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Advice needed with Camino del Norte route

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?


Hi! The San Sebastian - Bilbao section is lovely! I walked the Norte in 2016 and loved it :)

I can't help with all the questions but I now live in Bilbao so might be able to help with a few.

In terms of weather, as you mentioned, it's unpredictable! It's not likely to be too cold but rain is a good possibility in the Basque country, so if you're prepared for rain and cool temps, October would be ok. It could also be sunny and warm! One never knows. I remember celebrating my first birthday in Bilbao at the beach, lying in the sun - in November!

Gronze is a great website for information on accommodation and route planning. The one downside to the Norte in October is that some albergues will be closed. So, if you're wanting to stay in Albergues you might want to plan ahead to ensure one will be open where you want to sleep.

And with respect to COVID, I can't speak to what it feels like to be walking just now, but in Bilbao it feels like back to normal in most respects. Masks are required on public transport and in any type of medical facility, pharmacy etc. They've stopped daily case reporting in the news and festivals are up and running as they were pre-Covid. Not to say that there are no cases - there certainly are - but I need to remind myself we're still in the midst of a pandemic from time to time as the news and other constant daily reminders have abated.

In reading forum posts on here from time to time, it seems like Albergues are a place to be careful as folks are getting Covid...though might be on the more frequented routes (i.e. Frances), hopefully others will have actual current experience and can help with that.

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
 
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ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hi! The San Sebastian - Bilbao section is lovely! I walked the Norte in 2016 and loved it :)

I can't help with all the questions but I now live in Bilbao so might be able to help with a few.

In terms of weather, as you mentioned, it's unpredictable! It's not likely to be too cold but rain is a good possibility in the Basque country, so if you're prepared for rain and cool temps, October would be ok. It could also be sunny and warm! One never knows. I remember celebrating my first birthday in Bilbao at the beach, lying in the sun - in November!

Gronze is a great website for information on accommodation and route planning. The one downside to the Norte in October is that some albergues will be closed. So, if you're wanting to stay in Albergues you might want to plan ahead to ensure one will be open where you want to sleep.

And with respect to COVID, I can't speak to what it feels like to be walking just now, but in Bilbao it feels like back to normal in most respects. Masks are required on public transport and in any type of medical facility, pharmacy etc. They've stopped daily case reporting in the news and festivals are up and running as they were pre-Covid. Not to say that there are no cases - there certainly are - but I need to remind myself we're still in the midst of a pandemic from time to time as the news and other constant daily reminders have abated.

In reading forum posts on here from time to time, it seems like Albergues are a place to be careful as folks are getting Covid...though might be on the more frequented routes (i.e. Frances), hopefully others will have actual current experience and can help with that.

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
Thanks!!! Actually we won't be staying in Albergues but in small hotels. I've checked the caminoway website and there one can choose the higher accommodation type which I assume are not the Albergues.

Totally true...weather is really unpredictable. October seems to be the start of the rainy season so the chances of rain will be higher but not a guarantee.
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
It's a perennial question whether to keep the flexibility of choosing accommodation as you go along or keeping to a fixed schedule knowing you have accommodation but you'll need to have back-up transport if you want to dwell a while or if you run into problems.

As regards the Norte, I'll be doing half and half this year. Mainly due to the a) lack of accommodation in some parts b) lack of availability on some dates having checked Booking.com and c) price hedging as you know the cost before getting there.

It depends on whether you want to be adventurous and hope the Camino provides which it usually does if you wait long enough.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hi! The San Sebastian - Bilbao section is lovely! I walked the Norte in 2016 and loved it :)

I can't help with all the questions but I now live in Bilbao so might be able to help with a few.

In terms of weather, as you mentioned, it's unpredictable! It's not likely to be too cold but rain is a good possibility in the Basque country, so if you're prepared for rain and cool temps, October would be ok. It could also be sunny and warm! One never knows. I remember celebrating my first birthday in Bilbao at the beach, lying in the sun - in November!

Gronze is a great website for information on accommodation and route planning. The one downside to the Norte in October is that some albergues will be closed. So, if you're wanting to stay in Albergues you might want to plan ahead to ensure one will be open where you want to sleep.

And with respect to COVID, I can't speak to what it feels like to be walking just now, but in Bilbao it feels like back to normal in most respects. Masks are required on public transport and in any type of medical facility, pharmacy etc. They've stopped daily case reporting in the news and festivals are up and running as they were pre-Covid. Not to say that there are no cases - there certainly are - but I need to remind myself we're still in the midst of a pandemic from time to time as the news and other constant daily reminders have abated.

In reading forum posts on here from time to time, it seems like Albergues are a place to be careful as folks are getting Covid...though might be on the more frequented routes (i.e. Frances), hopefully others will have actual current experience and can help with that.

Happy planning and Buen Camino!
I've read from some who've done it that the route is a bit hard with steep up and downs. Some rough terrain which can get slippery when it rains. Some even said that the Deba to Markina part is not for the faint hearted. Thoughts??
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
I've read from some who've done it that the route is a bit hard with steep up and downs. Some rough terrain which can get slippery when it rains. Some even said that the Deba to Markina part is not for the faint hearted. Thoughts??

Yes, there is a lot of up and downs! I noted in your first post that you're avid hikers so if you're accustomed to hiking and hills, I don't think it's too bad. I love hiking as well and didn't have any trouble on this portion. But it really depends on the kind of terrain you're used to!

The decent down into Markina is steep! But a wide trail so I saw lots of people doing zig zags to save the knees.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Yes, there is a lot of up and downs! I noted in your first post that you're avid hikers so if you're accustomed to hiking and hills, I don't think it's too bad. I love hiking as well and didn't have any trouble on this portion. But it really depends on the kind of terrain you're used to!

The decent down into Markina is steep! But a wide trail so I saw lots of people doing zig zags to save the knees.
Actually avid might have been too exaggerated...hiking enthusiasts might be the right word. Anyways up and downs are expected but what I mean are the ups and downs a long continuous stretch or an equal amount of flat and steep or not too long stretches? Is it miles of just going up steep hills?
 

donalomahony

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
"Camino from 2013 to 2019" paused for now...
Actually avid might have been too exaggerated...hiking enthusiasts might be the right word. Anyways up and downs are expected but what I mean are the ups and downs a long continuous stretch or an equal amount of flat and steep or not too long stretches? Is it miles of just going up steep hills?

Open Gronze in Google Chrome (automatically translated into English). Click on CDN, You can study each stage including elevation...
 

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Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
Hello there,
I walked from Santillana Del Mar to Baamonde last October 10-28. The weather in that stretch was generally sunny and fairly warm. No guarantees, of course, but you are beyond the Basque rains and hills at that point- so, it offers an option if you are flexible about your starting point. Don’t worry, plenty of ups and downs along the beautiful northern coast to amaze you, await.
I found October a great tîme to be there as it was harvest season in the country
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hello there,
I walked from Santillana Del Mar to Baamonde last October 10-28. The weather in that stretch was generally sunny and fairly warm. No guarantees, of course, but you are beyond the Basque rains and hills at that point- so, it offers an option if you are flexible about your starting point. Don’t worry, plenty of ups and downs along the beautiful northern coast to amaze you, await.
I found October a great tîme to be there as it was harvest season in the country
Thanks...looks like a good route too which I might try in the future. This being a holiday+Camino trip we've decided to only do about 1 week/100KM walk. That's why we like the San Sebastian to Bilbao route since we plan to explore San Sebastian for 2 days before starting the Camino and then explore Bilbao also once we finish the Camino.
We allocated 17 days for this trip and we fly in and out of Barcelona. So it will be as follows.

Arrive Barcelona fly to San Sebastian stay 2 days
Start the Camino to Bilbao 7 days
Stay in Bilbao 2 days
Fly to Barcelona stay 3 days
 
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Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
Actually avid might have been too exaggerated...hiking enthusiasts might be the right word. Anyways up and downs are expected but what I mean are the ups and downs a long continuous stretch or an equal amount of flat and steep or not too long stretches? Is it miles of just going up steep hills?
Thats about 6 days hiking with an accumulated ascent, and consequent descent, of about 3000m. The Gronze link provided by @donalomahony will provide the detailed profiles for each day. Very doable for most reasonably fit hikers but a bit of a challenge when you get to my age and degree of decrepitude. I did it in my 50's. I wouldn't try it now ;)
 

Mera

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF, El Norte, Primitivo, Porto, Madrid, Ingles
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
Hello, I walked during October last year. The weather was cool, the sky was blue, all the animals I saw on the road were plump, even squirrels, and no problem with lodging (please note that it was last year during the COVID). BUT, once I reached Galicia, it was raining everyday. From Ribadeo, instead of walking to Modoñedo, I took a train to Ferrol to walk the Camino Ingles. The weather, the rout and people there were just lovely. I recorded my journey on this forum. I detoured at times to visit a place like "the world smallest beach" in the middle a mountain. It might give you some ideas about what it´s like.

 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
As far as bag transfer.
I am currently on the norte and my wife has been using Correos the entire time and they have been nothing short of FANTASTIC!!!
Easy charge set online or you can call and human will actually answer the prompt. They will walk you through if you are having any problems.
 

annmte

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte - May 2022
I just finished the Camino Del Norte (Irún to Santiago) last week. I am 59, also hiking enthusiast and in reasonably good shape. I was very nervous after all I read here. I found the first week to be challenging but not horrible. I think the main reasons Deba to Markina is considered hard is because there are very few services. But if you time it right, there’s a great taverna just before you have to go up the biggest hill. It’s somewhat steep but not crazy if you enjoy hiking. Feel free to PM me if you want more detail. I LOVED the Norte, and I took advantage of almost every alternative suggested in @peregrina2000’s thread - glad I did. For me, the alternative TO Deba was harder than Deba to Markina - albeit very worth it!

With regard to bag transport, I found it very easy to use Correos (postal service) any time I wanted. You only need to let them know by 8 pm the night before and they will pick up your bag and take it wherever. Or you can give them your whole itinerary. Super easy and I imagine cheaper!
 

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Costa/Senda Litoral
Porto/SdC Sept 2022
Hello, 😁 I did del Norte at 56, solo female, from Irun to Laredo. It was tough and no joke but I managed. If I had a partner to help me navigate and motivate me when times got tough I probably would have made it all the way to Santiago. Deba to Markina was the toughest day, it does go up, up, up and up some more, from the sea into the mountains. It’s all so very beautiful though. 😍 Go with your gut.
 
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LinaMaria

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguese 17, Norte 19, Primitivo 22.
I've read from some who've done it that the route is a bit hard with steep up and downs. Some rough terrain which can get slippery when it rains. Some even said that the Deba to Markina part is not for the faint hearted. Thoughts??
Totally agree! Deba to markina was very tough on me (37) when I walked that route!
 

Guateboston

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May 3018
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
Just finished the whole Norte and it is incredible. Follow the alternative coastal routes whenever one exists. Weather was supposed to be rainy in May and we had only 1 day of rain. I did not send my pack but others did and you can use correos service very efficient. We did it on our own with no problems.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Yes, there is a lot of up and downs! I noted in your first post that you're avid hikers so if you're accustomed to hiking and hills, I don't think it's too bad. I love hiking as well and didn't have any trouble on this portion. But it really depends on the kind of terrain you're used to!

The decent down into Markina is steep! But a wide trail so I saw lots of people doing zig zags to save the knees.
Ups and downs are manageable so long as it's a gradual incline/decline. But steep uphill for an average hiker might make one run out of breath and have to take lot's of breaks along the way.

My only worry is having to do the hike for 6 consecutive days which is something I haven't done.
 

John Holland

Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
I am in my 60s and have walked the Norte twice, both times staying in albergues, in recent years and carrying a full pack each time. The ups and downs are nowhere near as difficult as is generally made out. The path is generally quite good. And most of the "up" sections are more like long slopes rather than "climbing up". There are plenty of flat spots in between. Walking across France on the camino there (and before you reach Le Puy) is much more difficult. And same goes for the Primitivo. Considerably more ups and downs. You are only doing 100 kms in one week and staying in hotels. That means a better bed and easier time each night to relax etc. You should be fine, especially if you use a company/correos to transport your luggage.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I am in my 60s and have walked the Norte twice, both times staying in albergues, in recent years and carrying a full pack each time. The ups and downs are nowhere near as difficult as is generally made out. The path is generally quite good. And most of the "up" sections are more like long slopes rather than "climbing up". There are plenty of flat spots in between. Walking across France on the camino there (and before you reach Le Puy) is much more difficult. And same goes for the Primitivo. Considerably more ups and downs. You are only doing 100 kms in one week and staying in hotels. That means a better bed and easier time each night to relax etc. You should be fine, especially if you use a company/correos to transport your luggage.
Oh thanks John for the reassurance. That helps a lot.
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Ups and downs are manageable so long as it's a gradual incline/decline. But steep uphill for an average hiker might make one run out of breath and have to take lot's of breaks along the way.

My only worry is having to do the hike for 6 consecutive days which is something I haven't done.

I agree with the posts above! I think it's a very doable route and the Gronze website can show you the elevation profiles to get an idea of what people mean by "ups and downs".

And I always find walking consecutive days gets easier as you go. Day 1 is like a normal day hike, day 2 a bit of a surprise for the body as you're out walking again, but (for me, anyway) by day 3 it starts to feel normal! I've done week long walks/Caminos before and by the end just want to keep going :)

Happy trails!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I agree with the posts above! I think it's a very doable route and the Gronze website can show you the elevation profiles to get an idea of what people mean by "ups and downs".

And I always find walking consecutive days gets easier as you go. Day 1 is like a normal day hike, day 2 a bit of a surprise for the body as you're out walking again, but (for me, anyway) by day 3 it starts to feel normal! I've done week long walks/Caminos before and by the end just want to keep going :)

Happy trails!
Yes I did try and take a peek at the Gronze website and it really does help a lot.

Another worry is getting lost. A small wrong turn and one ends up in the wrong path and minutes or hours added to the walk. What app/guide did you use to be on the correct path?

I know people will always have different opinions as to how easy or hard the walk will be coz everyone's capabilities are different. I guess there's only one way to know and that's to actually just do it...as NIKE would say :) .
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Yes I did try and take a peek at the Gronze website and it really does help a lot.

Another worry is getting lost. A small wrong turn and one ends up in the wrong path and minutes or hours added to the walk. What app/guide did you use to be on the correct path?

The Norte is well signed with lots of yellow arrows guiding the way. I found the cities are the most challenging in terms of navigation as arrows can be harder to spot. Locals can be helpful and shout out when you're going the wrong way.

I like the app Mapy.cz to just check and confirm I haven't missed an arrow when I haven't seen one for a little while. It's not Camino specific but has the route on a blue line and your phone GPS shows where you are relative to it. Also shows alternatives if you're up for a little adventure:)

I'm sure others have used other apps and can recommend those. I think they're all pretty similar.

K
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
My only worry is having to do the hike for 6 consecutive days which is something I haven't done
If you pay attention to your feet you should be fine. Do not ignore a hot spot and let it turn into a blister.
Get your footwear sorted out by walking 10 miles/16 km a day for at least three consecutive days to determine if you have any particular trouble spots with your chosen shoe/sock combination. If you find that you are blister prone in certain areas you can try different strategies like double socks, applying Vaseline or a friction balm, or taping problem areas like I do. My preferred tape for this purpose is Omnifix or Hypafix, which are thin flexible tapes that are widely available in pharmacies in Spain. I buy my initial roll from Amazon.
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
I've read from some who've done it that the route is a bit hard with steep up and downs. Some rough terrain which can get slippery when it rains. Some even said that the Deba to Markina part is not for the faint hearted. Thoughts??
Deba to Markina last July was not easy but you do have some climbs on safe dirt paths and roads. I hike i. The wildness in the US a lot so I found this part didn’t feel that remote (safety wise). The wether was on and off misty so we got some great views sometimes. I’m 50 and fit and did it with my girlfriend (her first Camino)
 
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cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
Yes I did try and take a peek at the Gronze website and it really does help a lot.

Another worry is getting lost. A small wrong turn and one ends up in the wrong path and minutes or hours added to the walk. What app/guide did you use to be on the correct path?

I know people will always have different opinions as to how easy or hard the walk will be coz everyone's capabilities are different. I guess there's only one way to know and that's to actually just do it...as NIKE would say :) .
For staying on the trail I used a combo of the Buen Camino app and downloaded offline maps on Google maps iOS app to my phone for the region. It worked really well
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte (2020)
I've read from some who've done it that the route is a bit hard with steep up and downs. Some rough terrain which can get slippery when it rains. Some even said that the Deba to Markina part is not for the faint hearted. Thoughts??
I’m also curious about the ups and downs compared to the CF from SJPDP to Pamplona. I just finished that part today and then bused to Bilbao to avoid the extreme heat. I’ll go back to CF when the temps drop.
This is my first and I’m 72 and other than very frequent stops on the uphills and all the steps, I’m feeling good with no foot or knee issues.
So how would you say the CF and Norte compare? I’ll be starting Norte from Bilbao.
 

John Holland

Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
The Norte is definitely somewhat tougher than the CF, although I don't think there is anywhere along the Norte harder than the first part on the CF, between SJPP and Roncevalles via Orisson. Overall there are more ups and downs. But the ups and downs are not too bad. They are not mountains, more like long slopes. The path itself is quite good. The Norte also has - in my opinion - more variety. Eg little ferries you have to catch across bays and estuaries, a train over a long bridge, beaches you walk along, the transporter bridge at Portugalete (just outside Bilbao), street escalators at Portugalete to make the uphill walk easy etc.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
The Norte is definitely somewhat tougher than the CF, although I don't think there is anywhere along the Norte harder than the first part on the CF, between SJPP and Roncevalles via Orisson. Overall there are more ups and downs. But the ups and downs are not too bad. They are not mountains, more like long slopes. The path itself is quite good. The Norte also has - in my opinion - more variety. Eg little ferries you have to catch across bays and estuaries, a train over a long bridge, beaches you walk along, the transporter bridge at Portugalete (just outside Bilbao), street escalators at Portugalete to make the uphill walk easy etc.
Thanks...we're only doing about 100km from San Sebastian to Bilbao. Only doing the Camino for a week plus another week for holiday.
 
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Camino del Norte (2020)
The Norte is definitely somewhat tougher than the CF, although I don't think there is anywhere along the Norte harder than the first part on the CF, between SJPP and Roncevalles via Orisson. Overall there are more ups and downs. But the ups and downs are not too bad. They are not mountains, more like long slopes. The path itself is quite good. The Norte also has - in my opinion - more variety. Eg little ferries you have to catch across bays and estuaries, a train over a long bridge, beaches you walk along, the transporter bridge at Portugalete (just outside Bilbao), street escalators at Portugalete to make the uphill walk easy etc.
I’m here now and although it’s hot, it’s definitely cooler than the CF these days.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I’m here now and although it’s hot, it’s definitely cooler than the CF these days.
I'll be doing the walk in late October so I assume it'll be colder. If it's not too much to ask please do give some feedback on the route from San Sebastian to Bilbao ie which part is the hardest etc...thanks.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
On a side note sorry for the noob question but what is a GR route? I often see this being mentioned. In doing the Camino walk one is supposed to follow the yellow signs towards the next destination. I assume the GR route is a different longer route?
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
On a side note sorry for the noob question but what is a GR route? I often see this being mentioned. In doing the Camino walk one is supposed to follow the yellow signs towards the next destination. I assume the GR route is a different longer route?


Hi! GR routes are other long distance trails throughout Europe. There are loads of them and at times the Camino coincides and is the same path. The Caminos are marked by yellow arrows while GR routes are marked by red & white paint. See here for more: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GR_footpath

The Norte coincides with some of these for some stretches and/or - at least back when I did it- at times is very close to a GR route, which may prove more scenic; along the coastline, for example, as opposed to on the road.

I've been using the app May.cz when out walking and it shows the Camino (blue line), GR routes (red lines) as well as one more network that I can't recall the name of! PR routes, I think, and they are marked by yellow and white paint.

Yes, to walk the Camino, just follow the yellow arrows and other official markings. Some guidebooks and others might suggest an alternative for some stages that use one of these other marked routes but of course, that's your choice if you decide to follow.

Buen Camino!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I've read some articles that also say the route from Bilbao to Santander which also takes a week to complete is also very nice and scenic. Which of the two would be your choice? It seems from looking at the Gronze app the Bilbao to Santander route is easier and has less ups and downs. Also maybe more scenic? If we do choose the Bilbao to Santander route I'd still be visiting San Sebastian 2 days before we start the walk since I'm a foodie and everyone raves about the food there. Thanks.
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Take a short side trip to San Sebastian on one of your days in Bilbao and enjoy the very best offering of tapas in the entire world in the numberous cafe bars in Old Town.
No need for Caminoways!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Take a short side trip to San Sebastian on one of your days in Bilbao and enjoy the very best offering of tapas in the entire world in the numberous cafe bars in Old Town.
No need for Caminoways!
Actually our flight arrives in Barcelona then we take a local flight to San Sebastian and stay for 3 nights. Then on the 3rd day we start our Camino walk to Bilbao and then stay in Bilbao for 3 nights also before flying back to Barcelona.
 

slf5163

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte , coming in 2022
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
I'm using CaminoWays (walking late August-early Oct). I wanted a private room (COVID) and they are moving my pack. They are easy to work with, cheaper than other companies I inquired with. Since I haven't done the trip yet, can't speak to the places I'm booked into each day. BUT looking forward to it all.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
I did part of the Norte from San Sebastian in September 2016 and it was great. My first Camino and I'd like to do it again and finish it. Weather who knows?
 
F

Former member 95219

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I did part of the Norte from San Sebastian in September 2016 and it was great. My first Camino and I'd like to do it again and finish it. Weather who knows?
I loved the Norte. Did it July last year. Loved it. Ended up doing the Irun to San Sebastien sector twice as missed turned for the upper route first time out. 55, creeky news, slow but good stamina. Found it a lot easier than expected. Only issue I had was crossing Ribadeo Bridge due to my excessive fear of heights!
 
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musicianary

New Member
Past OR future Camino
1341
I am in my 60s and have walked the Norte twice, both times staying in albergues, in recent years and carrying a full pack each time. The ups and downs are nowhere near as difficult as is generally made out. The path is generally quite good. And most of the "up" sections are more like long slopes rather than "climbing up". There are plenty of flat spots in between. Walking across France on the camino there (and before you reach Le Puy) is much more difficult. And same goes for the Primitivo. Considerably more ups and downs. You are only doing 100 kms in one week and staying in hotels. That means a better bed and easier time each night to relax etc. You should be fine, especially if you use a company/correos to transport your luggage.
Hello and Buen Camino,
Like John I am in my 60’s and I walked the Norte (Irun to Santiago) in July/Aug. 2019. I am fit but never considered myself a long distance hiker. I am SO excited you get to experience the beauty of mountains, oceans, as well as the warm Basque hospitality and cuisine.
I wore a 45 Liter Osprey pack which weighed about 15-17 pounds, depending on how much food and water I carried (I chose not to use a carrier service, but there is no right or wrong in that regard - do what is best for you, it’s your Camino :). I did the walk in 40 days (enjoying 3 days of rest interspersed throughout the walk). I found the ups and downs challenging at times but not overwhelming. Having used poles, I would never do a Camino again without them. I can honestly say the saved my life.
I also avoided blisters by putting Vaseline on my feet each morning, a pair of Injinji light weight socks, then a medium weight sock with good sole padding over those.
You will love the Norte,
Dave
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hello and Buen Camino,
Like John I am in my 60’s and I walked the Norte (Irun to Santiago) in July/Aug. 2019. I am fit but never considered myself a long distance hiker. I am SO excited you get to experience the beauty of mountains, oceans, as well as the warm Basque hospitality and cuisine.
I wore a 45 Liter Osprey pack which weighed about 15-17 pounds, depending on how much food and water I carried (I chose not to use a carrier service, but there is no right or wrong in that regard - do what is best for you, it’s your Camino :). I did the walk in 40 days (enjoying 3 days of rest interspersed throughout the walk). I found the ups and downs challenging at times but not overwhelming. Having used poles, I would never do a Camino again without them. I can honestly say the saved my life.
I also avoided blisters by putting Vaseline on my feet each morning, a pair of Injinji light weight socks, then a medium weight sock with good sole padding over those.
You will love the Norte,
Dave
Hi Dave...thank you so much for the encouragement. Truly appreciate it. I'm turning 52 next month. Still play basketball twice a week with guys about 20 years younger than me. I haven't been hiking lately as much...maybe now only once a week since I've gone back to playing ball as my main form of exercise. In terms of stamina I'm quite confident that I could do the walk. My only worry is will my feet be able to cope with the task of walking 6 straight days. I'm greatly inspired by not only you but all the others who've given their thoughts throughout this entire post. What would make it perfect though is God willing weather will be cooperative during that entire week. But again thanks to you and everyone here...lot's of good and happy vibes going around. Pretty amazing to be part of such a community.

Oh by the way I'm from the Philippines and from here to Barcelona it'll take about 20 hours not including the flight from Barcelona to San Sebastian which is why I'm planning to spend 3 days relaxing and enjoying San Sebastian before I do the Camino...recovering from Jet Lag and all.
 

Globalroaming074

El Norte
Past OR future Camino
El Norte (May 2022)
Primitivo (May 2023)
Hi...me (51) and my wife (48) are avid hikers but will be the first time to try the Camino. We decided to try the Camino del Norte on the 3rd week of October starting from San Sebastian only until Bilbao. Need some advice...thanks.

1) I know weather is very unpredictable but is it a good idea to do this in the middle of October? Will it be too cold?

2) Are websites like caminoways etc that offer their services like helping you with the luggage transfer/accommodation/food etc advisable? I know it can get pricey but they do seem to help at least make the journey easier.

3) How is the current Covid situation now in these areas?
Hi @ciotime

I’ve just finished the whole of El Norte from Irún to SDC, so the first week that you want to do is about a month ago now when I started on 14/5.
We also only stayed in hotels and private rooms in pensions and didn’t book anything in advance and had no problem getting accommodation. I only booked on the day and always directly with the hotel and never through Booking.com because the price is always higher - the hotel must pay a commission if the reservation goes through booking.com, so you’re the one paying for it.
Second, covid wasn’t a thing at all on the Camino. I had a mask in my bag and only had to put it on when entering a pharmacy.
Good luck, it’s a beautiful walk!!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Hi @ciotime

I’ve just finished the whole of El Norte from Irún to SDC, so the first week that you want to do is about a month ago now when I started on 14/5.
We also only stayed in hotels and private rooms in pensions and didn’t book anything in advance and had no problem getting accommodation. I only booked on the day and always directly with the hotel and never through Booking.com because the price is always higher - the hotel must pay a commission if the reservation goes through booking.com, so you’re the one paying for it.
Second, covid wasn’t a thing at all on the Camino. I had a mask in my bag and only had to put it on when entering a pharmacy.
Good luck, it’s a beautiful walk!!
Oh thanks for the update. My route is only from San Sebastian to Bilbao. As stated by some and also by looking at the Gronze app this route specially the Deba to Markina part has some steep ascend and descends. If you can still remember was it hard or manageable? Most have said that it's not really that difficult but there are a few who did said that they had a hard time. I understand that everyone has different capabilities but how was it for you?

We too are gonna be staying only at hotels just to be safe since most of the Covid cases I'm told is due to the Albergues. I realize that booking directly with the hotels will be cheaper but the wife wants to book with the online services like Caminoways etc to take care of the hotel bookings and luggage transfers she wants to be sure of our luggage. I did inform her that the luggage can be transferred from one city to the next via Correos but she's too worried that something might go wrong. Oh well the wife always wins :) .
 
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Globalroaming074

El Norte
Past OR future Camino
El Norte (May 2022)
Primitivo (May 2023)
Oh thanks for the update. My route is only from San Sebastian to Bilbao. As stated by some and also by looking at the Gronze app this route specially the Deba to Markina part has some steep ascend and descends. If you can still remember was it hard or manageable? Most have said that it's not really that difficult but there are a few who did said that they had a hard time. I understand that everyone has different capabilities but how was it for you?

We too are gonna be staying only at hotels just to be safe since most of the Covid cases I'm told is due to the Albergues. I realize that booking directly with the hotels will be cheaper but the wife wants to book with the online services like Caminoways etc to take care of the hotel bookings and luggage transfers she wants to be sure of our luggage. I did inform her that the luggage can be transferred from one city to the next via Correos but she's too worried that something might go wrong. Oh well the wife always wins :) .
The route from San Sebastián to Bilbao is definitely the hardest part of the whole El Norte, with lots of up and down, that said it is also the most beautiful part. I found it challenging at times, especially with the temperatures in the low 30 degrees C, making it hot and sticky, but never did I think it was unbearable or impossible and the slight discomfort at times was FAR, FAR outweighed by the beauty and the nature. Remember, to get those spectacular views you have to go up!! Some people used hiking sticks, which really helps if you have bad knees or you’re unsteady on your feet, neither of us needed them but I know they can really help some people. If you have a reasonable level of fitness and good cardio fitness you’ll be fine. That being said there were all sorts of people walking, some faster, some slower - it’s not a race and remember, it’s just walking!! So what if it takes you all day - you’ve got nothing else to do right? If you get tired you stop, get your second wind and keep going.
Do it, you won’t regret it. Just try and get even a little bit of training in (multiple hour continual walking) prior to starting out. If I can offer any further help just shout out.
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
1,157,543 steps and I finally walked into the Square in front of the Cathedral.
After completing a number of camino's through the years the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment never ceases to diminish.
What a great time!!!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
The route from San Sebastián to Bilbao is definitely the hardest part of the whole El Norte, with lots of up and down, that said it is also the most beautiful part. I found it challenging at times, especially with the temperatures in the low 30 degrees C, making it hot and sticky, but never did I think it was unbearable or impossible and the slight discomfort at times was FAR, FAR outweighed by the beauty and the nature. Remember, to get those spectacular views you have to go up!! Some people used hiking sticks, which really helps if you have bad knees or you’re unsteady on your feet, neither of us needed them but I know they can really help some people. If you have a reasonable level of fitness and good cardio fitness you’ll be fine. That being said there were all sorts of people walking, some faster, some slower - it’s not a race and remember, it’s just walking!! So what if it takes you all day - you’ve got nothing else to do right? If you get tired you stop, get your second wind and keep going.
Do it, you won’t regret it. Just try and get even a little bit of training in (multiple hour continual walking) prior to starting out. If I can offer any further help just shout out.
Thanks for the knowledge. You are right that one needs to enjoy the walk and appreciate the views. But I also don't want to spend the whole day walking and end up reaching the next city late in the afternoon coz I also want to explore and walk around the place that I'll be spending the night in.
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
Thanks for the knowledge. You are right that one needs to enjoy the walk and appreciate the views. But I also don't want to spend the whole day walking and end up reaching the next city late in the afternoon coz I also want to explore and walk around the place that I'll be spending the night in.
That’s me as well. I never could just lie in the albuerges and rest - I had to explore each little town and soak in just being in Spain!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
That’s me as well. I never could just lie in the albuerges and rest - I had to explore each little town and soak in just being in Spain!
Totally correct. You are after all in Spain as a tourist. It would be such a waste of time just to reach the next city very late and not be able to explore. In fact I'm sure my main motivation to reach the next destination is to be able to walk around the city and taste the food!
 
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Sparleb644

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Via Podiensis 2017
del Norte 2018
Fisterra 2018
Primitivo 2019
Madrid (2020)
Thanks for the knowledge. You are right that one needs to enjoy the walk and appreciate the views. But I also don't want to spend the whole day walking and end up reaching the next city late in the afternoon coz I also want to explore and walk around the place that I'll be spending the night in.
My wife and I did the Norte in 2018 in May. So can’t speak to the fall weather. The section from San Sébastien to Bilbao is the hilliest part of the Norte. The subsequent section is less. I was imprudent on the Deba - Markina day and didn’t drink enough and didn’t keep my legs warm (I have an old knee injury). We had to skip to Bilbao after that day and took a day off. Then things were OK. I was 59 when we did it. Because of the cumulated ups and downs each day, if you start around 8 - 8:30, you will arrive around 4. That does give you time to visit the towns. Supper in Spain is later - after 8:30 and the whole town has happy hour around 7 - fun to watch the kids and parents in the main squares….. Many of the towns are very small, so you wont need to add km to your day. And the views are spectacular. Surprisingly, in this section you dont spend too much time near the ocean. A lot in Basque hill towns.

you’re right to beware of walking several days in a row. That is very different from weekend day hikes. So @trecile advice about training and shoes is spot on. If your main bag is ferried ahead and you only have a light day pack that will help.

Buen Camino
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
On a side note I'm just following the usual route from San Sebastian to Bilbao which is San Sebastian-Zarautz-Deba-Markina-Gernika-Lezama-Bilbao. For those who have done the Camino del Norte is this also what you did or does anyone have other suggestions? I've only taken a quick look at the stops and it seems there's really nothing much in Lezama. Zarautz and Deba seems to look like nice little towns. The others I haven't checked yet
 

synvilla

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte
On a side note I'm just following the usual route from San Sebastian to Bilbao which is San Sebastian-Zarautz-Deba-Markina-Gernika-Lezama-Bilbao. For those who have done the Camino del Norte is this also what you did or does anyone have other suggestions? I've only taken a quick look at the stops and it seems there's really nothing much in Lezama. Zarautz and Deba seems to look like nice little towns. The others I haven't checked yet
Instead of Guernica and Lezama I'm stopping in Markina-Olabe/Mendata-Morga/Eskerika-Bilbao.

This is mainly due to wanting to prebook and having read people have run out of beds in Guernica. Stopping just before and after allows me to walk by Lezama without staying there.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Instead of Guernica and Lezama I'm stopping in Markina-Olabe/Mendata-Morga/Eskerika-Bilbao.

This is mainly due to wanting to prebook and having read people have run out of beds in Guernica. Stopping just before and after allows me to walk by Lezama without staying there.
Ah ok...might be different for me coz we're not gonna be staying at Albergues but hotels. I was just hoping that besides the usual towns that people stop in on this route that there might be more interesting places to spend the night.
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
On a side note I'm just following the usual route from San Sebastian to Bilbao which is San Sebastian-Zarautz-Deba-Markina-Gernika-Lezama-Bilbao. For those who have done the Camino del Norte is this also what you did or does anyone have other suggestions? I've only taken a quick look at the stops and it seems there's really nothing much in Lezama. Zarautz and Deba seems to look like nice little towns. The others I haven't checked yet
Hi @ciotime - I ran into some issues on my trip that turned out for the best for my girlfriend and I (both fit 50yrolds) last end-July.
Firstly I had heard from a Basque friend that Getaria (coming just after Zarautz) was a wonderful, aesthetically beautiful town. When we walked into Zarautz we noted the large beach ringed with unattractive apartment buildings so instead of stopping for the night in Zarautz we jumped on the local coastal bus for a 10min ride to Getaria. We loved this town. It's tiny, on a peninsula with a charming beach, great restaurants. There is an albergue there in the center of town. We surprisingly learned that its the birthplace of Balenciaga and there was a really wonderfully designed museum with modern architecture melded with a traditional building.

We left the next day for Deba and as others have noted, accommodation options were few and all were booked/full (calling directly). The municipal was closed due to covid. After some hand-wringing we ended up taking the bus back to Getaria for a lovely second night and just took the bus back to Deba for our hike to Markina.

Hearing that the municipal in Markina was closed we stayed at the fantastic Intxauspe Hostel, just outside the town (but on the way in). It is a beautiful traditional building set into a hill with a view down the valley, a lovely outdoor seating, eating area, a grass lawn for camping and relaxing on chaises. The hostess is wonderful and does your wash for a reasonable fee (you hang dry it) and produces an enormous, tasty and cheap pilgrim meal.

The next day we had trouble finding accommodation in Gernika and booked a cheap private room. We heard the hike from Gernika to Bilbao was not very compelling and so I looked up beach towns and found Mundaka - another Getaria-like town that we took the light rail directly to and stayed for a night. Wonderful town, lots of surf schools, lovely vacationers, not terribly expensive (but not pilgrim cheap), lovely harbor and beach. We spent the day eating and swimming with the Basques and then got on the light rail for a short trip into Bilbao for a night of pintxo hopping before our flight the next day.

Also the days of hiking in the mountains (Deba-Gernika) were a bit challenging but incredibly beautiful with compelling views and scenery. We loved it.

So we obviously were not orthodox about our pilgrimage in terms of skipping sections. Everyone walks their own camino based on their intentions and interests. This worked out really well for ours.
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
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CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
I agree with the above about Getaria and Mundaka. Both great little places :)

Also, I know you're planning on staying in hotels but if you wanted just one night in shared accommodation for the experience I stayed at El monasterio de Zenarruza and had a great experience. It is a working monastery in the countryside and I'll never forget the monk who was cutting the grass on his seated lawnmower in monk's robes and a baseball cap. My night there was an experience! Also just a nice place for a break and to look around if you don't want to stay there. It's between Markina and Gernika.

Also, in terms of things to see and do in the places you're staying, Gernika has a lot to offer! A few good museums (Basque museum and the Peace museum come to mind) and you could also check out the Assembly House and Tree of Gernika. There's also a replica of Picasso's Guernica down one street. The town is one of my favorites it the Basque country for an afternoon :)
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I agree with the above about Getaria and Mundaka. Both great little places :)

Also, I know you're planning on staying in hotels but if you wanted just one night in shared accommodation for the experience I stayed at El monasterio de Zenarruza and had a great experience. It is a working monastery in the countryside and I'll never forget the monk who was cutting the grass on his seated lawnmower in monk's robes and a baseball cap. My night there was an experience! Also just a nice place for a break and to look around if you don't want to stay there. It's between Markina and Gernika.

Also, in terms of things to see and do in the places you're staying, Gernika has a lot to offer! A few good museums (Basque museum and the Peace museum come to mind) and you could also check out the Assembly House and Tree of Gernika. There's also a replica of Picasso's Guernica down one street. The town is one of my favorites it the Basque country for an afternoon :)
Thanks...the usual stop in between Gernika and Bilbao seems to be Lezama. A quick look at Lezama seems like nothing interesting in this town.
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Thanks...the usual stop in between Gernika and Bilbao seems to be Lezama. A quick look at Lezama seems like nothing interesting in this town.

I think you're right! It's on the outskirts of Bilbao in a kind of commercial/industrial area. I didn't stay there but continued to Bilbao that day. That section around Lezama until you get to Mount Avril is a bit of a drag. Once you get to Mount Avril you're off tramac and into the forest to go up and over. Good views of Bilbao from the top!

There's also public transport between Lezama and Bilbao if you find you're tired or want to avoid that stretch.
 

Globalroaming074

El Norte
Past OR future Camino
El Norte (May 2022)
Primitivo (May 2023)
Thanks...the usual stop in between Gernika and Bilbao seems to be Lezama. A quick look at Lezama seems like nothing interesting in this town.
Like others have said, we opted to bypass Zarautz and stayed in Getaria, it’s a really cute town with 2 beautiful beaches either side. We stayed in a very nice little hotel that I’d recommend called Saiaz Getaria, details are under this town on the Buen Camino app.
Lezama there is nothing to see but for us we opted to stay just to sleep and walk the next day. The town before it, Larrabetzu is a very nice small town where we stopped for a late lunch but after that there is not much else.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Mundaka does seem like a lovely place. The problem is if we go to Mundaka from Gernika instead of going to Lezama that'll take us further from our final stop which is Bilbao. If we do that then we'd have to probably take the train or bus going to Bilbao from Mundaka. So basically our Camino del Norte walk will only be from San Sebastian to Mundaka right?
 
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Globalroaming074

El Norte
Past OR future Camino
El Norte (May 2022)
Primitivo (May 2023)
Mundaka does seem like a lovely place. The problem is if we go to Mundaka from Gernika instead of going to Lezama that'll take us further from our final stop which is Bilbao. If we do that then we'd have to probably take the train or bus going to Bilbao from Mundaka. So basically our Camino del Norte walk will only be from San Sebastian to Mundaka right?
Oh by the way, I’m not sure if you know there is a days walk before San Sebastián which you might consider if you’re arriving by air because the airport is closer to this starting point (Irún) than San Sebastián. You could fly to San Sebastián (which is really more or less Irún) but walk to a small town called Hondarribia (which is a short walk from the airport). It’s a very small, quaint town on the ocean and you walk from here the next day to San Sebastián which is 27km. It’s a beautiful walk up in the hills and it’s a pleasure to arrive into San Sebastián at the end of your first days walk. We stayed at the Room Mate Hotel but have also stayed at the Maria Christina in the past and both are nice to have a little luxury before hitting the road for real.
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Mundaka does seem like a lovely place. The problem is if we go to Mundaka from Gernika instead of going to Lezama that'll take us further from our final stop which is Bilbao. If we do that then we'd have to probably take the train or bus going to Bilbao from Mundaka. So basically our Camino del Norte walk will only be from San Sebastian to Mundaka right?

I suppose it depends on how much time you have. There's a nice trail/walk from Gernika to Mundaka (I think it's the GR 98) that takes a few hours (I can't recall off the top of my head but it's not hard). You could just have a non-Camino day to walk, visit Mundaka and the beaches then take the train back to Gernika the next morning to resume?

The train ride is a nice one too!
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I suppose it depends on how much time you have. There's a nice trail/walk from Gernika to Mundaka (I think it's the GR 98) that takes a few hours (I can't recall off the top of my head but it's not hard). You could just have a non-Camino day to walk, visit Mundaka and the beaches then take the train back to Gernika the next morning to resume?

The train ride is a nice one too!
Thanks...so much options to choose :)
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Oh by the way, I’m not sure if you know there is a days walk before San Sebastián which you might consider if you’re arriving by air because the airport is closer to this starting point (Irún) than San Sebastián. You could fly to San Sebastián (which is really more or less Irún) but walk to a small town called Hondarribia (which is a short walk from the airport). It’s a very small, quaint town on the ocean and you walk from here the next day to San Sebastián which is 27km. It’s a beautiful walk up in the hills and it’s a pleasure to arrive into San Sebastián at the end of your first days walk. We stayed at the Room Mate Hotel but have also stayed at the Maria Christina in the past and both are nice to have a little luxury before hitting the road for real.
Actually our flight arrives in Barcelona then we take a domestic flight to San Sebastian. Then from there we take a taxi maybe and stay in the Old Town in San Sebastian itself for 3 nights. Then we start our Camino walk from the Old Town.
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Thanks...so much options to choose :)

Just another thought! Mundaka/Bermeo make for a great day trip out of Bilbao. So another option would be to do it after the Camino on one of your free days staying in Bilbao. I did this with my parents when they were visiting. We took the train to Bermeo (end of the line) and walked around for a bit. Got back on the train to Mundaka and spent time there. Then back on the train to Gernika for lunch before back home to Bilbao!

Yes, so many lovely options! Happy planning!
 
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ciotime

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Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Just another thought! Mundaka/Bermeo make for a great day trip out of Bilbao. So another option would be to do it after the Camino on one of your free days staying in Bilbao. I did this with my parents when they were visiting. We took the train to Bermeo (end of the line) and walked around for a bit. Got back on the train to Mundaka and spent time there. Then back on the train to Gernika for lunch before back home to Bilbao!

Yes, so many lovely options! Happy planning!
Thanks...isn't the requirement to be a valid Camino is to have walked at least 100km? Well it seems if I do the San Sebastian-Getaria-Deba-Markina-Gernika-Mundaka route that's right at 100km. Then from Mundaka take a train to Bilbao. We're planning to stay 3 nights in Bilbao.
 

WestKirsty

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Past OR future Camino
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CSal 2017
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Thanks...isn't the requirement to be a valid Camino is to have walked at least 100km? Well it seems if I do the San Sebastian-Getaria-Deba-Markina-Gernika-Mundaka route that's right at 100km. Then from Mundaka take a train to Bilbao. We're planning to stay 3 nights in Bilbao.

I think you're referring to the 100km requirement to receive the Compostela in Santiago. This requirement refers to the last 100km before Santiago so walking in the Basque Country doesn't count, I'm afraid!

The nice thing is that it frees you up to walk however you want! No requirements:)
 

ciotime

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Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I think you're referring to the 100km requirement to receive the Compostela in Santiago. This requirement refers to the last 100km before Santiago so walking in the Basque Country doesn't count, I'm afraid!

The nice thing is that it frees you up to walk however you want! No requirements:)
Oh ok forgot about that. But you do get stamped at every town right?
I seem to be having trouble getting a room for a single nights stay in Getaria. All the nice one's require at least 2 nights. Is it because I'm checking in on a Saturday?
Also Mundaka isn't listed in the routes for the luggage transfers in the paq mochila ( Correos ).
 
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WestKirsty

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CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
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CVasco 2022
Oh ok forgot about that. But you do get stamped at every town right?
I seem to be having trouble getting a room for a single nights stay in Getaria. All the nice one's require at least 2 nights. Is it because I'm checking in on a Saturday?
Also Mundaka isn't listed in the routes for the luggage transfers in the paq mochila ( Correos ).

With regards to the credential/passport, they are a requirement to prove the last 100km and to stay in Albergues. So it sounds like they're not necessary on your trip. Having said that, I would get one and get it stamped as often as possible! I have a few from my various Camino walks and love looking back at all the stamps and remembering where I stayed, ate, visited, etc.

You can also hold onto it and start to use it again if (when?!) you decide to come back and continue the route. So if you wanted to come back next year and start walking in Bilbao to Cantabria, Asturias etc. you would use the same credential and have the stamps from all your walks. There's no need for the whole route to be done in one go and I've met lots of Spaniards who do it this way.

Shame about Getaria! Perhaps it is because it's a weekend. What are the dates you're looking at? I think there's a long weekend here in October so maybe that's why.

As for Mundaka, it's not on the Camino so won't have Camino infrastructure (i.e. no albergue, food and lodging establishments are unlikely to have a stamp and yes, probably no baggage transfer). If you chose that option, you'd be going off piste for a day...a side trip on your Camino :)
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
Mundaka does seem like a lovely place. The problem is if we go to Mundaka from Gernika instead of going to Lezama that'll take us further from our final stop which is Bilbao. If we do that then we'd have to probably take the train or bus going to Bilbao from Mundaka. So basically our Camino del Norte walk will only be from San Sebastian to Mundaka right?
Mundaka does seem like a lovely place. The problem is if we go to Mundaka from Gernika instead of going to Lezama that'll take us further from our final stop which is Bilbao. If we do that then we'd have to probably take the train or bus going to Bilbao from Mundaka. So basically our Camino del Norte walk will only be from San Sebastian to Mundaka right?
The light rail train From Guernica to Mundaka is only about 25 minutes. We had a lovely time there. We spent the night but one could also take the same light rail train from Mundaka to Bilbao at the end of the day which is also a quick trip and spend the night in Bilbao before your flight.
Either way for us it worked out that we were happy to miss the Guernica to Bilbao portion of the Camino (based on the underwhelming reviews of this stretch) and spend our time in this beautiful village before leaving from Bilbao.
Also the light rail system in the Basque country is modern clean, cheap and easy to use. Apparently the Basque country doesn’t pay any taxes to Madrid and reinvests it in their own region and it shows.
 
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ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
With regards to the credential/passport, they are a requirement to prove the last 100km and to stay in Albergues. So it sounds like they're not necessary on your trip. Having said that, I would get one and get it stamped as often as possible! I have a few from my various Camino walks and love looking back at all the stamps and remembering where I stayed, ate, visited, etc.

You can also hold onto it and start to use it again if (when?!) you decide to come back and continue the route. So if you wanted to come back next year and start walking in Bilbao to Cantabria, Asturias etc. you would use the same credential and have the stamps from all your walks. There's no need for the whole route to be done in one go and I've met lots of Spaniards who do it this way.

Shame about Getaria! Perhaps it is because it's a weekend. What are the dates you're looking at? I think there's a long weekend here in October so maybe that's why.

As for Mundaka, it's not on the Camino so won't have Camino infrastructure (i.e. no albergue, food and lodging establishments are unlikely to have a stamp and yes, probably no baggage transfer). If you chose that option, you'd be going off piste for a day...a side trip on your Camino :)
Was gonna be at Getaria on the 22nd of October. I checked and the only holidays in October is on the 12th Spain’s National Day. It's not that there are none available but it's that they require a 2 night minimum stay. Probably coz it's a weekend? On weekdays I tried and one can book an overnight stay.
 

C clearly

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Most years since 2012
.isn't the requirement to be a valid Camino is to have walked at least 100km?

With regards to the credential/passport, they are a requirement to prove the last 100km and to stay in Albergues.
WestKirsty rightly explained that the requirement is to walk the last 100 km on a recognized route to Santiago, and to document it by getting 2 stamps per day. There is no requirement that you stay in Albergues, or that your stamps be from albergues. Normally people do get one stamp from the place where they stayed, whether it is an albergue, hotel, or hostal, but the stamps can be obtained at many other types of places.
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
Oh ok forgot about that. But you do get stamped at every town right?
I seem to be having trouble getting a room for a single nights stay in Getaria. All the nice one's require at least 2 nights. Is it because I'm checking in on a Saturday?
Also Mundaka isn't listed in the routes for the luggage transfers in the paq mochila ( Correos ).
You could always try a night in the albergue in Getaria….
 

cronnik

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 11/21
Pamplona - Burgos
Sarria - SdC
Oh by the way, I’m not sure if you know there is a days walk before San Sebastián which you might consider if you’re arriving by air because the airport is closer to this starting point (Irún) than San Sebastián. You could fly to San Sebastián (which is really more or less Irún) but walk to a small town called Hondarribia (which is a short walk from the airport). It’s a very small, quaint town on the ocean and you walk from here the next day to San Sebastián which is 27km. It’s a beautiful walk up in the hills and it’s a pleasure to arrive into San Sebastián at the end of your first days walk. We stayed at the Room Mate Hotel but have also stayed at the Maria Christina in the past and both are nice to have a little luxury before hitting the road for real.
San Sebastián is possibly my favorite city in Spain - the food, the architecture, the beach, oh and the food again. I stayed at “A Room in the City” hostel - very modern, attractive and clean in a fantastic location all for a reasonable price.
 

Tyrowley

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future, planning on starting July 4th, 22
Totally agree! Deba to markina was very tough on me (37) when I walked that route!
Was it so difficult that I should consider skipping it? I'm not doing the whole thing anyway, only have 8 days and want to make the most of it. Currently planning on going from Irun to Bilbao
 
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annmte

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Past OR future Camino
Norte - May 2022
I had also heard not great things about Lezama, and chose to stay at a lovely casa rural Miamendi, slightly off Camino near Larrabetzu. I read on this forum about a detour discovered by guidebook author @Dave, that coincidentally went right near our casa rural to Bilbao and avoided Lezama altogether! Worked very well. He will share his GPS tracks if you are interested.
 
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I had also heard not great things about Lezama,
I thought Lezama was fine. My only issue was finding the lovely Casa Rural Matsa where we were staying, just slightly on the outskirts. The town's location was good for arriving in Bilbao before lunch the following day.
 

ciotime

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I had also heard not great things about Lezama, and chose to stay at a lovely casa rural Miamendi, slightly off Camino near Larrabetzu. I read on this forum about a detour discovered by guidebook author @Dave, that coincidentally went right near our casa rural to Bilbao and avoided Lezama altogether! Worked very well. He will share his GPS tracks if you are interested.
Oh please do...thanks.
 

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