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Accommodation on the Camino Frances

Roamer35

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2009, Camino Finisterre, 2009, Camino Portuguese, 2009, Via de La Plata, 2011. Pending: VdlP April-May 2014
I am considering walking the Camino Frances in April. I have done a few others over the years. The Camino Frances twice, Via de la Plata, two of the Portuguese caminos and the Camino Finistere. Many fond and significant memories of those travels. Up at dawn, a croissant and a cafe con leche at the first cafe followed by the joys of walking and the companionship of the many fine and interesting people I met along the way. Accommodation was never a problem. With few exceptions I was always able to find a bed in a municipal, private or church albergue at day's end. It has been a few years since my last pilgrimage and I have been checking Ivar's forum from time to time. I get the impression that things have changed and those carefree days of "winging it" it are fading. I read posts of tour groups pre-booking accommodations, crowded cafes and infrastructure strained to the limits. What is your experience? Should I plan and prebook everything?
 
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What is your experience? Should I plan and prebook everything?
I've walked the Camino Frances in 1990, 2002, 2016 and 2023. A different experience each time. Walking in the busy September period this year with a friend we booked beds in SJPDP, Roncesvalles and Larrasoaña well in advance. Beyond Pamplona we either walked without reservations or booked that day. We wanted to walk longer days than most people choose and finish later in the afternoon. That increased the chance of finding places full up. But I've read many reports that municipal albergues which do not accept reservations had beds to spare. A gamble.
 
You will get many different answers to this question. I don't like to book ahead unless it is someplace special (Parador, etc.) or I want to stay out late or get up late or have a rest day so I don't have to move my stuff. I have not personally had difficulty finding a bed, but I walk short days so avoid the heat and have time to do things in the afternoons in the town where I am staying.

I know April is a busy month if you are walking from SJPDP. I would try not to stay in any "stage" towns for best access. Some people get discouraged right away and then book the rest of their trip. There are limited beds in some places such as in the days between SJPDP and Pamplona.

You are an experienced pilgrim and if you feel comfortable winging it, then I encourage you to continue that practice. If it does not serve you well, then you can make a change once you are on the Camino.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
You're an experienced pilgrim, most likely you'll have no big problems winging it.

Since easter is in march, the first wave of spring pilgrims should already have rolled towards Santiago, and the second usually starts later, end of april/beginning of may. So you'll hopefully be inbetween the waves.

I've walked the Francés starting before and through easter in 2015 and it was busy but fine, then in summer 17/19/22 and it was still fine. Apart from the really very busy last 100km conga line from Sarria, I didn't find it more crowded in the later summer walks than the spring walk 15. Maybe even less so.

If you prefer to wing it, then do that. Would I start walking april next year, I'd do it as always, without reservations.

If for whatever reasons that doesn't work, you can always adapt.

In that case I've found same day reservations (phone call when having second breakfast or lunch) sufficient so far.

Buen Camino!
 
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Have walked during mid April to end of May the last 2 years. The towns that seemed to have been fully booked were Zubiri, San Juan Ortega, Hontanas, El Burgo Ranero, Mansilla de las Mulas, El Acebo, and to a certain extent, Pamplona. People were really struggling to find a place in those towns, wandering the streets and many ended up taking taxis to another town. It seemed to be caused by some of the municipals being closed or some of the larger albergues or simply there were too many people for beds available.
 
Easter’s right at the end of March in 2024. In April; especially as you’re experienced; I’d wing it.
We are starting also in Pamplona on easter monday 2024. I think we are going to see how it works out in the first days. If not, than we will book one or two days in advance. It will be ouf first camino, so...
 
We are starting also in Pamplona on easter monday 2024. I think we are going to see how it works out in the first days. If not, than we will book one or two days in advance. It will be ouf first camino, so...
That's a good plan
 
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We are starting also in Pamplona on easter monday 2024. I think we are going to see how it works out in the first days. If not, than we will book one or two days in advance. It will be ouf first camino, so...
If you’re walking through Easter week I would get your accomodation booked personally.

Two reasons: 1. many Spaniards ‘go home’, or to their home town, during Easter week and the festivities get progressively busier through the week up to and including Easter Sunday. 2. Many Spanish Peregrinos will be on the Frances - either starting the full route or walking for a week - at that time.

At a minimum I’d suggest booking Pamplona and Logroño.
 
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