Postal services, travelling, couriers on El Camino

When not everything goes according to the plans, these services will be extremely helpful on the Camino
A whole new business is built on parcel delivery here, packages aren’t transported by the postman only. A lot of ’Camino tourists’ are travelling all along this way, degrading the pilgrimage an excursion. However, once I also needed this service, when the muscle stretching along my shin bone got inflamed badly, right before a tough uphill hike, so I had to walk without my backpack for a day.
Envelopes of the parcel delivery companies
In such cases, all you need is the envelope pierced through its corner, which you can find at all the places to stay. You write your name, e-mail and phone number on it, and the destination, which is the name of an albergue and the city where it can be found (it has to be chosen from a list of places provided by the given delivery company). You need to put a 5 Euro fare in the envelope, close it, and attach it to your luggage. You don’t necessarily have to stay at the very same albergue where your bag was delivered – this can happen if there’s no vacancy in that particular albergue where your bag is, or if the company doesn’t do deliveries to the albergue you already have booked a bed in. You still have to have some ID on you, when you want to pick up your bag.
The backpacks are already gathering at the reception at dawn.
The staff of the albergue will be really helpful, and they’ll also tell you where to leave your bag in the morning for the courier to find it. He’ll come sometime before noon, pick up all the bags, transport them to the albergues stated on the envelopes, and will leave them at the reception there. He’ll take the fare from the envelope, and will leave an empty envelope attached to your bag, so that you have one if needed next morning.

Postal services

The Spanish word for post reminded me of a joke about the Hungarian word for police (rendőrség), so I made this pic:
After the first section in the mountains (where I had to walk even in snow), I didn’t need my warm clothes anymore, so I decided to send them forward to Santiago and pick them up when I get there. There is a possibilityfor this, as the Spanish post office delivers the parcels of pilgrims for a discounted price (Peregrino PAQ).
I sent a parcel of a bit more than 2 kilos from Estella to Santiago, marked ’Lista de Correos’, meaning that it’s to stay in the post office. This cost 18 Euros, but it was worth, because I had to drag more than 2 unnecessary kilos less, and I didn’t have to leave my expensive sweater and my warm socks behind, somewhere on the way. During registration, I had to give them my name, ID number, phone number and my e-mail address. Then I had to show them my ID to pick up the parcel. It wasn’t an easy ride, as nobody spoke English in the Estella post office (where I registered the parcel). Therefore, it’s useful to learn a few Spanish words, but google translation might also help, if there’s internet on our phone.
Bike packing corner
The Santiago post office is well-equipped, by the way: we can even send a bike from here. There is a corner in the office designed especially for disassembling and wrapping our bikes. They’ll give you a pair of scissors, bubble wrap, strings, tapes and a nice big cardboard box (the dimensions of which are: 150x90x30 cm), but you’ll still have to disassemble the bike to a certain extent to fit it in.
They deliver bikes within the country for 40 Euros only. The fee is higher for international deliveries. The bikes can weigh up to 20 kg. Sending a bike to my home in Hungary would cost around 90 Euros. The parcel is stored for 15 days free of charge. After that, a 3 Euro daily fee is applied. The bikes are insured, but 300 Euros is the most you can get, so I wouldn’t register expensive carbon-frame bikes.
The ad of the Spanish post office (with English subtitles)
They shot a very cool Camino ad about their services for the pilgrims. The address of the main post office in Santiago is 4, Rua do Franco, which is about 150 metres from the cathedral (the end point of the whole pilgrimage). I also picked up my parcel here.
1. Pilgrims’ Office
2. Cathedral
3. Main post office

There are about three other post offices in town, but this is the one pilgrims should go to. One of the advantages of this one is that there are English signs here, beside the Spanish ones. You can even leave your backpacks here for 2 Euros, so that you can go inside the Cathedral (where bags are not allowed), or if you just want to take a walk around the city without your backpack.
If you want to send a postcard or a letter somewhere, then you’ll have to go to at least two places. Even though postcards can be bought for 20-50 cents almost everywhere, but stamps are available only at the post office, or in certain tobacco shops. Then you can drop it in any of the yellow post boxes with ’Correos’ sign on them – there are quite a lot of them everywhere. I bought a few stamps in advance in the first shop where I found them, so that later on I just had to buy postcards, took stamps from my wallet and then sent the postcard to my grandma from any town.


You might need public transportation and taxi from time to time. Once I lost my wallet and had to go back 5 km to get it back. I called a taxi. In theory, the fare outside the city is 1 Euro/km. Unfortunately, in practice it’s more than the double of it, because the driver will also put the way back on the invoice, and he’ll also apply a call-out charge.
I paid 18 Euros for a 5.5 km trip. The 65km journey from Bayonne to Saint Jean also cost 135 Euros, so it’s better to calculate with this price. By the way, taxies are cheaper on weekdays. They are more expensive on weekends, holidays and at night.
In case of coaches and trains, you can calculate with 1 Euro for 10 km, which is quite cheap. A 65 km train journey costs 6 Euros, and the trains are punctual, clean and very comfortable.
A bus parking garage, which from outside looks like an old building next to the main street
However, I wouldn’t plan a bus trip, if there are trains, too. It might be difficult even to find bus stops (at least in smaller villages), which in many cases aren’t even designated areas. They just say that ’the bus stops in front of the hotel’, but there are no signs, timetables or painted marks on the road. Sometimes there’s a bus stop on one side of the road only, and that’s where all buses stop, going in each direction. All in all, it isn’t easy at all. It’s good to have a local helping you find your way.

Thanks for sharing!

Some more useful things to read:

About the accomodation - Tips and tricks
Choosing the right backpack
Choosing the best boots for El Camino
Planning the trip to El Camino