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When to start booking accommodations for August 2023

gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
Hello all,

I'm hoping/planning to hike my first Camino in August 2023. I'd like do the Norte route and connect to the Primitivo. I read some threads from this summer about how hard it was to find accommodations in August on the Norte route with albergues shut down and so many vacationers that time of year. I've decided that I'd like to book a good portion of my accommodations in advance for peace of mind. I'd like to try to stay in a few communal albergues along the way if there is special significance or recommendations. I'm wondering when I should start booking those accommodations. I still have nine months, but if booking farther in advance helps find cheaper options, I'd like to try to keep costs down.

Also, are there any recommendations about how much distance to plan to cover in a day?

Thank you for any advice!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Also, are there any recommendations about how much distance to plan to cover in a day?
Many (most?) pilgrims find that the sweet spot is around 20-25km per day. I have never walked the Norte but in my most recent camino on the Via di Francesco in Italy, I averaged about 24km per day in largely mountainous terrain. For sure, there are some who do more and some who do less, so of course it depends on the individual.
 

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
August is really not the best time of year to walk the Norte. The coastal towns are popular with Spanish people for their holidays plus there is an influx of backpackers from elsewhere in Europe. It is also very hot. But if you must go then, I'd start booking in Spring 2023. You can't book albergues, of course, but I suspect there will be more re-opening next year. Start your research now though. There are good guidebooks to the Norte and some excellent online resources besides this one, Gronze for example is accessible even without reading Spanish and is always kept up to date. 20-25 kms a day would be reasonable at first, especially as there are a lot of ups and downs along the coastal stretch but your distances will probably increase as you progress. Buen camino.
 
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gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
August is really not the best time of year to walk the Norte. The coastal towns are popular with Spanish people for their holidays plus there is an influx of backpackers from elsewhere in Europe. It is also very hot. But if you must go then, I'd start booking in Spring 2023. You can't book albergues, of course, but I suspect there will be more re-opening next year. Start your research now though. There are good guidebooks to the Norte and some excellent online resources besides this one, Gronze for example is accessible even without reading Spanish and is always kept up to date. 20-25 kms a day would be reasonable at first, especially as there are a lot of ups and downs along the coastal stretch but your distances will probably increase as you progress. Buen camino.
Thank you for your thoughts. It's helpful. August is the only month I'll be able to go, so I can't change that. Is there a different route you'd suggest for that month instead? I'm reluctant to do the Frances if it will be much more crowded. Thanks for your tips on when to start booking and the general distances to consider.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Hello all,

I'm hoping/planning to hike my first Camino in August 2023. I'd like do the Norte route and connect to the Primitivo. I read some threads from this summer about how hard it was to find accommodations in August on the Norte route with albergues shut down and so many vacationers that time of year. I've decided that I'd like to book a good portion of my accommodations in advance for peace of mind. I'd like to try to stay in a few communal albergues along the way if there is special significance or recommendations. I'm wondering when I should start booking those accommodations. I still have nine months, but if booking farther in advance helps find cheaper options, I'd like to try to keep costs down.

Also, are there any recommendations about how much distance to plan to cover in a day?

Thank you for any advice!
Hi
In case it may be of help I will share with you the method that I have used since my first Camino.

I usually aim to set off between 6 and 7 in the morning and wall for about 2 hours. I then stop for an hour and have breakfast. Then I walk again for about another 2 hours and break for an hour for lunch. At this stage I look at my guidebook and select and alberque roughly another hour's walk away with a backup just in case my first choice is full. This usually gets me to an alberque for around 2.00pm giving time to check in, shower and explore the town or village I am staying in and rest before dinner. Covering roughly 4K and hour this gives me 20 to a maximum of 25k per day. I never book in advance as where I sleep depends on the progress i make and is assessed at the lunch stop. I carry my own pack which means I can stop at any point I feel like it and not have the pressure of having to make a particular destination.
Hope this helps.
Buen Camino.
Vince
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Thank you for your thoughts. It's helpful. August is the only month I'll be able to go, so I can't change that. Is there a different route you'd suggest for that month instead? I'm reluctant to do the Frances if it will be much more crowded. Thanks for your tips on when to start booking and the general distances to consider.
August is a good month to start the Frances from St Jean Pied de Port. You can avoid the huge numbers that start there in September. The infrastructure is better on the Francés than the Norte, and up until you get to Galicia there shouldn't be much competition for beds.
The only negative is that it can be hotter.
 
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bks

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Arles Route
Hello all,

I'm hoping/planning to hike my first Camino in August 2023. I'd like do the Norte route and connect to the Primitivo. I read some threads from this summer about how hard it was to find accommodations in August on the Norte route with albergues shut down and so many vacationers that time of year. I've decided that I'd like to book a good portion of my accommodations in advance for peace of mind. I'd like to try to stay in a few communal albergues along the way if there is special significance or recommendations. I'm wondering when I should start booking those accommodations. I still have nine months, but if booking farther in advance helps find cheaper options, I'd like to try to keep costs down.

Also, are there any recommendations about how much distance to plan to cover in a day?

Thank you for any advice!
As Dennis Pack noted "peace of mind is overrated". Enjoy the adventure and book you accommodation as you travel, like most do! Then you will be walking the Camino!! Consider what happens when too many people pre-book months in advance. The albergues will all be full and the pilgrims on longer journeys will have no where to stay as it's impossible for them to pre-book every day of their pilgrimage.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Everyone is different when it comes to thru hiking.... Some like to fly by the seat of their pants and hope to find somewhere to lay their head at night, while others want to arrive at their destination knowing where they will lay their head that night. As a new member to Camino hiking one will find they are tired after putting in many Km's each day and not want to hassle with walking through town looking for somewhere to bed down. Further, by booking ahead you would (should) find better rates just based on the supply and demand theory.
Either way one must find their own comfort zone and move forward with what suits them best.
 

gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
Everyone is different when it comes to thru hiking.... Some like to fly by the seat of their pants and hope to find somewhere to lay their head at night, while others want to arrive at their destination knowing where they will lay their head that night. As a new member to Camino hiking one will find they are tired after putting in many Km's each day and not want to hassle with walking through town looking for somewhere to bed down. Further, by booking ahead you would (should) find better rates just based on the supply and demand theory.
Either way one must find their own comfort zone and move forward with what suits them best.
I appreciate this response! I've felt conflicted about the idea of booking in advance, and it seems like there's almost some Camino badge of honor that comes from taking a less-planned approach. I appreciate the wisdom of being flexible and allowing oneself to be present in the experience, but I also know myself and I know that if I'm worried about where I'll sleep each night it will drastically reduce my enjoyment of the experience. I'm the type of person who enjoys reading about different restaurants when I travel and make reservations for places I want to go in advance. Once that's done, I relax and enjoy the experience. I'd like to broaden the idea of "the Camino provides" and suggest that even if I book accommodations in advance, the Camino can still provide many new, wonderful, and unexpected blessings along the way!
 

gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
August is a good month to start the Frances from St Jean Pied de Port. You can avoid the huge numbers that start there in September. The infrastructure is better on the Francés than the Norte, and up until you get to Galicia there shouldn't be much competition for beds.
The only negative is that it can be hotter.
Thank you for this perspective! I really hadn't considered the Frances very much because of my desire to avoid crowds. I'll look into it more and decide which feels more appealing - maybe a Frances route with more infrastructure and less advanced planning needed or the Norte route that may require more advanced planning due to less infrastructure.
 

Little TT

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
I appreciate this response! I've felt conflicted about the idea of booking in advance, and it seems like there's almost some Camino badge of honor that comes from taking a less-planned approach. I appreciate the wisdom of being flexible and allowing oneself to be present in the experience, but I also know myself and I know that if I'm worried about where I'll sleep each night it will drastically reduce my enjoyment of the experience. I'm the type of person who enjoys reading about different restaurants when I travel and make reservations for places I want to go in advance. Once that's done, I relax and enjoy the experience. I'd like to broaden the idea of "the Camino provides" and suggest that even if I book accommodations in advance, the Camino can still provide many new, wonderful, and unexpected blessings along the way!
You will find on this forum a definite slant towards a less planned approach , however once on the ground you will find many , many people who have booked ahead . I almost felt that I didn’t belong on this forum and initially it made me a little embarrassed to tell people that we met that we had booked in advance , however we met many people who had done the same.
We did the first half of our Camino Frances in May 22 and then went back to complete it in September, I booked it all in advance due to knowing how far we could walk everyday and wanting private rooms due originally to covid and the knowledge that I get up at least twice a night for the toilet. We had a wonderful time and still had a Camino family and have made friends from throughout the world , some who we have already visited and some who are coming to see us next year from the USA.
Even if everything is booked you still have some leeway if the untoward happens, most accommodation allows you to cancel without penalties up to a few days before you are due to arrive. So I advise you to do whatever feels right for you, everybody must walk their own Camino .
 
The Way: Through a Field of Stars (audiobook)
A great book to listen to while training for the Camino or to relive the experience!

Thomas1962

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
We have an albergue on the Primitivo.
August is indeed a very, very busy month.
But busy does not mean that we are fully booked months before. In the most busy period we were fully booked 'only' 4 days before.
On the Norte were pilgrims compete in august with all the tourists, i[t can be different as tourists seem to book longer in advance.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It's a snowball effect.

The greater the number of people booking in advance becomes, the more people suppose that they "need to" book in advance.

I have not booked ahead once this year, the closest I've come to it being calling from the pueblo itself or a couple K distant to see if they have room.

There is the singular exception of the Albergue in Perpignan, as the people in charge live far away, and need advance warning of your arrival - - but that's not booking, and you will almost certainly sleep alone there.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
A thru hike is the act of hiking an established end to end trail or long distance trail with continuous footsteps- Wikipedia
 
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I appreciate this response! I've felt conflicted about the idea of booking in advance, and it seems like there's almost some Camino badge of honor that comes from taking a less-planned approach. I appreciate the wisdom of being flexible and allowing oneself to be present in the experience, but I also know myself and I know that if I'm worried about where I'll sleep each night it will drastically reduce my enjoyment of the experience. I'm the type of person who enjoys reading about different restaurants when I travel and make reservations for places I want to go in advance. Once that's done, I relax and enjoy the experience. I'd like to broaden the idea of "the Camino provides" and suggest that even if I book accommodations in advance, the Camino can still provide many new, wonderful, and unexpected blessings along the way!
I'm the planner and organizer in our family. I decided that walking the Camino would be more relaxing and I'd be more in the "now" if we booked everything ahead. I chose to use a company to do it. Whether you do it all yourself or go through a company, I found it very freeing to NOT have to book as we walked. I could focus on the walking and enjoying the walking and being in nature. Having fewer decisions to make made the experience all the better for me (and my husband). I was worried about not being spontaneous based on what I read on this forum. There's still plenty of room for spontaneity--when you will walk, which route you will take each day, where and what you'll eat, where you will pause to enjoy scenery or towns, who you will meet and spend time with. The Camino provides many options and experiences even if one books lodging ahead :)

Definitely, listen to yourself and decide how to proceed based on what will make the experience best for you.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
A thru hike is the act of hiking an established end to end trail or long distance trail with continuous footsteps- Wikipedia
The Camino is not a hiking trail, it is a complex network of pilgrimage ways spreading throughout Europe, many of which are not even on any "official" or otherwise recognised route.

See : https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/the-full-camino.49802/post-807772

It has no established starting point, and given that you can walk on elsewhere, or even walk back home, as I am doing now, it has no end point as such either.

It is quite unlike both the US thru-hike trails and the European GR and other hiking trails.

Which is not even to mention that the Pilgrimage as such is to visit the tomb of the Apostle, and how you travel there to do so is irrelevant.

Ending my part in this OT.
 
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Anamya

Keeping it simple
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Thank you for this perspective! I really hadn't considered the Frances very much because of my desire to avoid crowds. I'll look into it more and decide which feels more appealing - maybe a Frances route with more infrastructure and less advanced planning needed or the Norte route that may require more advanced planning due to less infrastructure.

I think you did a good assessment there. I probably wouldn't do the Norte in summer, unless, like you, it was the only time of the year I could go. The Frances would be busy in August, full of pilgrims. In the North, it will be busy of pilgrims AND tourists. I don't think your problem would be infrastructure, but having to compete for beds with everyone that goes there for holidays.

Not trying to throw a spanner in your plans, but the Portuguese route from Porto has very good infrastructure and less people than the Frances. It has differences: more stone roads and no Meseta, for example, but still so lovely. It would be crazy hot, but would leave you enough time to do Finisterre and Muxia afterwards. Or also enough time to go anywhere else, if you had enough walking in the heat.

The good thing is that whatever camino you choose, it will be remarkable. With good moments, with bad moments, but surely memorable.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The Frances would be busy in August, full of pilgrims.
The only part of the Francés where you will find huge crowds in August is in the last 100 km from Sarria — that’s because most of the pilgrims who start in Sarria are Spanish, and their holidays are almost always in August. So you would have to pay more attention to booking ahead for those last 5 days.

Many have noted how the rest of the Francés can be quiet in August, less busy than September or October. I have friends who own an albergue in Navarra, and their Augusts have not been very busy at all. In fact, total pilgrim numbers in Navarra are down 20% when compared to 2019. For me, the main downside of the Francés in August would be the heat.

I agree with those who counsel against the Norte in August. Since so much of the Norte goes through beach towns, pilgrims compete with the tourists.
 

gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
Hi all, thank you for your helpful responses. After taking some time to think about it, I've decided to change my plans from the Norte route to the Frances route. I'll continue to think about whether or not I want to book accommodations in advance, but I feel more leniency to make that decision with the Frances route.
 
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gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
I chose to use a company to do it. Whether you do it all yourself or go through a company, I found it very freeing to NOT have to book as we walked.
Hi SF Walker, thanks for this validation! I'm leaning toward accepting that booking in advance might offer me the same freedom to relax and enjoy the experience. I'm feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of booking it all myself. Would you share the company you used to help you with your bookings? I'm not sure I'd be able to afford it, but I'm curious if that would help me feel less intimidated by the prospect of booking ahead. Alternatively, do you have any other tips you might share related to booking ahead? Thank you!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm leaning toward accepting that booking in advance might offer me the same freedom to relax and enjoy the experience.
As in every other aspect of our lives, there are pros and cons on both sides here. You just have to decide which of the pros are more important to you, and which of the cons are less likely to be a pain.

Booking in advance means that you don’t have to spend time while walking to contact albergues, find open spots, etc etc. But it also means that you can’t change your plans or your stages. If you are confident that you know how far you can or will want to walk, then I say go for the pre-planned stages. But I have met lots and lots of pilgrims who used companies and who found that what they thought was a good plan of reserved places turned out to be totally different from what they wanted to walk on any given day.

There is no perfect way to do this, and I am not critical of those who use companies to book the whole thing out, but I think that for first-timers in particular it is risky to make a bet as to what stages are going to work for you.
 

gratitudemoves

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
If you are confident that you know how far you can or will want to walk, then I say go for the pre-planned stages.

Is there advice you can give about how to make these choices in advance? Is it mostly about not over-extending yourself by expecting too many miles (I'm in the US, so I think in miles)? Or is it based on a day to day assessment of energy levels? When you've met people who said that their pre-planned stages didn't work for them, what were they citing as the reasons? Thanks for the help.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Is there advice you can give about how to make these choices in advance?

Probably the main determinants are fitness levels, how much sleep you got the night before, weather extremes (heat, rain, etc), elevation gain or loss on the stage. Even things like how much asphalt there is can have an impact. And of course the interpersonal dynamics and whether you want to stay with a particular group (or less likely, get ahead of or behind them to avoid them!). One other unknown for first time walkers is whether they will want to take a rest day or whether they will find that rest days just interfere with the rhythm and are not restorative.

@SF Walker has already pointed out that the camino will still require you to make spontaneous choices, whether you book ahead or not. I’m a planner by nature, too. What works for me is to have all of the information about upcoming lodging options, usually on a spread-sheet type list of a few pages. Then calling or WhatsApp-ing a day or two out is easy and allows me to adjust as I walk. If I found myself in the middle of a bed rush at some point, I would call a few days in advance, but I’m walking untraveled caminos these days so that isn’t a real issue. My approach is maybe a middle ground between pre-booking and being totally unplanned and just showing up, and reflects my own comfort level. Many would say that getting out of our comfort levels is one of the benefits of walking a camino, but I think there’s a difference between getting out of your comfort level and being totally stressed by the unknown, so it’s a very personal decsion.

I always have the constraint of a booked return flight home across the Atlantic, so what I do is make a guesstimate of how many days I will need to make it to my destination and then add four or five as ”just in case” days. And if I wind up in Santiago with extra time, like I did this year, I just continue on to Finisterre and/or Muxia, which is such a wonderful added bonus.

One last point — there is a big difference in terms of how “stuck” you are, depending on whether you have paid a company to lay out and program your entire camino, or whether you have made reservations yourself. In many cases, your own reservations can be changed to adapt to the unknown, but if you have a company do it for you, I don’t think that any change is possible.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

donalomahony

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
"Camino from 2013 to 2019" paused for now...
The Camino is not a hiking trail, it is a complex network of pilgrimage ways spreading throughout Europe, many of which are not even on any "official" or otherwise recognised route.

See : https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/the-full-camino.49802/post-807772

It has no established starting point, and given that you can walk on elsewhere, or even walk back home, as I am doing now, it has no end point as such either.

It is quite unlike both the US thru-hike trails and the European GR and other hiking trails.

Which is not even to mention that the Pilgrimage as such is to visit the tomb of the Apostle, and how you travel there to do so is irrelevant.

Ending my part in this OT.
👍
 
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bks

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Arles Route
It's a snowball effect.

The greater the number of people booking in advance becomes, the more people suppose that they "need to" book in advance.

I have not booked ahead once this year, the closest I've come to it being calling from the pueblo itself or a couple K distant to see if they have room.

There is the singular exception of the Albergue in Perpignan, as the people in charge live far away, and need advance warning of your arrival - - but that's not booking, and you will almost certainly sleep alone there.
Thanks for stating what should be said!! The more people book in advance the more people "think" they have to. Relax, enjoy your walk and see where it takes you. I have yet to meet someone who didn't have a place to sleep.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
A thru hike is the act of hiking an established end to end trail or long distance trail with continuous footsteps- Wikipedia
I suspect the person who put that in Wikipedia has actual thru-hikes in mind. I can think of many that fit this description.
The Camino is not a thru hike. It is an historically based pilgrimage, which can be started from any point, and in earlier times began at your back door - and although it has an end point (theoretically) - that is more about a religious or spiritual purpose than an actual city. The destination is not just a place or an end point - it is much more than that. (The 'tourist' Camino of today being a relatively recent innovation).
The reason I walk the Camino is because it isn't a thru hike. If the purpose was just to walk to a city in Spain, it would not have the same appeal - when I reach the cathedral I know I have completed a pilgrimage. I describe myself as a pilgrim when I am walking.
The same cannot be said of a thru-hike, when I am just a hiker.

Interestingly many of the people I know who love a thru hike have no interest in the Camino - they don't see it as the same either. They have difficulty understanding why I will spend so much time and money travelling to the other side of the world when there are perfectly good hiking trails here.

If you take the pilgrimage aspect away, it becomes a village to village walk through the country side, which seems to also have little appeal to someone who loves to disappear into the bush trails for weeks.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I can't speak for @Bob from L.A. ! but I am tempted to say: Chill, people.

"Hiking" is known as a verb that is apparently so emotionally charged that it is a kind of red rag but is it so hard to assume that Bob simply meant the act of hiking an established end-to-end trail or long-distance trail with continuous footsteps, ie merely the externally visible and extremely apparent fact that people do walk continuously on foot on the marked Camino de Santiago from SJPP to Santiago and that he addressed merely the practical aspects of this endeavour? Because whether you are on your umpteenth spiritual quest or on your first Camino like the OP or not you need to find some place to lay your head at night ...
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Once that's done, I relax and enjoy the experience. I'd like to broaden the idea of "the Camino provides" and suggest that even if I book accommodations in advance, the Camino can still provide many new, wonderful, and unexpected blessings along the way!
And it will. The Camino does not provide ample accommodation because it is a supernatural entity guided by the universe or whatever but because popular Caminos like the Francés or the Norte have ample and varied accommodation due to private and public initiative and it is that existing pre-established dense network of accommodation that allows people to book or not to book whatever they prefer and whatever importance they assign to booking or not booking in view of their physical and mental well-being.

Buen Camino!
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

TsafiK

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
August 2023
Hello all,

I'm hoping/planning to hike my first Camino in August 2023. I'd like do the Norte route and connect to the Primitivo. I read some threads from this summer about how hard it was to find accommodations in August on the Norte route with albergues shut down and so many vacationers that time of year. I've decided that I'd like to book a good portion of my accommodations in advance for peace of mind. I'd like to try to stay in a few communal albergues along the way if there is special significance or recommendations. I'm wondering when I should start booking those accommodations. I still have nine months, but if booking farther in advance helps find cheaper options, I'd like to try to keep costs down.

Also, are there any recommendations about how much distance to plan to cover in a day?

Thank you for any advice!
We are also hiking the Camino next August, and I, like you, was worried about me getting stressed if we won't have a place to sleep, so I wanted to book all the accommodations in advance. My husband is more relaxed, so he suggested that we book for the first two or three days, and then depending on the situation, we would book each time in advance for the next few days. That way we won't have to worry every day, all day, but we can also be flexible about our stopping places.
 

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