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Camino del Norte Stage 1 & 2 - San Sebastián to Santander

15 Days & 14 Nights 4.7 Read 27 reviews
  • 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.

What To Expect

The Camino del Norte offers a more authentic pilgrim experience than the Camino Frances. Though the walking is considerably tougher the rewards are arguably much greater.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Spiritual Journeys, Personal Growth

Grade & Terrain

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of between 12 – 33 km per day.

You can expect to walk for between five and eight hours each day and some of it is fairly strenuous walking with some steeper ascents/descents.

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

Navigation

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

Accommodation Information

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 (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!

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.

Included
  • Accommodation in small rural hotels and hostels with en-suite W/C.
  • 13 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.
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.

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

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

Getting from the End

Flying back from Santander is the best option. Direct flights are available to 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 internationally, Madrid is a good hub to fly out of. Madrid can be reached via San Sebastian by ALSA bus in 6.5 hours and Santander in 5.5 hours.

Baggage Transfer

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.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.

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.

Equipment

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.

How fit do I need to be?
What type of trails does the Camino follow?
How far in advance do I need to book?
Can I walk with my bags?
When is the best time of year?
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
Can I change my itinerary once I start walking?

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San Sebastián Day 2: Walk to Getaria 15.5 miles / 25 km Day 3: Walk to Deba 11.2 miles / 18 km Day 4: Walk to Markina 14.3 miles / 23 km Day 5: Walk to Gernika 15.5 miles / 25 km Day 6: Walk to Lezama 13 miles / 21 km Day 7: Walk to Bilbao 8.7 miles / 14 km Day 8: Rest day in Bilbao Day 9: Walk to Portugalete 12.5 miles / 20 km Day 10: Walk to Castro Urdiales 17.4 miles / 28 km Day 11: Walk to Liendo 15 miles / 24 km Day 12: Walk to Noja 12.5 miles / 19.8 km Day 13: Walk to Galizano 12.4 miles / 19.8 km Day 14: Walk to Santander 6.7 miles / 10.6 km Day 15 Onward Travel from Santander

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