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Starting Camino del Norte in two days. Advice needed

Patchnomad

World nomad
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (September 2018)
Hi everyone. I am another one of those "last minute, winging it" type of pilgrims. I have a flight to Barcelona in two days. Could anyone help me with a few questions?

Where's the best place to start the camino del Norte? I've heard Irún among other places. Can you pick up your pilgrim credentials there?

What's the best way to get from Barcelona to Irún (or other starting places)?

Where can I buy a guidebook for Norte?

Also I've heard it's best to spend a day or two resting after your flight to adjust to the time zone, so I'm looking for cheap places to stay in barcelona as well as some must see tourist attractions.

Thank you all for your help. Feel free to fire any other tips at me.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I started the Norte in Irun. Many people started in San Sebastian and Bilbao. If you start in Bilbao you will miss most of the hardest and hilliest days. You can use Rome2Rio.com to find transportation options.
You can use Gronze.com to plan stages, find albergues, etc.
I used the Editorial Buen Camino app for the Norte. It worked great. It has offline mapping, and you can always see where you are on the route, or how to get back on it if you stray. It also shows and describes the different alternate routes that you can take, along with listing albergues. The website is in Spanish, but you choose your own language for the app. The app is free, but each guide costs a few Euros/dollars.
 

valevenga

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I am currently walking the Camino del Norte summer 2018
I started in Irún but I think it depends on factors that only you can answer....how much time do you have?....how much is your budget? ....do you want to walk with more pilgrims? (The Norte thins out after Basque Country)....I don’t know where to get a credential since I got mine in Lourdes.....having walked it a couple of months ago, I personally would not want to miss Irún to San Sabastian....or Irún to Bilbao ....but that’s because I loved all Basque Country in general.....having said that, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you start in either Irún, Bilbao, or San Sabastian......or any other number of places...not sure about the transportation....you probably can fly or catch a train from Barcelona to San Sabastian/Irún....as for a guide, Gronze is good place to start.....Wise Pilgrim....go to the tourist office in San Sabastian....if I remember correctly, they sell guide books there.....or ask where you can purchase a guide book...you can do the same if you start in Bilbao....Buen Camino
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
If you travel overland to Irun, you'll pass through Zaragoza and Pamplona. Seeing as the train journey is around 7 hours, and the bus journey even longer than that, I'd recommend breaking the journey into two stages. Both Zaragoza and Pamplona are worth a visit!

Alternatively: if money's no object, you could fly to San Sebastian or Biarritz. But if you're on a tight budget, then you could find a ride on blablacar, the ride-sharing site. Irun is not exactly a major destination, but you're bound to find a lift to San Sebastian over the next few days.
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
Hi everyone. I am another one of those "last minute, winging it" type of pilgrims. I have a flight to Barcelona in two days. Could anyone help me with a few questions?

Where's the best place to start the camino del Norte? I've heard Irún among other places. Can you pick up your pilgrim credentials there?

What's the best way to get from Barcelona to Irún (or other starting places)?

Where can I buy a guidebook for Norte?

Also I've heard it's best to spend a day or two resting after your flight to adjust to the time zone, so I'm looking for cheap places to stay in barcelona as well as some must see tourist attractions.

Thank you all for your help. Feel free to fire any other tips at me.
Hi @Patchnomad
From my experience in 2014 starting Norte from a flight into Barcelona from Oz.
I’d been to Barcelona before but want another shorter look so chose that entry point for a day jet lag recovery.
Can you grab a day or so to look around this city, as you mentioned you may want to get over jet lag too. . Even a free day helps.

I chose at that time to catch train to Irun from Barcelona so I could use the day looking at Spanish countryside.. I booked in advance though; but you may find last minute train fares more expensive.
I chose a hotel(recommended way back on this forum /can’t recall the name but it was a few minutes from Barcelona Sants station (where the train departs ) no rush on morning of departure to catch it.
There were heaps of pilgrims on the train but approx 90% got off at Pamplona to walk the CF. Francés.

I walked from Irún station to the municipal albergue .. a lot of information on the gronze link in @trecile s. post above.
You can also download maps.me app while at home or in wifi zone (app is free) and it works offline which is the bonus. Just limit having it open too long or running in background as it still uses your battery
There is also a resource on this forum for tracks for all caminos in Spain. This can overlay in maps.me.
Once this downloading is on your phone - any use - to follow trail or map of the area; can be done offline. I would usually keep my phone setting on aeroplane mode - you can still use it and see everything you need. It has accommodation options in it too. You would though need to be in internet mode if you wanted to connect to any of these places to reserve of course. I didn’t reserve anywhere in the Camino del Norte.
Since then I have also purchased the Wise Pilgrim app for all Spanish caminos.
You won’t find it hard to navigate this camino without maps tho, truly ! Arrows or shells are there to do their stuff and plenty of people around to ask or watch.

The credencial I bought from the municipal albergue in Irun. Just ask hospitaleros. They will help you get what you need if they don’t have any left.
It’s a bit late now to buy one from Ivars shop / this forum but it’s a good place to order for those who have the time. If you feel you will be back again ., you can also buy one in Santiago from the pilgrim office., when you get to the desk for your your Compostela..

I started my Norte on sept 1. I did find it hot especially the uphills. I admit coming a bit unprepared for the ups and downs in the first week but looking back it wasn’t too bad.
I try to walk in cooler temps nowadays.

Good luck and Buen Camino
Annie
 
Last edited:

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I started in San Sabastian and loved it as it was much easier to get to than Irun, which I'd been reading was not particularly interesting or special anyway. I know I missed a day or two of great views by doing that, but I got my fill along the way in many other beautiful places. I spent an extra day in San Sabastian touring around, eating tapas and climbing the big hill to the fort. Such amazing views looking back on the city and coastline below!
 

Sweenardo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata in May of 2017 from Ourense to Santiago. Bilbao to Santander on Camino Norte (2018).
Hi everyone. I am another one of those "last minute, winging it" type of pilgrims. I have a flight to Barcelona in two days. Could anyone help me with a few questions?

Where's the best place to start the camino del Norte? I've heard Irún among other places. Can you pick up your pilgrim credentials there?

What's the best way to get from Barcelona to Irún (or other starting places)?

Where can I buy a guidebook for Norte?

Also I've heard it's best to spend a day or two resting after your flight to adjust to the time zone, so I'm looking for cheap places to stay in barcelona as well as some must see tourist attractions.

Thank you all for your help. Feel free to fire any other tips at me.
If you decide to start in Bilbao, Vueling has flights several times each day for $35 or so....
 

dansk pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Norte 2018
Hi everyone. I am another one of those "last minute, winging it" type of pilgrims. I have a flight to Barcelona in two days. Could anyone help me with a few questions?

Where's the best place to start the camino del Norte? I've heard Irún among other places. Can you pick up your pilgrim credentials there?

What's the best way to get from Barcelona to Irún (or other starting places)?

Where can I buy a guidebook for Norte?

Also I've heard it's best to spend a day or two resting after your flight to adjust to the time zone, so I'm looking for cheap places to stay in barcelona as well as some must see tourist attractions.

Thank you all for your help. Feel free to fire any other tips at me.
hi,

I am travelling to Irun to start my Camino del Norte on saturday, maybe we will meet.

Casa Gracia is a great place to stay in Barcelona, if you deside to stay there for a couple of days. It is only a short walk from the big square, where the busses from the airport stops. You can find it on hostelworld.com

Buen Camino
 

Tuaruin

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sanabres.
Santiago-Muxia-Finisterre-Santiago.
Ingles.
I’ve found some great deals using air bnb when I’ve had to stop over due to flight timings or if staying in a place for a couple of days.
 

ScaryB4Coffee

Put your feet up after walking. It's good for you.
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte May/June (2016)
Frances September (2018)
I walked del Norte in May 2016; started in San Sebastián, which was a great little city (Old Town) as long as I didn’t get lost. After I lost my guide, which I named The Crappy, I downloaded Wise Pilgrim Guide on my phone. It has altitude, distance, allergies, booking.com link - everything I needed. In English.
Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-SC ('08) C.Frances ('11/'12) C.Norte ('13/'17) C.Portugues & Kerry C.('18)

Patchnomad

World nomad
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (September 2018)
Thanks for the very informative replies everyone! It has helped a lot.

I've come up with two more questions:

- rain gear. I've got a lightweight rain jacket which will double as a warmth layer, and a disposable poncho. Also some garbage bags to cover my pack if needed. Will this be sufficient?

- are trecking poles necessary on the camino del Norte?

Thanks again!!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Thanks for the very informative replies everyone! It has helped a lot.

I've come up with two more questions:

- rain gear. I've got a lightweight rain jacket which will double as a warmth layer, and a disposable poncho. Also some garbage bags to cover my pack if needed. Will this be sufficient?

- are trecking poles necessary on the camino del Norte?

Thanks again!!
Yes to trekking poles!
 

Sweenardo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata in May of 2017 from Ourense to Santiago. Bilbao to Santander on Camino Norte (2018).
Trekking poles a must for me....take 20 to 25% of weight off my aging knees. You can buy an inexpensive pack rain cover that will work better than garbage bags in Spain if you can't find one before you leave.
 

ScaryB4Coffee

Put your feet up after walking. It's good for you.
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte May/June (2016)
Frances September (2018)
I have only been on the Norte, and there I found the shops few and far between the few “cities“. There are several days that only go through villages. Be sure to have what you need, especially for rain. Buen Camino!
 

Loopi71

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Tui to Santiago
I started the Norte in Irun. Many people started in San Sebastian and Bilbao. If you start in Bilbao you will miss most of the hardest and hilliest days. You can use Rome2Rio.com to find transportation options.
You can use Gronze.com to plan stages, find albergues, etc.
I used the Editorial Buen Camino app for the Norte. It worked great. It has offline mapping, and you can always see where you are on the route, or how to get back on it if you stray. It also shows and describes the different alternate routes that you can take, along with listing albergues. The website is in Spanish, but you choose your own language for the app. The app is free, but each guide costs a few Euros/dollars.
Thank you for this reply. I'm starting from Bilbao on Wednesday and have the most recent publication of the Wise Pilgrim guide, which I don't like anywhere near as much as the Brierley I had for the Portuges. I've downloaded the app and it looks great, thanks!
 

Redvespablur

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo April/May 2016
Voie Littorale May 2020
We flew into Bilbao bussed to San Sebastián and tool commuter rail to Irun to start our Camino. Had an apartment that we rented in SS that we had for three nights. First night in SS then after walk from Irun and then after a rest day.

Loved the Basque Country between Irun and Santander. You should have a lovely walk from Bilbao.
 

SinBosun

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF September 2016, Norte September 2018
Currently walking it. We began in Biarritz but crossed into Spain at Hondarribia. Made for the albergue just outside, Capitan Tximista. Claimed to be full when we got there although no sign of life. Walked back to Amute where San Francisco offered a well hidden but brilliant albergue. We got a a room for 2, en suite and breakfast for 30 euros! Wonderful. Yes you need poles. Take the Purgatorio Route from Guadalupe for the amazing views. We couldn't get into anywhere in San Sebastian so book ahead.
 

ForrestUS

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Finisterre starting May 12th
Curious to the experienced Walkers of the Norte is it possible to bike this route??
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
I started in San Sabastian and loved it as it was much easier to get to than Irun, which I'd been reading was not particularly interesting or special anyway. I know I missed a day or two of great views by doing that, but I got my fill along the way in many other beautiful places. I spent an extra day in San Sabastian touring around, eating tapas and climbing the big hill to the fort. Such amazing views looking back on the city and coastline below!
I, too, started in San Sebastian which is a great city. I spent about 3 days there before leaving and well worth it
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
I started the Norte in Irun. Many people started in San Sebastian and Bilbao. If you start in Bilbao you will miss most of the hardest and hilliest days. You can use Rome2Rio.com to find transportation options.
You can use Gronze.com to plan stages, find albergues, etc.
I used the Editorial Buen Camino app for the Norte. It worked great. It has offline mapping, and you can always see where you are on the route, or how to get back on it if you stray. It also shows and describes the different alternate routes that you can take, along with listing albergues. The website is in Spanish, but you choose your own language for the app. The app is free, but each guide costs a few Euros/dollars.
 

Pxlwiz

Returning Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)Camino del Norte/Primativo
(2018)Camino Inglés
Curious to the experienced Walkers of the Norte is it possible to bike this route??
We saw several cyclists while doing our Norte the summer of 17, one of which struggled with staying on the same path as the Pilgrims on foot; especially the sections which feature long stretches on the beach or the hills leading one to the beach. They persevered and made it though. The ferrymen along the way didn't seem to have an issue with the bikes either.
 

Orford girl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Casino del Norte 2015 in part, Camilo del Norte 2016 finish in 2017.
Thanks for the very informative replies everyone! It has helped a lot.

I've come up with two more questions:

- rain gear. I've got a lightweight rain jacket which will double as a warmth layer, and a disposable poncho. Also some garbage bags to cover my pack if needed. Will this be sufficient?

- are trecking poles necessary on the camino del Norte?

Thanks again!!
Yes yes yes to the poles. They do save your knees. Once with really wet slippery cobblestones, I don't thinkI could have negotiated the path without them. Ill be starting again at Castro-Urdiales on 18 Sept and who knows how far the trip will go as I unfortunately have very little time. It was too hard to resist the chance to return.
Buen Camino
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'CP, Frances,Norte,Salv/prim;Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, Vdlp 2019>Táb/ Prt Levante 2020
Thanks for the very informative replies everyone! It has helped a lot.

I've come up with two more questions:

- rain gear. I've got a lightweight rain jacket which will double as a warmth layer, and a disposable poncho. Also some garbage bags to cover my pack if needed. Will this be sufficient?

- are trecking poles necessary on the camino del Norte?

Thanks again!!
Hi again @Patchnomad

Several days have passed since you began and I was wondering how you are you getting on?
Has it all become clear now and did you end up using poles.
Buen Camino
Annie
 

agu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018
Too late to reply, but I took the night bus from Barcelona to Irun. Costs about 37 euros and travel time is about 7 and half hours. Bus company Vibasa has not the most comfortable buses, but was good to get used to nights in albergues. Bus station in Barcelona is right besides to train station on the right side, when you face the train station.
Walking poles are absolutely must. Only I advice to take some lessons, how to use them, before you start your Camino. Sorry to say so, but most folks use them as accessories. Due to my broken right knee (torn ligaments) just one and half before my Camino, I'd never completed it without poles.
Sorry, English is not my first language.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Camino(s) past & future
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Curious to the experienced Walkers of the Norte is it possible to bike this route??
The Buen Camino app shows alternatives for bikes. This morning we saw two Frenchmen trying to bike their way up the rocky and very muddy climb out of Guernica. They had battery assisted bikes. They pushed them up on a number of occasions, and laughed profusely when we kept catching up to them and overtaking them (their bikes were heavy...)
 

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