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Route plan—help needed! (Bilbao, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port)

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I’m trying to plan accommodation/night stopover locations in advance (I’ve explained why toward the bottom of this post) and would really appreciate your advice.

The only flights I could find within budget were to Bilbao, and we’ll start the pilgrimage in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The flight lands on 1st September and the return flight is 10th September.

I’m not sure whether to stay the night of 1st September in Bilbao or instead to go part of the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, maybe taking a bus to Pamplona or a train to somewhere along the north coast, perhaps to San Sebastián. Then we’d go on to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on 2nd September, spend the night there, and begin walking on 3rd September. This seems rather drawn out and complicated, although we will a joy exploring nice place at leisure. The flight to Bilbao lands at 16.55 so I think it’d be too late to get all the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that day? What do you think?

I imagine we’ll walk as far as Estella or maybe Los Arvon before needing to find transport back to Bilbao for the flight home on the 10th.

I’m a little restricted with accommodation because of a health problem which means I have to sleep sitting upright. I’d love to stay in albergues but think I’ll need to avoid the bunk beds because there is no neck/head support. I’d be keen to hear recommendations for any cheap/sociable accommodation that may be suitable though! It’s also because of this health issue that I’m wary of very long bus trips.

I’ll be really keen to know your thoughts about this! I want to start booking accommodation straight away—just need to know where to aim for each night.
 
Last edited:

Jeff B

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Agree that 16:55 is probably too late to catch transport from Bilbao. Have you looked at taking train from Bilbao to Pomplona (4 to 5 hours, about US$30), and bus from Pomplona to SJPP (< 2 hours)? Not sure about accommodating your health issue, but you might try contacting some albergues/hotels/pension to see if there are options.
Did you mean Los Arcos?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Hello @Lhollo - welcome to the forum!

I am not the best person to answer your logistical questions about getting from Bilbao to SJPP, so others will probably help more.

You may already be fully aware of this, but I thought I would point out that you do not need to start from SJPP. (Some people are not aware of this.) Many many people start from Roncesvalles, Pamplona or other places. So, if you find that you would be using too much time and effort to get to SJPP on this trip, you could just take the bus to Pamplona and start there. On the other hand, if starting at SJPP is important, you have the right attitude of enjoying the journey however it starts.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hello @Lhollo - welcome to the forum!

I am not the best person to answer your logistical questions about getting from Bilbao to SJPP, so others will probably help more.

You may already be fully aware of this, but I thought I would point out that you do not need to start from SJPP. (Some people are not aware of this.) Many many people start from Roncesvalles, Pamplona or other places. So, if you find that you would be using too much time and effort to get to SJPP on this trip, you could just take the bus to Pamplona and start there. On the other hand, if starting at SJPP is important, you have the right attitude of enjoying the journey however it starts.
Thanks! Yes, it had occurred to me to start nearer to Bilbao, but I’m very attached to the idea of walking through the first section, and hopefully spending a little in SJPP too. I think it looks beautiful! It’s reassuring to know you think the idea of time at the start is a good one.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Agree that 16:55 is probably too late to catch transport from Bilbao. Have you looked at taking train from Bilbao to Pomplona (4 to 5 hours, about US$30), and bus from Pomplona to SJPP (< 2 hours)? Not sure about accommodating your health issue, but you might try contacting some albergues/hotels/pension to see if there are options.
Did you mean Los Arcos?
I didn’t know about that train. I’ll look into it! Thanks
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I’m very attached to the idea of walking through the first section, and hopefully spending a little in SJPP too.
Then maybe you could take the time at the beginning, to enjoy the sights. Take a train from Bilbao to Bayonne/Biarritz, stay there and look around, train/bus to SJPP and look around, walk to Orisson, shuttle back to SJPP to spend the night in comfortable accommodation and then shuttle back to Orisson in the morning. walk to Roncesvalles, etc. Maybe you will get to Pamplona and decide to spend an extra day there. Walk as far as you want and then go back to Bilbao, perhaps leaving some time for sightseeing there.
 

Lhollo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
It does look easy to get to Pamplona either by bus or train so I’ve booked the first night in a small hotel there. Yay! Thanks for getting me started 😀 🙏
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Bus/coach services in Spain are frequent, fast, and cheap. There are lots of daily buses (well, smart coaches really) that go to Pamplona direct from Bilbao for about 15€ and I think that the last one is at 20:30, arriving at 22:30, no problem if you are staying in a hotel.
The first is 0700 and you would be in Pamplona at 09:20. So you could sleep in Bilbao and take the first morning bus, then walk out that morning from Pamplona after a restful night!

Whichever choice you get to start walking out oif Pamplona by 09:30 on the 2nd!!

See here for coaches and timetables etc - https://www.omio.co.uk/coaches/bilbao/pamplona
 

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
I use Rome2Rio.com. Very handy site that will tell you the options on how to get from point A to B in any country along with pricing schedules and links to the actual transportation companies. Fee, easy, no sign ups, popups, etc. Very handy for before and after your camino or if you need to depart the trail unexpectedly.
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
I’m trying to plan accommodation/night stopover locations in advance (I’ve explained why toward the bottom of this post) and would really appreciate your advice.

The only flights I could find within budget were to Bilbao, and we’ll start the pilgrimage in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The flight lands on 1st September and the return flight is 10th September.

I’m not sure whether to stay the night of 1st September in Bilbao or instead to go part of the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, maybe taking a bus to Pamplona or a train to somewhere along the north coast, perhaps to San Sebastián. Then we’d go on to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on 2nd September, spend the night there, and begin walking on 3rd September. This seems rather drawn out and complicated, although we will a joy exploring nice place at leisure. The flight to Bilbao lands at 16.55 so I think it’d be too late to get all the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that day? What do you think?

I imagine we’ll walk as far as Estella or maybe Los Arvon before needing to find transport back to Bilbao for the flight home on the 10th.

I’m a little restricted with accommodation because of a health problem which means I have to sleep sitting upright. I’d love to stay in albergues but think I’ll need to avoid the bunk beds because there is no neck/head support. I’d be keen to hear recommendations for any cheap/sociable accommodation that may be suitable though! It’s also because of this health issue that I’m wary of very long bus trips.

I’ll be really keen to know your thoughts about this! I want to start booking accommodation straight away—just need to know where to aim for each night.
There is a bus from Bilbao to Bayonne and after a train from Bayonne to SJPP
 

MikeC

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycled SJPP to SDC September 2016
Starting Camino Ingles June 2018
The airport bus at Bilbao terminates at the city bus interchange.
There are buses to Irun at aprox 18:30 and 20:30 for about 8 euros.
Irun / Hendaye straddle the border, so overnight In Irun and walk across to the French side in the morning to get a train at about 09:30 to Bayonne.
Change trains at Bayonne and arrive St Jean at about 13:00
train cost is about 20 euros total.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I’m trying to plan accommodation/night stopover locations in advance (I’ve explained why toward the bottom of this post) and would really appreciate your advice.

The only flights I could find within budget were to Bilbao, and we’ll start the pilgrimage in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The flight lands on 1st September and the return flight is 10th September.

I’m not sure whether to stay the night of 1st September in Bilbao or instead to go part of the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, maybe taking a bus to Pamplona or a train to somewhere along the north coast, perhaps to San Sebastián. Then we’d go on to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on 2nd September, spend the night there, and begin walking on 3rd September. This seems rather drawn out and complicated, although we will a joy exploring nice place at leisure. The flight to Bilbao lands at 16.55 so I think it’d be too late to get all the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that day? What do you think?

I imagine we’ll walk as far as Estella or maybe Los Arvon before needing to find transport back to Bilbao for the flight home on the 10th.

I’m a little restricted with accommodation because of a health problem which means I have to sleep sitting upright. I’d love to stay in albergues but think I’ll need to avoid the bunk beds because there is no neck/head support. I’d be keen to hear recommendations for any cheap/sociable accommodation that may be suitable though! It’s also because of this health issue that I’m wary of very long bus trips.

I’ll be really keen to know your thoughts about this! I want to start booking accommodation straight away—just need to know where to aim for each night.
I understand the allure and desire to start in SJPP. May I make another off the wall suggestion especially since you only have a few days to walk. You are in Bilbos and you are on the Camino Norte. It is a beautiful camino along the northern coast of Spain. It is much hillier than the Camino Frances but no hill is as bad as the one out of St. Jean. I think the scenery is spectacular. There is some spectacular scenery on the CF, especially that first day up and over the Pyrenees Mountains. It is a question of if you like mountains and woods over seascapes I guess. It is less crowded, but also less infrastructure but there will be enough. I think the food is better on the Norte, and as I said definitely less crowded but has it's own Pilgrim spirit as all caminos do. If you want to meet others from around the world you definitely will have that opportunity also. Just an idea.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
Always use rome2rio.com first and you will get a plethora of choices in a visual way. That helps when choosing.


 

owms2323

Credential question
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Frances (2014) Camino Frances (2016) Camino Finisterre/Muxia (2017)
I’m trying to plan accommodation/night stopover locations in advance (I’ve explained why toward the bottom of this post) and would really appreciate your advice.

The only flights I could find within budget were to Bilbao, and we’ll start the pilgrimage in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The flight lands on 1st September and the return flight is 10th September.

I’m not sure whether to stay the night of 1st September in Bilbao or instead to go part of the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, maybe taking a bus to Pamplona or a train to somewhere along the north coast, perhaps to San Sebastián. Then we’d go on to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on 2nd September, spend the night there, and begin walking on 3rd September. This seems rather drawn out and complicated, although we will a joy exploring nice place at leisure. The flight to Bilbao lands at 16.55 so I think it’d be too late to get all the way to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port that day? What do you think?

I imagine we’ll walk as far as Estella or maybe Los Arvon before needing to find transport back to Bilbao for the flight home on the 10th.

I’m a little restricted with accommodation because of a health problem which means I have to sleep sitting upright. I’d love to stay in albergues but think I’ll need to avoid the bunk beds because there is no neck/head support. I’d be keen to hear recommendations for any cheap/sociable accommodation that may be suitable though! It’s also because of this health issue that I’m wary of very long bus trips.

I’ll be really keen to know your thoughts about this! I want to start booking accommodation straight away—just need to know where to aim for each night.
In 2014, we spent the night in Bilbao and caught the bus in the morning to Bayonne, then another bus to St Jean(the trains were out that year]
 

Donjek

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPdP - Fisterra
PESA bus goes from Bilbao Loiu Airport to San Sebastian bus station. Hourly.

If you stay in Bilbao then take local bus from airport to Termibus. There are several buses daily from Bilbao Termibus (which has an excellent website) to San Sebastian.

You can catch Renfe Cercanias from San Sebastian to Irun.

Cross border Irun/Hendaye and take train from Gare d'Hendaye to Bayonne.

Then another train Bayonne to SJPdP.

You likely won't make the entire journey on the same day after arriving 1655.
 

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