Food on the Camino de Santiago
Eating on the Camino de Santiago is not a trivial subject. Food is one of the secrets to enjoy the maximum experience to do the Camino de Santiago.
On one hand, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is essential to successfully complete the route. You should not forget
that food is the source of energy that the pilgrim needs to travel those great distances they face on each stage.
In addition, the Camino de Santiago is a gastronomic route worth enjoying. Enjoying regional cuisine can be the difference between having a good experience on the Camino de Santiago or living an unforgettable journey.
Before proceeding with the gastronomic guide, if you are already considering different dates to do the Camino de Santiago from Sarria, tell us more details and leave the whole organization in our hands, we are experts!
For all the above, in Santiago Ways, we have decided to elaborate this practical guide on what to eat during the pilgrimage to Compostela. To keep to a good diet that helps to maintain your body in its best state possible to do the Camino de Santiago doesn’t mean that you can’t eat well.
Here are some tips on how your meals should be during your pilgrimage. To finish this article, we recommend some traditional dishes from each of the roads to Santiago that you cannot miss out on.
Healthy and balanced diet
Food is a fundamental aspect to maintain an optimal state of health and even more so when we submit the body to a physical effort like the one that involves completing the Camino de Santiago. So knowing what and how to eat on the Camino de Santiago is essential, to have a good experience.
Breakfast: a crucial meal on the Camino de Santiago
A good breakfast is the key to starting your day on the Camino de Santiago. Think that you’ll spend the morning walking and you need the energy to do it well. In addition, it is probable that the night before you will have dined early and therefore, at breakfast time, you will have had many hours without eating.
When and where to have breakfast
Ideally, you should have breakfast as close aspossible to your accommodation and avoid long distances without eating. Although, sometimes, meeting this condition is not easy on the Camino de Santiago.
Depending on the locality where you have finished the stage, you will find it more or less simple. If you spend thenight in a very small town, chances are that there are only one or two bars in the town where you can have breakfast. Try to ask the afternoon before what time they open the following morning so you can arrange your departure.
Many people on the Camino de Santiago begin to walk even before sunrise and at that time it is difficult to find anything open to eat. In Santiago Ways, as we commented to you in our article on advice for you to enjoy your pilgrimage, we do not at all recommend walking in the dark.
However, if it is your case or if the village bars do not open until 9:00, for example, it is best that the previous afternoon you buy some energy bars, fruit or something that you can eat in your accommodation. Study or ask how far away you’ll find an open place to eat properly if you’d rather have breakfast in a bar.
Planning is imperative. Your head needs to be, for some issues, a couple of kilometres ahead of your feet. If you face a desolate stage, with a route of ten kilometres between localities and with slopes, without breakfast, you will suffer a lot to complete the stretch.
It’s not worth going out without breakfast! So, as we told you in the article about doing the Camino de Santiago with a specialized agency staying in places that include breakfast you will avoid these headaches.
What to have for breakfast
But what is an appropriate breakfast to have on the Camino de Santiago? Well, it’s a much bigger breakfast than a simple coffee. We don’t mean eating an enormous breakfast, most people don’t have the stomach ready for that first thing in the morning.
The ideal way to cope with a stage on the Camino de Santiago is to eat in a balanced way and with the right quantities. Some classic options that make a good breakfast are:
- A sandwich, sandwich or toast with cold cuts, a latte and a piece of fruit.
- Cereals with yoghurt, a coffee and anatural fruit juice.
The important thing is that the breakfast menu includes
carbohydrates, proteins, dairy products and some fruit. If you add a squirt of olive oil to your toast or swallow a handful of nuts, you will have an extra
dose of energy.
Snacks on the stages
Since most of the day on the Camino de Santiago you walk or pedal, it is advisable to eat frequently. Most nutritionists recommend eating five light meals a day, even if you are not hungry.
Therefore,snacks during the stages are fundamental. Eating something in the middle of the morning will help you keep your energy levels in an optimal state.
Besides, you’ll avoid getting to lunch time, starving to death. This way, you will not eat very large meals that make you feel full up when you restart your route.
What to eat during the stages
The ideal thing is to consume some kind of carbohydrate in the middle of the morning. This type of food provides a good dose of energy, allowing you to maintain resistance during your trip.
You can have these intermediate meals in a bar or restaurant that you find on the road or you can buy them at a supermarket and carry them in your backpack. So you can stop at any point on the route to eat something.
Don’t forget that along the Camino de Santiago you will find numerous picnic and viewpoint areas where you can enjoy a relaxing snack. Yes, remember that if there is no rubbish bin nearby, you must take your rubbish with you. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the paths on the Camino de Santiago clean.
A great option to eat something in the middle of the morning or to have a snack is artisan pastries. Many localities that cross the Camino de Santiago are famous for their pastries, find out and take the opportunity to try them.
Since unforeseen circumstances can happen, we recommend that in your backpack, you always carry some food that is easy to keep and transport. Some foods do not necessarily need to be consumed on
the same day, nor have to be kept in a refrigerator. Some options are:
- Nuts. Consuming a small amount, you will get a lot of energy.
- Chocolate. It gives you sugar and energy. The only downside is that in very hot weather, it
can be hard to keep in the backpack.
- Cereal or energy bars. As well as energy, they will give you sugar.
- A piece of fruit. Fruits like apples or oranges are very resistant. If you don’t eat them
one day, you can eat them the next. Bananas are a perfect choice, because of
their high energy dosage, but from one day to the next they can be easily
A grandmother’s trick is to put one or two envelopes of sugar in the backpack. This way you will always be prepared to cope with a sugar crash or help another pilgrim who needs it. Apart from the above, you do not need to carry more weight in your backpack.
Remember that on the Camino de Santiago you will often find bars and restaurants to eat in. You can also buy food in the many supermarkets that you will find on the route if you prefer to have a picnic.
A light and nutritious lunch
Lunch on the Camino de Santiago should not be heavy, as the stage is not usually completed yet and you will have to continue walking or pedalling. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good meal or have to just eat a salad.
At lunch, you can enjoy the traditional cuisine of the region you cross. However, you should find out before asking what the dish is, to avoid those that are very heavy.
For example, if you are doing some of the northern routes and you are passing through Asturias, perhaps an Asturian Fabada (Bean Stew) is not the best option and then continue with the stage. Although, of course, you will find the opportunity to try it eventually.
Pilgrims’ menus are sometimes an interesting option for tasting the traditional local cuisine. But, unfortunately, on crowded routes like the Camino Frances, they have lost a lot of quality and are limited to pasta and grilled chicken.
Therefore, in many cases, it is better to order a dish “a la carte”, than ask for the Pilgrim menu. That way you’ll eat a lighter and more delicious meal. Some of the traditional dishes you’ll find on the Camino de Santiago can be a perfect lunch.
Dinner on the Camino de Santiago: eating calmly
It is not that the pilgrims have breakfast and lunch running, but, without doubt, dinner is the only meal that is eaten during the day, after which we do not have to keep walking. In addition, dinner time is always surrounded by an air of celebration, and of the satisfaction of having completed one more stage on the Camino de Santiago.
Dinners are usually prepared quickly, because
pilgrims don’t usually go to bed too early, after a gruelling day. Therefore,the last meal of the day is the perfect occasion for gastronomic tourism.
Drink a lot of water
You must drink a lot of water on the Camino de Santiago and this is something that you probably already know, so we won’t insist much on this subject. We just want to remind you that along the route you will find fountains that you can use.
If in your backpack you have a camelback bag, as we mentioned in our article on what to put in your backpack on the Camino de Santiago, you will find it much easier and more comfortable to drink frequently and stay hydrated. Consider seriously taking one.
What to eat on each of the routes on the Camino de Santiago
One of the reasons why some people do the Camino de Santiago is for the opportunity that the route offers to do gastronomic tourism. Whether you are or not, one of them, you will be interested to know what are the main traditional dishes of each route on the Camino de Santiago. Next, we recommend some of them.
Traditional dishes on the Camino Frances
Soups, broths and stews. Although you will find soups and broths all along the route, on the Camino Frances through the plateau of the Castillas, Castilian soup, Garlic soup and the Maragato (Castillian) Stew stand out.
Cheese. At the beginning of the route, you can enjoy sheep’s cheese, such as Idiazábal, Roncal or Ossau Iraty. In the capital of Castilla-León, you will find the famous Burgos soft cheese. A couple of stages later, you will have the opportunity to taste a totally different cheese, Valdeón cheese, with a strong flavour.
Trout. This variety of fish is present along the whole of the Camino Frances. Depending on which stage you are on, you will find different ways of preparation. At the beginning of the tour, it is typical to prepare it with ham.
Game Meat. In the middle stages of the Camino Frances, hare, rabbit, partridge, and even pigeon, stand out.
Sweets. Some of the most famous sweets on the Camino Frances are pastries from Santo Domingo de la Calzada, stuffed with almond cream, candied egg yolks from Burgos or Astorga chocolates.
Typical cuisine on the northern routes
Cheese. Those who do the Camino del Norte can enjoy the Liébana cheeses. Both those who do the Camino Primitivo and the Camino del Norte will have the opportunity to try the Asturian cheeses: Afuega’l Pitu, Teat and San Simón.
Fish. The pilgrims who complete the coastal route will have more chances to enjoy fish and shellfish. Cod is very typical in northern areas, and you will find various ways to prepare it: pil-pil, Biscay, etc. Anchovies will also be very present along the course.
Beans. On both northern routes, beans are a traditional ingredient. Without doubt, you have to take the opportunity to try an Asturian Fabada (Bean stew) made in a local style, but you will also find other ways to prepare this pulse, such as beans with clams, for example.
El Camino de Santiago in Galicia: what to eat
No matter what pilgrim route you have followed, your journey will end up in Galician lands. In our blog on the Camino de Santiago, we already have an article dedicated to the best places to have tapas in Galicia, we recommend that you read it. On this occasion, we will suggest other traditional dishes of Galician cuisine.
Seafood. All Galicia is famous for its exquisite and economical seafood. In fact, as we told you in this article about what to do in Santiago de Compostela, enjoying a good seafood dish at the end of the pilgrimage is a classic among pilgrims.
Cheese. Arzúa-Ulloa cheese is famous throughout Galicia. In this post, we talk about Arzúa and the important tradition that cheese and honey have in this locality.
Pies. You will find them stuffed with various ingredients. We recommend you try eel empanada.
Galician veal. Galician beef is famous all over Spain, especially Galician “blonde” beef.
Pastries. Melide pastries, Portomarín cake or Santiago tart, an exquisite sweet prepared with almonds with which you will be able to celebrate your arrival in the heart of Galicia.
Are you ready?
Talking about eating on the Camino de Santiago, have you got an appetite now? Of food or of having the adventure of doing the Camino de Santiago? Surely both. Do not think anymore and tell yourself to live the great experience that involves travelling on foot or bike and enjoying the gastronomic route of the Camino de Santiago.
To say goodbye we want to leave you our basic guide to the Camino de Santiago. In it, you will find all the information you need to organize the Camino de Santiago. If you’d rather that we help you, you know, you just have to write to us or call us. You can also leave us a comment and our team will contact you.