Camino de Santiago

Camino del Norte

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THE NORTHERN CAMINO

Embarking on the Camino del Norte between San Sebastián and Bilbao offers a mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance, making it a memorable segment of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. This stretch is particularly scenic and culturally rich. The route features a mix of coastal paths, forest tracks, and some urban sections. Expect some steep ascents and descents, especially as you navigate the coastal cliffs. The northern coast can be rainy and cooler compared to other parts of Spain, so pack accordingly.

San Sebastián or Donostia, is known for its beaches, vibrant cultual scene and world-famous cuisine. Don’t forget to explore the “parte vieja” or, old quarter. Do a round of the “pintxo” (tapas) bars. In Zarautz enjoy the long beach, popular with surfers and the local white wine called,  Txakoli. When you pass through the fishing village of Getaria, birthplace of Juan Sebastián Elcano, the explorer, you can also take time out to visit the Balenciaga Museum. Your Next stop will be Deba, where a slight detour inland will take you to the Ekain Cave. Your next overnight home, Markina, will take you into the rural heart of the Basque Country.  While Lezama will bring you back to suburban life on the outskirts of Bilbao where this stage of your Camino ends. Not, of course, without visiting the Guggenheim Museum and strolling around the old quarter with its narrow streets, traditional bars, and famous Mercado de la Ribera.

The route is generally well-marked with yellow arrows and scallop shell symbols, but a guidebook or GPS can be helpful for detailed navigation. Your accommodation is catered for. Your luggage is already in your next place of accommodation. You are not in a race. Take your time to enjoy the unique Basque culture, language, and traditions on your journey.

Itinerary

Stage 1:
San Sebastián to Bilbao

8 days/7 nights

Included in the price:

  • Bed & Breakfast in a double or single room with private bathroom;
  • Transfer of rucksacks for each stage of the camino (max 20 Kg per rucksack or piece of luggage (only one piece per person);
  • Accommodation along the Camino will be in: hotels (1* – 4*), rural guesthouses, hostels, pensiones;
  • 24-hour telephone assistance;
  • Map of the stages;
  • Pilgrim’s credential;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Pilgrim’s scallop;
  • Taxes included.

We are in the Basque Country, with its outstanding gastronomy, the city overlooks the bay of La Concha. It’s not a bad idea to take a good pintxo route to build up your strength before setting off on the Camino. The city’s monuments include San Telmo Museum, the Victoria Eugenia Theatre and the María Cristina Hotel, both in Neoplateresque style, and the Good Shepherd Cathedral. Arrival in San Sebastian at the client’s expense. At €7 this short boat trip to Santa Clara Island in the Bay is an interesting little excursion. (Tickets here.) You can take a free walking tour of the city if you have time. (Tickets here.) How about something with a little more “je ne sais quoi!”? Here’s a day trip to Biarritz and the French Coast – €79. (Tickets here.) A Sightseeing Bus Tour is always a good way to get your bearings in a new town or city – from €12. (Tickets here.) Cider in Spain is not the same as cider in the UK or Ireland. This tour of a Traditional Basque Cider House (€75) will teach you a thing or two. (Tickets here.)

For other possibilities in the Basque Country, check out this link.  (Tickets here.)  Accommodation in San Sebastian.

Goodbye, San Sebastian! The route begins with the ascent of Monte Igueldo, which is located at the end of La Concha Bay. It is a significantly steep climb, so it must be tackled in good spirits, spirits that will undoubtedly be bolstered by the magnificent views of the city behind us. This is a stage in which good views will predominate, both from Igueldo and on the descent towards Zarautz.
We will walk through the fishing village of Orio, with an interesting historic quarter in which the church of San Nicolás de Bari is of particular interest. Accommodation in San Nicolás de Bari.

Today’s stage is similar to that of yesterday. Once again you are faced with ascents and descents, but also with the marvellous views of the coast, dominating the Bay of Biscay. There will be three climbs to consider, one right at the start and the others towards the end, although you will finish the stage with the descent from Itziar to Deba, be careful not to slip on your descent during the rainy season. Accommodation in Zarautz.

The route gets tougher as you leave the coastal landscape and enter inland mountain areas. You will walk through beautiful valley areas typical of the Basque Country. This area has no major towns, only a few farmhouses, so it is a good idea to be well provisioned. Accommodation in Markina.

This is your second inland and mountain stage, where you will once again face significant climbs and descents. The most difficult part of the stage is at the beginning, on the climb from Bolibar to Ziortza. Here we can take a short break to recover and visit the Zenarruza Monastery and its cloister. Once you reach your destination, you should visit the Casa de Juntas and the Guernika Tree. Accommodation in Guernika.

You walk out the door to face a very significant ascent, a gradient of about 300 metres. You are in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, so the landscapes around you are worth enjoying at your leisure, despite the fact that you are still in difficult terrain. On today’s stage you will pass through the town of Larrabezu, where Eneko Atxa runs his two Michelin-starred restaurants, Azurmendi (***) and Eneko (*). Accommodation in Lezama.

We will find ourselves with a single ascent to Mount Avril, with a 300-metre climb, but quite progressive. The descent will leave you in the historic centre of Bilbao, passing by the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Begoña. In Bilbao you will find the only cathedral on the Iberian Peninsula, besides that of Santiago de Compostela, consecrated to St. James the Apostle. Don’t miss a visit to the taverns in the old part of the city for a pintxo tour and, of course, the Guggenheim Museum. Accommodation in Bilbao.

We will find ourselves with a single ascent to Mount Avril, with a 300-metre climb, but quite progressive. The descent will leave you in the historic centre of Bilbao, passing by the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Begoña. In Bilbao you will find the only cathedral on the Iberian Peninsula, besides that of Santiago de Compostela, consecrated to St. James the Apostle. Don’t miss a visit to the taverns in the old part of the city for a pintxo tour and, of course, the Guggenheim Museum. Accommodation in Bilbao.

Today’s stage covers a good part of the city of Bilbao; it is an urban section of the Camino, which is quite surprising for some pilgrims. You can do two sections, the official one, which is longer, or follow the Nervión River along its course, which saves you several kilometres. You arrive in Portugalete via the impressive Vizcaya Bridge over the river. Accommodation in Portugalete.

€642

Price per person sharing

€993

Single traveller

31/pp/night

Half-board supplement

Transfers/Support car

Price on request

€282

Bilbao Airport - San
Sebastián (1 to 3 people)

€97

Bilbao to Bilbao Airport
(1 - 3 people)

Information & Bookings

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