- A dramatic, more challenging pilgrim route to Santiago
- San Sebastian, a gastronomic experience fit for any foodies
- The art and architecture of the Guggenheim in Bilbao
- The contrast of quiet fishing villages and modern cities
- Gaining your Compostela in Santiago
A dramatic and sometimes challenging route to Santiago, this Camino more accurately reflects the true pilgrim experience. Taking you from San Sebastian along the north coast of Spain to Santiago de Compostela, the route alternates between dramatic coast, rugged Galician mountains and some of the best cities in Spain.
We offer the Camino del Norte in five sections of roughly a week each. Walk just one section, perhaps the last one to Santiago to gain your Compostela, or combine two or more sections for a longer pilgrimage.
Please Note - Due to restoration works on the interior of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the Pilgrim Mass has been moved to an alternate location in 2019. For more information please read our blog post - Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Restoration 2019
Stage 1: San Sebastian to Bilbao (Days 1-8)
Starting in the possibly the greatest city in the world for food, you head out to burn off those excesses on a route with a lot of ups and down. For the first few days you are walking along the coast before you head inland, into the lush green hills of Basque Country. With charming coastal villages and historic towns dotted along the route you finally finish marvelling at the architectural wonder of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.
Walking days: 6 Total Walking Distance: 126kmGrade: Moderate-Strenuous
Stage 2: Bilbao to Santander (Days 9-14)
The route begins with a walk through the industrial outskirts of Bilbao, but soon you are out walking along world class beaches and taking in the views up beautiful Rias. (Fjords) You will wander through many little seaside fishing villages which are a stark contrast to the modern Bilbao.
The latter part of the route alternates between forest and coastal walking, your route dotted with little rural churches. There is also some wetland walking which is outstanding for its birdlife before you arrive in the historic city of Santander.
Walking days: 5 Total Walking Distance: 112kmGrade: Moderate-Strenuous
Stage 3: Santander to Gijón (Days 15-24)
Walking along wild Cantabrian coastline from Santiander takes you though some lovely little fishing villages. The coast is peaceful and dramatic, with stunning vistas, quiet beaches and is bursting with bird and sealife. After passing through the Asturian town of Ribadesella you come to the end of the section in the wonderful Gijón.
Walking days: 9 Total Walking Distance: 197kmGrade: Moderate-Strenuous
Stage 4 - Gijón to Ribadeo (Days 25-31)
This section takes you along the coast of Asturias through an area that is rife with history. From prehistoric remains, to roman ruins and a plethora of old churches and cathedrals, there is history round every corner of this section. The port of Avilés was important in the establishment of the USA and the gardens at Selgas, with their medieval towers are said to rival those of Versailles. This is a wild, lesser visited part of the route, but one full of wonder.
Walking days: 6 Total Walking Distance: 148kmGrade: Moderate-Strenuous
Stage 5: Ribadeo to Santiago de Compostela (Days 32-40)
On this final section of the Camino del Norte you head inland, away from the coast as you make your way through the mountains of Galicia. You will see many gothic graveyards and impressive old cathedrals as you pass through this forgotten corner of Spain.
Once you reach Arzúa you connect with the Camino Frances for the final days into Santiago.
Walking days: 9 Total Walking Distance: 200kmGrade: Moderate-Strenuous
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!
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.
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 – 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, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 Sebastián. Direct flights are available from London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester. From Bilbao you can easily take the bus along to San Sebastian with ALSA
On the return the best place to fly out of would be Santiago de Compostela. You can fly directly from Santiago back to the UK with Ryanair who fly direct to Stansted and Easy Jet who fly direct to Gatwick.
- Accommodation in small rural hotels and hostels with en-suite W/C.
- 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. Breakfast at Bustio.
- Travel Insurance.
- Personal Equipment.
- Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.
- 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 kilometers 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 there 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 that 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.