What it Costs to Walk the Camino

Camino de Santiago, Travel

(If you’d like to read about our Camino pilgrimage, check out my weekly recap of our trip here.)

One of the main questions I have been asked about the Camino de Santiago is: how much does it cost? I kept a careful record of all my expenses while on the Camino and today I’m going to break down just how much it really costs to walk the Camino by sharing what I spent on transportation, the necessary equipment, food, and lodging for the 35 days of the Camino de Santiago. My brother and I spent more on our trip because we stayed in France for a week and a half before starting the Camino and we spent another week and a half in Portugal after finishing the Camino, but for this post, I’ve added up only the costs concerning the Camino.

I had done a little bit of research on the cost of albergues (the hostels for pilgrims along the Camino) and on the average cost of food and we decided our goal was to each spend under $25 per day for both food AND lodging while on the Camino. From most of the research I did it seemed that the average you should expect to spend per day on food and lodging was between $30-$35 but that was too expensive for our tiny student budgets and it seemed to be possible to keep it to $25 and less if we bought most of our food at grocery stores and markets instead of eating the pilgrim meals each day.

We each kept track of every expense along the trip and when it was all said and done, my daily average was 23€ which comes out to about $25 – so right on target. (JP’s daily average was a few dollars less because I indulged in freshly squeezed OJ and pastries a bit more than he did hahah). On my most expensive day, I spent 36€ on food/lodging and on my cheapest day I spent a grand total of 11,60€ for both food and lodging. All of this to say it is absolutely possible to be a tight budget and walk the Camino without breaking the bank.

A few ways we saved money were:

  1. We stayed in municipal albergues WAY more than private ones (the municipal are owned by the government and run by volunteers so they are often a few (or a lot of) dollars cheaper than the privately-owned albergues).
  2. We stayed in donativo albergues WHENEVER possible (these are the cheapest option along the Camino because it’s entirely up to you how much you want to donate and a lot of these albergues included free breakfast the next morning and some included a communal dinner the night you stayed.)
  3. We bought MOST of our food at grocery stores/markets along the Camino and made dinner in the albergues we stayed in (almost every albergue has a kitchen for pilgrims to utilize). Pilgrim meals can run anywhere from 10€-18€ each and while they are a hearty meal (with multiple courses including dessert, bread and wine), that adds up very quickly. When we did purchase a pilgrim meal we were either a) too exhausted to cook our own food b)didn’t have any other options (most towns had stores but a few were so small that they did not) or c)we decided the community that came with the meal was worth the extra money. (Sometimes the Pilgrim meal was just a menu option at a restaurant and so you just ate by yourself, but other times it was a meal served to you by the albergue and all the pilgrims who paid for the meal sat together at a big family-style dinner and we quickly realized that if we were going to spend the extra money on a pilgrim meal, we wanted it to be the ones that included the community aspect of a family dinner).

So, without further ado, here is every expense broken down for you:

MY CAMINO BUDGET BREAK-DOWN

TRANSPORTATION: $768

-Flights (JFK to PARIS, LISBON to JFK): $663

-Bus/Trains (Paris to St. Jean, Santiago to Lisbon): $105

EQUIPMENT: ≈ $650

-Osprey Backpack: $150

-Keen Hiking Shoes: $130

-Specialty Clothing Items: ≈ $180

-Other Equipment: ≈ $150

FOOD/LODGING (while on the Camino): 795€ (≈$882)

-Food: an average of 15,50€ per day (35 days)

-Lodging: an average of 7,50€ per night (35 nights)

OTHER MISC EXPENSES ON CAMINO: 85€ (≈$95)

EXTRA LODGING: $63

-Private room in St. Jean Pied de Port (the night before starting): $30

-Two additional nights in Santiago (after finishing): $33

TOTAL COST: $2,458

When you think about it, $2500 for 35 days in Europe (including your flights) is basically unheard of. Having said that, you should understand that it’s totally possible to spend a whole lot more than that and have a bit more comfort while on the Camino. There were definitely nights where I wished we had spent the extra dollars to stay in a slightly nicer albergue or that I wished we had a looser food budget so we could just relax at a restaurant instead of waiting for our turn in the kitchen to cook our forth pasta dinner in a row. And if I walk the Camino again, it would be nice to have a daily budget of $30-$35 to have that extra wiggle room. But I am truly grateful we kept to our original budget because it’s good to know (and good to let you all know) that it is absolutely possible to complete this pilgrimage on a dirt-cheap budget. In fact, you could even spend a few dollars less than us each day if you cut down costs even a bit more by never eating out and never staying in private albergues (something we did on occasion). Plus, the Camino is supposed to be a pilgrimage, not a vacation, and a pilgrimage in it’s truest and most traditional sense is about the furthest thing from comfort. Sacrificing daily comforts to keep our costs down helped us remember the whole point of what we were doing in the first place.

I hope this post was helpful for anyone thinking about or actively planning their own Camino pilgrimage!

Buen Camino!

Xoxo,
Mary Kate

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