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Start in Irun or San Sebastian - WWYD?

2020 Camino Guides

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I'm not sure which will be best for me.
I'll be arriving in Biarritz around 8:30 pm after a marathon day of travel: 4 flights and 21+ hours from the west coast of the US. Before I start walking I need to mail my suitcase to Santiago. So here are my two choices:

Option 1 Train/bus to Irun, go to the post office when it opens, mail my suitcase, and start walking. Stop in Pasajes de San Juan, where I've made a reservation at a hotel about 45 minutes walk from the albergue (I'm worried about not getting one of the 14 beds at the albergue, especially since I'll be tired from all that travel the day before). Then walk to San Sebastian the next day.

Option 2 Travel to San Sebastian, check into a hotel, mail my suitcase, rest and enjoy the city before starting my Camino.

Option 2 cuts out one day of walking, giving me more flexibility later on during the Camino, which definitely appeals to me.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
San Sebastián is too cool to just pass through...spend some time there. Irun and the walk from there to SS is not really special.
You could take the little local train to Irun and back for a quick look to be sure you didn't miss anything. It is a short ride.
 

Hiking Gauguin

Morris Jensen
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Portuguese [2013] - Camino de Santiago [2014]
Camino Frances Spring 2015. April 2017.
Why bring a suitcase, you're not too clear on this point. Are you packing your backpack in a suitcase for the flight? If so, use a cardboard packing box, same size. take tape to seal it up after customs check and dump it in a bin when you arrive in Spain. Do the same when you've finished. Or buy a tatty suitcase from a charity shop and leave it at the hotel for the next person to use.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Why bring a suitcase, you're not too clear on this point. Are you packing your backpack in a suitcase for the flight? If so, use a cardboard packing box, same size. take tape to seal it up after customs check and dump it in a bin when you arrive in Spain. Do the same when you've finished. Or buy a tatty suitcase from a charity shop and leave it at the hotel for the next person to use.
I'm bringing a suitcase because I'm not going straight home after the Camino. I'll spend a few days in London, then New York, before heading home.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
[QUOTE="Hiking Gauguin, post: 628088, member: 24866"]Why bring a suitcase, you're not too clear on this point. ….snip Quote]

Many of us take an after camino suitcase and post it on to Ivar in Santiago for pickup when we arrive in Santiago... as @trecile advises above. This is a pretty common thing.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Hi @trecile, you seem to be leaning towards San Sebastián. There's not much to Irún, apart of course from that first day of walking. San Sebastián is a great city and a nicer place to relax, do your chores, deal with the jet lag and perhaps have your first swim on the Norte.

We didn't stay in Irún last time - we booked two nights in San Sebastián and took the early morning airport bus back to Amute (just outside Irún) for our first day of walking. For a shorter version of that, you could take transport to Pasajes and walk back to your lodging.

Buen Camino!
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
San Sebastián is too cool to just pass through...spend some time there. Irun and the walk from there to SS is not really special.
You could take the little local train to Irun and back for a quick look to be sure you didn't miss anything. It is a short ride.

I loved the walk from Irún - especially the views of the Bay of Biscay, the little ferry ride and the first glimpses of the San Sebastián beaches! I've never felt inclined to spend a night there, though.
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
Irun to san seb/Donostia on a fine day over the Jaizkibel mountain will stay with you - it's a sort of baptism almost equivalent to St Jean to Roncesvalles. If for day 2 you are only walking from Pasajes to San Seb then you'll have almost a day to spend there
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
SS is the tapas Capitol if the World, wander around the old part of town you will not be disappointed. I have booked 3 nights at the end of the month just to binge before I go back to Florida.
 

pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
I loved the walk from Irun to SS. Very sensible making a reservation in a hotel in Pasaje because the albergue is tiny, so you can take you time.

Buen camino whichever option you chose!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am not sure if you have your tickets already, but if not, flying into San Sebastian would be easier. The SS airport is actually in Irún, about a half hour walk to the center if memory serves. That would make the pre-walking stuff less hectic. I was in the center of Irún by Spanish lunchtime. That would give you time to do the mailing that day. There is a flight from Madrid to SS that leaves around noon, and many of the US arrivals get there in plenty of time for that.

The walk from Irún to SS, particularly if you take the "alpinista route" and GR alternative at a fork after Pasajes, is beautiful and a nice bang to start with as Tom says. I would not rank it as gorgeous as some of the coastal alternatives I've blabbered on about but it is very pretty.

This is one of those "no bad choices" choices. I find that walking the day after I arrive is the best antidote to jet lag (my flights are usually in the 18-20 hour range), so if you are like that, there's one more reason to prefer option 1.

Let us know what you choose! Buen camino, Laurie
 

QuailHiker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino del Norte y Primitivo (2018)
Agree with the advice to walk from Irun. The alpinista route is a great start, and with your plans to stay in Pasajes, you'll have a lot of time in San Sebastian the next day.
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
Why not walk from Biarritz? I did and the route was well marked, I liked it and I would not want to miss the walk from Irún to SS.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
It looks like everyone has a bit of a different opinion...but most of them do not directly address trecile's (OP) situation. Trecile is a very experienced pilgrim. She is trying to make up her mind whether it would be best to just hold up at SS and rest from a very long day of travel from the West Coast of the U.S. That can be 24 hours of straight travel. She arrives at 8:30 pm.
She has an after camino box to ship to Ivar in Santiago so needs to get to a Post Office during open hours.
So...we all have different opinions on what is important. I have walked Irun-SS several times and it is a good walk...but doesn't have a "can't miss" quality in my mind.
Personally, I would opt to start in SS well rested from travel. There is a lot of Camino between SS and Santiago to make up for the short distance from Irun.....but then that is my opinion.
 

Craig Towers

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago
I'm not sure which will be best for me.
I'll be arriving in Biarritz around 8:30 pm after a marathon day of travel: 4 flights and 21+ hours from the west coast of the US. Before I start walking I need to mail my suitcase to Santiago. So here are my two choices:

Option 1 Train/bus to Irun, go to the post office when it opens, mail my suitcase, and start walking. Stop in Pasajes de San Juan, where I've made a reservation at a hotel about 45 minutes walk from the albergue (I'm worried about not getting one of the 14 beds at the albergue, especially since I'll be tired from all that travel the day before). Then walk to San Sebastian the next day.

Option 2 Travel to San Sebastian, check into a hotel, mail my suitcase, rest and enjoy the city before starting my Camino.

Option 2 cuts out one day of walking, giving me more flexibility later on during the Camino, which definitely appeals to me.
We stayed in Irun however as we went to leave that morning the heavens opened all day. Ended up catching train to SS. The next morning we caught local train back to Irun to start walk. I liked the first day. Great sea views. Good coastal walking. Stay in SS and train back early in the morning. You can just take a light day pack that first day. Eases you into walk. Smell the roses. Can’t understand why so many people rush the start but remember sometimes jet lag hits day 3. So just be flexible. Listen to your body. Get moving but give yourself some flexibility.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thanks everyone for thoroughly confusing me! :D:D:D
@grayland pretty much summed up my dilemma.
I have lots of (fully cancellable) reservations now; I managed to book a guest house right off the Camino that is near the albergue in Pasajes. So I've cancelled the hotel in Renteria that's almost an hour's walk from the Camino. Then I've also booked a pensión in San Sebastian for the next night.

And I still have my alternate booking for one night in San Sebastian if I choose to skip the walk from Irun to SS.

I also don't want to spend a ton of money. The hotel in Renteria was going to cost around 65 euros, but fortunately the guest house in Pasajes is only 25 euros, with breakfast included. I had booked a hostel in San Sebastian that was recommended to me - A Room in the City, but that was 38 euros for just a bed! I decided with the savings at the guest house to go ahead and book a pensión in San Sebastian.

I have until July 1st - the day before I leave - to make a final decision. So I'll probably just wait and see how I feel, and what the weather is going to be like.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I am not sure if you have your tickets already, but if not, flying into San Sebastian would be easier.
I do already have my tickets. I was able to use my airline miles to get to Biarritz. I think that I looked at the San Sebastian airport, but there were no mileage award tickets available.
 

tillyjones

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2015
VDLP May 2017
del Norte Sept 2018
If I might hijack this thread....as I am also in need of doing the Norte on a slightly tight schedule...can anyone advise of how to get from the airport (Biarritz) to San Sebastien...if I was to bypass Irun and start there?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

Ron

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2013/2014
Camino Portuguese 2015/2016
Camino Norte 2016/2017
Camino Primativo 2017/20
I'm not sure which will be best for me.
I'll be arriving in Biarritz around 8:30 pm after a marathon day of travel: 4 flights and 21+ hours from the west coast of the US. Before I start walking I need to mail my suitcase to Santiago. So here are my two choices:

Option 1 Train/bus to Irun, go to the post office when it opens, mail my suitcase, and start walking. Stop in Pasajes de San Juan, where I've made a reservation at a hotel about 45 minutes walk from the albergue (I'm worried about not getting one of the 14 beds at the albergue, especially since I'll be tired from all that travel the day before). Then walk to San Sebastian the next day.

Option 2 Travel to San Sebastian, check into a hotel, mail my suitcase, rest and enjoy the city before starting my Camino.

Option 2 cuts out one day of walking, giving me more flexibility later on during the Camino, which definitely appeals to me.
I have another suggestion for what it is worth. I used it successfully while walking the Camino Norte / Primativo in January. Get to San Sebastian and book into the hotel next to the railway station for 2 nights. Next day, go by Irun by train, travelling light (ie leaving most of your gear at the hotel) and walk from Irun to San Sebastian.
Regards

Ron Bennett
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
For those not familiar with the Basque Country...the names of cities and towns are in both Spanish and Basque. San Sebastián is "Donostia". You will usually see both names but I have run into bus and train schedules with just the Basque name listed. It can be confusing if you are not aware of the dual language use in the area.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
I'd go for Option 2. I really liked SS but it's expensive. I stayed at Pension Regil a couple of weeks ago, central, clean, lovely friendly owner who gave advice on which bars to go to and what kinds of food they did. I think I paid around 35E which was cheaper than some of the hostels. I had a wonderfully relaxed breakfast at Barrenetxe before heading off on my travels.
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
Time constraints, and the fact that I need to mail the suitcase.
Oki understand if you don’t want to mail it from France to Spain I just forgot that Biarritz is in another country :) Good much whereever you decide to start. San Sebastián is a lovely city so having a longer day there seams to be a good option if time constraints and a possible jet lag is taken into consideration.
 

arch

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte from Irun to Santander, Primitivo from Oviedo to Frances to Santiago September 2016
I'm not sure which will be best for me.
I'll be arriving in Biarritz around 8:30 pm after a marathon day of travel: 4 flights and 21+ hours from the west coast of the US. Before I start walking I need to mail my suitcase to Santiago. So here are my two choices:

Option 1 Train/bus to Irun, go to the post office when it opens, mail my suitcase, and start walking. Stop in Pasajes de San Juan, where I've made a reservation at a hotel about 45 minutes walk from the albergue (I'm worried about not getting one of the 14 beds at the albergue, especially since I'll be tired from all that travel the day before). Then walk to San Sebastian the next day.

Option 2 Travel to San Sebastian, check into a hotel, mail my suitcase, rest and enjoy the city before starting my Camino.

Option 2 cuts out one day of walking, giving me more flexibility later on during the Camino, which definitely appeals to me.
That first day from Irun covers some beautiful scenery. I wouldn't have missed it
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
We arrived late in SS and took Light Rail to Irun in morning and walked back to SS and then took our first rest day. We were pretty jet lagged and this combo of fly walk rest worked well. Irun to SS was a great walking day for us and got our toes wet - and the rest and chance to adjust gear and thinking on early rest day saved us grief later.

Both your choices good. Have fun
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte Sept 2013
Camino del Norte Sept 2014
Camino del Norte 2015,16,17,18
I'm not sure which will be best for me.
I'll be arriving in Biarritz around 8:30 pm after a marathon day of travel: 4 flights and 21+ hours from the west coast of the US. Before I start walking I need to mail my suitcase to Santiago. So here are my two choices:

Option 1 Train/bus to Irun, go to the post office when it opens, mail my suitcase, and start walking. Stop in Pasajes de San Juan, where I've made a reservation at a hotel about 45 minutes walk from the albergue (I'm worried about not getting one of the 14 beds at the albergue, especially since I'll be tired from all that travel the day before). Then walk to San Sebastian the next day.

Option 2 Travel to San Sebastian, check into a hotel, mail my suitcase, rest and enjoy the city before starting my Camino.

Option 2 cuts out one day of walking, giving me more flexibility later on during the Camino, which definitely appeals to me.
Hi there. This isn't the most practical advice but Pasajes de San Juan is not to be missed. I didn't get one of the beds in the Albergue as it was full but the hostelero made room for me It was one of my most memorable Camino moments so from my point of view don't miss Pasajes de San Juan x
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Hi there. This isn't the most practical advice but Pasajes de San Juan is not to be missed. I didn't get one of the beds in the Albergue as it was full but the hostelero made room for me It was one of my most memorable Camino moments so from my point of view don't miss Pasajes de San Juan x
Now that I have the guest house in Pasajes secured, I think that I'll stick to my original plan and start in Irun.
 

wayto(compo)Stella

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2018)
I stayed in a new, clean and friendly hostel called Koba in SS less than a month ago, it was about 25euro with breakfast included, I would recommend it.
Pasaia is cute!
I started in Irun but it was very cloudy that day so I have no idea what the views are like:confused::confused:
 

Llew

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Finisterre 2012, Norte, Ingles,Finisterre & Muxia 2015, Australian (2016), Portuguese 2018
I started in Biarritz and enjoyed the walk from there to Irun. If you don't start in Biarritz I would definately start in Irun as the walk from there to SS is very nice with some great views. Whatever you decide I am sure you will enjoy as the Norte is a lovely camino.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I stayed in a new, clean and friendly hostel called Koba in SS less than a month ago, it was about 25euro with breakfast included, I would recommend it.
Pasaia is cute!
I started in Irun but it was very cloudy that day so I have no idea what the views are like:confused::confused:
I looked at Koba. For my dates it was about 38€. :( I have booked a pensión with private bath instead. I'm sure hoping not to encounter too many gray skies or rain in July!
 

Dan S.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte May - June 2016
Camino del Norte -> Camino Primitivo May - June 2017
If it helps there is a Mailboxes Etc. store on the way out of Irun right on the Camino. They are open until 18:00 during the week: https://www.mbe.es/es/envios-impresion/irn/0174 If the weather is nice, and you can manage the alpinista (purgatorio) route, I found it almost breathtaking,. I would not have wanted to miss it. I also did the other route in the rain, and it was not anything special.
 

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