10 best cities on the Camino de Santiago

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10 cities on the camino


One of the things that we love about walking the Camino de Santiago is that the routes take you through some fabulous Spanish cities, as well as towns and villages. Many of these cities may not be destinations that you would fly into directly, especially if you’re coming from outside of Europe, but they make excellent stop offs as you are walking through Spain or Portugal on the Camino de Santiago.

This is a short guide to our top ten favourite cities on Camino de Santiago routes. For each of them, we’ve also recommended hostels that you can book in advance. Although many of the cities have albergues, often these cannot be booked in advance which can make you feel that you’re racing to get a bed. Additionally, the advantage of staying in a hostel rather than a walkers albergue, is that you can stay for a couple of nights if you want to spend longer visiting the cities.

Still not sure which Camino de Santiago route to take? Find out which one is best for you in our guide here.

  1. One: León
    1. What to do in Leon:
    2. Where to stay in Leon:
  2. Two: Burgos
    1. What to do in Burgos:
    2. Where to stay in Burgos:
  3. Three: Pamplona
    1. What to do in Pamplona:
    2. Where to stay in Pamplona:
  4. Four: Oviedo
    1. What to do in Oviedo:
    2. Where to stay in Oviedo:
  5. Five: San Sebastián
    1. What to do in San Sebastián
    2. Where to stay in San Sebastián:
  6. Six: Bilbao
    1. What to do in Bilbao:
    2. Where to stay in Bilbao:
  7. Seven: Gijon
    1. What to do in Gijon:
    2. Where to stay in Gijon:
  8. Eight: Santander
    1. What to do in Santander:
    2. Where to stay in Santander:
  9. Nine: Porto
    1. What to do in Porto:
    2. Where to stay in Porto:
  10. Ten: Santiago de Compostela
    1. What to do in Santiago de Compostela:
    2. Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela:

One: León

León is the capital of the province of the same name. It offers a power house combination of cultural sites by day and a buzzing old town by night.

Camino de Santiago Route: French Route

What to do in Leon

  • Leon Cathedral
  • Roman Walls
  • Tapas in the Barrio Húmedo (Old Town)
  • MUSAC (Museum of contemporary art)
  • The Covento de San Marcos

If you’re looking for a gastronomic treat, find out more about the best Michelin Star restaurants on the Camino here. This includes one in Leon.

Where to stay in Leon on the Camino

Leon Hostel is a small hostel in the centre of the old part of the city. It has 10.0 rating on Hostel World and offers private rooms as well as dorm beds for less than 20 euros. Hostel Covent Garden is a quaint hostel decorated in traditional Spanish style in the center of the city. Rates of around 20 Euros. Hostel Quartier Leon Jabaliquinto is a stylish, modern and sociable hostel with a central location with rates of around 15 euros for a bed. Finally, if you want a more traditional Albergue experience, try Albergue Santo Tomas De Canterbury, which can be booked in advance for 12 Euros.

Two: Burgos

A historic city on the Castile province, Burgos has a lot to offer a passing pilgrim. With countless places to enjoy local food and drinks, as well as opportunities to learn about the important history of Burgos including the connection to Christopher Columbus.

Camino de Santiago Route: French Route

What to do in Burgos

  • Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas
  • Grab drinks in Plaza Mayor
  • Burgos Castle
  • Sample some Morcilla (a delicacy a little like black pudding)

Where to stay in Burgos on the Camino

Hotel Corona de Castilla is a pleasant hotel with a reasonable price tag in the heart of Burgos – rates available here. Albergue de Peregrinos Fuente Sidre is a fab walkers hostel but is available to book in advance here.

Three: Pamplona

Pamplona is the capital of Navarre which is internationally renowned for San Fermín, the annual bull run event held in July. But there’s more to Pamplona than just the bull run, as you will find if you walk the French route.

Camino de Santiago Route: French Route

What to do in Pamplona

  • Vuelta del Castillo Park and Citadel
  • Pamplona Cathedral
  • Sample some local asparagus and some pintxos
  • Enjoy a glass of Rioja in a bar on Plaza del Castillo

Where to stay in Pamplona on hte Camino

Aloha Hostel Pamplona is a centrally located backpackers hostel with a cozy and bright feel. Beds offered for 20 Euros. Albergue Plaza Catedral is another bookable option in a central location with dorm beds for 20 Euros.

Four: Oviedo

The capital of Asturias, Oviedo marks the start of the Primitivo route into Santiago de Compostela. Oviedo is arty, elegant and sophisticated but still lots of fun.

Camino de Santiago Route: Primitivo

What to do in Oviedo

  • Drink cider at the ‘sidrerías’ and watch the Asturias special cider pouring
  • Visit San Salvador Cathedral
  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts

Where to stay in Oviedo on the Camino

La Hospederia Oviedo is a centrally located rustic hostel with plenty of charm. Private rooms or dorms are available. Green Hostel is a modern, bright and colourful hostel with beds from 22 Euros.

Five: San Sebastián

Without a doubt, San Sebastián is our favourite city in Spain. With a wide sandy beach, quaint harbour, world renowned gastronomy scene and a thronging old town it is easy to see why! You will be duly rewarded when you arrive at this city after your first day of walking on the Camino del Norte.

Camino de Santiago Route: North Route

What to do in San Sebastián

  • Take a dip in the sea at one of the many delightful beaches
  • Go surfing on Zurriola beach
  • Enjoy some world famous pintxos in the old town

Where to stay in San Sebastián on the Camino

There are at least six albergues in San Sebastián, this includes one donation based albergue Claret Ikastola Pilgrims Hostel. Alternatively, you can book one of the many private hotel options in San Sebastian city.

There are also some really great and modern hostels that you can book in advance on Hostel World.

The three best bookable hostels are, Colo Colo (a fancy start to your Camino!), Downtown River Hostel (simple and clean), A room in the city (complete with fantastic courtyard bar).

For more information on the Norte route (Norte) you can find our guide to walking the Camino del Norte here.

Six: Bilbao

Bilbao has such a unique vibe. Trendy and contemporary but still with a traditional Spanish feel too. It makes an excellent stop on the Camino del Norte. Just be sure to get here early so you can enjoy it!

Camino de Santiago Route: North Route

What to do in Bilbao

  • Enjoy some pintxos in casco viejo
  • The Guggenheim Museum

Where to stay in Bilbao on the Camino

Bilbao is a large city and there are plenty of private accommodation options. There is one pilgrim only hostel, Santa Cruz de Begona Pilgrims Hostel. There are 22 beds and this is a donation based albergue so is likely to be popular.

If you’d like to book a hostel in advance which would be advisable in Bilbao, there are some good options available on Hostel World. First is Poshtel Hostel, which is advertised as a luxury hostel in the centre of town. Ekoos is an eco hostel with really nice communal space. Finally, La Troupe La Granja is a fun hostel with a bar.

For more information on the Norte route (Norte) you can find our guide to walking the Camino del Norte here.

Seven: Gijon

A fun and compact coastal city, Gijon is well worth a stop. Smaller and less famous than the other cities on the North route, but still a good time to be had.

Camino de Santiago Route: North Route

What to do in Gijon

  • There are many wine bars in Gijon, many serving uniquely Galician wine from small producers
  • Take a swim in Playa de Poniente on promenade along Playa de San Lorenzo 

Where to stay in Gijon on the Camino

There is no municipal albergue in Gijon itself, the nearest is Camping Deva just before the city.

As this is a lively city, we would recommend booking something ahead if you plan to stay in the centre. If you’re looking for a bookable hostel in Gijon, then Boogalow is a cool and central option. You can book through hostelworld here. Otherwise, there are plenty of options on booking.com

For more information on the Norte route (Norte) you can find our guide to walking the Camino del Norte here.

Eight: Santander

A super coastal city on the Northern route of the Camino. Many pilgrims choose to skip Santander and continue walking, but in our view it is well worth taking the time to enjoy this buzzing city.

Camino de Santiago Route: North Route

What to do in Santander

  • Grab some Tapas on Calle Arrabel, Calle de Medio and in the vibrant Plaza Cañadio
  • Visit Santander Cathedral
  • The indoor market Mercadora El Este

You can find out more about visiting Santander in our guide here.

Where to stay in Santander on the Camino

In Santander, the pilgrim only hostel is called Santos Martires. There are 50 beds and it costs 15 euros. We’ve not heard the best things about this hostel, but it does seem reliable as a place to stay if you don’t have a booking.

There are various private accommodation options in the city that can be booked in advance. If you want to book a hostel in advance, there are some good options. First is Santander Central Hostel and another option with good reviews is Hostel Santander.

For more information on the Norte route (Norte) you can find our guide to walking the Camino del Norte here.

Nine: Porto

Porto may not be the largest city in Portugal, but it punches well above it’s weight. With a distinctive character and charm, a visit to Porto is not to be missed if you’re walking this route.

Camino de Santiago Route: Portuguese

What to do in Porto

  • Sample some port at one of the many port lodges
  • Enjoy some Portuguese delicacies to get you ready for your Camino – start with a Pasteis de Bacalhau (fried cod fritter) and end with a Pastel de Nata (custard tart) as you stroll along the River Duoro
  • Visit the famous Porto book store which gives Harry Potter Vibes

For a longer guide to visiting Porto, you can find our post here.

Where to stay in Porto on the Camino

There is a municipal albergue in Porto, but you may wish to start off with a private hostel before you set off. If so, Porto spoils you for choice of hostels.

Porto Lounge Hostel is a plush and contemporary pad with a great garden. What’s more, it is also one of the most environmentally friendly hostels in Portugal. Gallery Hostel Porto is an art themed hostel with a distinctive style as well as an upmarket bar and terrace.

Across the river, The House of Sandeman is such a great concept. Here you can kill two birds with one stone and enjoy a great place to stay, whilst visiting a Port Lodge. The hostel is completely port themed, with beds made to look like barrels!

Cats Hostel (actual cats not welcome) is one of the best if you want a location right next to Porto Cathedral (which is where you will collect your credential). A fun and stylish option with great outdoor space. Speaking of outdoor space, Urban Garden Central Hostel takes things to a new level. There’s a large rooftop garden complete with BBQ and chill out space.

Finally, Lost Inn Porto is a great choice if you’re looking for a cozy and sophisticated space. One of the best for comfy beds to rest before you start the Camino.

For more information on the Portuguese route, you can find our guide here.

Ten: Santiago de Compostela

The end of the road for the Camino! Santiago de Compostela is there to be enjoyed once you arrive. A delightful and walkable city with plenty of places to put your feet up and enjoy a glass of wine or two.

Camino de Santiago Route: All routes lead to Santiago (except the Camino Finisterre!)

What to do in Santiago de Compostela

  • Enjoy your special moment at Santiago Cathedral
  • Roam between coffee shops, wine bars and delightful restaurants (more here.)
  • Visit the Pilgrim museum to learn more about the Camino and it’s history

Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela on the Camino

There are plenty of choices in Santiago. We like the Last Stamp which can be booked here. Or the Loop Inn is also a good choice – book here.

For more information on visiting Santiago de Compostela, you can find our guide here.

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