Daily life of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

I am asked a lot about what the daily life of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago is like ? This is a question all new pilgrims ask themselves. 

I’ve detailed below what walking the Camino de Santiago involves throughout a 24 hr period. Life is pretty simple and follows the same routine every day throughout your Pilgrimage.

A Pilgrim on the Camino

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a network of pilgrimage routes that lead to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. 

For centuries, pilgrims from all over Europe and beyond have walked these routes to pay homage to the remains of St. James the Apostle, which are said to be interred in the city’s cathedral. 

Today, the Camino remains a popular pilgrimage destination, drawing tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. Check out the latest Camino de Santiago statistics below

Camino de Santiago Statistics

Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Statistics 2022
Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Statistics 2022

Walking the Camino is not for the faint of hearted. It requires a certain level of physical fitness, as well as mental fortitude and a willingness to embrace discomfort and uncertainty. 

The discomfort comes in droves via the pain you can get in your feet after walking miles and miles every day.

For those who make the journey, it can be a transformative experience, offering a sense of accomplishment, connection to others and a deeper understanding of oneself and the world. 

Most Pilgrims I know that have finished the journey say that life is never the same again.

Here’s a look at what a typical 24-hour period might look like for Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.

Daily Life of a Pilgrim on the Camino

Walk, eat, sleep, repeat

This is the routine I have when I walk the Camino and my routine over each 24 hr period starts here:

Mornings on the Camino

Pilgrims typically wake up early, before sunrise, in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and cover as much distance as possible before the heat of the day sets in.

My daily regime when walking the Camino was to agree the night before with my Pilgrim friends how far we would walk the next day and then choose a time to wake up. 

This was mainly around 6-7am with a quick half hour to brush teeth and get ready for the day before setting off.

Most Pilgrims stay in an albergue or hostel, where they’ll have access to a shared kitchen to prepare breakfast if they want.

Breakfast in an albergue might consist of simple foods like bread, cheese, yogurt, fruit, and coffee. Its a good idea to buy your breakfast in a local supermarket the night before as thats a pretty inexpensive option.

The act of waking up early and starting the day with a simple breakfast can be invigorating for pilgrims. 

It’s a chance to set intentions for the day ahead and to connect with other pilgrims who are embarking on the same journey.

I typically set off walking and get breakfast at the first stop of the day but thats just my choice.

pilgrim sunrise on The Camino Frances

Once I have packed up my belongings and/or eaten breakfast I am ready to hit the trail as most of the other pilgrims are as well. 

Pilgrims might walk alone or in the company of others, but either way, they’re likely to encounter other pilgrims on the path. 

As they walk, they might take in the beautiful natural scenery around them, listen to music or podcasts, or engage in conversation with their fellow travelers. The day belongs to the Pilgrim. Lets keep it that way.

The morning hours on the Camino can be some of the most peaceful and contemplative. 

I have enjoyed some of the best mornings walking in the quiet, waiting for the sun to rise before arriving in a little village for an amazing cafe con leche.

On a recent trip on the Camino Frances we had an amazing cafe con leche and tortilla in a little cafe in Zubiri.  The Tortilla was amazing !

tortilla in Zubiri

The air is crisp, the scenery is breathtaking, and the sense of possibility is palpable. For many pilgrims on the Camino this time in the early morning is a chance to reflect on their lives, their values and their life goals.

I absolutely love mornings on the Camino especially walk before the heat of the day gets to hot.

The Way is littered with cafes and bars so there is nearly always a place to stop for a rest and refreshment.

Midday on the Camino

As the day wears on, the sun begins to beat down and the temperatures start to rise. Pilgrims might take a break in a shady spot to rest and rehydrate. 

It’s a great time to eat a snack, such as a protein bar or a piece of fruit and take off your shoes and socks to air out your feet.

My Blister Prevention Regime

To keep any hot spots or blisters at bay i follow the same regime for all my walks on the Camino. 

I always take 3 pairs of Merino wool socks and change them at least once during the day. Just after midday is a perfect time to air your feet out and change your walking socks. 

You can peg your old socks to the outside of your backpack to air them out if needed.

If I get any hot spots I will make sure I tape them up before I set off with some simple walking tape. 

When i finish walking for the day I always wear flip flops to let the air get to my feet and always cream my feet with Gehwol foot cream in the evening. 

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This regime has worked for me and helped me to be blister free for 5 Caminos to date. On my last Camino I walked 9 days on the Camino Frances and this regime worked a treat.

After midday if your feeling particularly tired, you might take a short nap or meditate for a few minutes. 

I have never done this but have heard of some Pilgrims that do this to really recharge in the middle of the day.

The midday hours can be challenging for pilgrims. The heat and fatigue can take a toll on the body and mind, and it can be tempting to give up or cut the day short. 

But for those who persevere, this time can also be a chance to dig deep and find strength that you didn’t know you had.

At the end of the day its your Pilgrimage so just do whatever feels right for you. It’s not a race and Santiago will always be there.

Afternoons on the Camino

In the afternoon, pilgrims continue along the trail. They might encounter challenging terrain, such as steep hills or rocky paths, which require them to slow down and focus on their footing.

They might also come across interesting landmarks, such as churches or ancient ruins, that offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the region.

As evening approaches, pilgrims start looking for a place to stay for the night. They might check their guidebook or consult with other pilgrims to find the nearest albergue or hostel unless one has been booked in advance.

These accommodations are often basic but clean and affordable, with shared dormitory-style rooms and communal bathrooms. 

At Municipal albergues you may need to wait in line to check in, but the atmosphere is usually very friendly and welcoming.

After settling into your accommodations, pilgrims might take a shower or wash up in a sink to freshen up after a long day of walking. 

They might also do laundry if there’s a washing machine available, as pilgrims typically only carry a small amount of clothing with them on the Camino. 

One my journey we do laundry every 3 days as we only take 3 changes of clothing. Check out my packing list for the Camino.

In Azofra on the Camino Frances there is a municipal albergue with a small plunge pool. On our recent walk I spent a few hours with my feet in the pool walking to other Pilgrims.

plunge pool at the albergue in azofra

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Evenings on the Camino

After showering and doing laundry we will typically relax on our bunks or sit outside in the sun with a cold beer and plan out our journey for the next day. 

Some Pilgrims will take a nap before getting ready for the evening, or stroll around the location and visit a church or monastery.

The evening hours on the Camino can be a time for rest, reflection, and connection with others. They might also attend a mass or prayer service, as the Camino is a deeply spiritual experience for many.

I also work on my journal at this time of the day, making sure i get my thoughts down on paper and even some scribbled pictures. 

This is a great way of preserving some of those memories.

One of the other great things about the Camino is just chatting with other Pilgrims and learning about their journey and travels. 

The great thing is normal day to day work and business talk just does’nt get mentioned. Everyone is here for the Camino and normal life seems to be on hold.

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Dinner is often a communal affair for pilgrims, with many albergues offering a communal kitchen or dining area where people can prepare and eat meals together. 

Pilgrims might cook their own meals or pitch in to make a group meal with others they’ve met on the trail. They might also venture out into the nearby town to find a restaurant or bar to eat at.

Most restaurants do a style of ‘Pilgrim dinner’ that costs anywhere from €10-15 and whilst a bit basic they can really fill you up. 

A typical day on the Camino  expends a lot of calories so you need to replace them with anything you can get.  

BONUS – The Pilgrim dinner nearly always comes with free wine 🙂 

On my recent journey on the Camino Frances we stayed the night in Azofra and had a Pilgrim meal. This menu below is the one we had that night. Basic but good Pilgrim food and all for €12 per person

pilgrim menu in azofra
pilgrim menu in azofra

As bedtime approaches, pilgrims retire to their bunks or mattresses in dormitory style rooms. The accommodation in albergues is mostly shared with other pilgrims, which can be a challenge for those who are used to more privacy. 

However, many pilgrims find that the shared experience of sleeping in close quarters with strangers is a bonding experience that creates a sense of camaraderie and community.

Some just prefer to get private smaller hotels and pay a little more for some privacy. It’s totally the choice of the Pilgrim.

As pilgrims drift off to sleep, they might reflect on the day’s experiences and look ahead to the challenges and joys that tomorrow will bring. 

For many, the Camino de Santiago is a journey of self-discovery and growth, and the day-to-day rhythm of walking, resting and connecting with others is a key part of that journey.

Bunk beds in an albergue on the Camino de Santiago
Bunk beds in an albergue on the Camino de Santiago

One of the main things I had to get used to when sleeping in an Albergue was the CAMINO ANTHEM

The noises in any albergue can be quite loud but add in Pilgrims snoring, rustling, talking and farting. It takes some getting used too. 

I use ear plugs for every Camino i walk which really help me get to sleep.

Conclusion

In conclusion, walking the Camino de Santiago is a challenging but rewarding experience that requires physical and mental stamina, as well as a willingness to embrace discomfort and uncertainty. 

A typical 24-hour period for a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago involves waking up early, walking long distances, taking breaks to rest and recharge, and connecting with other pilgrims along the way. 

It’s a journey of self-discovery, spiritual reflection, community building, and for many pilgrims, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Every day follows the same pattern which actually became quite reassuring for me. 

We all do love a routine and this one was better than most. I hope you understand a bit more about the daily life of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

Buen Camino

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