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Do I need to book albergues in advance for CF?

charliemurphy

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
Hello all,

I begin my first Camino adventure on August 31 where I will do 17 days of the Camino Frances, starting from SJPP.
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
Thank you for all your help!!
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Hello all,

I begin my first Camino adventure on August 31 where I will do 17 days of the Camino Frances.
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
Thank you for all your help!!
Where are you starting? September is usually a busier time starting in St Jean so you may want to book the first few days to Pamplona. After Pamplona things spread a bit. If you are starting further along like in Burgos or Leon the September wave from St Jean won't impact you as much.
 

Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
If you explore earlier Forum threads, you’ll clearly see two camps of thoughts on this issue. Both have pros and cons and, in part, it depends on what you’re comfortable with. I’ve walked both with and without reservations and have always done fine. However, due to large numbers of pilgrims at the beginning of your Camino, I’d encourage you to reserve a bed in SJPP, Roncesvalles, and Larrazoaña/Zubiri. Plenty of beds should be able to be found in Pamplona. After that point, you’ll have a good sense of whether or not you should reserve ahead. Usually, a call to the albergue the day or two before will assure you of a bed. In my experience, there usually isn’t a problem getting a bed if you arrive at your destination by early in the afternoon. Very quickly, after your first few days on the Camino, you’ll figure out the best strategy for your daily walking. Buen Camino.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance
Wording is important.

You don't need to reserve.

In order to give you personal advice you would need to tell us where you are starting from and what sort of accommodation you want to stay in.

It would also be useful for us to understand how confident you are in yourself.

If you have difficulty with uncertainty in your life then you might "want" to reserve.

If you are looking for a hassle free holiday then you might want to reserve.

If you like lots of flexibility then don't reserve.

If you want to be more open to the serendipity that the Camino Frances is famous for then seek flexibility.

Learning to look beyond the obvious may be an important lesson offered by walking the Frances.

@Grousedoctor s advice about reserving the first day or two is good advice.
 
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Ianinam

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
You will be starting in the busiest period of the Francés. During the first two weeks of September hundreds of pilgrims leave SJPdP daily and we always have a lack of 50 - 100 beds in Roncesvalles everyday; sadly enough we have to send people away with taxis to the next villages, sometimes even to Pamplona. So if you want to be sure of a bed: make your reservations for SJPdP, for Roncesvalles, for Zubiri and even for Pamplona. After that bottleneck the crowds will spread bit by bit and it may become easier to find a bed.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Francés
Related to this subject, I have made reservations for the first 4 nights at Orisson, Roncesvalles, Zubiri and Pamplona, do I need to call or email to confirm these reservations before arrival?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
Related to this subject, I have made reservations for the first 4 nights at Orisson, Roncesvalles, Zubiri and Pamplona, do I need to call or email to confirm these reservations before arrival?

It depends how you made the bookings. If you reserved through Booking.com, confirming is not neccessary. If you called or emailed the accommodation directly, a follow up the day before your arrival couldn’t hurt, especially if you booked several days or weeks in advance.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
please see signature
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
I walked in October 2017 and i am sure details have changed markedly since then. But ...

We are all different. I try to get as familiar as I can before starting, including possible stages. But once underway, the path, the things of interest, the weather, my stamina may have me stop earlier than I intended when starting that day. Or going on (much) further.

The other (new) thing to get used to is the camino rhythm. Arrive wash clothes, eat sleep, start, breakfast, arrive, repeat.

So, @charliemurphy, I say to you kia kaha, kia maia, kia mana'wa'nui (take care, be strong, confident and patient).

And I would appreciate reading, in due course, of your achievements on camino
 

JanusDT

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Vezelay
I am walking atm and I can tell you there is no problem finding a bed, in whichever place/town you want. Non of the albergues I have been staying in so far have been full. Side note, i am only 5 days in and in september it might be different, however, I think generally august is a busier month than september (there are some statistics on this).

Anyhow it might be good for your own state of mind to book the first few days. Based on these days you can decide whether its necessary for the days after.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2023
You will be starting in the busiest period of the Francés. During the first two weeks of September hundreds of pilgrims leave SJPdP daily and we always have a lack of 50 - 100 beds in Roncesvalles everyday; sadly enough we have to send people away with taxis to the next villages, sometimes even to Pamplona. So if you want to be sure of a bed: make your reservations for SJPdP, for Roncesvalles, for Zubiri and even for Pamplona. After that bottleneck the crowds will spread bit by bit and it may become easier to find a bed.
Hi, are you able to advise if Roncesvalles is going to go back to its policy of only allowing one floor to be reserved or if the current policy will be retained?

Also, how many beds are currently held back for walk in pilgrims?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
sadly enough we have to send people away with taxis to the next villages

Every experience is an opportunity.

Being placed with a random group of other pilgrims in order to share transport early in your pilgrimage may well set you up with Camino companions and life long friends.

If nothing else, if this happens to you then you will have another interesting anecdote for your friends and family when you return.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Side note, i am only 5 days in and in september it might be different, however, I think generally august is a busier month than september (there are some statistics on this).
September is THE busiest month for pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port.

Here's a graph from the last pre-Covid year.

Pilgrims departing from sjpdp by month 2019 - Copy (1).JPG
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
September is THE busiest month for pilgrims starting from St Jean Pied de Port.

Here's a graph from the last pre-Covid year.

View attachment 130163
What the graph doesn't make obvious is that the Camino Frances is 800klms long and typically takes 5 to 6 weeks to walk.

This means that it can be busy in St. Jean at the same time that it is not busy further along the way (as evidenced by @JanusDT ) while being very busy in Sarria.

The other thing that the monthly graph hides is that the two peak waves in May and September are very narrow and typically only two weeks wide.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
What the graph doesn't make obvious is that the Camino Frances is 800klms long and typically takes 5 to 6 weeks to walk.

This means that it can be busy in St. Jean at the same time that it is not busy further along the way (as evidenced by @JanusDT ) while being very busy in Sarria.

The other thing that the monthly graph hides is that the two peak waves in May and September are very narrow and typically only two weeks wide.
Yes, I agree.
August is busier from Galicia onwards, but not so busy from SJPdP to Galicia.
(Early) September is busy starting in SJPdP, but not as busy in Galicia because there are fewer "100 km pilgrims."
But if you are starting in St Jean in either May or the beginning of September, I recommend booking the first few days ahead - at least until Pamplona, after which pilgrim traffic tends to spread out due to there being more intermediate towns.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hello all,

I begin my first Camino adventure on August 31 where I will do 17 days of the Camino Frances, starting from SJPP.
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
Thank you for all your help!!
I've done both, booked ahead by a day, and just winged it.
Accommodation can be tight for the first few days until Pamplona, if it was me, I'd book those. If you are happy carrying your pack, you can just walk - and you will find something. You may have to walk on (you're leaving at a busy time), or take something more basic than you planned (these can turn out to be fun), or taxi around. I found albergues often called around for me, and I never went without a bed, and rarely had to walk on to another village. I started on 1 Sept on my first Camino, and without knowing walked at a really busy time. I didnt book anything. By the first 6 days or so, it levelled out. People walk at different paces, and stop at different villages, so it got less busy.
If you do decide to book ahead, you only need to do a day ahead.
 

LuisaR

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I’m walking the CF right now (currently in Belorado) and I haven’t seen or heard of anyone not getting accommodation. I have been staying mainly in smaller villages rather than the main stops, but even when I have ended up with the masses (although it really doesn’t seem that busy!), I haven’t seen anyone being turned away, and some people do really take their time and turn up late. Obviously, I don’t sit by the door of the albergues all afternoon, so it might be possible that people are getting turned away and I don’t know anything about it!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
The last time I walked the Camino Frances I took the route through Valcarlos, instead of the Napoleon, spent the first night in the very comfortable albergue in Valcarlos and ate fabulously well in the local restaurant, and the second night walked through Roncesvalles to Burguete, which is only a kilometre down the road. I stayed in the Hostal Burguete. Which Hemingway famously mentions in his book "The Sun Also Rises" and where he is reputed to have written much of the book. I did not need to book the Valcarlos albergue, or the Hostal Burguete, as I arrived at both quite early in the day.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
If you are Interested in private accommodations, YES, you absolute need reservations between SJPdP and Pamplona, unless you plan on taking a taxi to another town! And you likely won’t find mch availability in common bed rooms as well!
 

Ianinam

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hi, are you able to advise if Roncesvalles is going to go back to its policy of only allowing one floor to be reserved or if the current policy will be retained?

Also, how many beds are currently held back for walk in pilgrims?
No, unfortunately there is no more a limit to the amount of reservations. This is up to the Colegiata, we, hospitaleros, have no influence on the reservation system. I've seen 180 reservations last May; this means the whole Aterpea albergue (the renovated building with 183 beds) was nearly fully booked. There are also 32 beds in the 'winter-albergue' and some 30 beds in the sótano (the cellar) which makes a totaal of 245 beds.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
See signature. Too many to list here.
The last time I walked the Camino Frances I took the route through Valcarlos, instead of the Napoleon, spent the first night in the very comfortable albergue in Valcarlos and ate fabulously well in the local restaurant, and the second night walked through Roncesvalles to Burguete, which is only a kilometre down the road. I stayed in the Hostal Burguete. Which Hemingway famously mentions in his book "The Sun Also Rises" and where he is reputed to have written much of the book. I did not need to book the Valcarlos albergue, or the Hostal Burguete, as I arrived at both quite early in the day.
Oh my! This is great! I am not a huge fan of Roncesvalles, it's kinda a pilgrim factory IMO. Now the people are great and the staff is friendly, its scale is just... um big.

I also read the "The Sun Also Rises" on my last Frances (Oct. 2021)... I know he's a little old school, and IMO his female characters are just that... characters not real... but he is my favorite author! About to go check out Hostal Burguete for my next Frances in Oct 2022.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
I begin my first Camino adventure on August 31 where I will do 17 days of the Camino Frances, starting from SJPP.
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
I was hospitalero for several months 2015-2019. The place had been open eighteen years when I first arrived and had almost never accepted reservations. They stopped because all too often, the person never showed up and they turned people away while there were still empty beds. Other places had a similar problem. In 2017, started trying out "Sure, we'll hold a spot for you UNTIL las cuatro de la tarde. If you arrive after that, it might not be available."
 

julijuneau

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
French route now. July 1,2022
Hello all,

I begin my first Camino adventure on August 31 where I will do 17 days of the Camino Frances, starting from SJPP.
I am wondering whether or not I need to book albergues in advance or is it truly ok to just walk to an area an hope to find a bed on the day?
Thank you for all your help!!
I did not
 

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