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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Pictures from the Norte

wonderful pictures

I really loved your pictures.

The Camino del Norte is fascinating me. It looks so picturesque skirting the coast and it seems so remote and empty of the hoards. Some of the views appear breathtaking. After reading the 'Emily on the way' blog I really fancy doing this Camino. If I go again then this is surely on my wish list.

Is is easy to follow the arrows, is the way well marked?

Are there many albergues on the way?

These questions have probably already been answered via the forum so I will search and look. I visited Getaria last March so I have an idea of the area between San Sebastian and Bilbao.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful walk with such excellent pictures
Camino(s) past & future
September 2006
August - September 2017
I loved your pictures, thank you so much for sharing. I know there is quite a story that goes with them.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Thanks for posting these stunning pictures! They are so unlike everything I had heard about Norte. I had heard that very little of the trail was along the ocean, which seems to be untrue. We were considering Norte but along with the above, heard that the ups and downs were exceedingly difficult and frequent. Did you find this true (the pictures seem to bear this out) - and how does it compare to other caminos in terms of difficulty? Were the etapas long or was there accommodation at reasonable intervals?

Thanks again for sharing these pictures/memories.


Here's a copy of an email I sent to a friend who asked about our etapas and lodging. Hope this helps everyone, and I will answer the specific questions later today or tomorrow. Laurie

Albergue in Irun. Opens at 4 p.m., very nice.

Irun-San Sebastian 25 km (stayed in pension b/c albergue is out of town).

San Sebastian to Zarautz (20 km). Well this was one of those silly days. A man Jose Mari who has a little "information kiosk" for pilgrims right outside of San Sebastian told us that we really should stay at the albergue in Orio. We did, and it's really nice, private run by a woman who has walked, it's right in her house, in what used to be a garage. Nice new bathrooms, small number of beds. But that was such a short walk that, at his advice, we walked on to Zarautz and then took the bus back to Orio, and repeated the process (took the bus back to Zarautz) the next day. Silly, but we did it.

Zarautz to Deba (22 km). Again we stayed in a pension. There is an albergue but when we got there it was almost full and it is very very tiny, with three beds on top of each other and absolutely no room. Pension was right on the beach, very reasonable, and it was a nice evening spent in cafes next to the water.

Deba to the monastery at Cernautza (28 km). The monastery has sleeping room for about 14 people, but there is a HUGE private albergue nearby. It wasn't open when we were there. The monastery was full about two hours after we arrived. The priests serve an evening meal and breakfast, but we really should have brought some food with us.

Cernauzza to Gernika (20 km) nice albergue but doesn't open till 3 pm

Gernika to Sta. Maria de Lezama (28 km). Some people stayed in the school on the floor. I went to a hotel rural and paid 38 euros. http://www.ruralmatsa.com (it has both a "casa rural" and "hotel rural" and the casa is much cheaper, though I'm not sure what the difference is).

Lezama to Portugalete (32 km). Walking through Bilbao and through a very industrial, ugly part to Barracaldo, and then on through Sestao (where we walked through a scary site with a 6 or 7 story building that had been abandoned and was being occupied by families and lots of men. Looked like some not so good things were happening there, we saw a couple of fancy new BMWs come down and quickly leave, so we assumed there were drugs involved). Portugalete is actually the last stop on the Bilbao metro line and we met others who instead of taking the roundabout way we did, just walked straight from Bilbao to Portugalete, which is probably 15 km (?). There is no albergue here, though.

Portugalete to Castro Urdiales (27 km). Last 9 km on the highway. A long slog. There is a detour possibility here that adds many km to the trip, but didn't have an albergue there, so we were kind of stuck. (this is one of many places where the http://www.mundicamino site was not helpful, nor was the confraternity site. The German guide is absolutely precise and very accurate, we were lucky to have met some Germans who had the guide).

Castro Urdiales to Islares. (10 km). Sort of a rest day, we stayed in a two star hotel on the highway, las Arenillas, which had some of the best food we had all trip. Paella, fish soup, all was fabulous. There is a camping here.

Islares to Laredo (29 km). Very nice walk. Two albergues in town, but they told us they were both full, even though people who arrived after we did were given a place to sleep. Maybe the sisters didn't like the way we looked.

Laredo to Guemes (26 km). Another very nice walk (we got lost once about 4 km outside of Guemes). This albergue is one of the "must" albergues, though actually its original purpose was not as an albergue but as a sort of "religious expedition center" or something like that. The man who runs it is the village priest. It was a very nice stop.

Guemes to Santander (who knows, anywhere between 9 and 15 km). The priest gave us a detour that would take us on the coast, turn off at a place called Galizano, and it was beautiful. Very glad we did. Then many kms walking on the Somo beach across from Santander, again beautiful, and finally the ferry to Santander. Nice albergue but only opens at 3 p.m. and you have to "get in the line" at a restaurant nearby, it's well marked. (only 18 beds, and it filled up early the night we were there, May 15). The restaurant serves a not-so-great meal to pilgrims early, but we found a cafe down the street with some excellent platos combinados, with all kinds of fish and seafood.

Santander to the Albergue Arco Iris outside Santillana (about 29 km). This albergue is also on a lot of people's lists of top albergues on the Norte, but the five of us thought it was AWFUL. Bad hygiene, terrible bathrooms, run down place, a very sad and probably dysfunctional family of three (aging couple and their son in say his 40s). The setting is very nice, but we really had to eat there because there wasn't any alternative, it's very rural. I thought it was a bad choice. The camping in Santillana is also pretty bad, people told us (I don't know that for a fact), but in Santillana there are lots of private pensiones, etc. But probably pretty pricey because Santillana is very touristy. This was a stage with a lot of pavement, we arrived at a town with an albergue around 1 p.m., right before we did the prohibited walk across the railroad tracks. It's not as hair-raising as the books make it sound, and many villagers confirmed that "everyone does it."

Arco Iris to Comillas (about 24 or 26 km). Very very nice day. We stopped for a couple of hours for breakfast and to visit the church in Santillana, and then on to Comillas. There is also a monastery in Cobreces where some people stay, but we went on to Comillas and stayed at the new municipal albergue (so new it wasn't in the German girls' guidebook). It's one of the nicest, very good place to stay. And the town is very nice as well. Our dinner in the Bar Filipinas was outstanding-- very simple, cheap, but yummy.

Comillas to San Vicente de la Barquera (about 15 km ?). We took a short day because one of the German girls had to catch the bus from San Vicente. There is an albergue there, where we stayed. For some reason, the hospitalero just didn't like us from the very beginning. In the morning when we left, he told me that the problem with Americans (though only two of us were Americans) is that we are so arrogant. I was pretty stunned. Anyway, it's a nice town, castle, long medieval bridge, old church up on top of town.

San Vicente to El Peral (19 km). Cheap and very clean pension here (24 E for two of us). Excellent restaurant across the street. Took an afternoon walk about 6 km to the coast and back, where there are some ancient caves. Others stayed at a youth hostel a few km before El Peral, but I liked our choice.

El Peral to Llanes (20 km). Beautiful walk (we took the Coastal route, the E-9, instead of the Camino. Our general rule of thumb was to take the E-9 whenever it was a possibility. It always comes back to the camino, and it is always on the coast and beautiful.

Llanes to Ribadesella (28 km). Great looking albergue across the river from town on the beach (but we didn't stay there). It's also a youth hostel, not just a peregrino albergue.

Ribadesella to Colunga. (24 km). Another absolutely wonderful day, lots of km on the beach, lots of totally deserted beautiful beaches. Did not go to the albergue a few km before this town. There are several possiblities for private lodging. We stayed in a very nice rural hotel, http://www.mardelsueve.com/ Nice place, also we went over to Lastres (about 6 km away) in a big group in a taxi to see the town and have an excellent fish dinner. Lastres is, they tell us, an overrun tourist town in summer, but in mid May it was just a pretty, cliff-hanging town

Colunga to Villaviciosa (23 km). No albergue here, stayed in a hotel. Pleasant town, and the walk was nice.

Villaviciosa to Pola de Siero (Siera?) (30 +). After Villaviciosa we took the turn off for Oviedo. Everyone else we knew stayed north along the coast. But then they missed (or had to take a big detour) to get to Valdedios, which is a BEAUTIFUL 9th century church in a meadow with a monastery that has an albergue. People who stayed in the albergue said it was nice, I wish we had, because it was a very long walk to Pola de Siero. No albergue, just one business *** hotel. About 55 E for the two of us. Kind of like a Hampton Inn.

Pola to Oviedo (17 km). There's an albergue here, but when we got there we learned it didn't open till 7 p.m. Lots of pensiones, etc. We stayed in a very nice hotel, and took a rest day. http://www.hotelvetusta.com/c_donde_estamos.htm Rooms were large, tons of windows, an excellent breakfast, and I think it was around 60E for the two of us. We had a great time in Oviedo. I can give you the names of some good places to eat. For tapas, don't miss La Paloma -- their trademark tapa is something that can best be described as a "shrimp corndog." Hard to imagine, but it's quite good.

Oviedo to Aviles (28 km). About half way back up to the coast to rejoin the norte (by dropping down to Oviedo we missed the stretch between Villaviciosa and Aviles), in the totwn of La Posada, we lost the arrows, and no one in the town, absolutely no one we could find, knew anything about the camino. So we wound up walking the 14 km from La Posada to Aviles on the highway. Very bad idea, very dangerous, lots of trucks, no shoulder to walk on. The only good thing about this part was that the entrance into Aviles (which is a very industrial city) did not take us through the industrial part, but rather through the residential part. People who came straight west from Villaviciosa-Gijon-Aviles had to walk through heavy industry. Stayed at the albergue in Aviles. Nice hospitalero, nice old town.

Avilles to Cudillero (29 km). Cudillero is actually about 1.5 km off the camino, but it is a beautiful little place. We stayed in a hotel here, we're suckers for those hotels in old redone stone houses, La Casona de Pio, http://www.arrakis.es/~casonadepio. And the restaurant in the hotel is outstanding, a bit pricey, but it was really great.

Cudillero to Santa Marina. no idea how many kms, just know that it was a LONG day, getting lost, going through lots of muddy, overgrown paths. Maybe 9 hours walk or more. We stayed at a 24 E pension on the road, it's the only option in town, but we were tired. Dinner in the bar was about as bad as they come, but hey.

Santa Marina to Luarca (31 km). nice walk, but mostly all on asphalt. Stayed in a hotel in Luarca, one of those casas indianas/casas de indios, I forget what they're called, the Hotel Villa Argentina.

Luarca to Navia (19 km). Short, good walk. No albergue, we stayed in a hotel. There is a very nice walk down the river to the ocean here that gave us several hours of walking in the afternoon.

Navia to Tapia (23 km). Ont of the nicest walks of the trip. Again we took the E-9. The albergue is right on the coast, just beautiful. Nice places to eat, too.

Tapia to Villamartin el Pequeno (24 km). Here was another "fake" day. Walked to a town named Villamartin el Pequeno, where there was absolutely nothing but a few houses and a church. Then we called a taxi to take us back to Ribadesella (about 8 km from Tapia). Ribadasella was a very nice place to spend a day, we splurged and stayed at the parador, beautiful views out on the ria. The next day started with a 20 E taxi ride back to Villamartin. It turns out there was an albergue a few kms beyond (Gontan, Gondan, something like that) that our friends liked a lot, so if we had forged on ahead a bit more we could have avoided the out and back.

Villamartin el Pequeno to Mondonedo (18 km). Albergue is new and fine, but there's no hot water (a sign says it's "not working", but people who were there last year say it "wasn't working" then either.. Nice town, good food.

Mondonedo to Gontan (16 km). Very nice walk, some old bridges, beautiful off-road scenery (not on the coast, we left the coast in Ribadesella). No albergue here, but one was scheduled to open in a couple of weeks (this was in early June 2007), it looked fine. Stayed in a room above a bar, I think it was 18 E or something.

Gontan to Villaba (20 km). Very beautiful walk, very easy, very flat, very nice. Villaba has a relatively new albergue, but it's about 2 or 3 km outside of town. Not much going on in thte town, either. Albergue is in a black new building. Ugly but functionql.

Villaba to Baamonde (19 km). Very nice albergue in the oldest building in town. Small rooms and nice outside space. GREAT restaurant, "Galicia" with quite a character running it (he's the guy with the long white beard in my picture). The food was really excellent and not expensive at all.

Baamonde to Miraz (about 15 km). the new confraternity albergue, very nice. The village has one bar, no restaurant, nothing going on. But there's a nice big yard, and of course they serve tea and cookies all afternoon.

Miraz to Sobrado dos Monxes (26 km). Albergue in the monastery. It's a huge old monastery, there are private rooms for about 30 E for full pension, but we stayed in the albergue. Everything is fine except for the bathrooms, which are really unsanitary. I would hate to be here when the albergue is full. There were about 20 of us, and I think there must be room for more than 60. Town has shops, restaurants. Nice stop.

Sobrado dos Monxes to Arzua (24 km). There is a new private albergue beyond the official one, and the official one has been remodeled, so Arzua is a fine place to stay. We were just dumbstruck by the numbers of pilgrims, though, it was such a shock to hit the camino frances. Thankfully we only had two days to walk on it. You jsut can't believe it -- every bar you pass along the road after ARzua has about 20 backpacks piled up outside.

Arzua to Sta Irene (16 km). We like the private albergue here and we spent the night.

Sta. Irene to Santiago (about 25 km). Of course this meant we missed the pilgrim's mass on the day of arrival, but we just didn't want to stay in Monte de Gozo.
I'll try to give my reactions to the questions posed in earlier posts -- others may have different opinions, so join in if you think I'm off.

Waymarking -- Asturias is the weak link in the chain. The Basque country has been completely marked recently, in Cantabria and Galicia it's very well marked as well. So that's roughly from Unquera to Ribadesella where we occasionally went astray. There are several places where we either couldn't find the bollards/arrows and stayed on the road, or got lost for a short while off-track. For instance, after Cudillero, we got lost in a pine forest for about 45 minutes wlking all around looking for an arrow; on the same day, between Magdalena and Soto de Luina my notes say we went through some very poorly maintained trails -- dense thickets, tons of swampy mud, etc. Another bad stretch was on our way back up to the norte from our detour to Oviedo, we didn't get lost exactly, we just lost the arrows in a town, but then we had to spend about 16 km on the highway, a bad highway for walkers. But those events were not terribly common. The somewhat surprising thing to us was that in some of the towns we couldn't find anyone who even knew about the camino. So sometimes getting directions was difficult.

My advice: find a German walker-- the German guide is fabulously detailed and precise. We never got lost with our German friends.

Albergues -- It's not as easy to do an "albergue only" camino as it is on the frances, but we met people who only spent several nights in private accommodation. You can see from my stages that we frequently stayed in hoteles/pensiones. For the most part the private places were very nice and not extravagant, but of course the downside is that you get out of sync with the walkers because on the norte the albergues are not always in the same towns as the private places. For instance, we stayed in Cudillero (a really pretty fishing town, about 1 km off the camino) and Colunga where there were no albergues -- that means that at night in the restaurants and cafes we were unlikely to meet others. In other towns, like San Sebastian and Castro Urdiales, the albergues are a fair schlepp out of town so we decided to stay in pensiones to be close to the restaurants, churches, etc.

On the ocean -- There was a LOT of walking right on the coast. My impression is that when we hit Asturias, less of the walk was right directly on the coast, because the coast has lots more "fingers" jutting out, so it would be incredibly roundabout to stay on the headland paths if there were any. There are exceptions, of course, because some of our prettiest coastal walks were in Asturias (going into Llanes, from Tapia to Ribadesella). But even on days where we didn't walk all the time "on" the coast, we were usually only a km or two away from a beach and could walk on down in the afternoon (Sta. Marina and Colunga are two examples that jump into mind).

Ups and downs -- There are more ups and downs perhaps because you have to get from headland to beach and maybe my walking partner would disagree with me, but I didn't find this route to be very strenuous. A day with a 400 or 500 meter elevation gain was the exception. I'm in my mid (soon to be late) 50s and am in reasonably good shape, but I'm not an alpine hiker or a marathon runner.

My overall reaction when people ask whether I would recommend the norte or the frances -- I love them both, and here are some differences: more asphalt on the norte; more of a touristy feel on the norte; unsurpassed coastal beauty on the norte; but much less of a camino "feel" on the norte. At the same time, the norte didn't have the same "solitary" sense that vdlp walkers have reported, because after all you were walking from tourist town to tourist town. There were many many days though when we never saw another walker and occasionally days when we saw only a handful of people. We were definitely more of an attraction or curiosity on the norte than on the frances -- people working in bars or just outside when we passed by would ask us about it and what it's like. If you've walked the frances frequently, you know that the novelty has worn off for the townspeople. As we walked into Oviedo, for example, a woman walking on the other side of the road pulling one of those shopping carts on wheels put down her cart and stood facing us and applauded. The norte definitely seems not to be a "first timer" camino. I think we met only one person on the norte who hadn't previously walked the frances.

Hope this is helpful for the future norte walkers out there!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Thanks so much for this information. It is invaluable. I am really considering the Norte for my next camino, and have been drawn further to it by your pictures and your descriptions.




Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
The photos were beautiful! I'm considering el Norte for my next Camino... it is a tough decision!
Buen Camino,
Hi, Deirdre,
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about the Norte right now, since it was a year ago that we were just starting out. May is an absolutely perfect month to walk, in my opinion. I know what you mean about it being a very tough decision, but reading the reports on the crowds pouring through the Camino Frances right now might make it a bit easier! I think that if I were to do it again, I would pay more attention to where my fellow walkers were going to spend the next night. The albergues are few and far between, so it was frequently the case that when we stopped for the night we couldn't find any other walkers. But with a bit of determination, you can find that Camino community. Laurie
HI ,
Greetings from Ireland. I have the Camino bug since I finished the Frances in 07 and finished the Camino from porto in 08. now im looking for your advice for the Camino del Norte. I only have 10 days and based on cheap airline travel from Ireland I could start this camino in either Irun and Finish in Bilboa or start from Bilboa and finish in Santander. Im trying to avoid road walking and get good coastal walking. which start place do you recommend to achieve this. ? thanks
Sorry, I just saw this question, as the original poster, I should have responded more quickly! Anyway, to answer your question, Irun to Bilbao is very pretty, but after Deba (day 2 more or less) , not much of it is on the beach.

Bilbao to Santander has a lot more coastal walking, but it's only about 5 days.

In my experience, the bus system in northern Spain is quite good, so I don't think you'll have trouble getting back into Bilbao no matter where you finish up. If you're just looking for pretty walking, I think going west from Bilbao might be the better option.



hi there thanks for the info..at this point am getting cold feet in doing the Norte route and the Primitivo just seems to treacherous therefore need some encouragement that I will not be on that road alone. although I do appreciate some solitary time I am a people person..so let me have the works and tell me all I need to know..am leaving after my two weeks of volunteering at L'Esprit du Chemin June 20.
Hi, nathanael,

Since you ask both about the Norte and the Primitivo I'll try to give you some help on both topics. I have walked them both, a couple of years apart, and they were both really stunning, but I do tend to be effusive with my adjectives!

You're thinking of combining the two, many people do that. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to do them both because I don't think I can tell you one is better than the other. If you leave the norte to go down to Oviedo and continue on the Primitivo, you miss some beautiful coastline (but of course you've already seen some beautiful coastline) and you miss some really great albergue experiences, most notably in Tapia, Miraz and Baamonde; some very nice towns (Luarca, Cudillero, Mondonedo). But of course the Primitivo has many wonderful parts of its own, so it's a terribly difficult choice. My reasoning was that I wanted to stay on the Norte in 2007, because I knew I would try my hardest to come back to walk the Primitivo, but I didn't think I'd ever come back to walk the "second half" of the Norte.

I don't think you should worry about "treacherous" if you're thinking about the Primitivo. I met a 70-plus French couple who walked it very successfully. The nice thing about the Primitivo is that there always seems to be a short day option and a longer day option. When I started the Primitivo, I had already walked four days from Leon to Oviedo on the Camino del Salvador (there is a stretch there that probably qualifies as treacherous in bad weather, Rebekah has a few posts on that part). From Oviedo to Santiago there are a few ascents/descents, but if you look at the "trazado/perfil" button on Mundicamino's site for each stage of the Camino Primitivo, you'll see a very graphic picture plus numbers of elevation gain and loss across the whole route. There is one 600 meter ascent, but it's a steady incline. There is one 800 meter descent to a dam, that was the killer for me.

I am not a camino-marathoner but I found that 11 days were very do-able, but my notes mention lots of ways to break it up into shorter days.

As far as solitariness, I think the Norte will be hopping this year. There were always other walkers when I walked, but our "mistake" was to stop in many towns without albergues and stay in pensiones or hotels, so then we kind of got out of sync with the walkers. But we did fall in with a couple of different groups over the entire length of the camino, and if I were to do it again, I'd take more care in planning my stops to coincide with the albergues.

I started the Primitivo on my own, and soon fell in with a loose group -- a Basque firefighter, a Canary Islands hipster, some businessmen from Malaga, a young crazy pair of good friends from Portugal (who did things like trying to dry their socks in the microwave, and carried three cartons of cigarettes in their packs for fear they wouldn't find them in Spain), some urban planners from Cadiz. I find that when I walk alone, I am much more likely to stay in the albergues for the human contact aspect of things, and on this camino it worked out perfectly. As a single woman pushing 60, I was something of an oddity, and other than the French couple I met, I was essentially walking with men until we hit Melide. My guess is that the Primitivo will not be the solitary experience it was when I walked it in 2008, but I am sure there will be many moments for walking alone and enjoying the beauty. I also found that on this Camino more than any other, I had some incredible conversations with the people living along the way. In part, it's no doubt because I was often walking alone, and in part it must have to do with the fact that pilgrims are still an unknown commodity on the Primitivo, but that added so much to my experience.

I don't know if I've been responsive to all of your questions, but at least it's a start. Hope it helps, Laurie
Hi Peregrina2000
I walked the Camino Frances last September and now plan on walking the camino del norte in September 2011 (19 months to go!). i still have to do the planning/research. I expect to sleep out a fair bit (so will need sleeping bags and tent?), that it's a greater physical challenge than the CF, that the weather is less predictable (good rain gear) and that it will probably take the best part of 6 weeks.
1. Are these impressions accurate?
2. How regular are the albergues?
3. Are there decent guides books (my Spanish is good)
4. What are the biggest obstacles?
I loved the photos!
Hi Ruben,

I think 6 weeks is generous. We walked for 38 days, but we added a couple of days by taking a detour down to Oviedo and back up to the Norte again. But there are lots of nice places to take rest days, so if you have the time, 6 weeks would be a very nice pace.

There aren't as many albergues as on the Frances, but we met people who only stayed in private places for three or four nights. The mundicamino and the Eroski site are both good with the albergue and accommodation listings. I can't tell you about tents because I never slept outside.

There is a lot more up and down on the Norte, but none of the ascents are real killers, it's just that they're much more frequent, down to the beach, and up to the headlands and then back down to the beach again. But I don't think there are any ascents more than 500 m. (mundicamino is good with elevation info as well)

We used the Confraternity guide, but I wouldn't say it's the best guide out there. I can't tell you about guides in Spanish, but I know there are a lot of them. The German guide (a volume in a popular hiking series) is the best, and you can probably do what we did and make some German friends and they will give you all you need to know. Marking (now this is 3 years ago) was reliable, except for the places I noted in some of my earlier comments in this thread. It's just a beautiful route. Hope you enjoy it.
Hi Peregrina 2000,

I loved your photos. Excellent. Now I am feeling even more excited to start my Camino. What camera did you use, any special lenses? I would love to have good photos of our walk, but don't want to take a big camera and different lenses. The info about albergues and the walk difficulty helped me further in my planning. Could you give me the name of the German guide book, please. We are 4 friends from 2 different countries, meeting in June to start our first El Camino walk on the Norte. Can't wait, but I am a bid worried about the amount of pilgrims this year, that everything will be crowded and full. Well, it might just be another experience. Thanks again,
Buen Camino,
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
German guide book is the Outdoor series one from Stein. All the germans and austrians have it. There seem to be good spanish and french ones as well, but they all tell you just one particular route. There seem to be quite a lot of variants to the route in places, and the arrows are not always reliable, ue they disappear, so I would recommend some map to give a bit of a clue sometimes. We have a strip cut from the michelin map which goes from Bilbao aling to Ribasidella , can't remember the scale, which although doesn't have all the little roads helps put the variants in context for decision making.
This really looks fantastic--originally I had thought about walking this rather than the Camino Frances, but was worried that it would not be well enough marked for someone with my impaired sense of direction, but now I am reconsidering. What do you think about a female walking alone in September (I want to walk for about 14 days within a 3 week block)? I definitely would want to walk the coastal part. Any recommendations? I was planning on going from O Cebreiro to Finisterre (so I could see the coast), but now you have me re-thinking that.
p.s. I am a photographer & am really drawn to your photos.
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
Not very challenging. Some long stages between refuges, or refuges shut between Oct - April or May, so if you can manage to afford the odd cheap hotels (hostales etc) there'll be no problem. Beautifuil coastal scenery, fewer pilgrims, interesting places - Gernika, Bilbao, Santander, Santillana del Mar, (near Altimira) San Vicente de la Barquera (my favourite hospitaleros), buffones near LLanes - lots more - go for it.
Hey question. I see in your photos it says at one point the Norte splits into Oviedo. Is that a part camino trail or just a short walk to the city? I may not have time for the camino and may walk the norte to Oviedo if so. Then from there to Leon, to Madrid and home. Depending on if the person I go with can stay the whole 5-6 weeks neccescary. May only have 4 :(

Another questions actually I guess. Since it isn't as frequently traveled as the Frances. Is spoken Spanish more of a necessity? I like the idea of the less traveled route (as long as there is cheap food and lodging available most days) But would really have to brush up on my Spanish if its needed more for that route.

Thanks so much, your pictures and post showed me this may be the way i prefer than the crowded Frances.
NickyS10 said:
Great pics. Thanks for sharing them. Can you tell me how challenging the north route is? Regards Nicky
Hi Nicky, Challenging depends on your perspective. It's not technically difficult and the ascents are not particularly high, however, the route goes up and down a lot so I would rate it as more "challenging" than the Camino Frances.


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 1995 Camino Frances. April 2013 Camino del Norte
Great pictures. Hope it still looks as good this April! We are going on bicycle due to work, school and vacation so seems that since there is more road we might not disturb as many hikers.

Mary Paige
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte March/April (2013)
Gorgeous pictures! I'm headed to Spain in two and a half weeks. I'm curious where you stayed in Santiago. The picture of your hotel looked lovely.
Hi, Aubrey,

Actually that picture doesn't even show the really pretty parts of the hotel. It was the Hotel Costa Vella. It is a wonderful, family run place. http://costavella.com/

Great location. Highly recommended. Breakfast in the backyard garden if the weather is nice is unbeatable.

Buen camino, Laurie


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, via de la Plata, Sanabres, camino de Levante, Norte, Primitivo, Ingles, Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra, part chemin in France, der Oekumenische Pilgerweg/via Regia, via Tolosana, Aragones, 2017 April/May Lisbon to SdC
I walked the norte in May and have finally figured out how to put the pictures on the web. You can see them at
http://picasaweb.google.com/laurie.reyn ... DELNORTE07

I'm also happy to answer any questions people might have.

I plan to walk for 8 days in September and wonder if I can start in Hendaye on the French border rather than cross to Irun by train. I would be grateful for sharing your experience and advising on the feasibility of doing this or whether you would recommend a more traditional starting point. Thanks - Philip
Camino(s) past & future
2010 SJPP-Belorado / 2012 SJPP- Finisterre / 2014 Santander- Lugo (Norte/Primitivo), Ponferrada-Chantada- Invierno, SdC-Muxia.....
( August 2015 C Portuguese from Valenca)
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

I plan to walk for 8 days in September and wonder if I can start in Hendaye on the French border rather than cross to Irun by train. I would be grateful for sharing your experience and advising on the feasibility of doing this or whether you would recommend a more traditional starting point. Thanks - Philip
Why not begin in Hendaye? If you arrive by train and need a gite/albergue there is one the Gite du Littotral , at 7, rue de la Fontaine about 1 km to the left as you exit the train station. See their web for more info. Or turn right leaving the Hendaye station, continue along the boulevard du General de Gaulle to the avenue d'Espagne bridge and walk across into Irun, Spain.

Bon Chemin and Buen Camino,

Margaret Meredih
Why not begin in Hendaye? If you arrive by train and need a gite/albergue there is one the Gite du Littotral , at 7, rue de la Fontaine about 1 km to the left as you exit the train station. See their web for more info. Or turn right leaving the Hendaye station, continue along the boulevard du General de Gaulle to the avenue d'Espagne bridge and walk across into Irun, Spain.

Bon Chemin and Buen Camino,

Margaret Meredih
I am planning to walk the Camino in September/October. Since the original post was in 2007, I'm just wondering if there is more company along the way these days? I would like to go the north route because it's cooler and potentially more scenic. I would also like advice if the roads are busy and it's dangerouse. Thanks.
Camino(s) past & future
June/ July 2014
I just completed my camino in Santiago, having spent the month of June on the Camino del Norte. I highly recommend the route. It was my first camino, I'm 50 and in decent shape but not a runner or hiker. There were days that were a bit tougher due to the ascent, but I tried to stick with 20-25km per day to be kind to my feet. I had but one blister under a toenail, so my shoes, feet and terrain all seemed to work well together.

The route was sunny, fairly well marked (though the Ciccarone book would have you believe otherwise - I found it to be fairly outdated) and not too difficult for a newbie. Given I had nothing to compare it with, perhaps it was better as I had no preconceived notions about the route.

Best of all, it was only a small tribe along that route. if you can read German, get that guide. It has the best, most up-to-date info. I've documented most of the Camino del Norte on my blog: http://myadventure2014.tumblr.com
Great blog Calbeachgirl.. Thanks for sharing.. I'll be starting my first Camino July 14 on the Northern route.. Was a little apprehensive about choosing that route because of the limited resources/guide books I've found.. Your blog instilled a bit of confidence in choosing this route for my first Camino experience. Thank you again for sharing. Thank you all for sharing. I'll be taking my camera and phone along to document my Camino and hope to share as much as I can as well. Buen Camino.


Hiking to Celebrate the End of Working Life.
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte ( 2015)
Portuguese ( 2016)
Primitivo ( 2017)
VdlP (2018)
I just returned home from CF in June 2014 and already started planning for my del norte for 2015. Someone please tell me the BEST month to do this weatherwise. I expect a few days of rain, but since I can go just about anytime in 2015, I would like opinions of someone who has done this. I also know the weather is unpredictable, but I just want the statistically best month. I have May in mind.

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