Shopping on the Camino |

Last month I wrote a series of posts about the things you should and should not pack for your Camino de Santiago. In the last one, “Your packing advice“, I tried to summarise all the suggestions I got from experienced pilgrims. One of my favourites was:


No “just in case” stuff. You can buy what you need in Spain.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to have one of our mini lessons on shopping on the Camino: shops you might need, what to buy in them and how to ask some basic questions… 

Shops and stuff

  • Farmacia (pharmacy) – in a previous post entitled El botiquín I covered the most relevant information about farmacias, as well as the difference between farmacia and parafarmacia and the meaning of farmacia de guardia (you can also listen to the pronunciation of these words there). To sum it up, farmacia is where you can get medicines, with or without prescription, as well as a long list of other items for your personal care.


In a parafarmacia you can find the same stuff as in a farmacia, except for medicines: they sell tiritas and Compeed, creams (sun protection and others), personal hygiene products: from jabón (soap), to shampoo and pasta de dientes (toothpaste)… (check El botiquín for the pronunciation of these words).


Tip: personal care products tend to be cheaper in supermarkets.


  • Frutería (greengrocer’s) – you can buy lots of fruta (fruit) and vegetables here. Loose fruit and veg is sold by weight, so the price you see, unless something else is specified, is the price for a kilo. Let’s say you just want an apple or two; no problem! You pick what you want, they will weigh it for you and you pay for what you take.


  • Panadería (bakery) – you can buy pan (bread) here, obviously. But you can also get empanada (savoury pie) and empanadilla (small version of empanada). Many panaderías are also pastelerías (cake shop), so you can also get all sorts of sweet pies, cakes and pastries.


  • Supermercado (supermarket) – In the bigger supermarkets you can buy all of the above (except for medicines), as well as other things. If you are in a small town with a small supermercado, your options will be more limited but you are still likely to find a bit of everything.


Do you just need a snack? A panadería or frutería  might be all you need. But if you are planning to cook your meals at the albergue or need non-food items, you might want to visit the supermercado.


You should be aware of shops’ opening times. If you are starting your walking day very early in the morning, as most people do, you will find that pretty much everything is closed. So, if you need something for the early morning, your safest bet is to buy it the previous evening.


Also, almost everything is closed on Sundays (not bakeries and cafés) and festivos (public holidays). And during “lunch time”, which is roughly between 13:30-16:30, although it can vary depending on the shop. Again, try to plan your shopping ahead.


And finally, some useful phrases you can use when shopping


  • If you can’t find what you need and want to ask if they have it, you can simply say ¿Tienen…? (do you have?) and add the name of the item you are looking for. For instance, you go into a supermercado looking for tiritas, but you can’t find them. You can ask a member of staff ¿Tienen tiritas?


  • If you need to ask for something, quería (I’d like) followed by the name of the item you want is what you say. Let’s say you go into a farmacia looking for ibuprofeno. What do you say? Quería ibuprofeno. Easy, right?


  • If you want to know the price of an item, you can ask ¿Cuánto cuesta esto? (how much is this?) while pointing at it. You can drop esto if you think it’s not necessary because it’s obvious enough what item you are asking about.


  • ¿Cuánto es? (how much is it?) is similar to ¿Cuánto cuesta?, but they are used differently. As I just said, we use ¿cuánto cuesta? to ask about the price of a specific item. However, we use ¿cuánto es? when we finish our shopping, to find out how much the total is.

Are you ready to go shopping on the Camino de Santiago?


Today’s Spanish words


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¡Buen Camino!