Coast and Mountain Trails of Green Spain8 Days & 7 Nights
- Walk through Green Spain from the coast to the mountains
- Beaches, dunes, cliffs and fishing villages
- The paleolithic cave art of Altamira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Lush mountain landscapes dotted with tiny hamlets
- Discover the 12th century Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.
Pilgrim Trail, Inn to Inn Walking | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers, A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night
This trip is suitable for:
As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 12 Years
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- Spiritual Journeys
- Personal Growth
Grade & Terrain
This walk is graded moderate overall and includes daily walks of 12-26km so you will be walking for between 5 and 8 hours each day. The trail consists of a mixture of terrain and you will follow a combination of minor roads and footpaths. As you head into the mountains, the tracks will become slightly rougher and you will follow mountain tracks and footpaths. Daily ascents are between 195m and 1140m. The last day of the walk from Cicera to Santo Toribio is graded as moderate-strenous as it involves a lot of ascent and descent. As this route passes through some isolated stretches, we recommend it more for experienced walkers.
Whilst you are walking on the Camino del Norte on the coast, the route is very well signposted. Once you head inland on the Camino Lebaniego, it is not quite as straightforward but the Cantabrian government have spent a lot of money on signposting the route so it is still easy to follow. Instead of following the usual yellow arrows and scallop shells that you will on the Camino del Norte, you will follow signposts with a red arrow and cross. You will also receive a detailed information pack which includes route notes and maps, and in addition to this you will have access to our Macs Adventure App, allowing you to follow the route on richly detailed mapping on your smartphone.
The accommodation is a mixture of small rural hotels and B&B's, all with private rooms and en-suite. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
The Camino Lebaniego is available to solo walkers at a single supplement. Single rooms are also available for a supplement.
A local continental breakfast is included each morning, which can sometimes just be coffee, bread, and orange juice. Lunch and dinner are not included as standard so you are free to choose from the available options. Every place you stop will have evening meals available.
- Overnight in small rural hotels and hostels, twin/double rooms with en-suite W/C
- Daily breakfast and 1x evening meal when you stay in Cicera
- Baggage Transfers
- A detailed information pack including route notes, maps and local information
- Access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App
- Emergency support from our local and UK offices
- Evening meals (except your overnight in Cicera, where it is included)
- Lunches, snacks or drinks
- Travel insurance
- Personal Equipment
- Additional nights’ accommodation
When To Go
You can start this tour on any day of your choosing between May and October. Please note that it will be busy between July and middle of September as this is when many of the Spanish go on holiday in this area.
The first part of this route is along the coast, where the weather can be changeable. As you head inland to the mountains, as with all mountainous areas and particularly because of the proximity of the mountains to the coast in this area, the weather can also change suddenly and there can be sudden rain-showers, or even snow at any time of year so you should be prepared for all weather conditions with waterproof gear and plenty of sunscreen!
Getting to the Start
You can fly into either Bilbao or Santander Airports. Direct flights are available to Santander from the UK and Europe with airlines such as Ryanair, Iberia, British Airways and Vueling. Or there are many more options to Bilbao Airport including flights with KLM and Lufthansa.
Should you need to travel between Bilbao and Santander, this is easily done by taking an ALSA bus, which takes 1hr 30m.
If you are traveling from outwith Europe, Madrid is a good hub to fly into. Santander can be reached by ALSA bus from Madrid in 5.5 hours.
Getting from the End
You can take a bus from Potes back to Santander with Autobus Palamera (2.5hrs). If your return flight is from Bilbao Airport, you will need to change buses in Santander and take another bus to Bilbao which takes 1h 30m.
Baggage transfers are included (max 20kg per person). Your main bag will be transferred each day between your overnight accommodation so that you only need to walk with a day pack.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable Travel Insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Public transport and taxis are available if you are unable to walk a stage. Our friendly local partners will be able to arrange this for you easily - just give them or us a call and we will sort this out for you!
The first 3 days of this route follow the Camino del Norte, and although you are close to the coast for much of the time, you are not right on the coast the whole time. On Day 2, from Mogro to Santillana del Mar you walk through more rural landscapes, and then on Days 3 and 4 to Comillas and then San Vicente, you will be closer to the coast. From San Vicente de la Barquera, you turn off the Camino del Norte and inland.
Yes, this isn't a problem and we highly recommend extra nights in either Santander or in Potes, which will allow you to experience more of the Picos.
As this Camino does not finish in Santiago you will not receive a Compostela certificate. But it does have it's own accreditation called the Lebaniega. You can pick up the credentials for this at the Parish of Christ in Santander, or if you aren't passing through there on your way, you can also request it by email at email@example.com. Similar to the Pilgrim passport, you will get this stamped along the way to gain your Lebaniega at the Monastery of Santo Toribio.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive Santander and overnight
The city of Santander, easily reached by flights from around the UK and Europe, is a modern and vibrant city with a beautiful location on the Bay of Biscay. Take in the sights before perhaps sampling some delicious tapas in the evening.
Your first day's walk is mostly rural, through a gently undulating landscape. Just before reaching Santillana del Mar you will come across the Altamira Caves, a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the walls are painted with some of the world's most important Paleolithic art. You soon reach Santillana del Mar, a charming medieval town with a beautiful Romanesque monastery.
Leaving Santillana, walk through green and hilly landscapes with distant views of the sea. Pass the town of San Martin de Ciguenza, and the colourful town of Cobreces before arriving at Mar-Comillas. Comillas is a very wealthy town and is home to several Art Nouveau buildings, including the Capricho de Gaudí, inspired by the famous Antoni Gaudi.
Get ready for a lovely day as you walk through the Oyambre Natural Park, which includes beaches, cliffs, dunes, meadows, and rivers, with amazing views of the Picos mountains coming into sight. Cross the bridge that leads to San Vicente de la Barquera, a delightful little fishing town, where you are sure to enjoy an amazing seafood dinner. This is the last town on the Camino del Norte - tomorrw you head inland towards the mountains!
After a short section this morning following the Camino del Norte, head south following the Nansa river. The landscape changes from the coast, to one of forests and waterfalls. Finish in Cades, a sleepy little farming village with a wonderful ethnographic museum called the Ferreria de Cades, an old foundry building. You will be picked up in Cades tonight to be transferred to a nearby rural hotel.
After a short transfer back to Cades, continue on your way. You are now deep in the mountains, and the bigger climbs are rewarded with incredible views. Pass the mountain village of La Fuente, with its 12th century Santa Juliana church, and descend into the small hamlet of Cicera.
One final and special day awaits! Walk through quiet woodlands to Lebeña with its Mozarabic church, and continue into the Picos mountains. Thsi section is sure to be a challenge, but the area is home to some of the best local cheeses, so a picnic lunch to stop and enjoy a sample whilst taking in the views is a must! Head through the mountain village of Potes, capital town of the Picos region, before a final push to the monastery of Santo Toribio.
This very beautiful 13th century monastery houses the largest remaining piece of the Lignum Crucis, believed to be the cross upon which Jesus Christ is crucified, and many pilgrims will have made the journey here to discover this important relic. After exploring you will be transferred back to Potes for your overnight accommodation, where you can explore the cobbled streets and enjoy one final delicious meal to finish off your journey through Green Spain.
After breakfast, your walking holiday will come to an end. See the Travel Info section for some useful details for your onward travel.
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