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Routes Lacking Sufficient Municipal Albergue Beds...

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
Having an upcoming 6 weeks in the North of Spain (all of August and half of September and not sure which Camino/s yet), I find myself getting very concerned about accommodations and the high prices of Summer. I've read so many threads where Pilgrim's aren't able to get a Municipal bed and then, other's reply that they had no problem.

While it seems fundamental, here's my question...Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm??? If so, how early IS early? Is there a technique and if so, what is it?

My head is spinning 😵
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
How much is "high price" for you? More than an albergue cost?
Also, are you walking alone? usually if you walk with someone else, the cost of a private accommodation for 2 can be very similar to 2 beds in an albergue, so that is something you can explore.

Cant say anything about the summer though, all my walks were in Spring, sorry.
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
The answer to this isn't any more complicated than you expect.

There are limited beds. They fill up one by one from around 3pm, usually in some queued order. Factors like holidays, weekends, availability of other accommodation, weather, stage length and random fluctuation mean that certain spots are bottlenecks where often spaces run out.

Depending on the stage you cope by either keeping going, starting earlier, stopping earlier or going private.
You could also look at the coping strategy as being one of either joining the arms race or leaving it. You can fight for limited places by starting or stopping ever earlier, or you can buy your way out of it with private accommodation, taxis and the like.
 
Last edited:

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm???
Whether people get there early to queue up or not seems less of an issue than how people clump up. There can be pulses of crowdedness that happen (as for example when a larger number of people all started on a weekend), and then move along the Camino together as a 'pilgrim traffic jam') as well as certain stage-ending towns tending to be more crowded, when places on either side are not...

I've walked on the Frances in May relatively recently with no problems, no bed racing and no pre-booking. If it's busy, I pause by walking a short stage and let the crowd get a day ahead - and make a point of staying in little places just before stage-ending towns in the guidebooks. No problemo.😊

I'm saying this as regards everything before the 100km mark from Santiago. After that (especially on the Frances), all bets are off. There it's just plain busy...

But you know?...A night spent in one's sleeping bag under the entry of a church is not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly won't kill us. And lots of people have to live like that all the time, so it helps the heart open and understand from actual experience the vulnerability of that.
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
...how people clump up...pause by walking a short stage...I'm saying this as regards everything before the 100km mark from Santiago. After that (especially on the Frances), all bets are off. There it's just plain busy...But you know?...A night spent in one's sleeping bag under the entry of a church is not necessarily a bad thing...

People clumping...right. I can see how that would affect everything. I didn't have that on CP but, one time (Padron).
Hey, I have no problem sleeping outdoors (especially under the entry of a church)! 😍 That's a great point...Lord Willing churches wouldn't put away a Peregrino sleeping like that; it's not "camping".
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
Also, are you walking alone? usually if you walk with someone else, the cost of a private accommodation for 2 can be very similar to 2 beds in an albergue...
Walking with my guy. It's not so much the higher price, it's the potential of how many times/days would add up. So this is another good point you bring up about 'doubles'. Thank you :)
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
The answer to this isn't any more complicated than you expect...
Why I asked this is because I don't expect ;)nor do I want to assume. You gave some really good information in your reply (especially the 3pm). Thank you :)
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
There's probably something on this forum (sorry didn't have time to check the resource section), but came across this wonderful list on the "Stingy Nomads" website:


It's a list of all the municipal albergues and donativos on the Norte.

On the negative side, as you can see from the list, bed numbers are very limited in some municipals. Sometimes only 11, 14, or 20 beds. And given as there are only one or two albergues per stage, there's a good chance you're going to have problems on a few occasions.

On the positive side, however, most of the municipals are only €5 or €6, and there are also a few donativos. So yes, you will probably have to go for a hotel/pension/hostal every now and then, but given how cheap the municipals are, it will all balance out in the end.
 

Mera

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
Having an upcoming 6 weeks in the North of Spain (all of August and half of September and not sure which Camino/s yet), I find myself getting very concerned about accommodations and the high prices of Summer. I've read so many threads where Pilgrim's aren't able to get a Municipal bed and then, other's reply that they had no problem.

While it seems fundamental, here's my question...Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm??? If so, how early IS early? Is there a technique and if so, what is it?

My head is spinning 😵
I am on my 2nd day on del Norte. The weather has been just beautiful and it is not that crowded. Nevertheless, there are less choice. If you are doing it during the busy season, I recomend reservation when possible. I am in Getaria
Having an upcoming 6 weeks in the North of Spain (all of August and half of September and not sure which Camino/s yet), I find myself getting very concerned about accommodations and the high prices of Summer. I've read so many threads where Pilgrim's aren't able to get a Municipal bed and then, other's reply that they had no problem.

While it seems fundamental, here's my question...Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm??? If so, how early IS early? Is there a technique and if so, what is it?

My head is spinning 😵
II was writing and something happened and it disappeared. I am in Getaria on my 2nd day of del Norte. The weather has been just beautiful. Lodging choices are limited compare to CF. Recommend reservation.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
This is a problem on the Norte indeed. Especially in peak season. August is the worst. It is a combination of too few municipal beds and high prices (and limited availability) in the alternatives, because you compete with tourists. I think the problem starts somewhere in Cantabria. In the Bask Country the municipals tend to be bigger.

I am mostly familiar with Asturias (as I live there) and I still find the number of tourists here in summer (and especially August) quite impressive. About 90% of them is Spanish and they book months before they travel.

I have walked the Norte (Irun - Ribadesella) in July 2017 and right after that worked as a hospitalera in a small albergue in Cuerres (10 beds, 2 air mattresses). Most albergues open at 3pm, but I have seen pilgrims cueing up from around noon. It happened quite often that the limit was reached before the albergue opened (pilgrims would count to find out if it still made sense to join the cue).

I always found a bed though, but that was either by cueing up at least one hour before the albergue would open, or by booking ahead. The little albergue I was working in afterwards was always full, almost everyday by pre-bookers.

I don't know if the situation has changed by now, but I am afraid not. Problem is that tourists are willing to spend a lot more than pilgrims, so it is not so interesting to open an accomodation exclusively for pilgrims. Also because the property prices on the coast are high and the options limited, because the coast is very well protected.

Edit: a lot of tourists go back to work in September, so in that month things will calm down a bit.
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
...Especially in peak season. August is the worst. It is a combination of too few municipal beds and high prices (and limited availability) in the alternatives, because you compete with tourists. I think the problem starts somewhere in Cantabria. In the Bask Country the municipals tend to be bigger.
That's great observation, Luka! Then there's that part about August being worse which makes me a bit nervous! 🤔 I'm starting to think that it might behoove us to simply rent a place as we house hunt and, leave any actual Camino-ing until the last 2 weeks we have (September) maybe, SDC Finisterre Muxia.

I am mostly familiar with Asturias (as I live there)...
Lucky you! I've been reading your blog 😁 because Asturias is my first choice to buy a place to live. I fell in love with Asturias last April, when I was there. I want to find something where I can offer 4 beds to peregrinos, with some property (enough for many to camp) at low cost. It's in my heart to serve God through helping peregrinos but, not running a huge albergue!

...Most albergues open at 3pm, but I have seen pilgrims cueing up from around noon.
😳

@Luka, thank you SO much for all of this detailed information! I'm going to check now in AirBnB.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
@RumAndChupacabras You are welcome! And of course there is also something like waves, so maybe it turns out well. If I were you I would have a look at prebook options. There are quite a few albergues that take reservations. And if you indeed decide to rent a place first, please start looking for options. Because that also will be pretty difficult and expensive in August.

And yes, I also fell in love with Asturias straight away. That was in the summer of 2015. I hope you will find your spot under the sun (and rain!) here.
 

halfbask

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: Sept 2-29, 2016
del Norte: Spring/Summer 2017
Having an upcoming 6 weeks in the North of Spain (all of August and half of September and not sure which Camino/s yet), I find myself getting very concerned about accommodations and the high prices of Summer. I've read so many threads where Pilgrim's aren't able to get a Municipal bed and then, other's reply that they had no problem.

While it seems fundamental, here's my question...Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm??? If so, how early IS early? Is there a technique and if so, what is it?

My head is spinning 😵
I made a start in August two summers ago and had to quit from lack of beds (albergues/hotels) at any price. A German friend 2 weeks ahead of me made it half way and exited for the same reason. It's not just that there are a lot of caminantes, August is the month of vacation in Spain and everyone goes to the coast. I'd choose another month.
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
I made a start in August two summers ago and had to quit from lack of beds (albergues/hotels)...I'd choose another month.
Sorry to read about that.
Our intent was to avoid another blazing hot August in Las Vegas. Coupled with the incredible airfare of $748.00 for both of us, round trip, non-stop, we purchased. So, now I'm going to learn what it's like, firsthand! 😄 As always, I know that Camino will provide.
 

halfbask

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: Sept 2-29, 2016
del Norte: Spring/Summer 2017
Sorry to read about that.
Our intent was to avoid another blazing hot August in Las Vegas. Coupled with the incredible airfare of $748.00 for both of us, round trip, non-stop, we purchased. So, now I'm going to learn what it's like, firsthand! 😄 As always, I know that Camino will provide.
Do yourself a couple of favors: start in Hondarrabia instead of Irun and enjoy the beautiful town and pintxos; stray from the path to Lekeitio. You'll miss Gaztelugatxe ☹️
Enjoy!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
It helps a lot if you're walking alone, looking for just one bed and not two or more for a group of friends.
 

yesshesaid

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
Having an upcoming 6 weeks in the North of Spain (all of August and half of September and not sure which Camino/s yet), I find myself getting very concerned about accommodations and the high prices of Summer. I've read so many threads where Pilgrim's aren't able to get a Municipal bed and then, other's reply that they had no problem.

While it seems fundamental, here's my question...Is this happening mainly because some are able to consistently get there really early and que up; is it simply a case of the early bird gets the worm??? If so, how early IS early? Is there a technique and if so, what is it?

My head is spinning 😵
I’m close to Burgos now on the CF and the shortage of beds in what was to have been a shoulder season has me wondering. My goal was to walk and stop rather than book and run. But so many have their packs transported ahead, made reservations months ago from home, and treat this like a race that I sometimes get discouraged. I’m traveling alone and a few albergue owners have taken pity on me and sweetly found room in the inn. But also I’ve been turned away in late afternoon or forced to walk 34 km to find a bed. Was it always thus? Is this a test? Not sure...
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
I’m close to Burgos now on the CF and the shortage of beds in what was to have been a shoulder season has me wondering. My goal was to walk and stop rather than book and run. But so many have their packs transported ahead, made reservations months ago from home, and treat this like a race that I sometimes get discouraged. I’m traveling alone and a few albergue owners have taken pity on me and sweetly found room in the inn. But also I’ve been turned away in late afternoon or forced to walk 34 km to find a bed. Was it always thus? Is this a test? Not sure...
You are walking in high season for the CF, but all the same, from all these reports like yours, it does sound like this year is unusually busy. It certainly wasn't always thus.

Have you tried stopping at places inbetween guidebook stages and then walking out-of-phase with all the Brierley-followers?
 

RumAndChupacabras

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
@yesshesaid, wow! It's the first time I'm reading something like this, regarding the CF! My focus was on the northern coast. So considering what you have experienced on the CF (discouraging, indeed!), I can't begin to imagine CdN. Racing for beds doesn't appeal to my spirit. Keep your JOY! Buen Camino 💕
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
@yesshesaid, wow! It's the first time I'm reading something like this, regarding the CF! My focus was on the northern coast. So considering what you have experienced on the CF (discouraging, indeed!), I can't begin to imagine CdN. Racing for beds doesn't appeal to my spirit. Keep your JOY! Buen Camino 💕
Main season on the Norte is a month or two later than on the Frances, because of the temperature difference being close to the Atlantic brings. You may actually be better on the Norte right now :)
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
If you're feeling brave, the Norte is actually perfect for wild-camping. Imagine waking up on a beach and looking out of your tent to see the ocean :) It's not bad as an emergency option.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
You are walking in high season for the CF

I’m close to Burgos now on the CF and the shortage of beds in what was to have been a shoulder season has me wondering. My goal was to walk and stop rather than book and run. But so many have their packs transported ahead, made reservations months ago from home, and treat this like a race that I sometimes get discouraged. I’m traveling alone and a few albergue owners have taken pity on me and sweetly found room in the inn. But also I’ve been turned away in late afternoon or forced to walk 34 km to find a bed. Was it always thus? Is this a test? Not sure...

May is the busiest month on the Frances. It's even busier than August! Last year close to 11,000 pilgrims left from Saint Jean Pied de Port in May (statistics here, in case anyone's interested).

Anyway I'm so sorry you're having a hard time, I know it can be very frustrating and discouraging. As H Richards says, maybe try stopping 'in-between' stages? Let us know how you get on.
 

DBride

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances from Burgos April 2019
I made this. I stopped in between stages. CF from Burgos. In fact I travel alone but don't have problem of finding beds. I slept for 5-12 euro per night all month April.
 

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