Hospitaleros and Other Volunteer Opportunities

You've walked the Camino francés. Perhaps you've walked one or more of the other routes as well. The Camino is in your blood and you're now trying to think of what the next stage of your Camino life could be. Have you considered giving back to the Camino as a volunteer albergue host? Those who have gone on from walking the Camino to serving as hospitaleros say that this experience is in every sense a Camino of its own.

You will find on this page a number of items related to hospitalero service:

General information about serving
Hospitalero training through American Pilgrims
Hospitalero Training Fee Waiver
Hospitalero-related sites
Hospitalero training through other organizations

Other volunteer opportunities on the Camino that do not require hospitalero training:
• Ribadiso Welcome Service
• The Pilgrim Welcome Office in Santiago
• Terra Nova Pilgrim House in Santiago
Special albergue opportunity on the Norte

General information about serving

Many walkers on the Camino carry a strong sense of being part of a stream, a stream of humanity or even a flow of history, moving ever westward. As an hospitalero you become a rock in that stream. The rock stays in place and a drop of water hesitates briefly and then moves on, leaving the rock to interact with the next drop and the next and the next. You provide the resting place where fellow pilgrims can stop and renew themselves in body, mind and spirit.

Generally speaking those responsible for albergues look for volunteers who have walked the Camino and who have taken an hospitalero training course. There is a preference for persons with serviceable Spanish language skills—and ideally another language as well (thankfully English will serve very well for that!). But having said that, there are exceptions. Some albergues find themselves with a gap in their schedule or occasionally an hospitalero must leave due to an emergency; your willingness to give back to the Camino through enthusiastic volunteering may be your most important skill.

What is it like to volunteer as a hospitalero? Your most important duty will be to serve as host to a steady stream of peregrinos. This will involve providing a warm and sincere welcome to all pilgrims. Sometimes it will involve listening, sometimes conversing. It will mean being a resource for advice on such matters as first aid or other medical care (not necessarily actually dispensing care), knowing where to buy supplies, when and where church services will be held, what lies ahead on the trail. You may find yourself in the role of confessor, psychologist or advisor to the lovelorn. You may become responsible for organizing evening meals for any number of hungry pilgrims. You will be up with the peregrinos in the morning and you may turn out the lights in the late evening. And there will of course be washing sheets, cleaning toilets and showers, mopping floors, sweeping outdoor areas. You may be the one to order propane and cleaning supplies, or to do the accounting—you may feel like you are running a small business. You will certainly find yourself part of a local Spanish community or village, and community relations will be important. Most formal hospitalero assignments are for a half month; informal ones might be only for a few days. You will likely have little time off during your tenure. In short, this will probably be one of the most intense, and intensely gratifying, experiences of your life! Still sound like something you'd be interested in?

Hospitalero Training through American Pilgrims

If you've been looking for a way to say thank you for all that the Camino has given you, look no further than American Pilgrims on the Camino and its hospitalero training courses. Registration for training sessions will generally be announced two or three months in advance and if you're a member of American Pilgrims you'll automatically receive e-mail announcements about these opportunities when they are available. A reminder that in order to take part in this training:
     • You must have walked at least 100 km (or biked 200 km) on the Camino.
     • You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the training.
     • You must have overnighted in at least three non‑private (municipally-, parochially- or association-run) albergues on the Camino. If you haven't yet walked your Camino, keep this requirement in mind as you decide on places to stay.
     • You must be a member of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Many people are confused about membership in American Pilgrims — being on the e-mail list of a local chapter is not the same as being a paid member of the national organization. See the Membership page for further information.

The next training session, at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina, immediately preceding the 2019 Gathering has filled. If you'd like to be waitlisted, contact us through [email protected]. The following session will be Friday, June 7th through Sunday, June 9th in Federal Way, Washington near Seattle. See below for full information and registration. The subsequent session will be near Colorado Springs, Colorado  Friday September 13th to Sunday the 15th. Detailed information and registration are typically available two months prior to the session. If you're a member, you'll automatically receive notice of this. After this announcement, sessions generally fill rather quickly so if you're not currently a member, perhaps you should consider joining now!

The Washington State session will begin Friday, June 7th at 4:00 PM and will end Sunday, June 9th at 5:00 PM. The $295 registration fee includes the training, all meals Friday evening through lunch Sunday and accommodation for the two inclusive nights. Linens and towels are provided and lodging is dormitory style with communal bathrooms. All attendees must stay at the training facility - no off-site lodging! Attendees must attend ALL of the session. Plan accordingly! The last day to register is Tuesday, April 30th or when the session fills. If you're a member and you fulfill the requirements above, you can access the registration form by clicking HERE.

Do you know that there is an Hospitalero Training Fee Waiver? And an Hospitalero Service Grant Program? The goal of the American Pilgrims Hospitalero Training Award is to make participation in the organization’s hospitalero training financially feasible for all members of American Pilgrims. See BELOW for details and application information about the Training Fee Waiver. See the American Pilgrims Grants page for information about the Hospitalero Service Grant Program.

For some insight into the sense of fulfillment, there is an interesting YouTube video about volunteer hospitalero service that has snippets of interviews with the late Don José María of San Juan de Ortega, Don Jesús Jato of the albergue Ave Fenix and the Confraternity of Saint James' Marion Marples.

If you would like to contact American Pilgrims for more information about becoming a volunteer hospitalero or if you have specific questions about our training, please contact the hospitalero training coordinators at [email protected]. Click HERE for a list of albergues where hospitaleros may be posted through the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago.

Hospitalero Training Fee Waiver

The purpose of the waiver is as follows: 

The American Pilgrims Hospitalero Training Fee Waiver makes participation in one of the organization’s hospitalero trainings financially feasible for members of American Pilgrims by waiving the registration fees for American Pilgrims hospitalero training for eligible applicants. After completing the training, the newly trained hospitalero will be prepared to volunteer in an albergue on the Camino de Santiago. A maximum of one (1) fee waiver per training session may be available.

Fee Waiver Eligibility
In order to take part in hospitalero training:
     • you must be a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino,
     • you must have walked at least 100 km (or cycled 200 km) on the Camino,

     • you must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the training, and
     • you must have overnighted in at least three non‑private (municipally-, parochially- or association-run) albergues on the Camino. 

Applicants must demonstrate financial need and must address their specific plans, including planned timeline, for volunteering in an albergue in their application.

Fee Waiver Application Submission
Applications are available online and must be submitted electronically to [email protected] at least 60 days prior to an American Pilgrims hospitalero training. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. See Hospitalero Training through American Pilgrims above for general information about training.

The application form is available in PDF and Microsoft Word format

Funding and Post-Volunteer Responsibilities

Notification of a decision on the application will be made no later than one month before the hospitalero training. After the training, the fee waiver recipient may be asked to write a 100-word statement describing how the fee waiver facilitated their participation in the training; this statement may be used in La Concha, the American Pilgrims newsletter.

For more information, please contact us at

Hospitalero-related sites and articles

Among the various Camino sites and forums there are some hospitalero-related areas:

  • Canadian Hospitaleros: Hospitaleros and hospitalero trainers Tom Friesen and Mary Virtue oversee this blogspot. While oriented toward Canadian hospitaleros it nonetheless has material of general interest.

  • An Innkeeper's Guide: Volunteering on the Camino de Santiago: A blog by Brett Stuckel which contains a very frank, insightful and comprehensive overview of the toil, joys and tribulations of being an hospitalero.

  • Who runs the albergues?: Ever wonder who runs the albergues and sets the house rules and practices? Be it a religious order, a Camino association, a municipality or province or a family you'll find it interesting as to how they differ while all serving the same basic purpose—care of pilgrims.

  • A delightful description of a first-time hospitalero's exciting first day.

Hospitalero training through other organizations

In addition to the training offered by American Pilgrims in conjunction with its annual Gathering of Pilgrims, training is available in other countries. See our International Events page for more information about these opportunities. We know that we have not listed all available courses here and we would like to be apprised of others. Please contact our webmaster.

  • Hospitalero training in Canada: Training courses which have been approved by the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago are regularly offered in Canada. The Canadian Hospitaleros' blog always has the latest information about training offerings as well as albergue descriptions and reports by returned hospitaleros.

  • Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago: The umbrella organization of the Spanish Associations of Friends of the Camino has information and a regular calendar of courses. You might also check our International Events page. There are courses for first time volunteers and further courses for veterans (including basic English for use in albergues!). (Spanish)

  • The Confraternity of St. James: The Confraternity offers training but, as they operate their own two refugios in Rabanal del Camino and Miraz, the training is oriented toward these facilities and their villages. Nonetheless their training is broad enough that it should be accepted by the Federación Española for service in their facilities as well. For further information see the Confraternity's page on training for and being an hospitalero.

  • The Confraternity of Saint James South Africa: The South African Confraternity offers hospitalero training in different regions of the country as demand requires. Anyone interested in this service should contact the CSJSA directly. 

  • Pilgrims in Sydney: The pilgrims organization in Sydney, Australia periodically offers hospitalero training that is approved by the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago. 

Ribadiso Welcome Service

 American Pilgrims on the Camino announces the 2019 Ribadiso Welcome Service, a volunteer opportunity for American Pilgrims members at the Albergue of Ribadiso do Baixo, an albergue operated by the Xunta de Galicia on the Camino de Santiago.   

Volunteering at Ribadiso is a unique experience. Volunteers care for the pilgrims by welcoming them to the albergue, answering their questions, providing information about the immediate area and about their arrival to Santiago, offering a listening ear and directing pilgrims to healthcare resources, if needed.  

Volunteers must be members of American Pilgrims on the Camino and be in good health and physical condition. Training as a volunteer hospitalero or experience in the former Amigos Program in Santiago is helpful but is not necessary. Spanish language skills are highly recommended.

Sound interesting? Click HERE for a document with complete information about Ribadiso and the application process. Applications close February 20, 2019. Still have questions after reading the document? Contact us through [email protected].

The Pilgrim Welcome Office in Santiago

For most peregrinos arriving in Santiago, after a few tears, the celebratory photos in front of the Cathedral and perhaps the call to back home, the next stop will be the Oficina de Acogida al Peregrino (the Pilgrim Welcome Office) to obtain the compostela. The Oficina offers the opportunity to be part of this significant part of the pilgrim's journey. The website of the Oficina is and their e-mail is [email protected].

Terra Nova Pilgrim House in Santiago 

Terra Nova Pilgrim House is a welcome center in Santiago de Compostela, where pilgrims can find community, conversation, prayer and help with their practical needs. We offer gathering places for pilgrims, practical services such as laundry and a kitchenette, and quiet spaces where pilgrims can reflect on and process their Camino. Volunteer duties would include welcoming pilgrims and helping them feel at home; helping out with laundry, backpack storage and printing boarding passes; being available to talk with pilgrims who need a listening ear and cleaning. The term of service is a minimum of one week and a maximum of a half month. In order to help us provide quality service, volunteers must have received a Compostela. At present, Pilgrim House cannot offer lodging or food to volunteers.
Interested persons are invited to visit Pilgrim House's website or Facebook page. Contact Gale Sherry (Manager and Volunteer Coordinator) [email protected] for further information about Pilgrim House or to obtain an application form.

Looking for hospitaleros in Deba on the Norte for July and August

The municipal albergue in Deba is seeking volunteer hospitaleros specifically for the months of July and August. The albergue operates under the Asociación de Amigos de los Caminos de Santiago de Deba.  Deba is a small northern coastal village with a beautiful beach, between Bilbao and San Sebastian. The new, beautiful albergue was inaugurated in 2013 with 56 beds. In 2016 the albergue hosted 1,596 pilgrims in July and 1,677 pilgrims in August. 

Contact Oni at [email protected] for further information.


Rev 03/31/19