length

9 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

from $1690 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

9 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

from $1690 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self-Guided Trip

our walk expert

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • On the trail
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar Walks

Overview

Camino del Norte - Bilbao to Santander

The second section of the Camino del Norte covers approximately 117km from Bilbao to Santander, and transitions from the Basque country into Cantabria. Leaving the city of Bilbao behind, the journey to Santander largely follows the spectacular coastline for the majority of the way, with fine beaches and fishing villages to explore. There are some equally pretty inland sections, particularly in the latter stages. Arriving into Santander on the traditional ferry from Somo is a unique experience and perfect way to complete this stage of your journey.

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Camino del Norte

Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Explore Bilbao’s bustling Ribera Market and riverside 
  • Enjoy spectacular views from the UNESCO World Heritage Puente Colgante
  • Stop for a break in a fishing village and enjoy the local catch of the day
  • Take a dip in the Cantabrian Sea at one of the numerous fine playas 
  • Savour the rich regional gastronomy of the Basque region
  • Arrive in Santander via a traditional Pedrenera ferry boat 
Camino del Norte

On the trail

What it's like underfoot

This second stage of the Camino del Norte features some long walking days often with frequent ascents and descents; however, 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.

Itinerary

Daily Details

Day 1: ARRIVE BILBAO

Often referred to as the capital of Spain’s Basque country, Bilbao is a multi-faceted city with something to offer for everyone. This port city showcases a special blend of diverse old-world charm blended with modern industry and city life. Bilbao is renowned for its stunning architecture, world class museums, great culinary scene, shopping and range of historical places of interest for visitors to discover. After arriving in Bilbao and settling into your accommodation, the remainder of the day is at leisure to rest up or explore.

DAY 2: Rest Day in Bilbao

Enjoy a full day in Bilbao. Make sure you take time to visit this city’s most iconic attractions such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, explore the riverside locales and the bustling Ribera Market, stroll the streets of the Plaza Nuevo and the fascinating old quarter known as Casco Viejo, and perhaps enjoy a boat trip along the river or funicular ride if time permits. Bilbao is also renowned for its cuisine and there are numerous fine restaurants and pintxo bars where you can sample the local delicacies. Slightly further afield you could make a side trip to visit spectacular San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – a tiny island with its stone bridge and steep staircase, made famous as the location of ‘Dragonstone Castle’ in the Game of Thrones. There is plenty to see and do in and around Bilbao – talk to us if you would like to extend your stay!

Meals: B

Day 3: Walk Bilbao to Portugalete (14km)

Today’s walk is largely through the urban landscape of Bilbao and across the Nervión River, with opportunities to enjoy the city and river views. There are various route options and paths you can take out of Bilbao. The UNESCO World Heritage Puente Colgante (Vizcaya Bridge) in Portugalete is remarkable and offers great views of the river below. If you have time and energy, enjoy a stroll along Portugalete’s  waterfront promenade or ride the Puente Colgante, a unique experience that takes you across the river in a gondola suspended from the bridge.

NOTE: It is also possible to take a metro from Bilbao to Portugalete, for those who prefer to spend more time exploring Bilbao and wish to avoid walking through built up areas.

Meals: B

DAY 4: Walk Portugalete to Castro Urdiales (29km)

Today the trail follows the coastline passing some nice beaches with good views of the Bay of Biscay. The village of Ontón features the medieval church of Santa María de la Asunción Church with its impressive stone facade. The route to Pobena is relatively easy and you can break your journey at Playa de La Arena or Pobena with a coffee at one of the many cafes in the popular seaside town. Leaving Pobena behind the track mostly follows the coastline where there are most frequent ascents that will reward you with some fine coastal views. Continuing on to Onton the route then splits into two variants – the more scenic coastal route or the official inland route to Castro Urdiales.  Castro Urdiales is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of steep cliffs and beautiful beaches. Take in the beautiful Santa María de la Asunción Church and striking Castillo de Santa Ana castle located right on the waterfront.

Meals: B

DAY 5: Walk Castro Urdiales to Laredo (30km) or (23.5km)

Experience a mix of gorgeous coastal scenery and historical landmarks including the Chapel of Santa Isabel and Church of La Magdalena en route to Liendo. The first part of today’s walk follows the coast to Islares where you have a choice of routes. The high route option involves steep ascents and descents and is more challenging but offers stunning views of the Cantabrian mountains and surrounding countryside. The coastal route is relatively flat with gentle terrain and minimal elevation changes allowing you to take in the beautiful seascape and enjoy the seaside villages.

Meals: B

Day 6: Walk Laredo to Noja (14 km)

Departing Laredo, take the ferry to Santona to begin the relatively easy stage of the walk to Noja. Santona is a historic fishing town renowned for its delicious seafood so stop for a bite to eat if you have the opportunity. From here the main route runs close to the shoreline for most of the way to Noja; if the weather is good it’s a great opportunity to take a swim in the Cantabrian Sea at either Playa de Berria or Playa de las Helgueras. There is also a protected wetland nature reserve that is home to a variety of flora and fauna including various migratory birds such as European Bee-eater and Eurasian Golden Oriole which migrates from Africa. 

NOTE: It is also possible to take an alternative route from Laredo to Noja via Gama which is mostly inland and avoids the ferry crossing.

Meals: B

Day 7: Walk Noja to Santander (30km)

Today’s walk is long but enjoyable with plenty of gorgeous scenery to enjoy as you pass through the pretty inland towns of San Miguel de Meruelo and Bareyo. Take a rest break in Guemes before following the path back to the coast for the last stage of the walk to Somo. Here board a traditional Pedrenera ferry boat here for a unique arrival into Santander, with the incredible Gothic Catedral de Santander crafted between the 12th and 14th centuries, towering above.

Meals: B

Day 8: Rest Day in Santander

Santander is the capital of Cantabria and boasts a wonderful diversity of attractions including the historic Palacio de la Magdalena which is well worthwhile exploring. Make the most of your free day in Santander by immersing yourself in the city’s historical and culinary delights. Indulge in sublime gastronomic experiences including Rabas, deep-fried squid rings, Marmita, a traditional fish stew or the exceptional anchovies that Santander is famous for. The Catedral de Santander is worth a visit, as is the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAS). 

From Santander, you can also take an optional day tour to visit the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana.

Meals: B

Day 9: Depart Santander

After breakfast, make your own arrangements for onward travel to your next destination

Meals: B

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Map

Explore

Bilbao

There is plenty to see and do in Bilbao. The city’s most iconic attractions are the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, and there are numerous fine restaurants and pintxo bars where you can sample the local delicacies. From Bilbao, you can make a side trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – a tiny island with a stone bridge made famous in Game of Thrones. 

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Portugalete

The UNESCO World Heritage Puente Colgante (Vizcaya Bridge) in Portugalete is remarkable and offers great views of the river below. Enjoy a stroll along Portugalete’s waterfront promenade or ride the Puente Colgante, a unique experience that takes you across the river in a gondola suspended from the bridge.

Castro Urdiales

Castro Urdiales is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of steep cliffs and beautiful beaches. Take in the beautiful Santa María de la Asunción Church and striking Castillo de Santa Ana castle located right on the waterfront.

Laredo

As you approach Laredo on the Camino del Norte, you’ll be greeted by the sight of its long, sandy beach, Playa de La Salve, which stretches for miles along the bay. The golden sands and azure waters provide a soothing backdrop to the town, and it’s not uncommon to see pilgrims taking a well-deserved rest along the shore.

Santander

This coastal jewel on the Camino del Norte exudes sophistication, elegance and charm. The Bay of Santander is often described as one of the most beautiful bays in the World! Indulge in sublime gastronomic experiences and visit the gothic Catedral de Santander and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • 8 nights accommodation including hotels, small guesthouses and country houses, on a double/twin share basis
  • Daily breakfast
  • Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 20kg bag per person)
  • Use of RAW Travel navigation app during your Camino, with maps of your hotel locations and emergency contact numbers
  • Local and Australian emergency contact numbers
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance
Excluded
  • Single supplement $700
  • Solo Traveller surcharge if applicable for luggage transfers
  • Peak season surcharge if applicable at time of booking
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Local buses or taxis if needed  
  • Flights 
  • Train tickets 
  • Travel insurance
  • Guidebook and phrasebook
  • Arrival and departure transfers
Camino De Santiago destination guide

Exclusive Guide

Camino de Santiago

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! 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!

Download Now

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Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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