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Has del Norte been crowded lately (April 2023)?

barryfr

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2023, Camino del Norte
We are on the jet about to take off for Madrid and plan to start Camino del Norte on Friday. Has the Camino been crowded lately? Will it be necessary to reserve lodging in advance?
 
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It's so early in the season that I can't imagine it being a problem. On the other hand in the summer it's advisable to reserve if there is an option a day or so in advance. I found that was needed last year.
 
I am following this thread as I will be leaving the week after, 21 April. I would like to go without planning ahead but am still a bit worried of not getting accommodation in the evening.
 
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We walked in May last year with no problems

Hi Anniefish,

I was wondering whether it would be busy as I start in Bilbao on Monday.

Were there plenty of Albergues available when you walked or did you stay in private rooms?

Thanks, Chris.
 
I leave Bilbao on 4/26 and will be watching this thread also. I booked a bed in Portugalete and then in Castro Urailes as I acclimate without the hassle of added worry
 
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We walked from Laredo to Gijón last month from 3/19 - 3/30. We stay in a mix of private room in an albergue (preferred), hotels, and occasionally bunk beds in mixed dormitory style albergues. We are slow and late arrivers (usually 4-6pm) and encountered "Completo" only once in Pineres de Pria, and in that case there were other options in town and further on in Ribadesella.

That said, I usually reserve or inquire a day or two ahead if there are limited options just to be a bit more assured. Walking before Easter, many of the places are still closed for the season.

Unless things have picked up dramatically in the last few weeks, I imagine you'll be just fine.
 
I started in Irún on March 18 until Bilbao on March 23, then had to go home for a week for a job, came back out on April 2 to continue on from Bilbao and am now currently in Aviles just after Gijon.
It is my first time doing the Norte and while there are quite a few pilgrims around I have only encountered one pinch point with the albergue in Boo de Piélagos a few km after Santander.
Some people reserve in advance but I have had no other problem so far just showing up on the day and apart from the aforementioned case there have always been a few empty beds.

However, I would recommend planning ahead as there are not as many albergues available as on the Frances. So far, I have found it necessary to stay in a pension in Castro Urdiales and Gijon due to a lack of albergues.
 
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Hi Anniefish,

I was wondering whether it would be busy as I start in Bilbao on Monday.

Were there plenty of Albergues available when you walked or did you stay in private rooms?

Thanks, Chris.
Hi Chris,
We stayed mainly in private rooms but the pilgrims who were using the albergues had no problems. May be worth booking ahead once you join the Frances where there are suddenly hoards of people!
There were enough pilgrims to have a chat or a beer with but not the large groups you will encounter close to Santiago.
 
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I started in Irún on March 18 until Bilbao on March 23, then had to go home for a week for a job, came back out on April 2 to continue on from Bilbao and am now currently in Aviles just after Gijon.
It is my first time doing the Norte and while there are quite a few pilgrims around I have only encountered one pinch point with the albergue in Boo de Piélagos a few km after Santander.
Some people reserve in advance but I have had no other problem so far just showing up on the day and apart from the aforementioned case there have always been a few empty beds.

However, I would recommend planning ahead as there are not as many albergues available as on the Frances. So far, I have found it necessary to stay in a pension in Castro Urdiales and Gijon due to a lack of albergues.
We are in Bilbao & deciding to walk either toward Santander, or toward Sam Sebastian. Which was you preference for scenery?
We have done sections of Arles, Aragon & French now looking for beautiful coast & hills.
Thanks
 
We are in Bilbao & deciding to walk either toward Santander, or toward Sam Sebastian. Which was you preference for scenery?
We have done sections of Arles, Aragon & French now looking for beautiful coast & hills.
Thanks
Oops, just read over that & saw typos 🤣
 
We are in Bilbao & deciding to walk either toward Santander, or toward Sam Sebastian. Which was you preference for scenery?
We have done sections of Arles, Aragon & French now looking for beautiful coast & hills.
Thanks
Both are stunning, but from Irún to Bilbao probably edges it scenery wise.
Whichever you choose you won't be disappointed :)
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
We are in Bilbao & deciding to walk either toward Santander, or toward Sam Sebastian. Which was you preference for scenery?
We have done sections of Arles, Aragon & French now looking for beautiful coast & hills.
Thanks
If your plan is to end up in Santiago I suggest that you head west. 😉
 
If your plan is to end up in Santiago I suggest that you head west. 😉
If you’ve never been to San Sebastian, I highly recommend it. I’m here now! You'll also stay in Basque country if you head east from Bilbao instead of West.

I havent walked the route yet, but based on what I’m reading and finding, it seems to be a great place for mountains and coastline (especially if you follow the alternative routes along the coast). And there is a Monastery Donativo that looks like a very great place to stay.
 
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To further the question, any sense of what it will be like in October? Will most albergues on the Norte close then or in November?
 
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Yes I've checked but find that if consulting with the actual accommodation, they don't always match.
I’m on the Norte now and also finding that Gronze is not 100% accurate on which albergues are open currently. Between the Wise Pilgrim guidebook, Gronze, and Google reviews, I’m piece-mealing what is available. I double check especially if there's a place I would really rather stop at
 
I begin Norte from Irun on May 10 and have been booking accommodation thru booking dot com. I’ve noticed that in most places, a lot of the accommodation is full … not sure what that means in terms of actual numbers, but I was somewhat surprised just how many places are fully booked.
 
I begin Norte from Irun on May 10 and have been booking accommodation thru booking dot com. I’ve noticed that in most places, a lot of the accommodation is full … not sure what that means in terms of actual numbers, but I was somewhat surprised just how many places are fully booked.
All types of accommodations showing full? hostels albergues and others?
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
I begin Norte from Irun on May 10 and have been booking accommodation thru booking dot com. I’ve noticed that in most places, a lot of the accommodation is full … not sure what that means in terms of actual numbers, but I was somewhat surprised just how many places are fully booked.

FYI, Booking Dot Com will show places as being “full” when the hotels have merely stopped accepting reservations (or haven’t begun accepting reservations!) for that date from Booking. Large hotels especially do not offer their entire inventory on third party platforms like Booking. They almost always have some rooms blocked off for direct reservations. Smaller places often will selectively turn off accepting reservations via third parties for certain dates, such as in busy periods when they know they can fill the rooms through direct reservations without Booking or Expedia or whoever skimming a few bucks off the top. Or they will have longer minimum stays for third party customers versus directly booked customers. I’m sure in the spring and summer months, when domestic tourists trying to stay 3+ days are plentiful, many BnBs and guesthouses along the coast turn off or limit single-night Booking Dot Com reservations.

Basically, a hotel being shown as full on a third party platform does not always mean it has no more rooms available. It is worth utilizing Google Maps, which can aggregate prices/availability from several platforms, including some direct with the hotels, and also calling around to places. Not all hotels are bookable via third parties at all, and many mom n pop places still can only be reserved by email or even the phone. While I rely heavily on Booking Dot Com, it IS particularly egregious in pushing people to make reservations ASAP by creating a slightly misleading or exaggerated sense of scarcity— any ol location you look at any random time of year always gets you a message like “wow, your dates are selling out fast!!” So don’t be too alarmed!

My husband and I are also starting from Irun the 10th. Can’t believe it’s almost here! Maybe we’ll see you out there. 😊

(Worked in hotels for several years and this is my experience with third party platforms)
 
I am following this thread as I will be leaving the week after, 21 April. I would like to go without planning ahead but am still a bit worried of not getting accommodation in the evening.
I too am starting del Norte soon. I try not to think about accommodation problems. It's a bad mindset to start a camino with. Although it's five years since walking my first 2 month,1250 km route/camino, it's the feeling of freedom i yearn to replicate. 'The Camino provides' is often said. When I first heard that, I didn't understand and thought it very strange, but I learned that by being open and accepring, all does work out.
I leave Australia in 3 days and am so excited.
 
I'll be making this walk in June. Can you say more about the Monastery Donativo? Location, contact info, impressions, etc.?
I actually haven’t been yet myself, but it’s highly regarded among pilgrims - called Monasterio de Zenarruza. It’s 7.4km past Markina-Xemein, phone number +34 946 164 179, has 20 beds and does not take reservations.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
I’m on the Norte now and also finding that Gronze is not 100% accurate on which albergues are open currently. Between the Wise Pilgrim guidebook, Gronze, and Google reviews, I’m piece-mealing what is available. I double check especially if there's a place I would really rather stop at
Hi, LoWo,
I'd be interested in more feedback on how the accommodation is as you go. Have you considered writing down what you describe as piece-mealing and presenting it to us? Fingers crossed.
Keep having fun.
 
I too am starting del Norte soon. I try not to think about accommodation problems. It's a bad mindset to start a camino with. Although it's five years since walking my first 2 month,1250 km route/camino, it's the feeling of freedom i yearn to replicate. 'The Camino provides' is often said. When I first heard that, I didn't understand and thought it very strange, but I learned that by being open and accepring, all does work out.
I leave Australia in 3 days and am so excited.
Hello, Mflit. You must be on your way, and are walking the Norte. I am excited for you. I want to thank you for your comment about the Camino providing us what we need. In this age of electronic devices where most people plan so many steps of their experience, I am saddened that newbies may never understand what you describe.
Let us know how you go. It would be helpful if you take notes of the places you stay and ask hospitaleros the dates the albergues open and close and if they believe those dates will fit in 2024.
Ultreia!
 
FYI, Booking Dot Com will show places as being “full” when the hotels have merely stopped accepting reservations (or haven’t begun accepting reservations!) for that date from Booking. Large hotels especially do not offer their entire inventory on third party platforms like Booking. They almost always have some rooms blocked off for direct reservations. Smaller places often will selectively turn off accepting reservations via third parties for certain dates, such as in busy periods when they know they can fill the rooms through direct reservations without Booking or Expedia or whoever skimming a few bucks off the top. Or they will have longer minimum stays for third party customers versus directly booked customers. I’m sure in the spring and summer months, when domestic tourists trying to stay 3+ days are plentiful, many BnBs and guesthouses along the coast turn off or limit single-night Booking Dot Com reservations.

Basically, a hotel being shown as full on a third party platform does not always mean it has no more rooms available. It is worth utilizing Google Maps, which can aggregate prices/availability from several platforms, including some direct with the hotels, and also calling around to places. Not all hotels are bookable via third parties at all, and many mom n pop places still can only be reserved by email or even the phone. While I rely heavily on Booking Dot Com, it IS particularly egregious in pushing people to make reservations ASAP by creating a slightly misleading or exaggerated sense of scarcity— any ol location you look at any random time of year always gets you a message like “wow, your dates are selling out fast!!” So don’t be too alarmed!

My husband and I are also starting from Irun the 10th. Can’t believe it’s almost here! Maybe we’ll see you out there. 😊

(Worked in hotels for several years and this is my experience with third party platforms)
Thank yo
FYI, Booking Dot Com will show places as being “full” when the hotels have merely stopped accepting reservations (or haven’t begun accepting reservations!) for that date from Booking. Large hotels especially do not offer their entire inventory on third party platforms like Booking. They almost always have some rooms blocked off for direct reservations. Smaller places often will selectively turn off accepting reservations via third parties for certain dates, such as in busy periods when they know they can fill the rooms through direct reservations without Booking or Expedia or whoever skimming a few bucks off the top. Or they will have longer minimum stays for third party customers versus directly booked customers. I’m sure in the spring and summer months, when domestic tourists trying to stay 3+ days are plentiful, many BnBs and guesthouses along the coast turn off or limit single-night Booking Dot Com reservations.

Basically, a hotel being shown as full on a third party platform does not always mean it has no more rooms available. It is worth utilizing Google Maps, which can aggregate prices/availability from several platforms, including some direct with the hotels, and also calling around to places. Not all hotels are bookable via third parties at all, and many mom n pop places still can only be reserved by email or even the phone. While I rely heavily on Booking Dot Com, it IS particularly egregious in pushing people to make reservations ASAP by creating a slightly misleading or exaggerated sense of scarcity— any ol location you look at any random time of year always gets you a message like “wow, your dates are selling out fast!!” So don’t be too alarmed!

My husband and I are also starting from Irun the 10th. Can’t believe it’s almost here! Maybe we’ll see you out there. 😊

(Worked in hotels for several years and this is my experience with third party platforms)
Thank you. A very helpful explanation. Yes, perhaps we will see each other along the way. Buen Camino.
 
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We are on the jet about to take off for Madrid and plan to start Camino del Norte on Friday. Has the Camino been crowded lately? Will it be necessary to reserve lodging in advance?
We are here in Ferrol tonight no problem reserving for tomorrow and tomorrow night.
 
I actually haven’t been yet myself, but it’s highly regarded among pilgrims - called Monasterio de Zenarruza. It’s 7.4km past Markina-Xemein, phone number +34 946 164 179, has 20 beds and does not take reservations.
They have private rooms with private bathrooms for 30 euros per person, and they do take reservations for that. The contact number is the same.
 

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