Camino del Norte Stage 1 - San Sebastián to Bilbao8 Days & 7 Nights 4.6 Read 35 reviews
- Walk from San Sebastian to Bilbao on the first section of the Camino del Norte
- San Sebastian, a gastronomic experience fit for any foodies
- The art and architecture of the Guggenheim in Bilbao
- The green hills of the Basque Country
- The beautiful coastline of Northern Spain
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.
Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers
Ideal if you have an interest in:
Foodie Adventures, Spiritual Journeys, Personal Growth
Grade & Terrain
This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of between 14 – 25 km per day. You can expect to walk for between three and eight hours each day and some of it is fairly strenuous walking with some steep ascents/descents.
The Camino Del Norte follows a mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths
The route is marked with yellow painted arrows but please take care at intersections. There are sections on the route where you will divert to follow the red and white stripes of the GR routes. There will always be other walkers around in case you are looking for help. You will be supplied with turn by turn route notes and detailed maps so you will have no problem following the route each day.
In addition to the printed route notes, you will receive in your travel pack, you will also have access to our Macs Adventure App, allowing you to follow the route on richly detailed mapping on your smartphone.
The accommodation in San Sebastian, Bilbao and all larger towns, will be in 3 star hotels, the rest will be a mixture of rural hotels and hostels all with private rooms and en-suite. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We do recommend that you book this trip early as the area is always popular and the hotels and inns do fill up early, especially in high season.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
The Camino is available to solo walkers at a single supplement.
A local continental breakfast is included each morning (apart from Bustio), 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, you can get a pilgrims menu for about 10 euros which includes 3 courses, wine and water!
There is so much to see and do along the route that many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk either as a rest day or simply to do some extra sightseeing. If you are walking the route solo try not to add too many extra nights along the way as you will lose touch with those you have met.
- 7 Nights in small rural hotels and hostels with en-suite W/C.
- 7 Breakfasts
- Baggage Transfers
- A detailed information pack for the group leader including route notes, maps, and local information.
- Camino del Norte guide book.
- Emergency telephone support from our local and UK offices in the event of a problem.
- Return travel to Spain.
- Lunches, dinners (optional), snacks or drinks.
- Travel Insurance.
- Personal Equipment.
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.
- Additional nights accommodation along the way.
When To Go
This trip is available to start on any day from the beginning of March to the end of October.
Time of Year
The weather in Northern Spain is very varied. In general you can expect pleasant temperatures for walking of between 19 degrees and up to about 26 degrees in the summer months. As you will be walking near the coast for much of this walk, you can expect some rainy days, particularly in spring and autumn.
Getting to the Start
Flying into Bilbao is the best airport for this particular tour. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.
From Bilbao, you can take an ALSA bus back to San Sebastian, which takes around an hour and a half.
If you are traveling from outside Europe Madrid is a good hub to fly into from here you can catch a bus to San Sebastian ALSA (takes around 6.5 hours). A bus back to Madrid from Bilbao takes around 4.5 hours.
Getting from the End
Direct flights are available to London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.
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. There is a supplement applicable for solo walkers on baggage transfers due to the fact that the transfer costs are usually shared.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.
The pilgrim’s passport is issued by the church of St James, you can obtain one at the start of your walk in the pilgrim’s office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants and hotels along the way. At the end of the walk, in Santiago, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have walked the last 100km). For the other sections of the trail, the passport is used as a souvenir with all the colourful stamps you will receive.
Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking/cycling 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.
The average daily distance of our Camino tours are between 20 and 25 kilometres and you can expect to walk for between five and eight hours each day and much of it is rather arduous walking. You should do as much walking as possible prior to your walk as this will simply add to your enjoyment. That said if you are not at peak fitness you will find you will soon walk yourself fit.
A mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths. The route is marked with yellow painted arrows but please take care at intersections. There are sections on the route where you will divert to follow the red and white stripes of the GR routes. There will always be other walkers around in-case you are looking for help.
We suggest you book as far in advance as possible as the Camino is extremely popular. Numbers can rise by up to 100, 000 people. We will always try and accommodate late bookings but realistically you need to book at least 6 weeks prior to departure.
Yes, some people prefer to walk carrying their own bags as a true pilgrim would have. You can select the option for removing the baggage transfers in Step 2 of the Booking Engine.
I would recommend April/May when the spring flowers are at their best and September/October when the colours are just lovely. June, July and August can be very hot if you are not used to walking in the heat while the temperatures can fall sharply in the winter with some accommodation closing down for the end of season.
Public transport and taxis are available, if you are need of support our local partner in Spain will be more than happy to help.
Unfortunately we are unable to change your accommodation bookings and itinerary once you start walking as alternative accommodation is generally not available at such short notice.
ItineraryDay 1: Arrival in San Sebastián
San Sebastián is known for its beautiful beaches and grand architecture. It is also a great spot for foodies! Before you set off on your Camino adventure head to the Old Town and enjoy pintxos. These delicious bar snacks are the ideal accompaniments to the cites lively atmosphere.
A modern building located on Pio XII square, created by world famous architect Peña Ganchegui, offering excellent access to all major routes in and out of the city, and within walking distance to all major attractions in town.
After a short yet steep ascent out of San Sebastián, you will enjoy relaxed countryside walking along dirt roads and well-marked footpaths. Take advantage of the trailside springs offering cool spring water. You will pass through Zarautz, a small shipping village that gained popularity after the Belgian royal family decided to holiday there in the summer.
Getaria is a fishing and whaling village and due to its location attracted many explorers passing through.
This family-run hotel is located in the old town of Getaria, with nicely decorated rooms. It has a garden where breakfast is served in summer. The views from the accommodation towards the beach are spectacular. The rooms offer TV, telephone, central heating, hairdryer and internet connection.
Today's route includes both coastal and inland walking routes, the coastal option is the more challenging of the two. The extra effort will reward you with dramatic coastal walking and the opportunity to view unique rock formations at the Basque Coast Geopark.
After a tasty and authentic meal enjoy an evening stroll and enjoy Deba's stunning beach.
Zumardi is a small pension, located in a privileged area, with nine cozy and bright rooms. All rooms have TV, WIFI and private bathroom. The accommodation offers free private parking, terrace and breakfast service.
In a vast contract to yesterdays walk, you will head inland. You will be walking through densely forested hills on dirt roads and footpaths followed by a long rocky descent to Markina.
Intxauspe Landetxea is a seventeenth-century Basque farmhouse which was renovated in 2005. It is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the surrounding nature. The property has a dining room, 3 bedrooms each with double bed, private bathroom and TV, and 2 rooms that have twin beds and a shared bathroom.
Enjoy a tranquil walk following the meandering creek shadowed by trees, as you leave Markina.
The town of Gernika is known as the place where Picasso painted one of his most famous works, "Guernica." He painted this political piece in response to the bombing of the town during the Spanish Civil War.
Located in the center of Gernika, this property has 40 rooms with bathroom, TV, heating, air conditioning, telephone and WIFI. There is a cafeteria, meeting rooms, WIFI and parking.
Today's walk includes a number of ascents and descents as you make your way towards Bilbao. Through residential neighbourhoods, wooded tracks and small villages. A series of sharp climbs will take you across the Altos De Morga and Aretxabalgane.
The Hotel Matsa, whose name in Basque mahats means grape, identified the farmhouse in the vineyards surrounding the property, which did txakolí, a type of white wine produced for sale and livelihood of the village during its 400-year history.
The walk today is shorter than most but do keep in mind the ascent as you approach Monte Avril. This park offers a great location for lunch with views of Bilbao below. From there enjoy the break from uphill walking as you make your way to Bilbao.
This elegant hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi. Each room is spacious, with a minibar and a safe deposit box. The marble bathrooms include a hairdryer and toiletries.
Unless you are spending more time in Spain, enjoy breakfast and make your way to the airport.
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