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The Northern Camino de Santiago

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The Northern Approach of St.James is a spectacular route. It presents stunning seashores, fishermen’s villages, picturesque mountains, pasture fields, and plush forests. If you wish to see each; the ocean and the mountains – the Northern Approach is a superb path to stroll. This Camino is also referred to as one of many hardest routes of the Camino de Santiago as a consequence of its mountainous terrain with frequent climbs and drops. If you wish to escape the crowds and go extra off the crushed observe, it’s a good various to the favored French Camino de Santiago.

Beautiful morning scenery of the Asturian coast in Northern SpainBeautiful morning scenery of the Asturian coast in Northern Spain
Beautiful surroundings on the Northern Camino de Santiago in Asturias

The Northern Approach route overview

  • The Northern Camino is among the pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago.
  • Whole distance – 835 km/518 mi
  • Place to begin – Irún, a city within the Basque Nation on the border with France.
  • Ending level – Santiago de Compostela.
  • Lodging – public & personal albergues, hostels, and accommodations.
  • Common price – 35 Euro per individual per day.
  • The route is marked with yellow arrows and shells.
  • The Camino could be walked, cycled, or performed on a horse.
  • The Northern Approach crosses 4 Spanish areas: the Basque Nation, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia.

For an in depth day-by-day itinerary that features strolling phases, distances, locations to remain, highlights, and challenges of the Camino take a look at our Camino del Norte strolling phases put up.

A recap of at some point of a pilgrim on the Northern Camino

The Northern Camino free downloadable PDFs

You’ll be able to obtain our free PDF information with strolling phases and locations to remain on the Northern Approach of St.James.

Journey insurance coverage for the Camino

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What’s the Northern Camino route?

The Northern Camino or the Camino del Norte is a long-distance pilgrimage route throughout Northern Spain to the tomb of Apostle St.James within the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It’s one of many important Camino de Santiago routes.

If in case you have time I’d recommend resting for a few days after finishing the Northern Camino there are numerous nice issues to do in Santiago de Compostela.

How lengthy does it take to stroll?

It takes between 30 and 35 days on common to finish the Northern Camino from Irun to Santiago de Compostela. The time is determined by how far you stroll each day and what number of relaxation days (if any) you’re taking.

How tough is the route?

Sure, the Northern Camino is a difficult route. It’s thought-about probably the most tough Camino de Santiago routes in Spain. To begin with due to the lengthy distance, over 800 km. Second, the route has many ascents and descents and a few lengthy strolling days. For inexperienced walkers, I might suggest coaching for the Camino de Santiago beforehand.

The historical center of Castro Urdiales and the harborThe historical center of Castro Urdiales and the harbor
The Cathedral and the harbor of Castro Urdiales from the Camino route

The place does the Northern Camino begin?

The Northern Camino de Santiago begins in Irun, a small city in Northern Spain on the border with France. You can begin strolling from wherever alongside the route relying on how far you wish to stroll and the way a lot time you will have.

The most well-liked beginning factors of the Northern Camino

Title of the place Distance to Santiago
Irún 835 km
San Sebastian 808 km
Bilbao 680 km
Santander 556 km
Gijón 348 km
Avilés 324 km
Castromaior 114 km
Distances to Santiago de Compostela from completely different cities alongside the Northern Camino

If you wish to get a Compostela certificates for finishing the Camino you must stroll no less than the final 100 km to Santiago. Apart from that there are not any guidelines or necessities. You can begin strolling someplace nearer to Santiago or begin in Irún and skip some components by taking a bus.

Should you’d prefer to stroll the whole route however don’t have sufficient time to do it directly you may break it down into a number of components and stroll it over a few years, each time you will have an opportunity. Many Spanish individuals stroll it this fashion.

get to the Camino?

The Camino begins in Irun. You’ll be able to fly there or take a bus or prepare. Should you come from abroad the best approach is to fly to Madrid first and from there get to Irun.

Flying to Irun

The closest to Irun airport is San Sebastian airport, simply 6 km exterior the city. There are direct flights solely from Spanish cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, and Malaga. Should you come from abroad you may first fly to certainly one of these cities and from there to San Sebastian. The flights are operated by Vueling (Barcelona and Madrid) and Volotéa (Malaga, Sevilla, and Valencia). You will discover out departure instances and costs on their web sites. A shuttle bus runs between the airport and Irun with one connection in Ondarriba.

Gettig to Irun by bus

The simplest approach of attending to Irun by bus is from Madrid. There are a number of each day direct buses. The journey takes between 6 and seven hours. You will discover out departure instances and costs on the ALSA web site. There are direct buses to Irun from Bilbao, Pamplona, Oviedo, Burgos, and Santander. To get to Irun from Barcelona first, you get a bus to Pamplona and from there one other bus to Irun.

Attending to Irun by prepare

You may get to Irun by prepare from many Spanish cities with one connection. Discover out data on the trains to Irun on the Renfe web site.

Baggage switch service on the Northern Camino

Should you don’t wish to stroll with a heavy backpack you should use a baggage switch service. On this case, you don’t have to fret about packing your backpack gentle you may deliver just about something you need. The Spanish put up workplace Correos presents baggage switch service on the Northern Approach of St.James.

Within the 2024 Camino season, they provide backpack supply on the Camino del Norte between the first of April and the thirty first of October. There isn’t a backpack supply service offseason. The common price is 8-9 euros per backpack per stage, relying on the space.

It really works very simply, you permit your backpack within the morning on the reception. The corporate picks it up and delivers it to your subsequent lodging place. By the point you arrive your backpack shall be there. You’ll be able to prepare the supply prematurely or make up your thoughts when you begin strolling.

Should you resolve to make use of the service it’s necessary to keep in mind that it’s often unattainable to ship backpacks to public albergues. The principle motive is that you would be able to’t ebook a mattress in a public albergue it really works on a first-come, first-served foundation. Even when your backpack is delivered there earlier it gained’t assure you a spot within the albergue till you arrive there. Supply is often organized between personal albergues and accommodations, these could be booked prematurely.

When is the perfect time for strolling?

In our expertise (we’ve walked a number of Caminos in several seasons) the perfect time is simply earlier than or simply after the height season; Might – June, and September – October. To begin with, it’s not too sizzling however nonetheless good and heat however your probabilities of getting rain are increased. Second, it’s not too busy, there are considerably fewer individuals in comparison with July and August.

To stroll the Northern Approach fully low season (November – February) is kind of difficult; it rains lots, it will get fairly chilly and windy, plus many albergues are closed for the low season – discovering lodging may change into an issue. As for strolling within the peak season we aren’t huge followers of overcrowded Camino, plus warmth makes you extra drained but when it’s the one time you will have – it’s doable.

How a lot does the stroll price?

Lodging 

The Basque nation is among the most costly Spanish provinces, particularly the touristy coastal half. Normally being a pilgrim is cheaper than being an bizarre vacationer no less than lodging prices you much less as a result of you may keep in albergues.

Inns and pensions is usually a good various low season when costs are decrease. The value for a double room with a non-public lavatory is between 50 and 60 Euros. In the summertime months, this kind of lodging shall be costlier, between 70 and 80 Euros, and should be booked prematurely, particularly in locations like San Sebastián and different seaside cities.

Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia are roughly on the identical value stage. There are extra public albergues there, and a few of them are open all yr. Public albergues are round 8 Euro, personal albergues/hostels price round 15 Euros, there are some albergues for donations.

For a non-public double room (with a toilet) in these three provinces, you’ll pay a median of fifty Euros, typically extra, typically much less, relying on the situation and amenities of the place. The most cost effective double room we bought was in Asturias for 25 Euro with a non-public lavatory. The most costly one was in Gijón for 60 Euro but it surely was an important place. Within the excessive season (July-August) put together to pay extra for accommodations. 

The price of lodging shall be decrease should you stroll the Northern Camino low season.

A sunset view of the historical center of Comillas, Northern WayA sunset view of the historical center of Comillas, Northern Way
The charming city of Comillas on the Northern Camino de Santiago

Meals

Meals on the Camino de Santiago is part of the expertise. Northern Spain specifically the Basque is thought for its meals; pintxos with seafood, fish, and greens. The area is called one of many world’s greatest locations for meals lovers. At first of the journey, you don’t really feel like spending some huge cash on meals however pintxos and seafood dishes within the Basque Nation are a must-try. The opposite three provinces have scrumptious meals as properly with an important number of fish, seafood, meat, and greens.

Consuming out prices roughly the identical in all places on the Northern Camino. Menu del Día (set lunch) is between 10 and 15 Euros, relying on the restaurant, space, and meals high quality. A cup of black espresso – 2 Euros, espresso with milk – 2,50 Euros. Breakfast (toast with jam and butter and low) – 5 Euros, English breakfast – 10 Euros. Dinner at a restaurant is between 20 and 25 Euro pp.

Purchasing

Meals costs in several provinces are roughly the identical. The principle distinction is between shopping for meals in a giant grocery store or a small grocery store, the second is often costlier. Common buying will price you between 6 and 9 Euro per individual for two meals (dinner and breakfast).

Arrange your funds

  • Lodging – 8-10 Euros pp. for municipal albergues; 15-17 Euros (typically 20 Euro) pp. for personal albergues and hostels. Inns (a double room) from 60 Euros, in some locations 80+ Euros.
  • Consuming out – common 12 Euros for Menu del Día; 2 Euros for a cup of espresso; 5 Euros breakfast with espresso; 2 Euros for a pintxo; 20-25 Euro for a restaurant dinner, 10 Euro for a dinner on the albergue (many personal albergues serve communal dinner).
  • Purchasing – between 8 and 10 Euros pp. per day.
  • Laundry – most locations cost 3-4 Euros for laundry and the identical for drying.
  • Baggage switch – 8-9 Euros per backpack per stage.
The modern center of Santander, SpainThe modern center of Santander, Spain
The view of Santander from the bridge on the Centro Botín

Our funds breakdown for the Northern Camino

For two individuals, 30 days

  • Lodging300 Euro or 10 Euro per individual per day. Should you stroll within the peak season (July, August) when all the general public albergues are open you may decrease the associated fee all the way down to 200 Euro pp. (about 7 Euro per night time on common).
  • Purchasing180 Euro or 6 Euro pp. per day. We tried to prepare dinner each time we had a kitchen or purchased ready-made salads or microwave meals.
  • Consuming out (espresso, pintxos, menus) – 220 Euro or 7,3 Euro pp. per day.
  • Different (primarily laundry, occasional medication) –  20 Euro per individual.
A four color pie-chart showing our spending on the Northern CaminoA four color pie-chart showing our spending on the Northern Camino
Our funds breakdown for the Northern Approach of St.James

In whole, we spent 720 Euro per individual in 30 days or 24 Euro per individual per day. We didn’t attempt to funds an excessive amount of and stayed a few instances in personal accommodations, went out for drinks, and typically ate Menu del Dia. As I already talked about we walked throughout the offseason and a few public albergues had been closed however accommodations and hostels had been cheaper.

Should you attempt to funds, keep solely in public albergues, don’t eat out, and purchase meals in supermarkets – the Camino will work out about 30 Euros pp. per day. For a snug stroll (nonetheless staying in albergues, not accommodations), consuming Menu del Dia, stopping for espresso, and going out typically – arrange your funds for 40 Euros per individual per day.

Extra particulars on the price of the Camino could be present in our The price of strolling the Camino de Santiago – an in depth breakdown put up.

What to pack for the stroll?

We’ve walked seven completely different Camino de Santiago routes in several seasons and all types of climate. Listed here are some objects we all the time pack on the Camino no matter what route we stroll and what month.

  • Merino Wool Socks – Merino Wool socks usually are not a gimmick, our days of strolling in low-cost socks are over. With merino wool socks you will have fewer blisters and so they don’t “stink”.
  • Headlamp – you’ll want one to make use of in a dorm if you wish to learn or want to seek out one thing in your backpack when the sunshine is off.
  • Kindle E-book – Carry no matter books you need, very gentle, built-in gentle, and the battery lasts every week.
  • Neck Pouch/Passport holder – hold money and passports collectively
  • GoPro Hero11 is a superb factor to have if you wish to make a video about your Camino. It’s very small and light-weight, waterproof, and simple to make use of, and the standard of the footage is superb.
  • Keep in mind that selecting the proper strolling footwear and a snug backpack for the Camino is important.

We’ve an in depth Camino de Santiago packing put up the place yow will discover the entire record of things advisable to tackle the Camino for women and men for various seasons.

Colorful houses along the river bank in Bilbao, SpainColorful houses along the river bank in Bilbao, Spain
The view of the historic middle of Bilbao from one of many bridges

Finest guidebooks for the Camino

We often use Camino guidebooks by John Briely. Sadly, he doesn’t have one of many Northern Camino. The choices are fairly restricted.

What’s the lodging like?

The Camino has a large community of albergues – particular hostels for pilgrims. Albergues could be public, run by a neighborhood municipality, and personal, run by an individual or an organization. Public (municipal) albergues are completely for pilgrims with a Credential strolling or biking the Camino. Public albergues are the most cost effective lodging choice on the Northern Approach. They price round 8-10 Euros per individual.

Non-public albergues often enable vacationers however more often than not individuals staying there are pilgrims. A mattress in a non-public albergue prices 15-17 Euros. Each private and non-private albergues have dormitory rooms with a number of beds and shared amenities. Non-public albergues often have higher amenities than public ones.

Options Public albergues Non-public albergues
Will be booked no sure
Just for pilgrims sure no
Want a Credential to remain sure no
Enable baggage supply no sure
Value 8-10 Euros 15-17 Euros
Amenities
Scorching bathe sure sure
Kitchen often often
Wi-fi typically sure
Restaurant no often
Washer often often
Evaluating private and non-private albergues
San Sebastian on a beautiful sunny daySan Sebastian on a beautiful sunny day
San Sebastian might be probably the most stunning metropolis on the Northern Camino de Santiago

Many municipal and personal albergues on the Northern Approach are closed for the offseason should you stroll the route between November and February it’s higher to test beforehand if the albergue you’re planning to remain in is open or not. 

Most locations alongside the Camino have accommodations or guesthouses. These are costlier however far more snug. Should you can afford it I’d suggest infrequently staying in a non-public room. It’s good to have some privateness and have the ability to relaxation properly with out being disturbed. We often keep one or two nights every week in a non-public room.

We haven’t seen many campsites on the Northern Camino there are some however most of them are off the route. We met a few individuals carrying a tent on the route however they ended up staying in public albergues as a substitute of untamed tenting.

How busy is the route?

The Camino del Norte is the fifth hottest Camino de Santiago route. In 2023 4,6% (20 582 pilgrims) of all pilgrims who arrived in Santiago accomplished this route. It’s by far much less busy than the Camino Frances or any route of the Portuguese Camino from Porto. Although there usually are not many pilgrims strolling it the coastal cities are extremely popular vacationer locations. July and August are the height touristy season which implies it will get very busy and costly. It may be not the perfect time for strolling.

Finest albergues on the Northern Camino

We couldn’t keep in each single albergue on the Northern Camino however we did some analysis beforehand to ensure we stayed in a few of the highly-rated locations. The record relies on our private expertise.

Monasterio de Zenarruza, the Basque Nation

The placement of the monastery is improbable – on the prime of the hill with gorgeous views over the world. The amenities listed below are fairly fundamental however to remain in a monastery like outdated instances pilgrims is a useful expertise. The monks obtain you very properly, it’s one of many few monasteries or church buildings on the Camino that truly helps and takes care of pilgrims. Right here you get a mattress, dinner, and breakfast all for donation.

Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto (personal), Güemes, Cantabria

This albergue is a particular expertise and a must-stop on the Northern Approach. Probably 80% of all pilgrims who stroll the Camino keep there. The place is a giant home the place you are feeling like part of a giant household. The amenities listed below are nice; dormitories with huge bunk beds, sizzling showers, wi-fi, a giant yard, a eating space, washing machines, and so forth. The whole lot yow will discover in a great personal albergue.

The proprietor is Padre Ernesto, a priest who traveled everywhere in the world serving to individuals in want. He’s now in his 80s however nonetheless very lively, has an unbelievable reminiscence, and is actively concerned in all of the initiatives. This albergue is the place the place individuals (pilgrims) get to know one another, sit at one desk for dinner, and make acquaintances.

View of Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto from the backyardView of Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto from the backyard
Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto, our favourite albergue on the Northern Approach of St.James

Albergue de peregrinos de San Martín de Laspra (personal), Asturias

One other home-like albergue the place you are feeling snug and really welcome. It’s a giant two-story home with an important host, good amenities, and a pleasant environment. We had been there low season, solely 4 individuals stayed that night time but it surely should be an important place to remain in season. There’s a kitchen with a giant desk within the center – a great place to socialize, meet new individuals, and prepare dinner collectively. The albergue has good amenities; the kitchen with all you want for cooking, wi-fi, sizzling water, heating, a washer, blankets, and so forth.

Albergue O Xistral (personal), Castromaior, Galicia

One of many prettiest albergues on the Camino with nice amenities, very cozy and heat – a spot you wish to keep longer with none motive, simply since you really feel snug. It’s an important place to sit back and relaxation, particularly should you, like us, arrive there all moist and chilly, it was so good to sit down by the hearth and luxuriate in being heat and dry. The albergue is an outdated home (sixteenth century) that was upgraded and renovated from the within although from the skin it nonetheless seems to be like a conventional Galician farmhouse. My favourite a part of the albergue was the rain bathe with colourful lights, it was the perfect bathe on the Northern Camino.

Albergue de peregrinos de Sobrado dos Monxes, Galicia

One other “must-stay” albergue on the Northern Approach. The monastery advanced is huge and really spectacular, you simply can’t cease trying round and discovering new particulars. In a approach I preferred this monastery and its cathedral greater than the cathedral of Santiago, it has this “noble patina” the place you may see how a lot time handed and the way lengthy it’s been right here. Staying contained in the monastery in one of many cells with its thick partitions and unbelievable echo is one thing very particular and completely different.

What’s the most stunning a part of the Northern Camino?

These are in our opinion probably the most stunning strolling phases of the Northern Camino de Santiago.

Irún to San Sebastián (the Basque Nation) – sea surroundings, cliffs, forest, seashores. Unimaginable views from the highest earlier than descending to Pasaia and gorgeous views on the way in which from Pasaia to San Sebastián.

San Sebastián to Getaria (the Basque Nation) – seashores, inexperienced hills, the ocean. Nice views from the lookout earlier than Zarautz and delightful Paseo Maritimo (promenade) from Zarautz to Getaria.

Laredo to Noja (Cantabria) –  a pleasant seaside stroll in Laredo to the ferry, stunning sea surroundings on the way in which from Santoña to Noja.

emes to Santander (Cantabria) – should you’re fortunate with the climate it may be probably the most stunning strolling days on the Northern Approach. More often than not you stroll on the sting of the cliffs, by the ocean, previous some stunning hidden seashores. Strolling barefoot on the sand of Playa Somo for a few kilometers is unbelievable.

Santillana del Mar to Comillas (Cantabria) – a pleasant forest stroll with a few small cities on the way in which, a lovely view of Comillas and the coast on the final 2km.

Comillas to San Vicente de la Barquera (Cantabria)  – breathtaking surroundings with cliffs, ocean, seashores, and inexperienced hills, I simply needed to stay in one of many homes on the highest of these inexperienced hills overlooking the ocean.

A spectacular scenery of the sunrise in the Northern coast of SpainA spectacular scenery of the sunrise in the Northern coast of Spain
The spectacular surroundings on the way in which from Comillas to San Vicente de la Barquera, certainly one of our favourite strolling days on the Northern Approach

Colombres to Llanes (Asturias)  – should you take the coastal route Sendero de la Costa you’ll get some unbelievable views, plus you’ll stroll previous Bufones de Arenillas (seawater geysers).

Soto de Luiña to Cadavedo (Asturias) – should you stroll alongside the coast you’ll get some spectacular views. 2km earlier than Cadavedo do a detour and go to the seaside first from there go as much as Ermita de la Regalina (small chapel), you’ll get some gorgeous views from there. 

Tapia de Casariego to Ribadeo (Asturias-Galicia) – the final little bit of strolling by the ocean, after Ribadeo the route turns inland. The final 5km to Ribadeo was probably the most picturesque with nice viewpoints. The bridge Puente dos Santos seems to be fairly spectacular from Figueras’s aspect as properly.

Mondoñedo to Gontán (Galicia) – not like many of the earlier strolling phases on the Norther Approach this one has nothing to do with the ocean, solely mountains, and forest. It’s stunning and distant, there may be fairly an uphill stroll on the route strive nonetheless to benefit from the surroundings.

What’s the worst half?

The stroll from Gijón to Avilés – 25km (besides 3km someplace within the center) is alongside the busy roads or by way of industrial areas, should you’re pondering of skipping a stage it’s one to skip. I hate strolling subsequent to the highways all of the noise will get on my nerves should you add to those boring industrial areas with gray fences and chimneys – it’s the worst mixture.  

Northern Camino FAQs

Is there a whole lot of street strolling on the Northern Camino?

There have been some roads and sidewalks on the route like on another Camino. If I need to examine the Northern Approach with different Caminos we’ve performed – there was much less strolling on asphalt or cobblestones than on the Portuguese Approach however greater than on the Primitivo. For the primary couple of days, the route goes more often than not on the trail or seaside, with not many roads.

More often than not you get asphalt or roads while you stroll in or out of the massive cities – often the least nice a part of the Camino e.g. strolling out of Bilbao, strolling from Gijón to Avilés, strolling out of Santander.

Is the Northern Approach a great path to stroll as the primary Camino?

Sure. For many individuals, we met strolling the Northern Camino was their first Camino ever, all of them had been wonderful and completed it concurrently us. I don’t suppose you want any particular Camino expertise or you must stroll the French Approach first – simply observe the information that skilled pilgrims give and take excellent care of your ft – you’ll be wonderful. I wouldn’t suggest strolling the By way of de la Plata as the primary Camino as a result of it’s longer, over 1000 km, with much less infrastructure and longer phases however del Norte is totally wonderful.

Is the Northern Camino probably the most stunning route?

It’s all the time tough to check and to decide on the perfect or the favourite one. We did get pleasure from this Camino lots, it’s an important mixture of gorgeous nature; the ocean and mountain surroundings, and cultural expertise. One other factor we preferred about this Camino is that you simply stroll by way of 4 completely different areas which provides you an important alternative to check them, see the variations between the areas, and admire how the surroundings, meals, and even languages change as you go.

Which route to decide on the French or the Northern Camino?

It is determined by what you wish to see and expertise. On the French Camino, you don’t see the ocean the route goes inland from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela. The Northern Approach follows the coast, it doesn’t imply you see the ocean each day for weeks however you do stroll quite a bit subsequent to the ocean, previous unspoiled seashores, and breathtaking look-outs.

Then again, the French Approach has extra infrastructure and plenty of extra public albergues than the Northern Approach which makes the stroll cheaper. Typically, the Northern coast of Spain is extra touristy and because of this costlier than the inland areas. After strolling each routes I can say that the Northern Approach is costlier than the Camino Frances however the surroundings is extra spectacular on this route.

You will discover extra solutions to your questions in our Camino de Santiago FAQ put up.

The Northern Approach of St.James planning assets

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