What makes the Camino del Norte special

Camino del Norte or Northern Way is one of the oldest Camino de Santiago routes. It developed around the same time as the Camino Primitivo coming from Asturias and was the preferred route not just for pilgrims from Northern Spain but also from further afield, as many pilgrims would travel by sea to the port cities and towns of the Northern coast and then continue on their way to Santiago de Compostela on foot. Many would pick this particular route also attracted by the sanctuary of San Salvador in Oviedo, including Saint Francis of Assisi who went on a pilgrimage to Oviedo and Santiago in 1214.



How long is the Camino del Norte?

The Camino del Norte is over 800kms long, taking 37 days to complete on foot. However you can choose to start from any point along the way, covering as much or as little as you like. Just bear in mind you will need to walk at least the last 100kms or cycle the last 200kms to receive your ‘Compostela’ certificate.

The Camino del Norte starts in the Basque Country and finishes in Santiago de Compostela, crossing the coastal regions of what you might know as ‘Green Spain’: Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia.

Starting in foodie capital San Sebastian, at CaminoWays.com we have the options to walk the last 100kms of the Camino del Norte, the route that takes you through the Basque Country and the full Camino del Norte Route.


Why pick this Camino route?

The Northern Way is the third most popular Camino route, after the Camino Frances (French Way) and Camino Portugues ( Portuguese Way).

When you walk the stunning trail along the full Northern Way all the way to Santiago de Compostela you also have the option to join the Original Way in Oviedo instead. This is a beautiful Camino route with plenty to see and taste, following the Northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula from the Basque Country to Cantabria, Asturias and ultimately Galicia. As it enters Galicia via Ribadeo, the route then continues inland. Along the Camino del Norte you will be amazed by the distinctive character of each of the regions, all with their unique heritage, gastronomy, culture and language. What makes the Camino del Norte special?


Fantastic seaside cities: gastronomic mecca San Sebastian; Bilbao with its old town and Guggenheim Museum; elegant Santander and friendly Gijón.


Stunning coastal landscapes: from famous city strands such as La Concha in San Sebastian to hidden little coves along the Asturias coast, cliffs and magnificent gems such as the Cathedrals Beach in Ribadeo (only a few kms off-trail but an absolute must-see).beach-asturias-camino-del-norte-caminoways

Picturesque towns and villages: such as the medieval town of Santillana del Mar, probably one of the most beautiful along the route; and colourful fishing villages and port towns such as Castro Urdiales, Laredo, Luarca, Cudillero and Ribadeo.

Heritage: along the way you will encounter pretty little chapels visited by pilgrims for centuries, medieval cathedrals and magnificent monasteries, pretty cobbled streets and other architectural gems reminding you of the history of the area such as the colonial-style mansions called ‘casas de indianos’, built by local emigrants having made fortune in the ‘Americas’ and returned home.


Gastronomy: food is probably the best way to experience the local culture. If you love fish and seafood, the Northern Way is perfect for you. As you eat your way through the Northern Camino, you will discover each region has its own specialities and traditional dishes. Don’t forget to taste pintxos in the Basque Country, ‘cabracho’ creamy fish pate in Cantabria, Asturias famous cider and all the wide range of fish and shellfish you will find in bars and restaurants.

For more information about the Camino del Norte or to book your Camino de Santiago holiday, contact our travel specialists



  1. By Lisa

    Hi Maddy, thank you for your message. All of the Camino routes are safe to walk but I would recommend talking to one of our travel specialists before you go to get a better idea of the route, the distance per day and the more remote areas. You can reach out to them anytime at info@caminoways.com. As you are planning to go in the middle of the summer months you should meet other pilgrims along the way. Good luck with your Camino planning. Kind wishes, Lisa from CaminoWays.

  2. By Maddy

    Hello – I’m considering hiking the Camino del Norte from mid-June thru mid-July. I would be a solo, 19 year old female. I am concerned for my safety. Would you say this is a safe route for me?

  3. By Maria

    Hi Julie, thank you so much for your comment. Sections 1 and 2 are probably the most popular, from San Sebastian to Bilbao and from Bilbao to Santander, http://caminoways.com/ways/northern-way-camino-del-norte. The section after Santander would have more road than the other two, although the towns in Cantabria and Asturias are lovely. Ribadeo is a nice coastal town and its most famous attraction is the Cathedrals Beach (a few kms west of the town, off the Camino trail), which is really spectacular. However if you only have two weeks to walk, the first two sections are probably the best option for you. I hope this helps!

  4. By Julie

    Hi, I really love this article! I was planning on walking the Camino del Norte this summer but I’ve only got 2 weeks. What route would you suggest? I know the first stage is supposed to be very beautiful but also quite difficult. I’d love to see and experience as many amazing things as possible in those two weeks (e.g. beautiful landscapes, lovely fishing villages and only very few asphalt roads :-)) It’s also not important to me to end my route in Santiago since I’ve been there before. Is Ribadeo a must-see? Sorry for all these questions! Kind regards, Julie

  5. By Maria

    Hi Phil, the second stage from Bilbao to Santander is also very popular with some fantastic scenery and off road walking. Some fantastic towns and coastal villages all the way from Santander to Ribadeo, but some sections are quite close to the road. Let us know if you need any additional information.

  6. By Phil

    Besides the first stage of the camino norte, what is the next best stages for sights and walking off the road?

  7. By Maria

    Hi Sandra, what sort of month you have in mind? September is still a very pleasant month in Northern Spain, it would be perfect for the Northern Way. The Camino in general is a very safe experience. I will get the customer care team to email you with more details for this route. You can cycle from Bilbao to Santiago over 18 days: http://caminoways.com/ways/northern-way-camino-del-norte/northern-way-full-cycle and you can find all the walking stages here: http://caminoways.com/ways/northern-way-camino-del-norte. Kindest regards

  8. By Sandra

    I am interested in walking/biking Camino del Norte in the Fall of 2015. is that a good time to go? Is it safe for a woman to travel by herself. Please feel free to contact me via email with more information.

  9. By Maria

    Hi Cristina

    At the moment we don’t have coach tours on the Camino del Norte (you can see the full list here, including Walk and Coach options: http://caminoways.com/our-services/camino-de-santiago-guided-tours); we also have day tours to Finisterre that can be done after arriving in Santiago, see information here: http://caminoways.com/ways/camino-tours/finisterre-day-trip. I hope this helps! let us know if you need anything else. Kind regards.

  10. By Maria

    Hi Geraldine

    Thank you so much for your note, the Customer Care team will prepare an itinerary for you. You can start at any point of the trail so three weeks would be perfect. Maybe you could start from Burgos or Sahagún: http://caminoways.com/ways/french-way-camino-frances/french-way-full-way.

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