Camino Norte

Let’s go to the Basque Country to walk the Camino Norte. This route is considered to be the most scenic of all the ways to Santiago.

The plan:

17/07Transfer from Valencia to Irún
18/07Irún – San Sebastian (27.5 km)
19/07San Sebastian- Zarautz (20.5 km)
20/07Zarautz – Deba (22 km)
21/07Deba – Markina (24.5 km)
22/07Markina – Gernika (25 km)
23/07Gernika – Bilbao (32 km)
24/07Bilbao – Portugalete (12.5 km)
25/07Portugalete – Castro-Urdiales (27.5 km)
26/07Castro-Urdiales – Laredo (26.5 km)
27/07Laredo – Güemes (29 km)
28/07Güemes – Santander (15.5 km)
29/07Return to Valencia

We will start our journey from the French border in Irún. The idea is to do 11 stages of Camino, walking until Santander. However, you can also opt for a shorter version and do only 6 stages, finishing the trip in Bilbao.

Aditional info: StingyNomads.com

Special thanks to Kristine and Mike Hartman for their beautiful photos! You can read about their Camino Norte experience in the blog – Back to Spain – Escaping Covid on 900km of Camino Norte! (travelark.org)


Stage 1: Irún – San Sebastian

Fast-paced start of the Camino de Norte, with a magnificent stage that we can divide into two parts: The long journey through Mount Jaizkibel, to Pasajes de San Juan; and the journey through Monte Ulía, which ends in San Sebastián. The scenery on the first day is amazing – one of the most beautiful walking days on the route. Most of the time the Camino goes through the mountains and forest, no road walking. There will be only one town Pasaia on the way, in the middle between Irún and San Sebastián. Cultural interest today focuses on San Sebastián, a cosmopolitan city with many attractions: La Concha beach, Ensache, the Old Town …


Stage 2: San Sebastian – Zarautz

The first part of the walk between San Sebastian and Orio is through the forest and fields, there are two places to refill water. If you walk in summer make sure to start early most of the way you’re exposed to the sun. As an option you can stay in Zarautz there is a municipal albergue but it’s opened only in July and August. Hostels in Zarautz were quite expensive (it’s a fancy surf town) for this reason we decided to keep walking to Getaria. The walk from Zarautz to Getaria is very nice and easy along the sea with some great views over both towns.


Stage 3: Zarautz – Deba

Beautiful stage with spectacular views over the coast. Today we have three ascents to consider: at the exit from Zarautz (if we go through the mountains), short but steep; at the exit of Zumaia, long but moderate; and, finally, the climb that takes us to Itziar, with a steep descent to Deba. At the exit from Zarautz, we can choose between the pleasant promenade to Getaria, next to the road, or the official path through the mountains, which does not pass through said town.


Stage 4: Deba – Markina

Today’s stage is the loneliest of the entire Northern Way and with hardly any intermediate services, is a tough and beautiful mountain tour that gives us precious views of the characteristic Basque rural valleys, with hamlets, forests, meadows … Starting from the shrine of Calvario we will move away from the coast. We will not see the Cantabrian Sea again until Portugalete. The main ascent of the day is from Olatz to Mount Arno. We will gain 250 meters of elevation in 2.6 km, in a long zigzag ascent, although it is progressive.


Stage 5: Markina – Guernica

Another mountainous stage, which runs through endless paths, trails, dirt tracks, local roads … in case of heavy rains some sections get muddy easily. It follows the same trend set by the previous day stages – frequent elevation gain and loss. The most important is the ascent to Ziortza from Bolibar. Today we won’t even get a scent of the sea. On the other hand, the Zenarruza Monastery and the city of Gernika are the cultural landmarks of the stage.


Stage 6: Guernica – Lezama

Today we are still walking far away from the coast. We advance through mountainous terrain until we reach Goikolexea, with frequent elevation changes. The biggest ascent is at the beginning of the stage, with almost 300 meters of elevation in 3 kilometers. The following stage to Bilbao will be very short, which will give us time to explore the city.


Stage 7: Bilbao – Portugalete

Today we cross the city of Bilbao and its periphery, in the most urban stage of the Camino del Norte. We will have to decide between the official path, a varied route but 5.9 km longer, or the “simplified” option along the shore of the estuary. The official route starts from the San Antón bridge and continues along Calle San Francisco; then a couple of steep slopes with good views await us, a stretch through forest, a Devil’s bridge, a medieval road… and the boring sidewalks of Barakaldo, Sestao and Portugalete.


Stage 8: Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

A long bidegorri leads us to La Arena beach, where we happily reconnect with the Cantabrian Sea; then we will follow a path that borders its cliffs, a very beautiful section in which we leave the Basque Country to enter Cantabria. In the town of Ontón we will have to choose between the official route through Otañes —a detour through the interior that lengthens 6.7 km of the route— or use the shoulder of the N-634 road only to Mioño, where there are two alternative routes.


Stage 9: Castro Urdiales – Laredo

Interesting stage with beautiful landscapes, several beaches, cliffs and sections through forest, alternated with green interior valleys. Its profile is a continuous up and down, but with moderate slopes. As yesterday, at the halfway point of the day, we will have to choose between the official road, which takes an important detour through Rioseco, or follow the shoulder of the N-634, which saves 3.9 km and some hills, offering the option – already in the final section – to discover a beautiful variant along the coastal path.


Stage 10: Laredo – Güemes

The stage, which includes a brief sail between the Puntal de Laredo and Santoña, runs through three long beaches: La Salvé (in Laredo), Berria (after Santoña) and Helgueras-Trengadín (Noja). Then we will deviate inland to end the day in Güemes, whose shelter of Father Ernesto is a landmark of the Camino del Norte. In winter the boat service does not work, leaving as the only option the inland variant through Colindres, which involves a detour of 4.1 kilometers more.


Stage 11: Güemes – Santander

Short stage without slopes, which will allow us to spend the afternoon visiting the city of Santander, the capital of Cantabria. Today we recommend you to follow the coastal route, which borders the cliffs and gives us some beautiful landscapes; they are barely 3.7 km more than the old route by the CA-141 highway, noisy and anodyne. Once in Somo we will take a passenger boat that crosses the bay, leaving us in the heart of the city.


Sign Up

The price of the trip is 875 Euros per person (185 euros paid in advance to reserve the spot). The price is for a person sharing a twin room. This includes 12 nights of accommodation, transfer between stages, insurance and a professional guide.
If you opt for a shorter version (7 nights), the price is 520 Euros per person (130 euros paid in advance to reserve the spot).

It is possible to sign up till 2nd of July. Payments by Bizum or bank transfer are accepted.

You can use the button below to reserve your spot / get more info about the trip or contact us by e-mail to info@valenciamountainenthusiasts.com

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