824 km / 32 days on foot

The Northern Way (or Camino del Norte)

A long path along the coast.

The Camino del Norte, also known as Camino de la Costa, runs along the peninsular coast from east to west, bordering the Cantabrian Sea through Euskadi, Cantabria and Asturias, until reaching Galicia.

Remember you don't have to make a complete route in order to do the Camino de Santiago. Choose any intermediate departure point and complete the number of stages or kilometers you want. If you travel 100 km on foot (200 by bike), you can get the Compostela upon arrival in Santiago.

Image: Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao

The Northern Way (or Camino del Norte)

512 miles (824 km) / 32 days on foot / 20 days by bike


The Northern Way runs along the northern coast of Spain. The trip starts in San Sebastian, a city that everyone should visit at some point in their life. There you can taste the best Spanish cuisine. In fact one of the strong points of this route is the high-quality gastronomy that you will find throughout this route.

The Northern Way is characterized by having an important number of pilgrims on the way. It is one of the most popular paths there are. Although it is less crowded than the French Way, you will find a large number of pilgrims, hostels, establishments, etc.

If you are looking for a unique way, between the sea and the mountains, without hard stages and with all the charm of northern gastronomy (Basque, Cantabrian, Asturian and Galician), this route is ideal for you. You must bear in mind that this is a long way and you will need at least a month to compelte it . Nevertheless, it is a route suitable for everyone and you will only need some basic training.

camino del norte

History of the Northern Way

The Northern Way, also known as the Way by the Coast, started receiving pilgrims and devotees from the 9th century, coinciding with the discovery of Apostle Saint James' remains. Along with the French Way, it is one of most antique routes to Santiago de Compostela. Although it is not historically proven, we can deduce that the French Way is older (the first one), because the orography of the Northern Way is more complex.

Although there is no documentation of the Northern Way prior to the French Way, both had to be formed with very little time difference. Although the French Way was easier to travel, the Northern Way soon began to be used to reach Compostela. In fact, this was the safest way, because it was far from the battles of the Reconquest, that were fought in the Iberian Peninsula during this time.

The expansion and popularity of the Northern Way coincides with the expansion of territories of the Astur Kingdom. With this expansion, the news of the discovery of Saint James' remains spread quickly and the pilgrimages by the coast started to increase.




Image: AlfaAlfa


Stages of the Northern Way

The Northern Way is one of the longest paths to Santiago, with more than 500 miles (800 km) to Compostela. It runs through several locations in the north of the Peninsula: the starting point is in Irún and it passes through different towns and cities such as San Sebastian, Gernika, Bilbao, Portugalete, Santander, Santillana del Mar, Comillas, Ribadesella, Gijón, etc.

The Northern Way has 32 stages on foot and 20 by bike.

From Irún

Stage 1
Irún - San Sebastián (15.4 miles / 24.8 km)

This is a physically hard stage, since it consists of several ups and downs. This stage begins at the border of Spain with France and here you can discover places of interest such as the Hermitage of Santa Elena, the Church of Santa María del Juncal, Playa de la Concha, Miramar Palace or the Basílica de Santa María del Coro. San Sebastian is the perfect place to start to fall in love with the northern gastronomy. During this stage you can enjoy both the most refined gastronomy in restaurants with Michelin stars, as well as homemade cuisine in charming establishments.

Stage 2
San Sebastián - Zarautz (13.7 miles / 22.2 km)

This stage continues going uphill, especially up to the 7th mile. Then follows a steep slope down, so cyclists should be especially cautious. We recommend you to visit the Church of San Nicolás de Bari and the Hermitage of San Martín de Tours (in Orio), the Church of Santa María la Real, the Convent of the Franciscan Fathers and the Palace of Narros in Zarautz.

Stage 3
Zarautz - Deba (13.5 miles / 21.8 km)

This stage is characterized by having constant slopes, but the beauty of the landscapes makes it more bearable. You will pass through really beautiful places, such as Getaria, Zumaia, Itziar and Askizu.

Stage 4
Deba - Markina - Xemein (15 miles / 24 km)

This is a slightly tough stage, beacuse of the unevenness of the Basque mountains. To regain strength, nothing better than Basque gastronomy: try the pintxos, the marmitako and the Biscayan sauce to recover. You can choose to finish the stage in Markina or to continue to Xemein.

Stage 5
Markina - Xemein - Gernika Lumo (15.2 miles / 24.6 km)

If you have finished the stage in Markina, a stage of 15.2 miles awaits you. There still are continuous slopes, but you will pass through one of the most emblematic places int his route: Gernika. Do not hesitate to visit the Tree of Gernika and the Park of the Peoples of Europe.

Stage 6
Gernika Lumo - Lezama (13 miles / 20.8 km)

During these stages you can enjoy the Basque nature. Although there are slopes, they are not so pronounced. Enjoy the beauty of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. The Church, the Tower and the Humilladero of Santo Cristo in Lezama are some of the most remarkable points of interest.

Stage 7
Lezama - Bilbao (6.7 miles / 10.8 km)

This stage is very short, but it has a climb from the 5th mile til the 8th mile, of about 1200 feet above sea level. When you have passed it, you will begin to descend towards the city of Bilbao. Take your time and enjoy all that this incredible city offers: The Guggenheim Museum, the Cathedral of Saint James, the Basilica de la Virgen de Begoña, the Palacios Chávarri and Olábarri and much more.

From Bilbao

Stage 8
Bilbao - Portugalete (12 miles / 19.4 km)

The road from Bilbao to Portugalete is flatter and more bearable than the previous stages. Here you will find some industrial areas, combined with natural landscapes. Take a break to see the Bizkaia Bridge, the Basilica of Santa María, the Music Kiosk, the Salazar Tower and the Santa Clara Convent.

Stage 9
Portugalete - Castro Urdiales (17 miles / 27.6 km)

Since this is a long stage, you can shorten it by stopping at Pobeña, a little before arriving at Castro Urdiales. Do not miss the Playa de la Arena in Pobeña and visit Castro Urdiales, a charming coastal spot that will surprise you.

Stage 10
Castro Urdiales - Laredo (16.5 miles / 26.6 km)

This stage leaves the coast to reintroduce the way by the interior. It does not have steep slopes - so even though it is 26 miles long, it will not be hard. Take some time to visit the many points of interest of Laredo: the Convent of San Francisco, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Bien Aparecida, the Túnel de la Atalaya or the Alia Beach.

Stage 11
Laredo - Güemes (18 miles / 29 km)

You can complete this stage by crossing the estuary with a row boat to arrive to Santoña, as long as the weather provide good conditions (normally between March and December). In winter the solution is usually a deviation in public transportation throughout the interior. This is a charming stage, relieved by the landscape of the sea and the river's estuary.

Stage 12
Güemes - Santander (7.3 miles / 11.8 km)

In this stage you will have two options. You can cross the estuary from La Pedreña or skirt San Salvador. This is a short stage, so once you arrive at Santander you can take your time and enjoy this wonderful city. Visit the Protestant Cemetery, its museums, its palaces and the unique Gardens of La Magdalena.

Stage 13
Santander - Santillana del Mar (22.9 miles/37 km)

This is the longest stage, with more than 23 miles. Although it is not hard in terms of surface or slopes, it is really long, so we recommend that you start it with charged batteries. The great advantage of this stage is the beauty of the landscapes, since both Santander and Santillana del Mar (and the intermediate towns) have an incomparable beauty.

Stage 14
Santillana del Mar - Comillas/ San Vicente de la Barquera (13.6 miles / 22 km)

Another stage full of scenic gems. Here you will have the opportunity to see the Oyambre and Comillas Natural Park, with places of high interest such as the Sobrellano Palace and Gaudí's Capricho. It is not a hard or long stage, but you can divide it in two parts and finish it in Comillas to fully appreciate all its points of interest.

Stage 15
Comillas/San Vicente de la Barquera - Colombres (17.8 miles / 28.8 km)

In this stage, you leave Cantabria to enter Asturias, approaching a halfway point of the Way of Saint James. In this stage rivers are present, so there are no steep slopes or mountains around. Take the opportunity to start tasting the Asturian cuisine and enjoy the Playa de la Franca in Colombres.

Stage 16
Colombres - Llanes (14.4 miles / 23.2 km)

In this stage there are two different paths: an interior one that goes through Pendueles and a second one that borders the coast. In any case, this is a light stage, without obstacles. Take some time to visit the Ermita del Cristo del Camino, the Basilica of Santa María de Concejo, the Palace of the Dukes of Estrada or the Palace of the Count of Vega del Sella.

Stage 17
Llanes - Ribadesella (19.5 miles / 31.4 km)

Wonderful maritime and fluvial environments await you in this stage. Although it is a long stage, you will complete it without difficulties thanks to the beauty of the landscapes. Take the opportunity to stock up on supplies, since in the next stage you won't find as many establishments.

Stage 18
Ribadesella - Sebrayo (19.7 miles / 31.8 km)

A similar stage to the previous one, since they share the coastal and fluvial landscape and the route does not have important difficulties. It is also a long and flat stage.

Stage 19
Sebrayo - Gijón/Oviedo (22.2 miles / 35.8 km)

In this stage, we will have to choose between two optins. The first one is to end the stage in Oviedo. The second one is to take a detour to Gijón. Both are cities of great cultural and scenic interest.

The more historical and traditional option is the one that continues in the north and that ends in Gijón.

The alternative is to deviate around Casquita, to continue along the Primitive Way, thus reaching Oviedo. If you choose this option, the following stages are those of the Primitive Way. Keep reading about these stages in the section dedicated to the Primitive Way.

From Oviedo or Gijón

Stage 20
Gijón - Avilés (15.5 miles / 25 km)

If you have decided to take the traditional path, you mut have ended the previous stage in Gijón. From there you can continue towards the city of Avilés, via a flat route and without complex obstacles. Avilés is a place of great cultural interest and you can not miss tourist attractions such as the Ferrera Park, the Camposagrado Palace, the Church of San Nicolás de Bari, the Lighthouse of San Juan, the Church of Saint Thomas of Canterbury or the Park of the Dock, among others.

Stage 21
Avilés - Muros de Nalón (14 miles / 22.6 km)

In this stage you will find quite a lot of ups and downs. Although the heights reached are barely 600 feet above sea level, they occur in a small distance, so the slopes are pronounced. Luckily this is not a very long stage, so you can rest when you get to Nalón or visit its monuments, such as the Church of Santa María, Aguilar Beach, Casa Altamira or Plaza del Marqués de Muros.

Stage 22
Muros de Nalón - Soto de Luiña (9.9 miles / 16 km)

After a previous hard stage, it comes a light one, so you can rest your feet. With less than 10 miles and barely any obstacles, you can stop to enjoy La Quinta de Selgas or the Chapel of the Humilladero in Cudillero and the Church of Santa María.

Stage 23
Soto de Luiña - Cadavedo (11.4 miles / 18.5 km)

Although the original route of this stage passes through the Sierra de Palancas, it is likely that you can not pass through here. If the weather conditions are not favorable, you will have to deviate to the N-632 and continue on the road. The landscape is less beautiful, but the important thing is to be safe. Once in Cadavedo (or Cadavéu) you can enjoy the sea at Campiecho Beach or Cadavedo Beach.

Stage 24
Cadavedo - Luarca (9.8 miles / 15.8 km)

This stage is short and simple. You will have less than 10 miles to reach Lucarca, without finding any obstacles or complex terrains. Luarca is one of the most beautiful towns on the way, so you will be glad to have some free time to enjoy its streets and its cuisine: seafood, beans, cider, cheese and much more.

From Luarca

Stage 25
Luarca - La Caridad (18.3 miles / 29.6 km)

This stage runs almost entirely by the road, so you won't enjoy it as much. You should pay extra attention, since vehicles pass closely by. Always walk along the pedestrian area and with the proper signiling, if necessary.

Stage 26
La Caridad - Ribadeo (13.4 miles / 21.6 km)

In this stage, you will be keen to step in Galicia. You will arrive in Ribadeo, the first Galician town of this route. This is a intermediate-easy stage. We recommend you to visit Casariego and Ribadeo. You can just wander arounf and taste the Galician gastronomy.

From Ribadeo

Stage 27
Ribadeo - Lourenzá (17.6 miles / 28.4 km)

This is a long stage, and you will find some slopes again, especially when going up to Ponte Arante. We recommend that you get supplies when leaving Ribadeo, since this is a long stage and there aren't so many services until reaching Lourenzá.

Stage 28
Lourenzá - Abadín (15.6 miles / 25.2 km)

This is a stage that takes place mostly through natural places. You will walk through forests and natural landscapes, and you will have the chance to visit Mondoñedo, one the historic Galician capitals. There you can visit the Cathedral, the Plaza de España, the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and Alameda de los Remedios.

Stage 29
Abadín - Vilalba (12.8 miles / 20.7 km)

This stage run through the region of Terra Chá, which means "flat land". As you can deduce, this stage passes without slopes or unevenness. This is a stage that goes by nature without deviating from the national road, so you will have many services at hand. Once in Vilalba, visit the Torre de los Andrade or the Church of Santa María, among others.

Stage 30
Vilalba - Baamonde (11.5 miles / 18.6 km)

In this stage you will have two options. Given that the next stage is more than 24 miles long, you can walk some extra miles until reaching Miraz (this would be a total of 20.5 miles), so the next stage is shorter. The alternative is to take the chance to rest during this stage (since it's only 12.4 miles long) and take the longer stage the day after. Do not hesitate to visit the Old Chestnut tree that is located in Baamonde.

From Baamonde

Stage 31
Baamonde - Sobrado dos Monxes (25 miles / 41.2 km)

If you have finished the previous stage in Baamonde, you will now have to complete a long 25-mile stage. From this point, we leave Terra Chá to begin our journey in A Coruña. This indicates that we are approaching Santiago. In this stage there are not many services, so it is recommendable that you get supplies. Stop to appreciate the Monastery of Santa María de Sobrado, the Campamento Romano or the Lagoa de Sobrado dos Monxes.

Stage 32
Sobrado dos Monxes - Arzúa (13.2 miles / 21.4 km)

This is the last stage of the Northern Way. From Arzúa, the path is shared with the most popular path, the French Way. This is a short and simple stage, without steep slopes or ups and downs. Once in Arzúa, visit the Chapel and the Convent of La Magdalena, the Pazo de Brandeso, the Fonte Santa and the Chapel of A Mota. Of course, you should also try the Cheese from Arzúa, one of the most famous in Galicia and in Spain.

Stage 33
Arzúa - Pedrouzo (12 miles / 19.3 km)

You only have two short stages to get to Santiago (less than 12 miles). This penultimate stage has several options. Some pilgrims prefer to walk a little bit more so the last stage is shorter and closer to Santiago. This way you can reach the Plaza del Obradoiro in the morning. You can stop at O ​​Pedrouzo, at Alto de Santa Irene or even at Monte do Gozo, from where you will already make out Santiago de Compostela.

Stage 34
O Pedrouzo - Santiago de Compostela (12 miles / 19.4 km)

The finish line is almost there and the excitement of the arrival is in the air. You will complete this stage in no time, since it is a short one and the excitement of arriving will be very present. Flat and bearable, we recommend you to complete this route while sharing your experiences with your fellow pilgrims. You are already in Santiago! Once you are in the capital of Galicia, take your time to celebrate your arrival by visiting the city in depth.

Getting ready for the Camino del Norte

Remember that you can always adapt to the path and walk it according to your needs and how you feel at each stage. Before you start the Camino, it is advisable to take go for some walks for some weeks to check your physical condition and especially to get used to the shoes you will wear on the Way. The most common issues on the Camino are foot pain and backache, caused by by overloaded backpacks. The important thing about the Camino del Norte (and all other routes) is to follow your own pace and adapt to your own strength to reach the final stage. This way you will enjoy the many cultural, gastronomic, religious and leisure activities present all along the Way of Saint James.


One of the main elements to consider when doing the Camino del Norte is the footwear that we will wear along the route. No matter the type of footwear you choose, you should never wear your new shoes or boots for the first day of the Camino. If your shoes have not yet taken the shape of your feet, be sure that you will suffer blisters that may prevent you from finishing the Camino. That is why we always recommend trying out your shoes in the previous weeks, while you prepare for the Camino de Santiago by doing short walks.

Previous preparation

In addition to preparing our new footwear to our feet, with some previous physical preparation we will avoid injuries and other discomforts. Both in the weeks before starting the Camino de Santiago and in each daily stage before starting to walk, it is advisable to perform warm-up and stretching exercises. These should focus especially on calves and thighs, more specifically on hamstrings and quadriceps.

Characteristics of the Northern Way

The Northern Way is characterized by having an important number of pilgrims on the way. It is one of the most popular paths there are. Although it is less crowded than the French Way, you will find a large number of pilgrims, hostels, establishments, etc.

Since it is also known as the Way of the Coast, it is not surprising that this is one of its main characteristics and advantages. The entire Northern Way runs through beautiful coastal towns. If you choose this route, you can enjoy the paths halfway between the sea and the mountains, with the unique charm of the sea.

Another important feature that can tip the balance towards the Northern Way is its gastronomy. If you want to explore the magic of Basque, Cantabrian and Asturian food, the Northern Way is ideal for you.

Concerning difficulty levels, the Northern Way does not have any particular obstacle. What you should bear in mind is that it is a long way and you will need at least a month to walk it. Apart from this, this a route that everybody can take. The general training required by any pilgrimage route to Santiago will be enough to complete this Way of Saint James.

Camino del Norte Profile

Best Accommodation on the Northern Way

The Camino del Norte passes through numerous urban areas and major cities in Northern Spain. Here you will find some accommodations for the main stages of each province, from Irún to the junction of this Northern Way with the French Way.

  • Irún

  • Jakobi Pilgrim's Hostel (Lesaka, 1)
  • Pensión Lizaso (Aduana, 5)
  • Pensión Caserío Gure Ametsa (Oilakineta, 12)
  • Donosti

  • Downtown River Hostel (San Martín, 2)
  • Koba Hostel (Karkizano, 5)
  • Pensión Artea (San Bartolome, 33-1º izq)
  • Bilbao

  • Bilbao Pilgrim's Hostel (Kobeta, 60)
  • Santa Cruz de Begoña Pilgrim's Hostel (Padre Remigio Vilariño, 1)
  • Bilbao Hostel (Ctra. Basurto Kastrexana, 70)
  • Hostel Ganbara (Prim, 13)
  • Santander

  • Santander Central Hostel (Calderón de la Barca, 4 entresuelo)
  • Cantíber Accommodation (Burgos, 4-1° izda)
  • Hostel Royalty (Méndez Núñez, 6)
  • Ribadesella

  • Hotel Argüelles (C. del Sol, 9)
  • Hotel Covadonga (Manuel Caso de la Villa, 6)
  • Apartaments El Cueto (Cueto, 2)
  • Ribadeo

  • Hostel Ribadeo A Ponte (Justo Barreiro, 7)
  • Hostel Viruxe (Camiño Veiga da Aira, 4)
  • Hostel Río Eo (Buenos Aires, 1)

Discover all the different ways

The French Way (Camino Frances) is the most popular one, but there are many other ways you should know.

» French Way 474 miles / 33 days
» Portuguese Way 388 miles / 25 days
» Northern Way 512 miles / 32 days
» Primitive Way 194 miles / 11 days
» English Way 73 miles / 6 days
» Via de la Plata 440 miles / 27 days
» Winter Way 164 miles / 10 days
» Sanabria Way 227 miles / 13 days
» Camino de Madrid 423 miles / 29 days
» Fisterra-Muxía Way 71 miles / 4 days
» Portuguese Coastal Way 168 miles / 13 days
» Camino from Sarria 69 miles / 7 days