Taste the world-renowned Basque cuisine in the numerous Michelin-starred restaurants
Discover charming hamlets among the green mountains of the Basque Country
Pass fields filled with wildflowers and vineyards sloping down to the Bay of Biscay
Stay in the historic town of Gernika (Guernica), made famous by Picasso’s masterpiece
Finish with a visit to Bilbao’s famous Guggenheim Museum
The green coastline and countryside of the Basque country are waiting to be discovered on this section of the Camino de Santiago that links two of the most important cities of Euskadi: San Sebastián and Bilbao. This is one of the most beautiful sections of the Northern Way, the more scenic alternative to the Camino Fraces. On six walking stages you will discover beautiful coastal towns such as Getaria and Deba, as well as lush green valleys and forested hillsides along your journey to the bustling and cultural city of Bilbao.
This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes some steep ascents/descents and daily walks of up to 24 km. The Camino Del Norte follows a mixture of dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths.
|8 DAY TOUR||From €575 per person sharing*|
*A single supplement charge will apply for solo walkers
|ACCOMMODATION||In charming guesthouses in a double room with private bathroom and breakfast. A half board supplement is also available, although the guesthouses are generally located in towns/villages with a choice of nearby restaurants.|
|AVAILABILITY||This trip is available to start on any day from the beginning of April to the end of October.|
Day 1: Arrive in San Sebastián
San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque) is a stunning city, framed by lush green hills and golden sands and renowned for its world-class cuisine. Take a refreshing dip in the Bay of Biscay before strolling along the Playa de la Concha and snacking on fresh oysters and txakoli wine at a beachside café. In the evening, why not stock up on calories for the tough walk ahead at one of the city’s many Michelin-starred restaurants.
Overnight: San Sebastián
Day 2: San Sebastián - Zarautz
Distance: 22 km | Ascent: 550 m | Approx. walking time: 5 hrs
You leave beautiful San Sebastian by way of Mount Igueldo, skirting its slope while enjoying spectacular views of the Baia de la Concha. Continue ascending towards Munioetazar, almost three hundred meters above sea level, before descending vertiginously towards Orio, home to a Camino de Santiago interpretive centre, as well as the beautifully decorated church of San Nicolás de Bari. Cross the bridge over the estuary to the seaside town of Zarautz, founded in the 13th century by Fernando III and your destination on this first stage of the Camino del Norte.
Day 3: Zarautz – Deba
Distance: 22 km | Ascent: 690 m | Approx. walking time: 5 hrs
The pleasant sea breeze of the Bay of Biscay will accompany you on this stage, which is characterised by idyllic beaches and spectacular cliffs.
Leaving Zarautz on your way to Getaria, two alternatives present themselves. The first alternative runs for a walk along the sea, parallel to the national road, while the second ascends to the hermitage of Santa Bárbara, offering sensational views, before descending to the pretty fishing village of Getaria, where the 14th century Gothic Church of San Salvador is a must-visit. Cross the Urola river to the historic centre of Zumaia, beyond which spectacular cliff formations form a dramatic backdrop for the next 13 kilometres. Continue along the undulating path to Deba, famed for the beauty of its beach and tree-lined mall.
Day 4: Deba – Markina-Xemein
Distance: 24 km | Ascent: 900 m | Approx. walking time: 6 hrs
Today we leave behind the Cantabrian Sea to explore the forests and villages of the Basque mountains. This is one of the hardest stages on the Camino del Norte, with continuous ascents and descents. The rewards make it all worthwhile though, as you breathe the purest air of the tranquil Artibai valley and visit the little church and hermitage of San Miguel, built around three enormous boulders that are said to be over forty million years old! Cross over the Urko river into Markina, which is known as the “University of the pelota” as it is home to the most renowned stars of this unique Basque sport.
Day 5: Markina-Xemein – Gernika
Distance: 24.5 km | Ascent: 390 m | Approx. walking time: 6 hrs
Today’s walking is characterised by deciduous forests and riverside paths. Follow a small creek towards the village of Bolibar and the medieval monastery of Zenarruza, before approaching Gernika; a town known internationally for the tragic events of April 26, 1937, when it was bombed by the German army. The artist Pablo Picasso captured the horrors of this war in one of his most recognized works, Guernica, currently exhibited at the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid. Gernika’s excellent Museo de la Paz (Peace Museum) is well worth a visit.
Day 6: Gernika – Lezama
Distance: 21 km | Ascent: 420 m | Approx. walking time: 5 hrs
Along old tree-lined paths, centuries-old churches and rushing streams, you will walk through the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve; a natural area of great ecological richness. Your route takes you through the hamlets of Morga, Goikoletxea and Larrabetzu before reaching the small village of Lezama.
Day 7: Lezama – Bilbao
Distance: 11 km | Ascent: 290 m | Approx. walking time: 3 hrs
Before reaching Bilbao, you have one final obstacle to overcome: ascend to the summit of forested Mount Avril. From the top we will be able to appreciate the most populated city of the Basque region, founded in the 13th century and famous for the Guggenheim museum, on the banks of the Bilbao estuary. Take a well-earned rest in the recreation area to recover from your climb and enjoy the views, before descending into the city of Bilbao, the final destination on this section of the Camino del Norte. As this is a short walking day, you will have plenty of time to explore the numerous taverns of Bilbao’s old town and to taste their renowned pintxos.
Day 8: Departure
Getting to San Sebastián
|The most convenient airports to fly to are San Sebastián or Biarritz (France).|
|/||San Sebastián Airport 20 km: The way between the city centre (stop name: “Gipuzkoa plaza 10”) and the airport (approx. 20 km) can be taken with a bus (line E21), see www.ekialdebus.net.|
Biarritz Airport (France) 50 km: Both Pesa and Conda operate daily buses from Biarritz Airport to San Sebastián, taking 45 minutes approx: https://biarritz.aeroport.fr/en/parking-transport/buses/
Otherwise, you can take the shuttle bus from the airport to the main train station in Biarritz (7 minutes). From here you can take a train directly to Sebastián (many times a day, taking about 50 minutes).
From Madrid you can catch a bus to San Sebastian ALSA (takes around 6.5 hours).
Getting from Bilbao
|Bilbao Airport 10 km: Shuttle bus (line A3247) from Bilbao airport from/to Bilbao bus station (stop name: Termibus, every 30 min). See www.aena.es/en/bilbao-airport/public-transport.html|
|/||From Bilbao you can take an ALSA bus back to San Sebastian, which takes around an hour and a half.|
A bus back to Madrid from Bilbao takes around 4.5 hours.