Camino del Norte

Spain's coastal pilgrim trail

The Camino del Norte (or Northern Way) is a centuries-old pilgrimage route that winds its way for 817km through the Basque, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia regions of Spain. Considered an older route than the Camino Francés, it follows the beautiful Bay of Biscay coastline passing by secluded beaches, coves and delightful towns and villages before turning inland on its way to Santiago de Compostela. The stunning coastal scenery allows you the time and space to fully contemplate and capture peace, quiet and solidarity. 

This fabulous walk offers stunning natural landscapes and other incredible highlights, including the unique culture, food, wine and architecture of each individual region. Consider the world famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Michelin starred restaurants in San Sebastian, the stunning Gothic architecture of Galicia’s Monastery of Santa María de Sobrado, and let’s not forget the wonderful camaraderie and friendliness of those you meet along the way. 

This peaceful quiet Camino pilgrimage naturally draws you into self-reflection and meditation while offering a physical challenge and beautiful camaraderie from fellow pilgrims and locals alike. Along this route, you’ll enjoy some of the best food, wine and local produce on the planet! If you’ve walked the Camino de Santiago and are looking for a new challenge, or if you prefer a more contemplative and adventurous hike for your first Camino, the Camino del Norte is an amazing pilgrimage experience that you will treasure long after you’ve put away your boots.

See our FAQs below for more information. 

Camino del Norte

The RAW Travel Difference

St Jacques Foot Path Marker
Boot icon


More people travel with RAW Travel to the Camino than any other operator in Australia and NZ. We take care of all the details: accommodation, luggage transfers, maps, breakfasts and transport. You can just relax and concentrate on your Camino knowing you have a secure booking each night with luggage transfers, so all you carry is your daypack.

location icon


We don't outsource your trip so we maintain full quality control over your experience. We also have our own ground managers in-country at key points along the Camino to give you any assistance you might need it. You can't beat having local back-up on your Camino when you need it.

signs icon


Flexibility is at the heart of our offer. We listen to what you want and tailor the daily walking distances to your ability and timeframes, giving you the experience you want. We can vary the length of stages and find the accommodation that best suits your individual needs and budget.

hotel icon


We book all our arrangements directly. With our long-standing relationships with hotels, you'll be well looked after. You'll stay in authentic, quality accommodation from grand Parador hotels to charming casa rurales. We have chosen the most interesting and centrally located lodgings right along the Camino route.

View Our Walks

Camino del Norte

43 Days

Camino del Norte

The Full Camino del Norte

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Walk the full route through Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia
  • Enjoy the distinct cuisine and local delicacies of each region 
  • Relax on some of the many world-famous beaches along the way
  • Discover Spain’s rich history, architecture and culture


view trip
15 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – San Sebastian to Santander

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Spend time at San Sebastian’s most famous city beach – La Concha
  • Savour the rich regional gastronomy of the Basque region
  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum
  • Arrive in Santander via a traditional Pedrenera ferry boat 


view trip
9 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – San Sebastian to Bilbao

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum
  • Explore medieval churches and charming seaside chapels 
  • Try Txakoli or Chacol an aromatic, slightly effervescent local wine
  • Visit Gernika, immortalised by Pablo Picasso’s powerful post civil war painting


view trip
9 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – Bilbao to Santander

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Explore Bilbao’s bustling Ribera Market and riverside 
  • Take a dip in the Cantabrian Sea at one of the numerous fine playas 
  • Stop for a break in a fishing village and enjoy the local catch of the day
  • Arrive in Santander via a traditional Pedrenera ferry boat 


view trip
14 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – Santander to Gijon

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Soak up the seaside vibes and fine seafood in Santander
  • Hike the beautiful coastline and rugged mountains of the Costa Verde
  • Marvel at the seascapes and biodiversity of the Oyambre Natural Park
  • Enjoy the dramatic scenery and beautiful beaches in Llanes


view trip
10 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – Gijon to Ribadeo

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Hike the less visited trails of Asturias’ ‘Green Coast’
  • Visit the beautiful coastal village of Cadavedo
  • Indulge in fresh seafood and tasty Asturian specialities
  • Explore the narrow streets of Luarca’s ‘Fisherman’s Quarter’


view trip
12 Days

Camino del Norte

Camino del Norte – Ribadeo to Santiago de Compostela

Moderate to Challenging Self-Guided
  • Visit Ribadeo’s coastline and the spectacular Praia das Catedrais
  • Enjoy the solitude hiking the through peaceful rural Galicia
  • Join in the excitement with many pilgrims as the Camino routes converge 
  • Qualify for your compostela by walking the last 100km into Santiago 


view trip
Camino del Norte



On the Camino del Norte you’ll often find yourself walking on rugged cliffside paths with azure waters below. As well as sun-drenched coastal stretches with stunning views of the shimmering Cantabrian Sea, the route takes pilgrims through tranquil woodlands, emerald meadows and rolling hills – terrain that is less strenuous but still dramatic. The waymarking along this route is generally good. In parts where the signage is confusing or unclear, you can navigate safely using our exclusive walking app. See: Camino del Norte Elevation



Where is the Camino del Norte?

The Camino del Norte (also known as the Northern Way, Coastal Route and Ruta de la Costa)  is in the north of Spain. It covers 817km and crosses four distinct regions: Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. 

How long does it take to walk it?

Walking the full length of the Camino del Norte (817km) takes about 45 days. Many people choose to walk shorter stages / sections of 7 to 21 days. If you don’t see the exact trip you’re looking for then consider a customised trip, individually tailored to your ideal walking distances, timeframe and rest days.

What are the popular starting points and distances along the route?

The Northern Camino de Santiago traditionally starts in Irun, a small town in Northern Spain on the border with France. You can start walking from anywhere along the route depending on how far you want to walk and how much time you have. The most popular starting points are as follows:

  • San Sebastian – 808km to Santiago
  • Bilbao – 680km to Santiago
  • Santander – 556 km to Santiago
  • Gijon – 348 km to Santiago
  • Ribadeo –195 km to Santiago
How do I get to/from the Camino del Norte?

For information about getting to and from the Camino del Norte, see our our comprehensive insight, which includes information on international flights, local transport, and recommended routes to get to your chosen starting point.

Here is an overview of the best international airports if you are starting in…

  • San Sebastian or Bilbao: Best international airports are Madrid (MAD), Barcelona (BCN), Paris (CDG / ORY) or Bordeaux (BOD)
  • Santander or Gijon: Best international airports are Madrid (MAD) or Barcelona (BCN)
  • Ribadeo: Best international airports are Madrid (MAD), A Coruna (LCG) or Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ)
  • Ending in Santiago de Compostela: Best departure international airports are Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ), A Coruna (LCG) or Madrid (MAD)
What transportation options are available along the Camino del Norte?

For travellers seeking a boost out of industrial cities, breaking up longer walking days, or taking a day’s rest, it’s crucial to know the transportation options available on the Camino del Norte. Public transportation like buses, trains, and taxis can help manage distances and facilitate the journey. Booking local trains can be easily done through websites like the Spanish Railways RENFE or Rail Europe. For bus travel, consider companies like ALSA, FlixBus, and Express Bouricott. Each region may have its own local transport operators, so it’s best to inquire about specific cities or areas for local transportation information. It is advisable to plan ahead and begin the day with a “boost” rather than relying on potentially limited services on the trail later in the day. Please be aware that any additional transport not arranged by RAW Travel will be at your own expense.

How is it different to the Camino FrancÉs?

While the Camino Francés pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela traverses inland Spain, the Camino del Norte sticks largely to the coast. It is considered more physically demanding than the Camino Frances routes due to its hilly nature, longer walking distances and the variability of the terrain. There are rocky trails and occasional steep ascents and descents, adding an adventurous element to your journey. You’ll also walk through woodlands, meadows and rolling hills – terrain that is less strenuous but still dramatic. See more information under ‘walking stages’ below.

How is it similar to the Camino FrancÉs?

Like the Camino Francés, the route is dotted with architectural gems and sites of historical significance, including cathedrals, monasteries and medieval bridges, each bearing witness to centuries of pilgrimage tradition. The Camino del Norte connects to the Camino Francés in the town of Arzua. For guests who have walked the last 100km of the Camino Francés, this section will be familiar. 

What is the signage like?

The way-marking along the Camino del Norte is generally good. In parts where the signage is confusing or unclear, you can navigate safely using our exclusive walking app. The route passes through more than 130 villages and towns, so access to food and water is good.

What are the walking stages?
San Sebastian to Bilbao (127km)

The first section from San Sebastian to Bilbao is often on an unpaved trail that makes its way from the coast to the mountains and back again, so you’ll experience an ever-changing landscape with dramatic coastlines, spectacular cliffs, grasslands and forest paths. Hikers should be prepared to tackle numerous ascents and descents each day, sometimes steep, which are guaranteed to get the heart rate racing. We do recommend sturdy footwear and walking poles as you will encounter rugged trails and frequent ascents and descents, that can be very slippery especially after rain. 

Bilbao to Santander (117km)

This second stage features transitions from the Basque country into Cantabria and involves some long walking days often with frequent ascents and descents. There are some options to break down distances and/or shorten some walking days, so this stage is arguably less strenuous than the first stage. Once you have navigated out of Bilbao’s urban areas you can enjoy more peaceful coastal and rural paths, and on many days there are various trail options you can choose between, depending on your sense of adventure, fitness levels, and the weather.

Santander to Gijon (220km)

This third stage is through Spain’s beautiful ‘green coast’ or Costa Verde – from Cantabria into Asturias province. Outside Santader’s suburban sprawl, the Camino del Norte’s country paths and seaside tracks are largely quiet and provide pilgrims with a pleasant walking experience, although due care should be taken on narrow paths and especially in more rugged inland and coastal areas. Some long distances and steep ascents and descents will present hikers on this section with a physical challenge. 

Gijon to Ribadeo (153km)

Much of the walking on the fourth stage is along coastal paths that vary from well-maintained to rugged and uneven. As you move inland from the coast, you’ll encounter hilly areas. The terrain can be steep and challenging, especially during ascents and descents. The sections through wooded areas offer shade and a more serene walking experience, but the paths are often narrower and more rugged. This section concludes in the coastal town of Ribadeo in the province of Lugo, Galicia.

Ribadeo to Santiago (195km)

On this final stretch of the Camino del Norte you’ll find yourself walking inland through Galicia’s farmland and lush rolling countryside. The scenery is nothing short of enchanting and provides a peaceful backdrop for your pilgrimage. You will join the Camino Frances in Arzua (‘the land of cheese’) before your journey culminates in the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela.

When are the best months to walk?

The Camino del Norte season starts on 1 April and ends on 31 October each year, so your Camino del Norte trip must fall within this period.

May and September are great times to walk

During these months, most accommodations, shops and restaurants are open. The Spanish sun is out for longer, allowing for leisurely walking days and comfortable apparel. While there is less rainfall in May and September, expect around 5 to 10 days of rain during a month-long camino, with rain persisting throughout those days.

April and October are also good options

If you are planning to walk during these months, you’ll need to be prepared with suitable gear and attire. It’s common to experience rainfall, chilly coastal winds and lower temperatures during these months.

Avoid July and August (summer high season)

These months become heavily crowded as Spaniards seek relief from the scorching 40-degree Celsius temperatures down south. Prices increase during the summer high season, making the Camino del Norte the most expensive route.

What is the terrain like?

You will encounter frequent uphill and downhill hiking, with an average daily ascent of 396m to 487m, emphasising the need for proper conditioning. The trail alternates between coastal and mountainous sections, occasionally passing along steep cliffs overlooking the coast. Dense forests of evergreen fir and eucalyptus trees are also present, while rainy days can make the trails muddy and slippery, making walking poles useful. The route primarily consists of paths and beaches during the initial days, with more encounters with roads when entering or leaving major cities, such as walking out of Bilbao, from Gijón to Avilés, or leaving Santander.

What type of footwear is best suited to this Camino?

Although the best choice for hiking the Camino is generally a good fitting hiking boot that provides stability and protection, during the warmer summer months outdoor trainers may be considered as an alternative, but they may not provide adequate ankle support and stability over consecutive long walking days. When selecting footwear it’s important to understand what the weather will be like during the time of your walk. We recommend choosing footwear that is waterproof, has good tread, is worn-in, lightweight and provides ankle support.

Are the places to stay on the Camino path?

The Camino del Norte is largely a rural walk and not all the accommodation is located in towns or directly on the Camino trail. In these smaller hamlets and in rural areas, accommodation is often in ‘casa rurales’, which are like rural B&Bs. They provide an authentic Spanish experience that our clients always appreciate and enjoy. Additionally, there are fewer options for accommodation on the Camino del Norte as there is less associated ‘camino infrastructure’ in comparison with the Camino Frances, and outside the main towns and cities accommodation on the Camino del Norte generally tends to be a bit smaller and more modest in nature in comparison to the Camino Frances and Portuguese Camino. 

Can you cycle the Camino del Norte?

RAW Travel does not offer cycling itineraries on the Camino del Norte.


Exclusive Guide

get inspired

Discover inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more in our free Destination Guide. All you need to know about walking the Camino de Santiago routes through Spain, Portugal and France!

Walking the Camino is an incredible journey that will immerse you not only in Europe’s grand history, food and culture but most importantly the extraordinary camaraderie that exists along these routes. The spirit of the Camino de Santiago is alive and well among people from all over the world. It is a ‘bucket list’ experience you will never forget!

Download Now

Customized, Personalization, Solution, Tailored Clothing

Not quite what you're after?

Tailor-made trips

If you don’t see the exact trip you’re looking for then consider a customised trip, individually tailored to your ideal walking distances and timeframes. Have a look at our tailor-made trips page on the link below and drop us a line:

Customise this trip

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw