Northern Way

34 Stages | 820km

A thrilling adventure along the Cantabrian Coast

The Camino del Norte is the second longest route of the Camino de Santiago, only behind the Vía de la Plata. It starts in the Basque city of Irún and crosses the autonomous communities of Euskadi, Cantabria and Asturias to enter the province of Lugo through the town of Ribadeo. A fantastic route that will take you to some of the most beautiful beaches in the north, spectacular cliffs, bucolic rural areas and cities where you can taste the best gastronomy in the country.

Our journeys on the Northern Way

Information of the Northern Way

Why choose the Camino del Norte?

One of the main attractions of this route is its undeniable scenic charm. A journey that takes you by the hand through the breathtaking scenery of the Cantabrian coast, giving you unforgettable views of its majestic beaches, cliffs, mountains and rural areas at every step. A route also designed to enjoy the charm of some of the most touristy fishing villages in these communities.

A route that over the years is gaining more followers and is configured as a good alternative to the French or Portuguese Way, much more crowded. Due to the recent popularization, in recent years the network of hostels and accommodation and infrastructure available on the route has been strengthened, today more than enough to meet the demand of both pilgrims who make the route on foot and by bicycle.

What to see on the Camino de Santiago del Norte?

  • Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao
  • Begoña Basilica – Bilbao
  • Santiago Cathedral – Bilbao
  • Miramar Palace – San Sebastian
  • Castro Urdiales
  • Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana – Santillana del Mar
  • Modernist palaces in Comillas
  • Santoña Lighthouse
  • Santillana del Mar – Cantabria
  • Gulpiyuri Beach – Llanes
  • Ancient wall and tower of Llanes
  • Historic centre of Avilés
  • Beach of As Catedrais – Ribadeo
  • Town of Ribadeo
  • Monastery of Santa María, in Sobrado dos Monxes
  • Cathedral of Mondoñedo, Lugo
  • Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Where to start the Northern Way?

The Northern Way officially begins in the Basque Country, specifically in the city of Irun. From this point the route runs along the Cantabrian coast until it reaches Ribadeo, from where it enters the interior of the province of Lugo until it joins the French Way in Arzúa.

If you want to do the complete route of the Northern route, you will need at least 36 days of pilgrimage to complete the journey.

The city of Bilbao is one of the favourite places for pilgrims to start the Northern Way. And it is not surprising, since this city offers endless possibilities to pilgrims; from visiting one of the most important museums in Spain to a fun “bar” route tasting its exquisite pintxos accompanied by a bottle of txakoli. This northern itinerary from Bilbao has 650 kilometres that can be completed in 29 stages and approximately one month.

The capital of Cantabria is a good alternative for those pilgrims who do not have enough time to do the whole route. Although it is true that specifically the Cantabrian section has very touristy and urbanized areas that detract a little charm to the idea of pilgrimage through natural landscapes. However, it can be a very good option in summer, especially if you are looking to combine the route with leisure and beach activities.

From Santander there is a total of 530 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela, which can be done in 24 stages and 26 days.

The Asturian town of Ribadesella is a truly idyllic place to start your Camino del Norte. In addition, we encourage you to have an extra day and complement the route doing the exciting descent of the river Sella in kayak. From here, you will travel through almost the entire Principality of Asturias, passing through important fishing villages that will make you fall in love with their gastronomy, culture, history and tradition.

If you decide to start the northern route from Ribadesella, a total of 385 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela await you, which divided into 19 stages can be done in approximately 21 days.

In recent years Ribadeo has become one of the most popular places to start the Camino del Norte. This is due to the popularity of the Galician sections of the different Jacobean routes; besides having landscapes of undeniable beauty, it is perfect for those pilgrims who do not have enough time to do the whole route.

From Ribadeo to Santiago de Compostela there is a total distance of 190 kilometres that can be divided into 9 stages / 10 days.

The village of Vilalba in Lugo hosts the famous last 120 kilometres of the Northern Way to Santiago de Compostela. A simple route, ideal for those who are looking for a first contact with the Camino but do not have enough days to do it all.

From Vilalba, you will travel through the region of A Terra Chá, a fully rural environment specialised in cattle and dairy farming, until you join the French Way in Arzúa; from here you will notice a significant increase in the number of pilgrims until you reach Santiago de Compostela.

You will be able to do this section in a total of 6 stages for which you will need 8 days.

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Stages of the Northern Way of Santiago

History of the Northern Route

The origin of the Camino de Santiago by its northern route dates back to the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle St. James. Some say that it may be older than the French Way, as it is logical to think that it was the safest route in times of the Muslim invasion, being further away from the struggles of the Reconquest. However, other historians agree that this route was later and less frequented due to the orographic difficulties.

To its main ports came walkers from all over the world who joined at other points of the French or Primitive Way. At the end of the 15th century, this coastal route was revived and pilgrims’ hospitals and temples dedicated to the Apostle began to proliferate.

Like all the other Pilgrims’ Routes to Santiago, the Northern Way also experienced a significant decline from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards. The first great crisis was a consequence of the crisis of faith that was experienced throughout Europe and the second was caused by the process of European secularization that began after the French Revolution and the loss of the housing infrastructure due to the disentailments of the 19th century.

During the last years of the 20th century it began to recover from oblivion thanks to the signposting of the route and the construction of a wide network of hostels.

Other routes of the Camino de Santiago