Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Camino del Norte Stage 1&2 Self Guided Walking Holiday
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Highlights

  • The outstanding gastronomic experience of San Sebastián
  • The contrast of quiet fishing villages and modern cities
  • Marveling at the art and architecture of the Guggenheim in Bilbao
  • Meeting fellow pilgrims and sharing their stories
  • Sampling the peace of the northern coast of Spain

Walk the first two stages of the Camino del Norte, from San Sebastian to Santander. Starting in the European Capital of Culture 2016, San Sebastian, walk along the beautiful coastline of northern Spain before heading inland to the lush, green hills of the Basque Country.

A stop in Bilbao allows you to admire the architecture of the wonderful Guggenheim, before continuing through seaside fishing villages and wetlands to Santander.

Day 1: Arrive San Sebastian

San Sebastian is renowned for it’s world class Basque cuisine. Enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many restaurants to stock up on calories for your walk ahead.

Overnight: San Sebastian


Day 2: San Sebastian to Getaria

Leaving San Sebastian, head out along the coast to the well-preserved port town of Orio, and shipping town of Zarautz. Visit Torre Luzea, a 15th-century Gothic building. Next you have the choice of a higher inland route or a lower coastal option before reaching Getaria, a pretty harbour town.

Walk: 25km, 6hrs


Overnight: Getaria


Day 3: Getaria to Deba

From Getaria, the high and low routes re-join and return to the beach at Zumaia. A bit of ascent and descent brings you to Deba, where you can enjoy the beach.

Walk: 18km, 4-5hrs


Overnight: Deba


Day 4: Deba to Markina

The route heads inland from Deba, climbing over the mountains. Contrasting scenery to the previous days includes heavily forested hills.

Walk: 23km, 5-6hrs


Overnight: Markina


Day 5: Markina to Gernika

Follow a small creek towards the village of Bolibar and the medieval monastery of Zenarruza. Some nice quiet walking through woodland to enjoy before arriving in Gernika. Gernika is famous for Picasso’s masterpiece named after this town and inspired by Picasso’s disgust at the horrific bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

Walk: 25km, 6hrs


Overnight: Gernika


Day 6: Gernika to Lezama

A short day today gives you more time to enjoy Bilbao tomorrow. Follow pleasant forest trails and small country roads for most of the way to Lezama—a small village just over the mountain from Bilbao.

Walk: 21km, 5hrs


Overnight: Estella


Day 7: Lezama to Bilbao

Walk through farmland to Zamudia, before a climb to the top of Monte Avril, a park offering excellent views of Bilbao. From here continue downhill to Bilbao. There is plenty to see in Bilbao including the famed Guggenheim Museum, made from titanium, glass and limestone. Other highlights include the Gothic Basilica of Begona and the cathedral.

Walk: 14km, 3-4hrs


Overnight: Bilbao


Day 8: Rest Day in Bilbao

Enjoy a rest day in Bilbao to take in the sights, and have more time to explore the Guggenheim.

Overnight: Bilbao


Day 9: Bilbao to Portugalete

There are a couple of routes to choose from today—one along the west side of the Rio Nervion, a more industrial route through the suburbs. The highlight is reaching Portugalete on the banks of the Galindo River.

Walk: 20km, 5hrs


Overnight: Portugalete


Day 10: Portugalete to Castro Urdiales

The route heads towards the coast again today towards Pobena. Follow an old railroad track which used to be used for carrying iron ore to waiting ships, before choosing from two routes into Castro Urdiales. Casto Urdiales features a Roman milestone outside the Church of Santa Maria as well as the ruins of a Templar castle. The Gothic Parish Church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion, overlooking the sea, is an essential visit.

Walk: 28km, 7hrs


Overnight: Castro Urdiales


Day 11: Castro Urdiales to Liendo

A varied day ahead today. Start off with gentle walking along undulating hills with expansive coastal views. A short section on the road, then the route turns inland, and you then walk through rocky hilltops and wide green valleys.

Walk: 24km, 5-6hrs


Overnight: Liendo


Day 12: Liendo to Santona

A climb out of the Liendo valley takes you to Laredo beach, from where you catch a boat to Santona. Santona dates back to the 9th century and there are also impressive marshes, home to an important nature reserve.

Walk: 12km, 3hrs


Overnight: Santona


Day 13: Santona to Santander

Continue to San Miguel de Meruelo, and Bareyo with it’s Romanesque church, before taking another traditional boat across the bay to Santander.

Walk: 28km, 7hrs


Overnight: Santander


Day 14: Onward Travel

Unless you are spending more time in Spain, enjoy breakfast and make your way to the airport.

Accommodation

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.


Meals

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, you can get a pilgrims menu for about 10 euros which includes 3 courses, wine and water!

How to Book

This trip is available to start on any day from the beginning of March to the end of October. Option & extension prices will be displayed as part of the booking process.


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.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

The Camino del Norte is available to solo walkers at a single supplement.


Grade & Terrain

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of between 12-28 km per day.


You can expect to walk for between three and eight hours each day and much of it is rather arduous walking with some steep inclines/declines.


The Camino Del Norte follows a mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

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


Additional Nights

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.


Fewer Nights

It is possible to walk the Camino del Norte in less time but we would not recommend this.


Baggage Transfers

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.


Clothing & Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.


Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

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.


Travel Insurance

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.


General Information

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 and sun screen. 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.


Getting to/from Northern Spain

Flying to Bilbao is the best way to get to San Sebastian. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.


Flying back from Santander is the best option. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.


However it is easy to fly in and out of Bilbao and take an ALSA bus between the cities.


If you are traveling from outwith Europe Madrid is a good hub to fly in and out of. San Sebastion can be reached by ALSA bus in 6.5 hours and Santander in 5.5 hours.

Getting to/from Northern Spain

Flying to Bilbao is the best way to get to San Sebastian. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.


Flying back from Santander is the best option. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.


However it is easy to fly in and out of Bilbao and take an ALSA bus between the cities.


If you are traveling  from outwith Europe Madrid is a good hub to fly in and out of. San Sebastion can be reached by ALSA bus in 6.5 hours and Santander in 5.5 hours.

Included

  • Accommodation in small rural hotels and hostels with en-suite W/C.
  • 12 Breakfasts
  • Baggage Transfers
  • A detailed information pack for the group leader including route notes, maps, and local information
  • Camino del Norte guide books.
  • Emergency telephone support from our local and UK offices in the event of a problem.

Excluded

  • 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.

Extras

  • Additional nights accommodation along the way.
  • Single supplements.

Committing to the Camino del Norte is a big decision and you will undoubtedly have a huge number of questions and queries.

I hope the answers below will go some way to answering your queries, alternatively I would strongly suggest you visit the Camino Forum or Camino de Santiago website which have a wealth of information on the Camino.

How fit do I need to be?

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.

What type of trails does the Camino follow?

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.

How far in advance do I need to book?

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.

Can I walk with my bags?

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.

When is the best time of year?

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.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

Public transport and taxis are available, if you are need of support our local partner in Spain will be more than happy to help.

Can I change my itinerary once I start walking?

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.

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