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3
moderate

Traveller Rating

 

Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • 7 nights in a combination of hotels & farmhouse B&Bs
Meals
  • 7 Breakfasts

8 Days£840GBP

Overview

Trip Code: CMN

Trip highlights


  • Walking the Camino Norte from San Sebastian to Bilbao through Basque country
  • Visiting swish seaside San Sebastian / Donostia, a 'foodie' paradise
  • Stunning scenery - from the coast to mountain villages
  • Enjoying the camaraderie of fellow hikers and pilgrims
  • Bilbao and its great art and architecture

'El Camino del Norte' originates from the 9th Century and was one of the original Camino routes for pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela. Sheltered from the rest of the Muslim dominated Iberian Peninsula by the Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantabrica, it was considered the safest route for Christian pilgrims making their way to the tomb of St James. The full route starts in Irun near the French border and joins the French route at Arzua. This second stage, from chic, gastronomic San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque) follows the Camino Norte through picturesque fishing villages and fertile valleys to the bustling city of Bilbao, home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Enjoy a variety of landscapes and architecture, both ancient and modern, while staying in small hotels with local character. The dramatic coastline of the Bay of Biscay and mountain paths make the northern way both challenging and rewarding, whilst the quieter trails offer a great alternative to the more popular French route.

Countries:

Spain

Starting Point:

San Sebastian

Finishing Point:

Bilbao


One of Spain's most attractive and sophisticated cities, San Sebastian/Donostia has a lot to offer. Situated on the Bay of Biscay, the beaches of La Concha and Ondaretta are a main attraction. In the old town, you’ll find several churches and the Baroque balcony-lined Plaza de la Constitucion. Bar hop for some of the best pintxos (Basque tapas) in this multi-Michelin-starred city.

Meals:  Nil

From Playa de la Concha, head towards Mount Iguelda and up to Orio before reaching the charming fishing village of Getaria, birthplace of couturier Balenciaga. This was once a whaling town, like many others along the coast. Enjoy great views from San Anton or relax with a glass of the local sparkling wine txakolis downtown. Distance: 26.5km/16.5mi

Meals:  B

Walk along the undulating coast via the shrine of Santa Maria de Itziar, a mandatory stop on the Camino Norte. Descend to Deba with its beautiful beach and views of the Cantabrian coast. Distance: 18km/11.1mi

Meals:  B

Leave the coast today and head to the Arnoate mountains. Walk along paths and country lanes, passing through villages on this beautiful stage to the town of Markina. Distance: 23km/14.2mi

Meals:  B

Today’s walk is initially along a country lane and across a river, before the path climbs through woodland. A sharp descent leads to a river and the town of Gernika (Guernica), famously portrayed by Picasso, in the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai. Distance: 25km/15.5mi

Meals:  B

On leaving Gernika, there is a steep climb taking you to the village of Morga (at 205m). The rest of today’s walk is along tracks and roads of great beauty, which gradually lead to Lezama. Distance: 21km/13mi

Meals:  B

Today’s walk is quite short but quite challenging, marked by an ascent at Mount Avril which separates you from Bilbao. You will be rewarded with fabulous views of Bilbao and the valley ahead. Finish your Camino Norte at the Plaza de Unamuno in the old quarter of Bilbao. Host to some of Spain’s best art exhibitions, don’t miss the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. Distance: 14km/8.7mi

Meals:  B

Trip arrangements conclude after breakfast, or continue on the next stage to Santander.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 7 breakfasts. Continental breakfasts are served and will often consist of breads, spreads, yoghurt, cheese, tea, coffee & juices.
  • 7 nights in a combination of hotels & farmhouse B&Bs on a twin share basis generally with ensuite facilities
  • Digital information pack with route notes, maps & GPX
  • Luggage Transfer, 1 piece maximum 20kg, supplement applies for excess
  • Pilgrim Passport
  • Visitor tax
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to San Sebastian/Donostia and from Bilbao
  • Meals not listed as included, drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Guide - this is a self guided walking holiday
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Entrance fees not listed as included
  • Transfers not listed as included
  • Transfers by taxi or public transport if you need to skip a stage
  • Excess luggage
  • Items of a personal nature

Suitability

moderate

3

The walking is graded moderate (3). Daily walks are between 14 and 25km / 8.7 and 15.5mi on well marked trails over diverse terrain – from relatively flat to coastal rocky to mountainous. This is a well worn path where route finding will be reasonably straight forward (refer below for further details on self guided adventures). The main areas to concentrate on route finding are arriving and leaving towns and cities. The accent is on keeping a steady pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Apr to 31 Oct

Notes

H
High Season
Note:
High season is 15 Mar to 1 Apr and from 23 Jun to 30 Sep - supplement applies.
Note:
Due to limited accommodation, return transfers may need to be booked to other overnight locations at an additional cost.
Note:
Trip subject to availability and supplements may apply during local festivals and events
Note:
Option available to start in Irun or Hondarribia (ie, a 9 day trip - supplement applies, please ask our consultants.

Priceper person from

£840GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Excess luggage (per piece, max 20kg in weight)GBP£110
  • Single supplement - low seasonGBP£340
  • Solo traveller supplement - low seasonGBP£390
  • Single supplement - high season (season surcharge also applies)GBP£450
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Personal Experience

We've been walking and cycling the planet for over four decades and are passionate about delivering exceptional service. Combined, we’ve travelled to virtually every corner of Europe, and are eager to share the many benefits of travelling on foot or by bike.

Great Value & Quality

Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

Self-Guided Specialists

We have been operating active self guided holidays since 1973. We handle all the necessary logistics so that you can relax and explore your destination at your own pace. Many of our tours depart daily, giving you even greater flexibility.

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The Coastal Way