• Natalie McQuilkin

Best Caminho Portugues Sleep Spots

On the Caminho de Santiago Português, you’ll sleep in a different place almost every night. Depending on whether you choose to start your journey in Lisbon, Porto, or even Tui, there is no getting around sleeping with strangers and strange places on your trek. Some nights, you’ll toss and turn from others’ snoring or uncomfortable beds or the imminent fear of bed bugs. Others, you’ll blissfully sleep after a long day of walking the route to Santiago de Compostela.


Looking back at my experience on the Caminho de Santiago Português, there were many places where my partner, Devon, and I slept that stick out in my mind for their comfortability or their unique quality amongst other hostels or albergues. While a lot of pilgrims are content with staying at municipal albergues, which are bottom-tier albergues that are operated by the town, after a long day of hiking in the rain or just a day when I was missing the comforts of home, it was always nice to stumble into a hostel, albergue, or even a home that catered to my basic (but high-maintenance for Camino standards) needs: hot shower, food, and a comfy place to doze off.


We started walking in Lisbon, Portugal in mid-January, which is far-off from the Caminho’s peak season, which typically runs from April to November. Despite this, we were able to find establishments that met our “basic” needs and more.


Albergues


Most peregrinos opt for albergues due to their low cost and piligrim-oriented space. Albergues are typically filled with bunks, and a few showers and bathrooms will be shared amongst travelers. I have read and heard about albergues filling up quickly during peak season, but for us, it wasn’t an issue to find a nearly-empty albergue. However, many albergues were closed due to the off-season.


Here are two of my favorite albergues we stayed in:


Albergue de Peregrinos - Amigos da Montanha (Barcelinhos, Portugal)

Rooftops of Barcelinhos peered over the albergue's outdoor area.

This albergue was extremely cheap— €5 per person— and clean with accommodations that are hard to find in other albergues.


The Albergue de Peregrinos presented a modern feel that made the cheap nightly experience seem like an upscale one. The albergue has a full-service kitchen and hot showers, which are especially important when hiking in the winter months.


When you’re ready to settle down for the night, you’ll take your pick on one of the several bunks offered in a single room. So long as you have a sleeping bag and can handle others’ snores, you’ll be set for the night.


Other perks include:

  • WiFi

  • English-speaking albergue

  • Close to grocery stores, markets, and restaurants


Santa Casa da Misericordia (São João, Portugal)

We slept on mattresses on the floor of a hospital for elderly people in São João.

I was really hesitant about staying at this “albergue” (if it can even be called that), as I had learned it was on the bottom floor of a hospital for elderly folks. However, upon arrival, I was too tired and Caminho’d out to care what conditions this unconventional sleeping spot would bring.


It definitely proved to stick out in my mind for a few reasons: we were surrounded by old folks as we meandered to our special sleeping spot, we slept on mattresses on the floor, and it was free.


With it being the off-season, we shared the room with one other pilgrim who we had befriended a week before. The bare mattresses were quite comfortable since we had sleeping bags, and the room was heated, which was rare in other albergues at this time of year. A hot shower was also available.


The Misericordia also provided WiFi, and some of the employees spoke English, but as one can imagine, the accommodations were pretty bare bones for being a free service. Nevertheless, I got a good night’s sleep and a funny story to tell in return.


Hostels


Like albergues, hostels offer a shared sleeping experience as many travelers will pack into a single room for a night of shuteye. However, while albergues are typically geared toward accommodating pilgrims, anyone— pilgrim or not— can stay at a hostel. Hostels also typically offer breakfast and more secluded sleeping arrangements, with fewer bunks per room or even single beds.


Due to many of the albergues’ closures during the off-season, we stayed in several hostels along our Caminho journey. Hostels remained some of my favorite places to stay because I knew a hot shower and a filling breakfast were almost always guaranteed.


Though we stayed in more hostels than I can count, here are a few that stood out to me:


Hostel 2300 Thomar (Tomar, Portugal)

The hostel was wedged among other buildings on Tomar's historic streets.

Hostel 2300 Thomar tops my list of hostels. Devon and I ended up staying at this hostel twice because of how much we loved it (once on our Caminho, and once on our way back down to Lisbon to catch our plane for 3 nights). The staff speaks English and is extremely nice and accommodating. Unlike other hostels, you don’t feel claustrophobic or confined— Hostel 2300 has a living space with a TV, a full-service kitchen to cook up your own meals, and it’s conveniently placed within the historic city of Tomar.


Hostel 2300 offers bunk beds or a single bed. We chose the single bed option, which was only €4 more per person than hunkering down in a bunk for the night for €12.


Hostel 2300 also offers a breakfast that begins at 5 a.m. for those wanting to fuel up and beat the Caminho crowd. The breakfast includes bread, cereal, digestive biscuits, fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee.


Service-wise, you can pay an extra €4 for staff to do your laundry. To learn more about this hostel, check it out using this link.


Other things I liked about this hostel include:

  • Nice decor

  • One of the hottest showers I had on the Caminho

  • Conveniently placed in the middle of town

  • WiFi


Albergue de Peregrinos St. Antonio / Residencial Celeste (Águeda, Portugal)

The albergue grounds were beautiful, even in the dead of winter.

I have fond memories of this single-room stay in Águeda and the story that comes with it.


After a 16-mile day, Devon and I found ourselves limping up to Albergue de Peregrinos St. Antonio in Águeda, ready to share the room yet another night with several pilgrims. To our surprise, the host allowed us to stay in a single room at the Residencial Celeste, which is connected to the albergue, for the same price (€16 per person) because she didn’t want us to get cold in the night as the albergue didn’t have heat.


We knew we were in for a night of luxury when we were shown a room that had two double beds, a private shower and bathroom, and a heater for the room.


The upscale quality didn’t end at the bedroom— the Residencial Celeste also had a small building that included a kitchen, WiFi, and two cats that roamed the property. The Residencial had a beautiful view of Águeda’s valley as well.


In the morning, a buffet beckoned us to choose from various breads, pastries, fruits, cakes and cereals. The Residencial’s host even brewed up some Americanos especially for us.


The kind gesture of the host and the thoughtfulness of breakfast really made this Residencial top the charts for my Caminho experience. If you're interested in checking out this amazing hostel, click here.


Jacob’s Hostel (Tui, Spain)

Jacob's Hostel had the comfiest bunk mattresses on the Caminho.

We were the lone peregrinos at Jacob’s Hostel during our stay, but we remained cozy and entertained with a wood pellet burning stove, a TV, hot showers, a kitchen, and comfortable beds.


Jacob’s Hostel had only been around for a year when we visited, and the owner was very talkative and excited for us to stay there. This hostel only offered bunks to sleep in, but the mattresses were some of the comfiest I’d slept on in my Caminho experience.


Jacob’s Hostel also offered:

  • WiFi

  • Laundry services

  • Convenient location to grocery store and restaurants

If you're interested in pre-bo0king this hostel or learning more about it, you can take a look at it here.


Casas


Casas are a different experience than albergues and hostels as they are out of someone’s home. We only had a handful of experiences in staying at someone’s home on the Caminho, but they are experiences I would recommend having as they have a more personal touch than any albergue or hostel we stayed in along The Way.


Quinta Burra (Cartaxo, Portugal)

Quinta Burra was renovated from ruins into a beautiful space for pilgrims that holds a cultural flair.

Quinta Burra was our first experience staying in someone’s home on the Caminho. We had full intentions of forcing our aching legs up to the winding hills of Santarém, but by the time we rolled into Cartaxo and found Quinta Burra on our guide map, we were fixed on settling down for the night at the creme stucco house in the middle of nowhere.


Quinta Burra is run by a woman named Paula, who cares for her elderly mom and her husband who is battling Alzheimer’s, all while catering for pilgrims— even in the off-season. Paula had bought the Quinta, which had been old ruins, and fixed it up to be her home, not knowing she had purchased property on the Caminho. Over dinner, Paula told us of a peregino who knocked on her door several years ago, begging for a place to stay for the night— and that’s how she began to open her home up to pilgrims.


Devon and I were shown a room with a queen-size bed— one of the first we’d seen on the Caminho. However, the luxuries didn’t stop there. Paula offered us coffee and tea and prepared a spaghetti dinner that was in line with our vegan lifestyle. Over dinner, Paula, her husband, and our pilgrim friend shared a spot with us at the dinner table, and we all shared stories about the Caminho, our lives, and what we hope for the future.


Paula’s Quinta was one of the most authentic and connective experiences I feel I had on the Caminho, especially for the modest price of €10 per person.


Casa da Ribeira (Santarém, Portugal)

Casa da Ribeira is nestled in historic Santarém.

Devon, our pilgrim friend, and I were the first people to book a night a Casa da Ribeira in Santarém, and based on our stay, I know there will be many happy pilgrims in the future to stumble upon this house on the outskirts of dreamy Santarém.


For only €15 each, we had access to a full-service kitchen, a free washer and dryer, a hot shower, and a bedroom to ourselves. Unlike Quinta Burra, which invoked a sense of community as Paula and our pilgrim friend took their spots at the dinner table, Casa de Ribeira is a good spot if you want to spend time alone.


Casa da Ribeira was also close to Santarém’s grocery stores and restaurants. For Devon and I and our aching legs, Casa da Ribeira was our first experience using UberEats on the Caminho, which was an experience I would recommend for all of those unable to move after a day chock-full of walking.


You can learn more about this casa and pre-book it using this link.


Because the Caminho offers the blessing (and curse) of being in uncomfortable situations throughout the day with endless walking, blisters galore, and aching shoulders and back, it’s important, and almost necessary, to find a comfortable place to relax after a day on The Way is finished and to prepare for the next one.


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