Camino del Norte Stage 1 - San Sebastián to Bilbao
- 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
ItineraryDay 1: Arrival in San Sebastián
San Sebastián is known for it's 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 dirty roads and well marked footpaths. Take advantage of the trail side spings 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 fishing and whaling village and due to it's 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 oppertunity to view unique rock formations at the Basque Coast Geopark.
After a tasty and authentic meal enjoy an eveing 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 dense 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 traquil walk follwing 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 responce 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 decents as you make your way towards Bilbao. Through residential neighborhoods, 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.
Other InformationIs it for me?
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.
Pilgrimages | For those looking to follow a path of self-discovery. Our Pilgrimage and Camino routes take you on a journey through diverse landscapes and local flavours, while meeting like-minded adventurers along the way.
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
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 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.
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.
- 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, 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.
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.
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.
Direct flights are available to London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester.
At Macs Adventure, we work in partnership with many luggage transfer providers who set a limit on how many bags/suitcases they will transfer per person, and also the weight of the bag/suitcase. Your booking includes transfer of 1 bag per person. It is very important that you read the luggage information specific to your tour before departure. If you do not adhere to these limits, there is a great possibility that you will be charged locally both for extra bags or if they are too heavy. This limitation can be a challenge, especially as airlines generally have limits that are higher. However, our luggage providers have reasons for these limits (usually due to the Health and Safety of their employees), which we must respect.
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.
Hiking14 tips for walking in The Sun2 Min Read28 June 2018
Hiking4 Foods You'll Eat on the Camino2 Min Read26 January 2018
Camino23 Essential Camino de Santiago FAQs7 Min Read26 January 2021
HikingThe Basque Country: 15 interesting things to know3 Min Read20 July 2017
HikingDiscover: Spain’s fabulous ferias2 Min Read24 January 2022
7 Photos that will make you book a flight to Spain!1 Min Read22 March 2017
HikingHiking in Style - You're Worth it!3 Min Read26 August 2019
Tips & AdviceEssential Phrases for Spain1 Min Read24 January 2022
HikingWhich part of Spain is right for me?2 Min Read24 January 2022
Hiking9 Reasons to Visit Catalonia2 Min Read24 March 2016
Hiking5 Must-See Salvador Dalí sites in Catalonia1 Min Read01 February 2022
5 reasons I loved the Sierra de Aracena!1 Min Read15 February 2022
10 dishes you have to try in Andalucia!1 Min Read15 February 2022
8 Postcards from the Pueblos Blancos!0 Min Read15 February 2022
Adventure of the Week: Mallorca: Tramuntana Trails2 Min Read28 September 2017
10 things to know about the Balearic Islands1 Min Read15 February 2016
Top 8 Beaches of the Balearic Islands1 Min Read22 February 2022
An Insider's guide to Mallorca3 Min Read01 March 2022
HikingWhere to go on your hiking vacation in November3 Min Read15 September 2023
HikingHow fit do I need to be for the Tour du Mont Blanc?4 Min Read20 January 2018
HikingPacking List for the Tour du Mont Blanc3 Min Read22 January 2018
HikingWeather Conditions on the Tour du Mont Blanc2 Min Read19 January 2018
Hiking13 Things you can do in the Bernese Oberland (besides the epic hiking!)2 Min Read22 June 2017
HikingWhere to walk in Southern Europe… for the best weather2 Min Read26 April 2017
HikingFriluftsliv: A Norwegian Philosophy3 Min Read20 October 2016
Hiking27 fascinating facts about the Maltese islands2 Min Read21 June 2016
BikingBest destinations for winter sunshine cycling2 Min Read22 February 2013
Hiking6 reasons to visit West Sweden3 Min Read02 February 2023
WalkingHow fit do I need to be to walk the Camino?3 Min Read05 December 2017
What is a pilgrimage?2 Min Read25 May 2023
Hiking9 great phone apps for walkers and hikers3 Min Read31 January 2018
Riding Solo on the Coast to Coast West2 Min Read08 August 2022
HikingThe 5 Best Hiking Tours in Italy3 Min Read13 May 2019
HikingThe Best Time to go Hiking in Scotland4 Min Read22 October 2018
Tips & AdviceBest time to Visit Ireland?2 Min Read09 March 2019
Tips & AdviceFive of the Best Hikes in Ireland3 Min Read09 March 2019
HikingTips for hiking in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia1 Min Read17 April 2019
West Highland WayFrequently asked questions on the West Highland Way6 Min Read28 October 2021
Tips & AdviceWhat to Pack for hiking in the Cotswolds3 Min Read08 February 2018
Hiking3 reasons to visit Newfoundland2 Min Read16 April 2019
Hiking25 Frequently Asked Questions on the Tour du Mont Blanc6 Min Read20 January 2018
West Highland WayWhat to Pack for the West Highland Way?4 Min Read13 January 2011
HikingTop 5 Hiking Trails in Colorado1 Min Read18 April 2019
CaminoEating and Drinking on the Camino Frances - Sarria to Santiago3 Min Read11 December 2017
Meeting the people behind the scenery - Minna & Classic Routes2 Min Read01 February 2023
The Biggest Choice
Around Since 2003
21,000+ Customer Reviews
At Macs, we don’t do tour buses, groups, or guides. Instead, we give you the freedom and confidence to have your own self-guided hiking or biking adventure.
This is active travel led by you.
You choose your departure date and who you travel with, we do the rest.
We sort accommodation and luggage transfers and provide your route in an easy-to-use app.
We give you everything you need to travel independently but we're here 24/7 if you need us.
Getting from A to B under your own steam is intensely rewarding. With Macs, you'll see the world, and yourself, differently.