or may not accept bookings in advance, in the instance that there is no option to book through our provider we recommend that you contact the property directly to find out. It is worth viewing a property's website, where available, as some provide the option to book online directly.

It is worth noting that both types of albergues often reach capacity in high season (July and August). If this is your preferred choice of accommodation, we recommend that you arrive early on the day or book in advance where possible.

Official hostels

Official hostels can be found in larger towns and cities on the Camino Frances route. They do not offer services specific to pilgrims; they are open to everyone. These properties are color coded blue on our map.

Rural houses (casa rurales)

Rural houses are country homes that present another accommodation option on the Camino. They tend to be located slightly off the Camino route but offer more privacy and amenities than hostels. Rural homes may be available as a whole holiday home or may offer private rooms with or without a shared bathroom. They are typically priced from €50 per night. A rural home stay can provide an insight into Spanish life as the houses typically respect the local architecture and traditional building methods of the region; home cooked meals may also be available. In France, a holiday home is reffered to as a gite rural.

If you are searching for a rural house on our website, you can find them under the filter option 'guest-house/hostal'. This category also includes pensions which offer private rooms. Pensions differ from rural houses as they are not a homestay and may be located in more urban areas.

More options

Larger towns and cities on the Camino Frances have other accommodation options such as low budget fondas (a room above a local cafe or bar), campsites, hotels, and paradors (a type of luxury hotel typically located in a converted historic building such as a monastery or castle).

We provide information about the full range of properties to cater for different budgets, comfort levels, and changing accommodation needs as you travel.