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:

If you are still doubful about what Camino de Santiago to walk you can see a nice comparation between the features of Camino Frances and Camino del Norte in the following page: Camino Frances vs Camino del Norte.

118 replies on “Camino Santiago del Norte – Northern Way”

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,
Glenda

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

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?

Thanks,

Tom

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,
Josette

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.

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.

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?!

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.

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

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

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!

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.

Thanks

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

Regards

Liam

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!

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!

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

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!