Camino Santiago del Norte | Northern Way

El Camino de Santiago del Norte is a very quiet and nice route of special natural beauty. Its topography is very different to El Camino de Santiago Frances which makes it a different experience. El Camino del Norte follows the North coast of Spain, from the French border in Irun, along the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and finally Galicia region where the town of Santiago de Compostela is.

El Camino del Norte is a very hilly and sometimes mountainous way with impressive scenarios such as the Picos de Europa in Asturias which the pilgrim can see on his left as he walks along the cliffs in the coast. In El Camino del Norte there are many opportunities to have a bath or to relax in small solitary beaches of clean turquoise water or simply enjoy the view of the sea and the waves hitting the rocks in the cliffs.

For the lovers of nature, forests and green landscapes El Camino del Norte is the perfect track but they should keep in mind that El Camino del Norte represents a greater physical challenge than El Camino Frances due to the constant going up and down of the way and also due to its humid Atlantic weather which makes rain quite likely even in summer months.

Map of the Camino de Santiago del Norte:

Following you can see a table with a brief overview of El Camino de Santiago del Norte giving some information of, in my opinion, its pros and cons in order to help to those who are still doubful about what Camino to walk. You can also visit for more details, videos, photos and information about El Camino de Santiago del Norte.

 Camino del NorteCamino Frances
Trail markings (yellow
 or scallop shell)
Enough in overall although sometimes there may be a lack of markings for a while which makes it easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention. In the region of Galicia (last 200 km) the signaling is excellent.Excellent signaling all the way.
PathSometimes you are walking on paved roads which may be useful to avoid the mud but it harms and burn the feet and joints much more than the natural paths. No paved roads in Galicia.Most of the times you are walking on non-paved roads and natural paths.
Pilgrims’ hostelsAlberguesMost of them are very basic and small (around 20 beds) and sometimes they are very distant between each others (sometimes more than 30 km).
Good quality in Galicia.
In general, they have better quality although you may find some too big (i.e. 150 – 200 beds). Normally, there is an albergue or more in every village  (every 10 km aprox.).
Number of pilgrims.Rarely more that 30 starting a day during summer which is the busiest period. Although lately it is becoming more and more popular very quickly. This is a good choice if you want to walk alone.In summertime, there may be far more than 200 pilgrims starting everyday which makes it very busy but also you get to know many interesting people.
WeatherVery changeable and wet (Atlantic weather)
In summer, warm but not hot in the days and cool in the nights. You may get some clouds and rain but in overall the temperature is perfec for walking and the weather is lovely.
The rest of the year, very rainy and cool.
If you don’t like to walk under a burning sun in summer, this may be your best choice.
Best time of the year: July and August.
From May to October, very dry and hot during daytime (it often reaches more than 40 degrees celsius at noon in July and August) although it may be chilly during the nights.
In winter time, very cold (bellow 0 Celsius is very common).
With the exception of Galicia (last 150km) which has a Atlantic weather similar to El Camino del Norte.
If you don’t like a cloudy sky but prefer a bright blue one with a big sun above you, this may be your best choice.
Best time of the year: From May to October, especially May, June and September.
Nature and landscape.High snowed mountains on one side and the sea on the other side. Very green and full of forests. Many nice beaches that have escaped the civilization and tourism where you can have a pleasant bath. It is really a natural paradise.Very varied. Firstly, you have to cross the high mountains range – Pyrenees – which is full of forests and green prairies.
Then, in Navara and Rioja regions, the landscape is hilly and full of vineyards (people usually says it is very similar to Tuscany landscape).
Afterwards, in the region of Castilla, the landscape becomes completely flat (it is a high plateau around 900 metres above sea level). It is full of cereal and sunflower fields. It is very desertic and isolated but very charming.
Then, in Leon province it becomes hilly and green again with more vineyards and forests.
And finally in Galicia, it is full of forests and green prairies again.
ArtMany interesting beautiful cities and towns very rich in art. San Sebastian, Bilbao, Castrourdiales, Santander, Santillana del Mar, Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera, Llanes, Rivadesella, Villaviciosa, Gijon, Luarca, Mondonedo.Unique cities, cathedrals and castles all along the way. Just to mention some of them: Pamplona, Estella, Logrono, Najera, Sto. Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Fromista, Carrion de los Condes, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada. It is a museum as a whole with the best romanic art in Europe. You can find unbelieable pieces of art in every little village.
Very varied and excellent.Very varied and excellent.
WinesNot so rich in wines as El Camino Frances but cyder in Asturias is nearly a religion and there I have drunk the best natural cyder ever.Excellent wines all allong the way. La Rioja, Navarra, Bierzo, Ribeiro and Albarino are the most famous. You can find unbelievable cheap wines of the best quality.
CostAround 30-35 euro a day.A budget of around 25-30 euro a day.

118 thoughts on “Camino Santiago del Norte | Northern Way”

    1. I did Paris to Santiago by el camino del norte and back to France by camino Frances.
      You can send me a mail if anyone like more information.

      1. Pierre, that sounds like an excellent trip! Please can you advise, how long did it take, approximate budget, and what season / time of year did you go?
        Best regards,

      2. Dear Pierre
        I am interested to explore the route from Paris to Santiago, in terms of possible starts (apart from Paris itself), how long is your journey in terms of km ? I did the portugese way this early Oct for around 150km & planning for 2017 from somewhere in France as start to Finistere:) Appreciate if you can email me , Maggie

      3. Pierre,
        Yes, I plan on going next year. I have been considering, the norte, Frances, and primitivo. Unsure about starting points. You walked from Paris? How long did that take? I was thinking about Bayonne, should that be possible. I just started serious research. I’m interested in how many km you covered a day & how long your routes took?



      4. Merci Pierre. I am planning a possible trip via the Camino del Norte, however I suffer from a fear of heights and sheer drops along a path make me vertiginous. So, I wonder if the Camino along the coast will have too many sheer drops too near the path for comfort fo me. I so appreciate any counsel you’re able to give regarding it.

        Grazie, gracia et merci,

      5. Hi Pierre, Wow! I did Camino Frances last August -September 2016. I plan to do the Del Norte next month starting from Irun.

        Which were toughest or most challenging along the Del Norte? How about the lower number of albergues and distances between villages/towns that have them?

        Appreciate any feedback.

      6. Hi Pierre.
        That sounds amazing. One my future plans.
        For now I will do the northern way and I would like to know if there will be spots where I can camp or use an hammock
        Than you for your information and have a great day.

      7. I’m taking the Camino Frances in June and was thinking of continuing on, in a loop back up the Camino Norte to its end (start) point in Irun. Can you tell me anything about this being a good or bad idea? Am I crazy?!

      8. Hello, yes love your opinion! Im taking a group of ladies with me and although challange should be part of it i want to see how challenging itcan really be. We will take it from gijon and will have a caravan to sleep and be rescue when absolutely needed.

  1. I have completed Camino Frances. In May I have 11 days to walk some of the Northern parts. What is the best part of this Camino

    1. Hi Greg, a response to your query . . .
      For me, undoubtedly the best section is in Galicia. Starting from Luarca (or Navia) you have a delightful coastal section followed by superb countryside as you turn inland from Ribadeo. Under normal circumstances you should be able to complete this within your time constraints. Do check this section out, however, for services – to avoid being “stranded” at a refuge for the night with no access to food! As you have already completed the Camino Frances you may want to give the last stage into Santiago a miss. A reliable bus service operates from Arzua to CdeS. Getting to the start is fairly straightforward with, again, bus services (from Oviedo). Incidentally, there is a good newish refuge in Luarca (centre – not out of town). Good luck! I’m hoping to be on the Camino Primitivo next month taking it relatively steady as a 70+ years plodder! Paul

      1. I completely agree with Paul. If when you get to Arzua you still have time you may choose to skip the last part since you have already done it and walk from Santiago to Finisterre instead.
        Buen Camino!

      2. Hi Paul and Greg

        I have just seen your messages and thought i’d leave a note.

        I plan on spending 6 or seven days (including transfers from UK) completing part of the norte. I like the sound of your above description and was hoping you might be able to offer me some help.

        I would love the scenery to be as dramatic as possible (I love the coast and mountains) and I would like it to be relatively isolated and as far from highways as possible. I don’t feel the need to end my journey in Santiago de Compostela.

        I am in my mid 30’s and very fit and active.

        I am planning to travel in March of 2015.


      3. Hi Gareth,
        You don’t give yourself a lot of time! However, depending upon where you are proposing to access the Camino, there are various possibilities. But, to be away from highways (as you put it), you really need to look to Galicia. However, if you fly in/out Santander, and then bus to San Vincente de la Barquera, the route passes through some very pleasant countryside and you have delightful views of the coast on one hand and, on the other, the Picos. If you stride out you could make it to Pola de Siero (then local bus to Oviedo to avoid road walking) – excellent alberge in Pola (with superb sideria restaurant opposite!) and from Oviedo Alsa bus back to Santander. This is just a suggestion but, whatever, I wish you well!
        Buen Camino! as they say.

      4. Hi Paul, I ended walking the Le Puy Camino in France this May, being Spring it was absolutely stunning. I have left the Northern Camino
        till September next year where I will have 3 to 4 weeks available. So this should enable me to complete most of this walk. I just could not justify only doing a small section and wish to commence in the Basque region from Irun. I was going to leave out the section Bilbao to Santander, do this by bus. What are your thoughts, a Regards Greg

      5. Hi Greg,
        What you decide is, of course, up to you but, I must admit, that the section you mention is, for me, the least attractive – in terms of natural scenery. There are, though, some splendid coastal sections between these two towns and, strange as it may sound, urban sections, for me, can also prove very interesting.
        Incidentally, Alsa bus do some good deals – with advance bookings – I have found.
        Buen camino,
        Paul W

  2. We walked from Irune to Portugalete last year in June , it was very pleasant weather but it was very difficult to find the way at times due to poor markings . It was more expensive than the French route overall so you would need to budget for an extra 20 euro per day ( my opinion ) . It seemed to me that this route is not geared up as well as the French Camino especially in early Basque country section… BUT Im going back again this year as I really enjoyed it.

  3. Regarding cycling the Northern Route, I cannot remember any bicycles last year and personally , I would not like to cycle it as it is a more difficult terrain than French way. I’m speaking about the early stages through the Basque country ..That’s if the cyclists take the same route as the walkers

  4. Hello fello camino travelers,

    I am arriving March 12, 2015 to start my camino. I am trying to decide between Frances and del Norte. I understand the northern route has more rain. Does anyone have any wisdom to offer. Also, I want to have wifi along the way.

    Thank you for your input and wisdom



    1. I think both routes are nice for cycling, each on its way. As a general route you will always get more rain in the Norte route, that’s a fact. But it has many pros as well, the landscape and nature being one of them. I know at the begining in the Basque country the roads are not so good, but after that they improve, I haven’t cycled the Norte route myself but my friend has and he was very happy. Another thing to take in to account is that it’ll be a bit more expensive, and regarding the wifi you shouldn’t have any problem.
      Buen Camino!

    2. Hi Liam,
      For me, the Frances route has become far too commercialised and does tend to get very busy. The Norte route is quieter but has fewer alberges. Incidentally, when it comes to accommodation, always haggle over price at a hostal/hotel – invariably they will knock a few euros off for pilgrims. Both routes can be wet – especially as you get further west. Regarding wi-fi, I cannot comment. I tend to be something of a minimalist, carry very little (less than 12kg) and seek out a shop/market for incidentals en route.
      That’s my input, although possibly low on the wisdom scale!
      Buen camino!

      1. Hi Paul, were you able to make it to sheltered accommodation each night or do y recommend packing a tent?

      2. Hi vicki. I’d only suggest taking a tent if you want to camp. “Sheltered accommodation” is readily available but you do need to plan ahead – making use of a reliable guide, such as published by the CSJ. Always have some basic provisions with you, I recommend, should you arrive at a centre where there is no/little food available or in case of an emergency. I’ve just spent ten days on the Camino Primitivo (hence my delay in responding) where many shops/bars have now closed but, at the end of each day, I had no problem finding food available. You’ll find the same on the Camino Norte but, as I say, do plan ahead!

  5. Hey, first of all- thank you for all the information! Great website.
    I want to know if you have any tips for my plan: starting at the camino frances till Burgos. from there I would like to go to picos del europa and to get back on camino del norte some how.
    Lihi Cohen

  6. Hi!
    I’m starting the Camino Del Norte at the beginning of May and I am worried about the hostel/refugios/aubergios in which I can sleep. I looked at the website and there is not that amount of places to sleep that are referred there. Can you reassure me about the way to find them? Is there another website or is it “on the spot” kinda thing?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Cath, did you find out anymore helpful information? I am leaving in the next couple days and considering doing the Norte instead of the Frances path.

  7. we fly to san sabastian on april 30 and want to go sw to the comino de frances. is there a connecting route ?
    grace and peace
    don swnson

  8. I have a question about a northern trip I will be taking May 2015. It loooks as if the northern route does not go through the Pyrenees. Is it possible to do some hiking in the Pyrenees before I begin the actual trail?

  9. Hi, I’m considering doing the ‘northern way’ from 21st September to October… Should I rather do the more common route at that time as I am concerned about the weather?

  10. Hi Fellow Pilgrims, Can I respond to the four above questions by saying that a little research (typically online) will provide the answers to your queries.
    Don: yes there is a connecting route (sometimes referred to as the “tunnel” route).
    Edy: no need to buy a special map – download maps of stages from the internet (I’ve given a helpful address above) or purchase a guide (as published by the CSJ).
    Susan: a walking holiday in the Pyrenees is very different to undertaking a pilgrimage; suggest you simply do one or the other.
    Kendyll: whenever you go and whichever route you take you must prepared for all types of weather! Also, do work on the basis that additional clothing items can (usually) quite easily be purchased en route.
    Buen camino to all!

  11. Thank you Paul. I appreciate your advice. I will be in Spain for 90 days and I think I will have extra time. Maybe I will visit the Pyrenees after I finish the trek.

  12. Hello All, my 13 year old son and I will walk a piece of del Norte in the last two weeks of August, and hope to walk at least six days of the Camino del Norte – ideally 4 days one week, a break in Poo de Llanes with a good friend there and then three more days west of Poo. Do you have recommendations as to where we w/could start – walk for three or four days, get to Poo and then walk for three or four more days? It is NOT important (though dramatic I’m sure I would love it!) to end in Santiago, though we will spend the second weekend there. Gracias and Buen Camino! Teresa y Luke y Jose

  13. Hello.
    Lovely site!
    A question:
    For first time pilgrims to the Camino, what is the best route for 14-15 days? We are planning next June (2016).
    We would like to walk some of the Basque country, but the full Norte will take too long for us. Any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!

  14. Hi Alicia,
    The key to a successful (and enjoyable) pilgrimage is preparation. And you have plenty of time for that! Do your research on the route you want to take, where you want to stop (and maybe stay for a day), what you need to wear and carry, and so on. There are plenty of good sources – online and hardcopy. Having said that, given the number of days you state, you might want to look at the Camino del Norte section from Irun to Santander. But, a couple of tips, don’t be too ambitious in terms of how far you want to walk overall, and, be prepared to adjust your schedule as you go along.
    Good luck!

  15. Hi, in reply to all the apprehensive first timers I would recommend doing part of the Frances to gain Camino experience. Also buy the John Brierly guide as this is invaluable. I speak from experience of doing the whole Camino from St Jean (France ) to Muxia out beyond Finistere. Be warned you will fall in love with this walk and return and return…….

  16. Dear all,

    This July I am planning to do a 10- 14day hike along the Camino .
    Since I have heard that July is a busy month, it seems a good idea to do the Camino del Norte. Now I was wondering; do I have to prepare my steps. The reason I ask this, is that I love to go somewhere unprepared and see how far I will walk, but only if it is safe and pleasant ofcourse. I will carry my own luggage. However, do I need to book the auberges in advance (to be sure to have a place to stay), or plan ahead how many km I will walk per day, or bring enough food for 2/3 days. Do I need to bring a sleeping bag, or will a thin sheet for hygiene be enough? And how many kms is doable per day?

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Merel,
      You really should do some research, although, it seems, you do not much time before you set off. In terms of km/day – that’s for you to determine (according to fitness and intent) but around 25km/day is usually doable. Apart from snacks / emergency rations, you do not need to carry food; but do have liquid (very important). Re accommodation, I have never booked ahead in many years of walking the various pilgrimage routes (which has allowed for flexibility as I go along) but, if you want peace of mind, go for it. Yes, take a proper sleeping bag but one that is compact. In the spirit of the Camino (as a pilgrim and not a tourist) you will want to carry your own “baggage”, but think light.
      Again, I encourage you to research thoroughy beforehand. Being well prepared you will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
      I wish you well, Merel.

  17. Great web site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to
    some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your sweat!

  18. hi there, I am planning to start Camino Norte soon. Is there any list of auberges or hostels on the route?
    also, as we will start in Santander, do you know how to get the pilgrim’s pass there?
    many thanks,

  19. Hey, Got a question, I would like to do parts of the coastal route and the primitivo with various means of transportation, next to walking (like hitchhiking). I am reading a book on the Northern route, but just cannot get an idea what the type of roads are like which I will encounter. Is the majority both suitable for both walking and cycling (normal bike)? As this is the impression I get from the books descirption. I would like to purchase a simple bike somewehere in San Sebastian or Bilbao and cycle for a while. The primitivo I will walk or hitchhike (long and dready road tracks). I am an experienced biker, but just have no idea if the tracks are suitable for it.
    And can leave the bike behind at the start of the primitivo.

    Love, Katja

    1. Hi Katya,
      I hope, by now, you have completed what you set out to do on the Camino del Norte. I’d be interested to know how you got on – cycling, on even by canoe, yes?! I found my experience of walking on the del Norte route last month (particularly in the area of ISLARES) very rewarding with some excellent company and fine weather. Love, Paul

      1. Hi Paul,
        I am still on the Camino. Went from
        Del Norte onto The Primitivo and am 4 days away from Santiago. I have been foremost walking and an occasional hitchhike. It has so far been an incredible journey, as I walked with the Camino inside me. A
        clear purpose in mind what I wanted to absorb and leave behind. With this open mind I attracted the right people and experiences. Has been a great learning curve and not yet ended. It is a Camino we all create together along the way and feel ams have felt very much part of the Camino of others. We are all in it together and helping each other with what we would like to change in life. The nature, the vistas, the landscapes, villages, coast along the way and the constant change of environment and meeting fellow pilgrims through the walking are to me a medium of accellerating realizations and changes in life. The Camino is like a microcosmos.
        Something anybody should do when they are in a need of change.

        I must say I met in Islares a wonderful Paul from UK, whom I walked and talked with for a while. Was that you?

        All the best to you. I have one week left to complete the physical trail and the one inside.
        But I am nearing the end, that is how it feels like.

        Keep up the wonderful work you are
        doing and I do hope many more people will take on this Camino. Regardless of what route to take it
        is best walked with a Camino inside.

        Love, Katja

      2. Hi Katya,

        You are too kind! You were great company for that short while but what really delights me is to hear that you have just about reached SdC. Brilliant! Taking the Primitive route I hope you found very beautiful and inspiring – it’s certainly one of my favourite sections (Oviedo – Lugo) of any of the routes I have taken.
        Just a couple of things: firstly, and very sadly, some (admittedly only a very few) pilgrims in the past have found, on arriving at SdC, that fellow pilgrims (who are soon to “disappear”) cannot be trusted and items have “walked”; and, secondly, be prepared for PCN (post Camino syndrome) whereby after that initial elation you feel somewhat low. I am sure in your case you will take due care of yourself and your belongings and, importantly, return home the wiser and better equipped to face those personal challenges, which we all have to confront at some stage.
        As I said, it was good to have met you. Let me know if you’re returning to Spain!
        Best wishes!
        Love, Paul

      3. Dear Paul,
        I cannot believe that that has been really you in Islares! Was sad for not meeting you again after departing. And regretted not exchanging addresses. I did however meet up with Ivan, the american guy you walked up with, and walked for 4 days with him.
        I am really happy we meet again! You just never stop to amaze me.
        The ways of the Camino have been wonderous to me.

        And I agree, the Primitivo from Oviedo to Lugo is something of a kind. The weather could not have been better. Had not been looking forward though to the last stages to Santiago after Lugo, but decided to change my mind on that and to just experience it and to admire the sheer contrast between the spirit and beauty of the beginning of the Camino from Irun to the total lack of it from Melide onwards. But every journey has its extremes. And am grateful to both.

        Thanks for your pieces of advice. Luckily I am a very spiritual but also a very down to earth person. I made this journey to absorb life, friendships and nature and to leave hindering mental debris behind, and deciding where I want my life to go to. And with a very open attitude I feel I accomplished a lot in that respect.
        The last stages from Lugo I have walked quite a bit alone and have given me the change in the face of arriving t the end of my journey in Santiago to also ty all knots together and look at what I need to do at home upon return. So I have already taken some action on this during the last few days. Planting some seeds at home and with people concerned for a new beginning I decided upon. Felt like fasing over to life because of and after The Camino. So I did and do keep that at heart. Thanks.
        Concerning fellow pilgrims, I think I know what you mean and I think I can deal with that. I know for sure I will meet once more some people who touched my heart and I theirs. These are a few. And for the others I see it all in the light of having for a short time been in it together and sharing what needed to get shared. Most likely no follow up from contact, but that is totally okay by me.

        I have actually decided to go and live in Spain for a year or two. But this will be within a few years.
        I will definitely let you know when I will return to Spain beforehand to do a new Camino. But I only want to do a new Camino when there is a new purpose in mind for me to start on one. I am first letting all positive experiences within me have its effect and create a renewed beginning at home because of this Camino.

        I am only 18 km away from Santiago. So today is arrival day. And it will be a surprise whom I will meet else. I have 2,5 days after that to wrap up my Camino and say goodbye to friends made and to put myself in a state of mind to return home. I am happy for those days. No time to walk to Fisterra, but will walk at least from fisterra to Muxia. One last time admiring the coastline I so much love and one last dive in the sea.

        Take care Paul and it will be a pleasure seeing you again.

        Love, Katja

    2. Hi Katya (and fellow pilgrims),
      To wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
      I am setting out on 1 March on the “Tunnel Route” (from Irun to Sto Domingo) – a new one for me. So, any tips/advice would be most welcome.
      Take good care!

  20. Seriously considering walking the Norte instead of the Frances when I do my Way, but wondering if there is any fall exposure on the route, particularly in the Picos de Europa? Do you cross over the Picos or walk alongside them? In other words, is it dangerous hiking or just strenuous?

  21. Hi Patty,
    Above, in response to Alicia, I encouraged thorough preparation before embarking on a pilgrimage. I would encourage you, Patty, to do just the same. You will then know, at least, the routes and not need to ask the sort of question you pose. Again, I state that (for me, at least) hiking in an area such as the Picos is quite different to undertaking a pilgrimage.
    Good luck with your preparations, Patty.
    Paul W

    1. Hi, Paul. Yes, I will most assuredly do as much reading as I can before embarking on the full Camino, regardless of which route I choose. I have read everything I can get my hands on regarding the Camino Frances and have walked a very short portion from SJPDP. I had fully intended to walk the Frances until recent news events have dampened my spirits in terms of personal safety. Doing a full pilgrimage on the Camino is a life dream for me and one I do not take lightly. Unfortunately, other than this forum, I have not been able to find that much information on the Norte, unlike the Frances. In asking, I was looking for assistance. From some of the comments it seems as though the north route could be dangerous in terms of rough terrain. I wouldn’t want to even begin to contemplate walking it (or even continuing my research) if that is the case and will instead walk the Frances.
      In the Spirit of the Camino,

  22. Hi, again, Patty,
    Of course, the matter of (personal) safety is paramount and all reasonable precautions should be taken. Having said that the Norte route cannot be described as dangerous “in terms of rough terrain”. The route as far as Ribadeo, essentially following the coast, is never far from habitation and is generally on clear, well-defined tracks or lanes. Turning inland, from Ribadeo, there are sections which are more remote but the going, although undulating, is easy. It is the necessary stage distances here of which you need to be aware. Good guides are provided by the CSJ and the website (which I referred to previously, above), although in Spanish, I have found really very helpful. Next month I am (again) walking out a section of the Norte route so I’ll look out for a “Patty”!
    Buen camino,
    Paul W

  23. First off, FANTASTIC site, thank you so much for all the friendly information. I saw this question above, and I am very interested to hear an answer, but the poor guy didn’t get one. Can somebody please answer it. It is the one that pertains the most to me.

    “hi there, I am planning to start Camino Norte soon. Is there any list of auberges or hostels on the route?
    also, as we will start in Santander, do you know how to get the pilgrim’s pass there?
    many thanks, ”
    By the way, another question. What about washing clothes, is there opportunity in the hostels to do this?
    Thank you for any kind of help


  24. Hi Terry,
    Good to read of your interest in the Camino del Norte. You will enjoy it! Firstly, though, as you’ve already started to do – research thoroughly.
    An excellent source of information is the Confraternity of St James (CSJ). Their publications are first rate: practically invaluable, easy to follow and light to carry.
    Also, try:
    Admitedly in Spanish but it contains very useful and detailed information.
    Credentials (“passports”) are available from a range of sources, the CSJ being one of them.
    Washing? No problem! (Take three items of your “smalls” – one to wear, one to carry (clean) and one drying out (maybe pinned to back of pack!)
    Good researching and, when you set off “buen camino”.
    Paul W

  25. Re the original commentator:
    Are you from Galicia? You compliment it a lot! Much as I loved Galicia I think you’re doing down the rest of the walk. Personally for me Asturias was the place.
    I walked from Haarlem in north Holland to Finisterra via Murchia and enjoyed every step, lost or not. And, everybody who realized I was lost helped me all along the way, which actually enriched the walk for me. Buen Camino!

  26. Happy Christmas pilgrims!
    It’s been a good year for me with two excellent trails walked: the Camino Primitivo and a section of the Camino del Norte. Met some marvellous guys (Katya, are you reading this?!) which made it all very special.
    March 1 – I’m setting out on the Tunnel Route from Irun. So, any advice please?
    Best wishes for a joyous 2016 to all pilgrims.

  27. Hello, i am planning to do the camino some time in october 2016, i have around 10-15days available to do the camino. I had Camino frances in my mind but i think that the days i have available are not enough to complete it. Any idea what the best options are for the amount of days i have available?


    1. Hi!
      Why don’t you do the Camino Primitivo? This is about a 2-week Camino, so you can do it in full. Not too crowded and of high beauty. I would only suggest you take a small detour to avoid the last few stages being combined with the hords from the Frances. So after Lugo when you arrive in San Roman da Retorta you go via Friol and Sobrado dos Monxes (part of the Camino de la Costa). This will lead to Arzua where you will join the Camino Frances again. I only recommend this because the last 3 days can be a deception after the beauty, genuity and solitude of the Primitivo. The whole spirit of the Camino is hardly present in the last stages.
      Good luck and enjoy!
      Another option would be to do two weeks of the Canimo del Norte, and I think you could reach Santander if you start in Irun. Also awesome!
      Love, Katja

  28. I’m going to start my Camino in Feb 17 and I’ll like to know which is the best airport to fly to for Irun. Also what public transport is available to make my way to the center of Irun. Also will I have trouble with the albergues during this time?

  29. Hi Jo, The funny thing is is if you fly to San Sebastian you will be as close to Irun as you can get. The Airport is called Dan sebastian, but its location is actually Irun. So if you leave the airport you can literally walk to Irun (turn left when you walk out if tje Airport) and you will be in the city Centre within 20-30 min. I stayed in the municipal alberque in Irun and The guys who run the place were extremely helpful. But around this time of year not all alberques are open. You can best check The internet for a Spanish site with an up to date list of alberques. Spanish ones provide you usually with when they are open, costs, location and available places. I don’t know The website by heart but check along The line of Association de Camino de Santiago de Compostela and you will get it. I got such a list when I started in Irun which was vert helpful. Hope The weather will be fine and you have a wonderful journey. Love, Katja

  30. HI – I’ll be a first timer with 7-8 days for a Camino in mid-April.
    The most basic question – which section to follow?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Jon,

      With that many days I think you can best do a good portion of one route. I would recommend you do from Irun to Bilbao. This is a reasonably tough but gorgeous route, part of the Camino del Norte. I found it stunning.

      A few good advices for along the way, if you can
      – spend the night in the alberque in Pasajes de San Juan. Simply a unique place, you want to spend the night.
      – make sure that after Zarautz you take the old route going up hill (GR-121) to Askizu, and not along the road.
      – and most definitely when you arrive in Elorriaga don’t go inlands to Itziar, but take the coastal route, the GR-121. This is one of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. This goes all the way to Deba. Tough but stunning!

      The entire Camino del Norte is too long for your 7-8 days, but you will walk an awesome part of this route up to Bilbao.

      You won’t regret this.


      Love, Katja

  31. Hola Peregrinos!

    I am thinking about doing 14-15 days on the Camino. Like a lot of people, I’m conflicted between the easy but crowded Frances or the more rugged and (arguably) more beautiful Norte. I know that on the Frances I can start in Leon and arrive in Santiago with that time frame. What do you suggest is the best starting point on Camino del Norte if you only have a 2 week period?

    1. Hi Angela,
      Further to what Kat says, you may need to take into account the time of year that you decide to go because of both likely weather conditions and the availability of accommodation.
      An alternative consideration is from Oviedo – either taking the Camino del Norte (via Ribadeo – which includes beautiful coastal stretches) or the Camino Primitivo (via Lugo – which traverses some majestic higher ground). “Doability” depends very much on how far you are prepared to walk each day AND it is always sensible to have a contingency plan (particularly if you have limited time) should circumstances necessitate a change in arrangements.
      As for all pilgrims, do plan ahead!
      Paul W

  32. Hello all,

    My name is Connor and I stumbled upon this great site after a friend of mine told me about her Pilgrimage. I can’t help but feel that this is something I absolutely need to do. Without getting into a long list of questions, I wanted to ask what i feel are some basic starter questions if you will.

    1. Whats a good sum of money to set aside for this trip? Enough for travel expenses from Massachusetts, food, transportation to hiking spots, etc

    2. How much time realistically should I be freeing up? I work a full time job and have about a week of vacation under my belt. Is that enough?

    3. What would you recommend as a starter route? I’m pretty physically fit, cardio could use some work haha but I’d have time to revamp that. I think I’ve settled on El Camino del Norte. Sounds beautiful.

    Thanks guys! Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Connor,
      Good to read that you’re interested in walking (?) the Camino del Norte BUT you really do need to research this thoroughly in the first instance and then come back with specific questions.
      A week is far too short a period to do justice to any pilgrimage; all you could do in that time is get a feel of what it is and what it may mean to you.
      Sorry not to sound more positive. I am trying to be fair to you!
      Work on it, Connor, because it really is worth doing.
      I look to reading here how you are getting on.
      Good luck!
      Paul W

    2. Hi, my two friends and I walked the Camino del Norte from San Sebatian to Santander in 2014 for 3 weeks in September. The weather was great and quite warm. We only had wet weather for a couple of days that I recall. We had no trouble getting accomodation in a pilgrims hostel each night although some of them were very full with people having to sleep under the dining tables! You need to be careful as some of the hostels close as you head towards winter. It was one of the cheapest holidays I’ve had as we generally paid no more than 10€ a night and usually less and cooked our own meals. It was cheaper than staying home! The route through Basque Country is beautiful with seaside cliffs, rolling hills, vineyards. However, be warned you often have to walk up and down mountains 3 times a day. Killer on the legs when you start. But I was 55 and managed it, although I am a runner and relatively fit. The worst day was heading out of Bilbao which was over 30 kms along a motorway on a very hot day. I recommend making sure you always have plenty of water on you as there can be quite big gaps between watering holes and cafes and food stores. This is especially so on the weekend when lots of shops close in the small villages. Make sure you have food on you as the same applies re water. Nothing worse than being hungry and thirsty.
      We also did a few days on the Camino Frances heading out from Leon. I would take the deal Norte any day. Much less crowded, relaxed and more intimate. The Frances felt like everyone was in a race and were walking to a timetable. I am planning on going back soon and finishing the rest of the del Norte. Just started researching again. The first time round we had no maps, no information. We just followed the yellow arrows and winged it. And we survived to tell the tale!

  33. Hi Connor,
    Do not be discouraged. Talk to your friend about her pilgrimage, find out what it cost her, how much time she spent on the Camino. I can tell you that any amount of time spent walking the Camino is time well spent and I don’t believe you will regret it. I plan to walk an entire one some day when I have retired, but two years ago was fortunate enough to have much of my family with me in St. Jean Pied-du-Port. We were there only to feel of the Camino, to be inspired, as we had only one day. But we spent that day walking up the Way as far as we could so that we could return to SJPDP, feeling all of the appropriate feelings and spirit as we walked. We were all inspired to share in the Camino at a later time (including my young grandchildren). It made us hungry for more. Do what you can, Connor, you will not be disappointed.

  34. I am planning on doing El Camino Norte in September but don’t want to stay in Albergues. Are there alternatives? Pensiones, hotels? Smaller albergues with semi-private or private rooms? I’m too old to sleep with 30 other people. I also am very noise sensitive and have insomnia.

  35. Hi Dinah,
    Firstly, good to read that, although you describe yourself as “too old”, you are keen to walk (I presume) the Norte route.
    In answer to your specific questions, there are many alternatives to the albergues and, in September, you should not have difficulty in securing overnight accommodation. Not stopping at albergues you do miss out on a key dimension to the spirit of the camino (in meeting with others and sharing experiences) but, to sleep better, most pilgrims do equip themselves with earplugs! Incidentally, while you may want to book accommodation ahead, you can invariably find that by just “turning up” at a hotel/hostal you can often negotiate an improved rate as a pilgrim. I am not aware of albergues with private facilities.
    There is a generous supply of camino publications (in a range of languages) as well as information online. The CSJ (based in UK) is well worth looking at. (I have used CSJ guides for seven different pilgrimage routes AND am working on an eighth for this September!) Some sources, however, (such as published by tourist offices) although detailing places of interest en route, provide, at best, limited essential information of where you may stay and where to eat! Best advice is to search online, in the first instance and, of course, other contributors to this forum may have additional suggestions.
    I wish you well and look to reading of your joy on embarking on (and completing) a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella!

  36. I am planning to do the Camino del Nord starting next week. I am arriving in Irun by car.
    Where is it possible to park the car for one month ? Is there a parking near Hospital de peregrinos de Irun ?
    Thank you

  37. Hi Paul!

    In 2010, my husband and I walked the Frances as our (beautiful, beautiful) honeymoon. We have three kids now, next Summer they’ll be five (great hiker), four and two. We have kiddie carriers for our back, and we’re dying to do (at least part of) the Norte. What is thé best bit for kids: most coastline and most accessible route?

    Of course, we’ll do heaps of research between this and next Summer, but it’d be great to narrow the search down a wee bit.

    Many many thanks.

    1. Hi Eline,
      Firstly, I am flattered that you should choose to direct your query to me, personally; I am nothing other than a contributor to this forum who has walked many a pilgrim mile! However . . .
      You are, it would appear, anxious to secure what, in terms of practicalities, is a real challenge – a holiday for the family and a “renewed” flavour of the Camino. A compromise is essential, I suggest, because to carry the younger children along with your necessary gear is well nigh impossible!
      You could, though, base yourself somewhere, walk sections of the Camino del Norte and then use public transport to return each day. In terms of “where?”, noting your mentioning accessibility, there are very pleasant sections of the Camino, with some fine beaches, to the west of Santander, more specifically, between San Vincente (de la Barquera) and Ribadesella. This is, though, a popular holiday area and accommodation can prove relatively costly. But, for transport, there are buses (Alsa, in particular) and the Feve railway.
      Depending on how long you are planning to go to Spain, there is also the option of travelling with a donkey! I don’t know how this can be arranged but have certainly seen young families doing this!
      Sorry not to be more helpful. I am sure other contributors can add their observations but, meanwhile, I wish you well with your planning!
      Paul W

  38. Hi am interested in walking the northern route. Can anyone tell me if it is possible to take a dog. And do the albergues/campsites allow pets? Plan to walk all the route starting in mid may TIA

    1. Hi Michael,
      A lovely idea, to walk with your dog but the practicalities make it tricky. I feel it is most unlikely that albergues will admit a dog – unless, perhaps, it is a guide dog. Campsites may well have a different policy, although there are not a considerable number. You could look to “camp wild”, taking note of any local restrictions.
      Also, try:
      Admitedly in Spanish but it contains very useful and detailed information (including email addresses of albergues) and you could ask a few what their policies are.
      Good luck!

  39. I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced in your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for starters. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  40. My partner and I are planning on on embarking this route at the end of June ’17. Does anyone have tips on camping vs alburges? Also, how could we rent a bike for some of it, if we feel we need a break from walking or have shorter walking days and need to catch up days? I am very excited but slightly nervous about the logistics now we have booked our air fares.

  41. Hi Maggieb,
    You have every reason to feel excited! The Camino del Norte is an amazing experience and, provided you plan well, should not prove problematic.
    Look to the CSJ website, for example, for details of route description/accommodation and you can determine whether camping is a viable option for you.
    Also, try:
    Admitedly in Spanish but it contains very useful and detailed information.
    I cannot comment on the bike rental business other than say that walking for me has always been the preferred means of travel. And, as I have done, you will surely meet some exceptional folks on your journey.
    I wish you well!
    Paul W

  42. Hi Paul…..i just have a comment based on my experience on El Norte summer 2015. There was a couple with their dog and it definitely provided an additional challenge. If, as a group some of wanted to stay in the same albergue with this couple, we were never quite sure until we arrived if it was possible. Some albergues might not allow the dog inside but did permit fir him to sleep in the yard outside.
    Of course as stated above, you could call ahead but you might need to be flexible in case you decide to spend more time in one area or town etc….
    Good Luck…enjoy the journey.

  43. Hello,
    I have been thinking about Camino for many year, but this year I think I could take about 90 days off from my job and just go. Now I am more interested about Camino del Norte, because landscapes and less commercial than Frances. My first question is – is Camino del Norte totally safe for a single girl (including camping over night)? I dont want to be stressed about safety and just enjoy the road. I am asking that because I am not coming from a very safe country for women travelling. And 2nd thing – I am not in very good shape, I will try to train till August, but maybe I will not be prepared to do more than 10-15km per day. It is not really a walking challenge for me, the goal is to clear my mind and thoughts 🙂 If I could do 200-300 km walking from Bilbao to Santiago, it will be fine for me. So, hitch-hiking will be a choice for me. The question is – is it easy to find cars to pick you up and buses on this route for short distances? Thank you in advance for kind answers and great job here!

  44. Hi

    I am walking/hiking the Camino Santiago del Norte from San Sebastian for the first time. However, I have only 26 days (for personal reason, it is impossible to extend). Is it humanly possible to complete the route? Is there any example of stages/plans for the day-to-day hike?

    While I understand it is not recommended to rush to fully soak in the experience, I would also feel great remorse/regret for not being able to complete.

    Would greatly appreciate advice / sharing of experience if anyone had done so.

    1. Hi KPW,

      I walked half the northern route in Feb and then took the Primitivo. I know the northern route is doable in 28 days but in 26 days it’s pushing it. I wouldn’t say it’s not unachievable but it would depend on a number of factors. If the weather is on your side (it wasn’t for me), if your use to walking long hours, the weight your carrying and if your don’t pick up an injury. Doing it in that sort of time means a lot of walking and not much time to do anything else, which take away a lot of the experience of the Camino. Why don’t you consider doing the Primitivo? it’s a comfortable 12 day route, it’s the original way and some would say the most beautiful. The route is a good combination or all types of terrain as well. You can always add the extra 3 days to get to Finisterre or Muxia as well.

    2. Hi KPW

      Further to Jose’s comments I would encourage you (as, indeed I have suggested previously to others) to thoroughly research the route(s) you are considering taking. There are numerous excellent websites apart from hard copy publications available; try the CSJ for starters. Then, having done your homework, get back with specific questions to seek clarification. As Jose rightly points out, there are various factors which will determine your final proposed schedule – to generalize could be misleading.

      I wish you well!

  45. Hi to Jose and Paul. you both seem well versed in the routes and although this will be my first time doing the Camino, I’d like to try the del Norte route. My concern is whether there are sheer drops (I have suffered from a height fear vertigo since a little child) that might make me turn around and want to go back and also whether the northern route is crowded in August. I may wait until next June 2018 to do the route, given that I will have more time to devote to it. I am presuming that June is also great because the sunlight lasts longer.

    Thanks to all for such great questions and replies…


    1. Hi Rosette,
      Apologies for not getting back before now but I’ve been away – walking a (new, for me) route: the Camino del Salvador.
      As I recall, on the Camino del Norte there are no precipitous edges you need to fear. Where there are cliff paths they are invariably with a form of fencing. Should you encounter any point at which you feel uncomfortable there are (nearly) always detours you can take inland.
      June has longer daylight hours, yes, but it can also be busy with other pilgrims. If you can be flexible I would recommend April/May (preferably) or September.
      Good luck!

  46. Hi all,
    will be on the Norte somewhere between August and October this year. Would prefer to (wild)camp it all the way, but legislation in Spain is varied to put it nicely,. Have heard scary stories as well as reassuring ones. Any experience/advice? Best (official) camping sites etc.?
    Christiaan (Belgium)

  47. My husband wants to walk the Camino Norte or the Primitivo. He is 72 years old and quite fit (runs daily). I however am completely unable to walk and those kinds of long distances but he wants me with him. He also doesn’t relish the sleeping in albuerges as he is a light sleeper and wouldn’t get a proper enough rest for walking the next day. So his solution is for us to rent a camper for me to drive and meet him at the end of each day of his walk. I am quite used to driving in Spain and camping with a van so have no worries in that regard. Also we could have a nice meal together at the end of each day and talk over our experiences. Also some friends have expressed an interest in walking with him for a few days or a week at a time and he is quite happy about that, as am I as he won’t be alone. So is it possible to do this with a camper? Obviously I would have to follow a road, not a path and I’d have to find him at the end of each day but this is do-able, we think.
    Many thanks for any guidance or comments you can give us.

  48. hi all,
    I’m back from the Norte and quite disappointed to see that there was not one single reply to my question of May 2017. Figured it out myself then…

  49. Hello Everyone

    I am planning to do the Camino del Norte the last two weeks in June 2019. I only have 14 days so where do think my starting point should be? How many km per day is average? I may or may not be travelling alone.

  50. Hi
    A group of 5 of us are going to walk part of the camino del norte, self-guided. However, since we are getting on in our years, we would like to find a support van that could be available along the way.

    Do you know where we could find this service?
    Thank You

  51. i am planning to walk the Camino Norte in July, 2019. I have the Wise Pilgrim map book, but am not loving it. Does anyone have a suggestion for another map book more like Brierleys.

Comments are closed.

The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela