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Duration
37 days
Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 36 nights in a combination of hotels & farmhouse B&Bs
Meals
  • 28 Dinners
  • 35 Breakfasts

Price

$4990USD

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Overview

Trip Code: CNF

Trip highlights


  • Walking the Camino Norte from San Sebastian to Santiago
  • Visiting the foodie paradise and seaside town of San Sebastian
  • Bilbao with its great art and architecture
  • Walking through a variety of landscapes, including the dramatic coastline of the Asturias region
  • Enjoying the camaraderie of fellow hikers and pilgrims

'El Camino del Norte' originates from the 9th Century and was one of the original Camino routes for pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela. Sheltered from the rest of the Muslim dominated Iberian Peninsula by the Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantabrica, it was considered the safest route for Christian pilgrims making their way to the tomb of St James. The full route starts in Irun near the French border and joins the French route at Arzua. This walk starts from chic, gastronomic San Sebastian (Donastia in Basque) and follows the Camino Norte through picturesque fishing villages and fertile valleys to the bustling city of Bilbao, home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum, before continuing along the dramatic coastline through the Asturias region and on to Santiago de Compostela. Enjoy a variety of landscapes and architecture, both ancient and modern, while staying in small hotels with local character. The dramatic coastline of the Bay of Biscay and mountain paths make the northern way both challenging and rewarding, whilst the quieter trails offer a great alternative to the more popular French route.

Trip Grading

moderate to challenging

More info about grading system

One of Spain's most attractive and sophisticated cities, San Sebastian/Donostia has a lot to offer. Situated on the Bay of Biscay, the beaches of La Concha and Ondaretta are a main attraction. In the old town, you’ll find several churches and the Baroque balcony-lined Plaza de la Constitucion. Bar hop for some of the best pintxos (Basque tapas) in this multi-Michelin-starred city.

Meals:  D

From Playa de la Concha, head towards Mount Iguelda and up to Orio before reaching the charming fishing village of Getaria, the birthplace of couturier Balenciaga. This was once a whaling town, like many others along the coast. Enjoy great views from San Anton or relax with a glass of the local sparkling wine txakolis downtown. Distance: 25km/15.5mi

Meals:  B,D

Walk along the undulating coast via the shrine of Santa Maria de Itziar, a mandatory stop on the Camino Norte. Descend to Deba with its beautiful beach and views of the Cantabrian coast. Distance: 18km/11.2mi

Meals:  B,D

Leave the coast today and head to the Arnoate mountains. Walk along paths and country lanes, passing through villages on this beautiful stage to the town of Markina-Xemein. Distance: 23km/14.3mi

Meals:  B,D

Today’s walk is initially along a country lane and across a river, before the path climbs through woodland. A sharp descent leads to a river and the town of Gernika (Guernica), famously portrayed by Picasso, in the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai. Distance: 25km/15.5mi

Meals:  B

On leaving Gernika, there is a steep climb taking you to the village of Morga (at 205m). The rest of today’s walk is along tracks and roads of great beauty which gradually lead to Lezama. Distance: 21km/13mi

Meals:  B,D

Today’s walk is quite short but is also quite challenging, marked by an ascent at Mount Avril which separates you from Bilbao. You will be rewarded with fabulous views of Bilbao and the valley ahead. Finish today's walk at the Plaza de Unamuno in the old quarter of Bilbao. Distance: 14km/8.7mi

Meals:  B,D

This morning you will take the Metro from Bilbao to Portugalete (this takes between 35 and 50 minutes). The walk today will take you towards the coast. As you head out of Pobena there is a surprisingly long flight of stairs, but the stunning walk following the coast line is worth the climb. Part of the route also follows the track-bed of the former railroad that carried iron ore to waiting ships. Castro Urdiales is a long-inhabited town, with human remains dating back to 12000 BCE. Be sure to visit the Gothic church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion with its strange iconography on the main entrance's frieze, which dates from Templar times. Distance: 28km/17.4mi

Meals:  B,D

As you leave this morning you will start heading uphill, before walking along excellent coastal terrain to Islares. Here you can see the ruins of the 16th century Hospital de la Vera Cruz. Continue to La Magdelena and take a beautiful dirt path to Liendo. Distance: 24km/14.9mi

Meals:  B,D

This morning you will head to Laredo, which was an important Roman site known as Portus Luliobrigensium. Today it is Cantabria’s largest resort town - its beach is around 5km long at low tide. Continue walking to the end of Laredo's peninsula, at El Puntal, following the signs to the Santona ferry. The cost of the ferry crossing is approximately EUR2 per person. Continue north to the coast and the Playa de Berria, before ascending to the Punta del Brusco for impressive coastal views. Continue to the modern coastal resort town of Noja.

Meals:  B,D

Continue along quiet country roads to Guemes, from where the route leads northwest to the town of Galizano.

Meals:  B,D

From Galizano you head straight to the coastline and the path follows the cliff’s edge. You will reach Somo, from where you will catch the ferry to Santander. The ferry runs every half hour on weekdays and hourly on weekends and costs approximately EUR3 per person. Santander is the capital of Cantabria and a major city on the Camino del Norte. Whilst the harbour area is modern, as a result of a disaster explosion in 1893 and a fire in 1941 which destroyed much of the historical heart, the town has a lovely vibe and the beaches are a great place to relax after a day on the Camino.

Meals:  B,D

Today starts with a taxi transfer to Ermita Virgen del Monte to shorten this long stage. From here you continue walking to Santillana which is one of the most picturesque towns along the Camino Norte. Take some time this afternoon to explore the well-preserved medieval village and the cloister in the Collegiate Church. Distance: 19km/11.8mi

Meals:  B,D

Continue on the path today to Comillas. You'll pass by a landscape of grassy fields with sprawling vistas which are broken periodically by church towers. Arriving into Comillas signals your return to the coast. Here you can visit the Capricho de Gaudi, the Palacio de Sobrellano and the Pontifical Seminary. Distance: 23km/14.3mi

Meals:  B,D

The walk today takes in a mix of trails and roads, and through quaint villages en route to the major town of La Barquera. San Vicente de la Barquera is another fishing and resort town. The 13th century Gothic church, Santa Maria de los Angeles holds the tomb of Inquisitor Antonio del Corro. Distance: 12km/7.5mi

Meals:  B

Today you leave Cantabria and cross over into the eastern Asturias. Walking over rolling green hills past the rural townships of La Acebosa, Serdio, Pesués, Unquera you soon arrive at your destination, Bustio. Dinner and breakfast are not included at Bustio, you can ask the hotel staff for suggestions. Distance: 17km/10.6mi

Meals:  B

Breakfast at leisure. Today you continue walking on mainly paved roads. The views are spectacular, with the coast on one side and the Picos de Europa on the other. Llanes is a lively and popular coastal town with a long history, evident by the remnants of its 800 year old city walls. Distance: 25km/15.5mi

Meals:  D

Today you will walk past several fascinating monasteries. The path is generally flat following a mix of trail and road, taking you through small villages and countryside. This afternoon you will arrive in Ribadesella, where you will overnight. The town is known for its beaches and prehistoric cave paintings. Distance: 23km/14.3mi

Meals:  B,D

The route today cuts inland shortly, before returning back to the coastline. This is the last real stretch along the coast for some time, so be sure to appreciate the views. The walk will end in the picturesque market town of Colunga. Distance: 21km/13mi

Meals:  B,D

Continue through small and historical villages, including Priesca which is home to one of the oldest churches on the Camino - the Church of San Salvador, built in 921. The walk into Villaviciosa includes three different crossings. Villaviciosa is known as the 'apple capital' of Spain and these can be sampled in one of the town's many cider distilleries. Distance: 18km/11.2mi

Meals:  B,D

The trail today leads you to Gijon, the largest city you will have seen in a week. There are few walkers on this section and the route is surprisingly peaceful before entering the hustle of Gijon. There is a steep ascent of 400m to the Alto de la Cruz. Distance: 28km/17.4mi

Meals:  B

The walk today does include some stretches through an industrial area and along the highway, but you will also walk through the Monte Areo recreational area, which features a prehistoric dolmen (you will need to detour slightly to visit the Dolmen de San Pablo). Aviles was a prominent naval town in the Middle Ages and has lots to see for those interested in architecture. Distance: 25km/15.5mi

Meals:  B

Today is a longer day as you continue on to the fishing village of Cudillero which is slightly off the pilgrim trail but allows for a more manageable day. The middle of this stage takes you through some interesting villages including El Pito with its 19th Century Quinta de Selgas palace and gardens. Distance: 29km/18mi

Meals:  B

This morning you will walk along a picturesque footpath that takes you through forested hills and down through more small villages. In Soto de Luina a former pilgrims' hospital is now used as a cultural centre. Continue on to the coastal town of Ballota. Distance: 27km/16.8mi

Meals:  B,D

En route today you will pass through the medieval whaling port of Cadavedo before heading inland to Luarca. The walk into Luarca includes a steep descent, which involves many steps, you will then cross a bridge over the River Negro before arriving into the small fishing town where you will overnight. This afternoon you can take a stroll around the rectangular harbour. Distance: 23km/14.3mi

Meals:  B

This morning will start with a climb as you head out of Luarca, before the path levels out for the rest of the day. Continue through the countryside before arriving in the lively market town of Navia. Distance: 18km/11.2mi

Meals:  B,D

Transfer to La Caridad where you continue the walk. You could walk this section and forgo the transfer however it does add 10km to the day. Today will be your last day walking close to the coast. Much of the walking will be done slightly inland so you won't have a real sea view although there is an alternative route which hugs closer to the coast. When you cross the bridge of the Saints over the River Eo to enter Galicia, the last region of the walk, you will arrive in Ribadeo. The town is renowned for its Cathedrals Beach, the second most visited site in Galicia - after the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, of course! Distance: 24km/15mi

Meals:  B,D

The route today takes you through dense and fragrant eucalyptus groves. The villages in Galicia are often smaller than the ones you have previously encountered. Continue on to Villamartin Grande where an afternoon taxi will meet you at 3pm and transfer you back to Ribadeo where you will once again overnight. Distance: 20km/12.4mi

Meals:  B,D

This morning you will be transferred back to Villamartin Grande, so you can continue walking from where you left off yesterday. As you head out of Lourenza you will start walking up into the mountains. As you ascend there will be some fantastic views which make the climbs worthwhile. This afternoon you will walk down into Mondonedo, which was once one of the capitals of the Kingdom of Galicia. Distance: 19km/11.8mi

Meals:  B,D

Leaving Mondonedo you will follow a series of gravel tracks. There is also a sharp uphill climb as you exit the town. Continue on to the neighbouring towns of Gontan and Abadin. Distance: 17km/10.6mi

Meals:  B,D

From Abadin you will walk through small villages en route to Vilalba. This medieval town had a cultural boom in the 20th century, emerging as a town with rich journalistic and literary activity. Distance: 21km/13mi

Meals:  B,D

Continue walking through rural Galicia, along forest paths and past small villages en route to Sta Leocadia. From here you will be transferred to Reguela for overnight accommodation. Distance: 28km/17.4mi

Meals:  B,D

At 9am this morning a transfer will bring you back to Sta Leocadia, where you will continue walking. There is an option to shorten the walk by extending the transfer to Miraz (just let the driver know where you would like to be dropped off). The trail today brings you to Sobrado dos Monxes, home to an impressive 10th century monastery. At 5pm, a transfer will take you to the small village of Boimil and your hotel. Distance walk: 32km/19.9mi or 23km/14.3mi

Meals:  B,D

Morning transfer to Sobrado to return to the walk. The terrain becomes much easier today as you walk the last part of the Camino Norte and join up with the Camino Frances. You can stop at one of many villages for lunch. Crossing over the River Seco on the Magdalena Bridge you will reach Furelos and onto Arzúa in the province of La Coruña. Distance: 22km/13.7mi

Meals:  B,D

Today’s walk will bring you to the small town of Rua which has a population of only 50 people. The walk today is lovely, as you pass large green fields and rural landscapes. Distance: 20km/12.5mi

Meals:  B,D

Today you will pass many ancient sites including monuments, chapels and bridges – all have a story to tell. Follow country lanes and forest paths through increasingly populated countryside. The last day on the trail is always a special one. Continue downhill to the city. Arriving in the fabled Santiago de Compostela there is plenty to see and do – or simply relax and celebrate the end of the journey. Distance: 20km/12.5mi

Meals:  B

Trip arrangements conclude after breakfast.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 35 breakfasts, 28 dinners. Continental breakfasts are served and will often consist of breads, spreads, yoghurt, cheese, tea, coffee & juices. Dinner will consist of 3 courses, usually starting with a salad, followed by chicken, red meat, fish or a pasta dish & finishing with a dessert of fruit or cakes.
  • 36 nights in a combination of hotels & farmhouse B&Bs on a twin share basis generally with ensuite facilities
  • Information pack including route notes & guidebook per room booked
  • Luggage transfer (1 bag of 20kg max pp - additional bags and excess weight will attract a surcharge)
  • Transfers as listed in the itinerary
  • Visitor tax
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to San Sebastian/Donostia and from Santiago de Compostela
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Lunches and drinks daily, 1 breakfast in Bustio and dinners at Gernika, San Vicente, Avilés, Gijon, Cudillero, Luarca, Bustio and Santiago.
  • Entrance fees
  • Guide - this is a self guided tour
  • Transfers not listed as included
  • Travel insurance
  • excess baggage charges - please advise us if you will have more than one bag weighing a max of 20kgs as extra charges will apply for additional pieces of luggage. Please do not tie smaller bags onto your main luggage as we only include one bag and they will be charged as an extra bag. Charges will be higher if not paid when final balance for your trip is due.
  • Metro to Portugalete (day 09) and boat trips to Santoña and Santander (days 10 and 12): payable locally

Grading

moderate to challenging  

The walking is graded moderate to challenging (4). Daily walks are between 14 and 29km on well marked trails over diverse terrain – from relatively flat to coastal rocky to mountainous. Part of the route is on paved surfaces – you should pay particular attention to your footwear to ensure that it is suitable to avoid blisters. This is a well worn path where route finding will be reasonably straight forward (refer below for further details on self guided adventures). The main areas to concentrate on route finding are arriving and leaving towns and cities. The accent is on keeping a steady pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure.


Departure dates

Daily

Notes

H
High Season
DN1
A high season supplement applies at Easter (8 to 18 Apr) , from 1 Jul to 30 Sep and during special events eg Film Festiva San Sebastian. If any part of your trip occurs within the high season period the high season supplement will apply on a proportional basis.
DN2
Option to start your walk in Hondarribia or Irun, adding one day to the trip - ask our office for details. It is recommended that you add in rest days in Bilbao, Santander, Gijon and Ribadeo - must be requested at time of booking.
DN3
Departures from November to February are likely to experience wetter and colder conditions than at other times with snow possible. Winter can be a magical time to experience the Camino with fewer people and more local encounters, but the walking day is shorter. In addition, hotel closures are possible which may require a change in overnight towns.

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Total Priceper person from

$4990USD

Options & Supplements*
  • excess luggage (per piece, max 20kg in weight)USD$450
  • single supplement - low seasonUSD$1420
  • single traveller surcharge - low seasonUSD$1740
  • single supplement - high seasonUSD$1760
  • single traveller surcharge - high seasonUSD$2190
*Prices listed are per person

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We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

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