Camino del Norte

Irún to Santiago along Spain's northern coast.

Said to be the oldest Camino route, the Camino del Norte, also known as the Northern Route or the Coastal Camino, is an obvious choice for those pilgrims looking for a more scenic and solitary experience.

Rich in history, the Camino del Norte was once the safest passage for pilgrims, but slowly lost its popularity to the favour of the Camino Frances, the less challenging route to Santiago de Compostela. The Northern Route leads into lush green hills and mountains along Picos de Europa in Asturias, and along the sea with its breathtaking views and unspoilt beaches, for those who want to take a swim in the ocean! The distance from Irún to Santiago is 825km in total and can be conquered comfortably in 31 stages. Or, you can opt to walk via the Cornella Monastery – the Camino Primitivo, the original way, for 318 km.

There is a lot to experience walking the Camino del Norte, so to help you plan your journey and make it as memorable as possible, we spent some time putting together some ‘take away’ notes for you!

History Of The Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte is an ancient route to Santiago de Compostela. During the 9th century, King Alfonso of Asturias made this pilgrimage to the relics of St James. The Middle Ages saw the Moorish armies work their way North, and that made the French Way more dangerous. Providing safe passage through Kingdoms of Faith, the Camino del Norte became the popular way for pilgrims to reach Santiago de Compostela.

The Camino de la Costa became known as a much easier route than trying to conquer the Cantabrian Mountains, but with the dawn of the 11th century and the reconquest of Spain the Camino Frances became less dangerous and quickly took preference for pilgrims traveling from France. Political unrest, the black death and European reformation from the 14th to the 16th Century forced fewer pilgrims to make their way to Santiago, and the Camino del Norte grew quieter. With green hillside, landscapes and secret coves, The Northern way is fast growing in popularity with the modern Pilgrim.

Camino del Norte Stages

Day 1. Irún to San Sebastián

Day 2. San Sebastián to Getaria

Day 3. Getaria to Deba

Day 4. Deba to Markina-Xemein

Day 5. Markina-Xemein to Guernica

Day 6. Guernica to Bilbao

Day 7. Bilbao to Pobeña

Day 8. Pobeña to Castro Urdiales (Cantabria)

Day 9. Castro Urdiales to Laredo

Day 10. Laredo to Güemes

Day 11. Güemes to Santa Cruz de Bezana

Day 12. Santa Cruz de Bezana to Santillana del Mar

Day 13. Santillana del Mar to Comillas

Day 14. Comillas to Colombres (Asturias)

Day 15. Colombres to Llanes

Day 16. Llanes to San Esteban de Leces

Day 17. San Esteban de Leces to Villaviciosa

Day 18. Villaviciosa to Gijón, 29km/18 miles 

Days 18-19. The optional route to Oviedo to continue on the Camino Primitivo.

Day 19. Gijón to San Martin de Laspra

Day 20. San Martín de Laspra to Soto de Luiña

Day 21. Soto de Luiña to Cadavedo

Day 22. Cadavedo to Piñera

Days 23. Piñera to Tapia de Casariego to Vilela

Day 24. Tapia de Casariego to Vilela

Day 25. Vilela to Mondoñedo

Day 26. Mondoñedo to Castromaior

Day 27. Castromaior to Baamonde

Day 28. Baamonde to Sobrado dos Monxes

Day 29. Sobrado dos Monxes to Arzua

Day 30. Arzua to O Pedrouzo

Day 31. O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

Camino del Norte Maps

The Camino del Norte stretches along the Peninsula coast, hugging the Cantabrian Sea along the hubs of northern Spain. Starting from Irún in the direction to Compostela, it leaves behind a trail full of history, and winds through cities such as Getaria, Bilbao, Santander and Galicia. It offers options of taking a connection that guides you along the Primitive Way to Oviedo or, continuing on the Northern Way through Arzura and Pedrouzo to your journey’s end in Santiago.

For great info and colorful maps visit Atlas Guides or Wandermap

How Long is Camino del Norte?

The Camino del Norte offers a great scenic walking experience through Northern Spain. Starting in Irún, at the French border, the route runs along the coast and passes through the stunning town of San-Sebastián; the Basque city of Bilbao; and the flamboyant city of Santander. The route of the Camino del Norte is 825km long. If you are less adventurous, opt for the Camino Primitivo making it 867km from Irún to Santiago de Compostela.

When is the Best Time to Walk Camino del Norte?

With the Camino Del Norte being so close to the coast, the weather is always unpredictable – scorchingly hot one day, and pouring with rain the next. As the coastal routes are not as hot as the inland routes, and with a steady chance of rain on one or more days of your pilgrimage, the warmer months of June, July, August and September are generally considered the best times to walk the del Norte. We advise any Pilgrim to come prepared for whatever the weather may hold.

Accomodation on Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte runs for more than 800 km through beautiful, serene and wonderful places and is a more solitary alternative to the more popular and busy French Way. Due to its landscaped scenery along the coast and mountains, there are less pilgrim albergues along this way. To help you so you can better plan your rest stops, we have included a list of Camino del Norte albergues.

Best Guide Book for Camino del Norte

If you’d like a guide book to aid your Northern pilgrimage, Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago along Spain’s Northern Coast has your back.

It covers everything you need including practical information on what to pack, how to travel, where to stay, and much more. Don’t forget to check out our review of the best Camino de Santiago guide books as well.


Camino del Norte: Irun to Santiago – Matthew Harms

The Northern Camino a comprehensive guide

Heads up, this post might contain affiliate links. This means we get a tiny commission that goes straight back into site up-keep if you decide to make a purchase by clicking the link at no cost to you. All of our opinions are our own. 

Jinger Green

Jinger Green is a freelance writer, editor and lifestyle fanatic. When not writing or editing, she performs as a vocalist, volunteers at a local NPO, runs marathons and works on her MBA. You can find her on Medium and Twitter.

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