Discover San Sebastian’s culinary delights and stunning beaches
Experience the Bay of Biscay’s breathtaking coastal views
Explore Getaria and enjoy local Txakolí wine
Visit the historic Church of San Martín de Tours and other Catholic monuments
Immerse in the historical and cultural richness of Guernica in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
Conclude in Bilbao, marveling at the Guggenheim Museum and vibrant cityscape
Begin your journey in the vibrant city of San Sebastian. Nestled on the Bay of Biscay, this culinary capital is famed for its picturesque beaches and historic Old Town. Relax on the stunning La Concha beach or take a stroll up to Mount Urgull for panoramic views of the city, setting the stage for your Camino del Norte adventure.
On your first day on the Camino del Norte, depart from San Sebastian, journeying along the Bay of Biscay’s coastline. Your path leads through verdant pastures and gentle hills, offering views of the Roman Church of San Martín de Tours and passing through quaint coastal villages like the picturesque Getaria. Here, the birthplace of couturier Balenciaga and a former whaling town invites you to savor local Txakolí wine and enjoy stunning views from San Anton.
From Getaria, your Camino del Norte adventure leads through farmlands to the harbor town of Zumaia. On the path, you can explore the Church of Santa Maria la Real and the birthplace of the famed explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano. Your day concludes in Deba, a stunning beach town with captivating views of the Cantabrian coast and the historic shrine of Santa Maria de Itziar, a key stop on the route.
Departing from Deba, your journey takes a turn inland towards the mountains, marking a temporary farewell to the coastline until Bilbao. After crossing a river, the trail ascends through dense vegetation to the Hermitage of El Calvario. Following the narrow GR-121 footpath, you’ll pass through various charming hamlets before descending steeply into Markina for a beautiful transition from coastal views to the rugged landscapes of the Arnoate mountains.
Today’s journey from Markina starts along a country lane, crossing the river in Bolibar. The route ascends to the historic 15th-century Monastery of Cenarruza. From there, it winds through dense woodland to Gontzegarai and the hamlet of Gerrikaitz. After visiting the Hermitage of Santiago, a steep descent brings you to a creek leading to the town of Guernica, immortalized by Picasso and nestled in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
Departing from Gernika, the path takes you past the hermitage of Santa Luzia Zallo, then ascends towards the road PR-173. A cobbled path leads to the village of Morga, from where you begin a sharp descent through charming hamlets like Goikoletxea and Larrabetzu. The route then re-enters woodland, bringing you to your destination for the day: Lezama.
Your journey from Lezama to Bilbao begins with a passage through pastoral farmlands to Zamudio, showcasing the Roman Church of San Martin and the Tower of Malpica. A gradual ascent to Mount Avril rewards you with breathtaking views of Bilbao and the surrounding valley. Upon entering Bilbao’s suburbs, a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Begoña is a must. The day’s walk concludes in the Plaza de Unamuno in the old quarter.
Conclude your Camino del Norte experience with a departure day in the dynamic city of Bilbao. Known for its cutting-edge architecture and rich cultural scene, Bilbao invites you to explore its many wonders. Marvel at the iconic Guggenheim Museum, stroll along the Nervión River and delve into the city’s Basque heritage. Take time to enjoy the local gastronomy, from traditional pintxos to avant-garde cuisine, before bidding farewell to the unforgettable landscapes and experiences of your pilgrimage.
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Venture on a captivating journey along the most scenic part of the Camino del Norte, an enriching 8-day adventure that combines the splendor of Spain’s Atlantic coast with the charm of its Basque cities, San Sebastian and Bilbao.
Your pilgrimage begins in San Sebastian, a culinary haven with stunning beaches and a historic Old Town. From there, meander through verdant landscapes and quaint coastal villages, experiencing the region’s rich history and culture.
Highlights include the Roman Church of San Martín de Tours, the picturesque Getaria, and the historic town of Guernica, nestled in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
As you journey from the serenity of the coast to the heart of the Basque Country, you’ll witness breathtaking coastal views, sample local Txakolí wine, and explore the birthplace of explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano.
The route takes an inland turn towards Markina, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Arnoate mountains, before descending back to the vibrant cityscape of Bilbao, renowned for its modern architecture and the iconic Guggenheim Museum.
Your journey along this exquisite segment of the Camino del Norte with us is designed for maximum convenience and comfort. We take care of all your accommodation needs and handle your luggage transfers, ensuring a hassle-free experience. And our round-the-clock support guarantees peace of mind throughout your travels.
With an easy-to-use GPS navigation app and a comprehensive guidebook at your disposal, you’ll receive all the knowledge and local tips from our guides, offering you a newfound insight into the stunning landscape, rich history, and diverse culture.
Experience this unique part of the Camino del Norte with us, a journey where every step is as memorable as the destination.
Absolutely, many people embark on the Camino as solo travelers. There is a unique appeal in starting the Camino alone, as the journey’s nature often leads to forming new friendships with other pilgrims along the way. Walking alone offers flexibility and freedom in your schedule, allowing you to start and stop as you please and bond with a diverse range of people. Additionally, many find that starting the journey alone enhances the personal and spiritual aspects of the Camino experience.
The ideal times for walking the Camino are April/May, when spring flowers are in bloom, and September/October, known for their pleasant colors. The summer months (June, July, August) can be quite hot, which may be challenging for those unaccustomed to walking in high temperatures. Conversely, winter months see a significant drop in temperatures and some accommodations may close for the season.
The Camino routes, particularly the Camino Francés, Le Puy, and Camino Portugués, are well-marked and easy to navigate. The paths are marked with two main symbols: a yellow arrow or a seashell. These symbols guide you through every turn and twist of the path, making it straightforward to follow the routes. This excellent waymarking means that even those who are not experienced hikers can confidently navigate these routes without the fear of getting lost.
If you find yourself unable to walk a stage for any reason, there are several alternatives available. Public transport, such as buses or trains, may be accessible to help you reach the next destination. Alternatively, you can request the hotel reception to arrange a taxi for you. It’s important to listen to your body and utilize these options if needed, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable journey.
The Camino offers a gastronomic adventure, with each region presenting its distinct cuisine. Even the smallest villages en route typically have restaurants or shops where you can purchase food. The ‘Menu del Dia’ (Pilgrim’s Menu of the Day) is a common and affordable option available along the Camino, usually including a starter, main course, dessert, bread, and local wine. The Camino Francés has numerous places for lunch. However, on quieter routes, it’s advisable to plan ahead and carry provisions, especially for remote sections. Also, note that in Spain, dinner is often served later in the evening, so it’s useful to have snacks for the interim period after a day’s walk.
You can read more thoroughly about food in our comprehensive guide about Camino de Santiago.
While it’s possible to complete the Camino with minimal physical preparation, preparing beforehand can significantly enhance your experience. Activities like hill walking or aerobic exercises in the months leading up to your trip are recommended. For cycling the Camino, comfort with cycling 60km daily over varied terrain is ideal. Starting with a moderate fitness level is beneficial, but for those starting from a lower fitness base, it’s crucial to begin training slowly and steadily increase intensity. Regular exercise, including walking, running, cycling, or swimming, and incorporating longer weekend activities with some hills, can greatly aid in preparing for the Camino.
Luggage transfers are arranged to move your bags from your current accommodation to the next overnight stop as per your itinerary. You are generally required to leave your bags at the accommodation reception by 08:00, and they will be delivered to your next stop before 17:00. This service allows you to walk unencumbered by heavy luggage, enhancing your walking experience.
While many travelers opt for baggage transfer for convenience, carrying your own bags is also a choice for those seeking a more traditional pilgrim experience. If you opt to carry your bags, packing light is essential, and you may need to do occasional laundry. Alternatively, the baggage transfer service can provide the comfort of a lighter load and a wider range of clothing options.
The Camino routes, especially the Camino Francés, are known to have good mobile signal coverage, considering their somewhat remote nature. However, it’s important to note that there might be occasional areas with weak or no signal, particularly in more secluded or mountainous sections. The coverage is generally better on the more popular routes and sparser on less-traveled paths. It’s recommended to inform loved ones about these possible communication gaps and to plan accordingly.
Walking the Camino as a solo female traveler is generally considered safe. The locals along the Camino routes are known for being respectful and helpful towards pilgrims. It is, however, always prudent to take standard safety measures, such as concealing valuables, particularly in larger cities. The Camino Francés, being the most popular route, is often recommended for solo travelers who may feel apprehensive, as it tends to have more fellow travelers to accompany you. Nonetheless, it’s always advisable to stay aware of your surroundings and exercise the usual travel safety precautions.
Yes, most accommodations in larger towns and cities along the Camino offer Wifi access. Be aware that in some places, there might be charges for using Wifi. However, in more rural and remote locations along the Camino, Wifi access becomes sparse. You may occasionally find Wifi in local cafes or eateries along the route, but it’s not guaranteed. It’s advisable for travelers to prepare for limited internet access in these areas and perhaps download necessary information or maps in advance.
The most challenging part of the Camino Francés is the first section, starting from St Jean Pied de Port, which involves navigating through the Pyrenees. This section includes steep inclines and declines and is considered the toughest part of the entire route. The first day’s walk is particularly demanding, with a majority of uphill walking. However, the breathtaking scenery and tranquil environment make the effort worthwhile.
Access to drinking water is relatively easy along the Camino. The tap water in Spain is safe to drink, though it may not always taste pleasant. Bottled water is readily available for purchase, and there are numerous water fountains along the route, as noted in guidebooks. Uniquely, there’s even a wine fountain on the Camino!
If you’ve arranged for a private transfer through a service like Macs Adventure, the journey from Santiago Airport to Sarria typically takes around 1.5 hours. This direct route is a convenient option for those looking to start their Camino experience smoothly, especially after a long flight.
Customization of your Camino journey is possible, with options including additional rest days, airport transfers, and adjustments to walking itineraries. However, due to limited accommodation options in certain areas, it might not be feasible to modify every single itinerary detail. It’s best to consult with Camino travel specialists to tailor your trip according to your preferences and needs.
The Camino features a diverse array of paths, making it difficult to characterize by a single type. The journey takes you through a variety of landscapes, from shaded woodlands and picturesque vineyard trails to rolling countryside dotted with medieval villages. There are also urban stretches where you may find yourself walking through less scenic outskirts of cities. This variety is part of the Camino’s unique charm, with each section offering a different experience. Paths range from farm and dirt tracks to minor roads and footpaths.
It’s advisable to book your Camino trip as far in advance as possible due to its high popularity, especially during Holy Year (when July 25 falls on a Sunday) as pilgrim numbers can increase significantly.
While bed bug encounters can occur in shared facilities and hostels along the Camino, the accommodations used by tour operators like Camino de Santiago Tours, typically comprising small hotels and guest houses, maintain high cleanliness standards and are less likely to have bed bug issues. Nevertheless, since bed bugs can be carried by people, there’s a small chance of them appearing in hotels, but such occurrences are quickly addressed by the accommodation providers.
Essential equipment for the Camino includes good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothing suitable for varying weather conditions, waterproof gear, and a daypack. For a comprehensive list of recommended gear, refer to the information pack provided or consult resources like blogs specializing in Camino preparations.
Once your Camino journey has begun, altering your accommodation bookings and itinerary can be challenging due to the limited availability of alternative lodging on short notice. It’s important to have a well-thought-out plan before starting your walk.
While not essential, having some knowledge of Spanish can significantly enhance your experience on the Camino. Local inhabitants appreciate the effort, and it can facilitate smoother interactions. In Northern Spain, the Camino traverses regions with unique languages and cultures. Acknowledging and respecting these cultural nuances can enrich your journey. For routes outside Spain, like the Camino Portugués and Le Puy, learning basic Portuguese and French phrases can be beneficial for engaging more deeply with locals and fellow pilgrims.
In Santiago de Compostela, Mass is held at two different times: a midday Mass at 12:00 and an evening Mass at 19:30. Both Mass times can attract large crowds, so arriving early is recommended. The service is in Spanish, but attending is highly encouraged to celebrate the completion of your Camino journey.
The Pilgrim’s Passport, or credential, is a document carried by walkers on the Camino de Santiago. It’s typically included in your arrival package, but if not, it’s easily obtainable at pilgrim offices and churches along the route. As you journey to Santiago, you collect stamps in this passport from various locations like bars, hotels, churches, and even police stations. Upon reaching Santiago, presenting this passport at the Pilgrim Office certifies your pilgrimage, earning you the Compostela certificate if you’ve walked the last 100km. For other trail sections, the passport serves as a colorful and memorable souvenir of your journey.
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