A good night’s sleep makes a huge difference to your experience of the Camino de Santiago. There are various standards of accommodation along the Way of St. James, ranging from public pilgrim hostels to luxury historical hotels. Clearly, the likelihood of restful sleep will be greater if you have a private room and there are many options for this.

Find out which Camino accommodation would suit you best.

 

Pousadas and Paradores

These are usually historical buildings, often former monasteries, fortresses, hospitals or other notable buildings, which have been tastefully converted into luxury hotels.

Original architectural and decorative features make these accommodations truly unique and special while all the usual modern comforts and 5-star service standards allow you to fully relax and enjoy the experience.

Pousadas and Paradores are not available in every location on the Camino but if you are looking for luxury accommodation, we use 4 and 5-star hotels in our Upgraded Camino package to supplement these historical gems and guarantee an elevated level of comfort throughout your journey.

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Hotels on the Camino de Santiago

In larger towns and cities, the full range of hotels is usually available, from clean and comfortable 2-star hotels to luxurious 5-star ones. Our standard Camino package typically includes 2-3 star hotels that are on, or as close as possible to, the Camino.

We have personally vetted and negotiated with each of our selected hotels to make sure they provide the quality and service standards we demand for our clients. For example, in some hotels, we have arranged for our clients to have an upgraded breakfast where we feel the basic breakfast is not enough to set you up properly for a day on the Camino.

Country Inns

Portugal and Galicia have some wonderful rural accommodations to offer in the form of country inns. These are usually renovated centuries-old farmhouses or manor houses surrounded by gorgeous countryside. They tend to be family-run and offer home-cooked food, often using produce from the estate. Many have an outdoor pool, or at least pretty gardens to relax in after a day on the trail.

If you are happier staying in the countryside than in towns and cities, our Country Inns programme might be best for you. We’ll arrange for your hosts to collect you from the Camino and take you to the property if necessary.

 

Guest houses, pensions and residencials

Although we don’t use them, there is another category of accommodation in between hotels and hostels which covers simple lodgings, usually in a family-run establishment. Here, you’d expect to get your own room and a bathroom, although that might be shared with other guests. Breakfast and dinner may or may not be included or available.

 

Hostels on the Camino

The cheapest option for a bed for the night would be at a pilgrim hostel.

The public albergues are usually staffed by volunteers and operate on a first come, first served basis. This means that people often get up really early in order to get a head start. Priority is given to walkers rather than cyclists.

Room sizes and specific rules vary but you may end up in a mixed dormitory with 40 or more people, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities. Be prepared to carry your own bedding, towel, soap and even toilet paper as luggage transfer services will not deliver to public hostels.

Private hostels exist where you can book a bed in advance and will usually be sharing with fewer people. They may provide bedding but not towels but it’s best to check and you may wish to take a sleeping bag liner.

Again, we want to make sure you are in accommodations that are conducive to a restful, restorative sleep so we don’t use hostels or guest house level accommodations.

 

What you need to know about cycling the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

While the ancient pilgrim trails through Portugal and Galicia to Santiago de Compostela were developed by walkers, the good news for cycling enthusiasts is that it’s also possible to cycle the Camino.

Whether you opt to follow the Coastal Way, the Central Route or the lesser-travelled Santiago to Finisterre route, you can be sure of stunning scenery and delicious food throughout your journey.

 

What’s different for cyclists on the Camino?

If you wish to qualify for the compostela pilgrim certificate, you’ll need to cycle at least the last 200 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela as opposed to the 100 kilometres required for those on foot. Just remember to get your pilgrim passport (credencial) stamped regularly along the route to prove you have covered this distance.

Some off-road sections of the original trail are particularly challenging for cyclists. For this reason, our detailed route notes and GPS trails recommend some detours from the walking route so that you can skip the most problematic parts and enjoy a smoother ride.

Since you’ll be moving faster than walkers, you can cover more ground in less time. We have divided the Porto-Santiago Camino into six or seven stages, depending on the route. This means that some days will be quite long (up to 55 kms) while others are relatively short, giving you plenty of time to explore the towns where you are staying overnight.

 

Can anyone cycle the Camino de Santiago?

Even with the detours, the Camino is not an ‘easy’ route by bike, although it is enjoyable for experienced cyclists. You need to be proficient and confident at cycling among traffic and dealing with a range of off-road situations.

The terrain varies from busy urban roads, quiet country lanes and level cycle paths to uneven dirt and stone trails and granite cobblestones.

You also need to be physically fit and capable of carrying your bike short distances or up and down a few steps where necessary. At times, it will be easier to push the bike than to ride it.

If you’d like to make things a little easier on yourself, you can upgrade to an electric bike, which gives you a welcome boost to tackle hills.

 

What technical skills do you need?

You’ll be cycling the Camino without a guide so you need to know how to perform a few basic tasks, such as pumping up your tyres and changing gears. You should also know how to change an inner tyre in case you get a puncture as bike shops are very few and far between.

We only use new, top quality mountain bikes so there shouldn’t be any mechanical problems with the bicycle. If you do have a more serious problem while you’re on the road, call us and we’ll sort it out.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the most outstanding building of Romanesque art in Spain. It is also the final destination of all the Ways of St. James, which, during centuries, have brought Christendom’s pilgrims to the apostle’s tomb. And that is not all; it is the starting point for the construction of a monumental city, Santiago de Compostela, that arose in a sacred forest at the End of the World, with the vocation of becoming a Holy City and a World Heritage City.

Today, with a thousand years of existence experienced at the pace of Compostela’s extraordinary history, the Cathedral reveals itself to be a complex series of spaces covering an area of around 10,000 square metres, capable of rewarding with its powerful spirituality the faith of travellers, and with its beauty visitors from all over the world.

Source: Santiago de Compostela Tourism

The “Botafumeiro” is a giant censer, used since the Middle Ages to purify the air in a Cathedral that was full of crowds. Today, 800 years later, it continues to marvel those present when, after communion, the baroque organs play the Hymn to the Apostle and this wonder of physics begins its amazing pendular swing facing the high altar, rising up to almost touch the transept vault.

Eight men are required to set it in motion; these so-called “tiraboleiros” bring it out of the Library full of incense and coal. After tying it with three large knots to a rope hanging opposite the high altar, they pump the censer by pulling with strength and precision when it is at the lowest point of its trajectory. In this way, in only a minute and a half, the “Botafumeiro” reaches a speed of 68 kilometres per hour and forms an angle of 82 degrees with the vertical, tracing a 65-metre amplitude arc along the transept. There are a total of 17 cycles, which leave spectators with a lasting impression.

The “Botafumeiro” appears in the Codex Calixtinus, mentioned as Turibulum Magnum, which means that the ritual dates at least from the 12th century. At that time, it was hung from a series of wooden beams crossing the dome. The present-day mechanism, based on movement by pulleys and the law of the pendulum, was designed during the Renaissance by the master Celma.

In the 15th c., King Louis XI of France financed the manufacture of a silver censer, but it was removed by the Napoleonic troops camped in the Cathedral cloister. Today, there are two censers, which are kept in the Chapter Library: the oldest is from 1851 and was created by the silversmith José Losada. It is made of silver-plated brass, is 160 cm high and weighs around 62 kg when empty (it usually weighs up to 100 kg when full of incense and coal). The second is a silver replica of the aforementioned one, being a gift of the Acting Officers to the Cathedral in 1971.

In almost a thousand years of history, there have not been many accidents involving the “Botafumeiro.” On St. James’ Day in 1499, while honouring Princess Catalina of Aragon, the “Botafumeiro” came flying off and crashed into the Platerías door. The second incident took place on May 23, 1622, when the rope broke and the “Botafumeiro” fell to the ground. And in the 20th c., it broke the ribs and nose of someone who got too close trying to admire its amazing mechanism.

Source: Santiago de Compostela Tourism