During your Camino del Norte: San Sebastian – Bilbao you walk in 6 stages from San Sebastian to Bilbao. You follow the famous pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The total number of kilometers is about 130 km and the stages are just over 20 kilometers per day. That may seem short, but certainly the first part of the Camino del Norte is a tough camino.
You start your camino del Norte: San Sebastian- Bilbao in the Basque port city of San Sebastian. This town on the Camino del Norte is known for its beautiful beaches and stately buildings. And of course for the excellent gastronomy. In San Sebastian you can taste the most delicious pinxtos or treat yourself to a delicious dinner in one of the Michelin restaurants. The next day, however, you can expect a heavy walk! The Camino del Norte: Santander – Bilbao leaves San Sebastian, then heads into the green hills of the Basque Country. The pilgrimage route takes you past meadows and farms, sometimes through a forest, but you always have a view of the beautiful ocean.
The Camino del Norte goes after the harbor of Getaria into the interior via country roads. At the medieval port town of Deba, where you will also find a beautiful Gothic church, you descend to the coast. The Camino del Norte route then enters the Basque coastal mountain range and climbs steeply through dense forests to the top of the Arno. This is the highest point of this pilgrimage along the coast. Via a network of forest paths, the camino takes you to the impressive Zenarruza monastery. The Camino del Norte now descends sharply to Picasso’s historic Guernika. The famous painting can now be found in a museum in Madrid. But in the city you will find a few remains. Via country roads you walk up again into the rolling hinterland of Viscaya. Then you return to the coast. Where Bilbao the end point of this Camino del Norte: Santander – Bilbao awaits you.
Do you want to extend your Camino del Norte? Ask us for the possibilities. You will find information about our pilgrimages here.
Day 1 Arrival in San Sebastian
After arriving at the airport in Bilbao you will go to San Sebastian. Where your pilgrimage begins. You probably still have some time to explore this beautiful Basque port city. Famous is “la concha”. The beach in the heart of the city with the perfect shape of a shell. Many beachgoers can be found here in summer. In the evening you can enjoy delicious pinxtos in one of the many bars that the city has to offer.
Day 2 Stage San Sebastian – Getaria 27 km
The Camino del Norte leaves San Sebastian and the Gulf of Biscaye behind and travels west along the Basque coast. Today you have almost a whole day of hiking with a sea view. The trail starts with a steep climb to the top of Mount Igueldo. After this, the route continues without too great height differences on rural roads. You walk through an open landscape of meadows, farms, pine forests and cypresses. Just before you reach the small port town of Orio you will pass the beautiful Romanesque Martinus church. In the coastal town of Zarautz, the Camino picks up a medieval trail that takes us to Getaria our final destination. The Gothic church of this historic harbor town is definitely worth a visit.
Day 3 Stage Getaria – Deba 20 km
The path again follows the medieval road along the coast to Zumaia. On the way you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. There is now a steep climb to the village of Itiziar with the famous 16th century Santuario de Santa Maria. Then we descend into the valley of the Rio Deba, which we follow to the fishing village of the same name, which is also the end point of this stage.
Day 4 Stage Deba – Markina 24 km
Today the Camino del Norte takes you to the mountainous interior. And you also reach the highest point of this pilgrimage route. The top of the Col de Arno. Hence you have a unique view of all the beauty that Northern Spain has to offer. The coast and the mountains. You reach Markina through one of the most wooded areas of Northern Spain. In this historic town with a medieval center is the end of your pilgrimage for today.
Day 5 Stage Markina – Gernika 28 km
Today the Camino del Norte will take you to Gernika. Made famous by Picasso’s painting. He captured the tragic bombardment of the city on the silver screen. This canvas is now in a museum in Madrid. Today’s pilgrimage route follows a network of back roads and forest paths up to the top of the alto de Gontzegarai. The ocean, like a loyal friend, is always visible in the corner of your eye. A long descent through small hamlets will eventually bring you to the center of Gernika. Also the end point of this stage.
(you can split this stage)
Day 6 Stage Gernika – Lezama 21 km
Leaving Gernika, the Camino del Norte passes the Santa Luzia chapel. Our route now starts to climb again and through dense pine forests we eventually reach the Col de Morga via a small cobblestone road. On the way to the hamlet of Goikolexea you will pass the San Sebastian chapel, in its walls are memorial stones dating back to the 4th century. We now start a long descent through the hills and forests to Larrabetzu. This village is rich in the imposing mansions so typical of this region of Viscaya. We now continue our way through the green valley to Lezama. This village of provided houses dating back to the 14th century is also our end point for today.
Day 7 Stage Lezama – Bilbao 12 km
Today a short route awaits us that will take you to the cultural capital of Bilbao. The camino runs through arable landscape interspersed with a pine forest here and there. The first contours of Bilbao become visible from the top of Monte Avril.
The path runs through arable landscape interspersed with a pine forest here and there to Zamudio and the beautiful Romanesque church of San Martin. Here too we find the furnished mansions so typical of the nobility in the medieval Basque Country. The route now slowly climbs to the top of Monte Avril where you can enjoy the magnificent views of Bilbao. A final descent takes you to Bilbao, which with its stately Gothic buildings and ultra-modern Guggenheim museum seems to have found the perfect mix between old and new. This beautiful city is therefore a worthy end to this fantastic hiking trip.
Day 8 Return home
After breakfast you can enjoy the city of Bilbao for a while before your journey home begins. A visit to the world famous Guggenheim is recommended. Do you want to extend your stay in Bilbao? Let us know. It’s definitely worth it!