Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte or Northern Way is the third most popular pilgrimage routes known collectively as The Way of St James, the others are the Camino Portugues and Camino Frances.It goes along the Northern coast of Spain, bordering the Cantabrian Sea from East to West, finishing in Santiago de Compostela. This way, with the Camino Primitivo and the French Way, are the oldest routes for the Camino de Santiago
About the Camino del Norte route
The Camino del Norte is crossed by pilgrims that arrive at the Basque Country and Cantabria by boat. This Way goes along the Northern coast of Spain, that's why it's also called Camino de la Costa (Coastal Way). Although it has lost popularity due to the rise of the Camino Frances, is a known route for foodies, where you can find the top 10 cities with the highest number of Michelin Stars in Europe. Some pilgrims choose this way for being less crowded than the Portuguese and French, and the stunning green scenery of mountains, forests and unique Spanish villages.
Total distance: 824kms
Although being shorter, this way requires a good physical and strength preparation as rain is frequent all year round, with steep mountains and hills along the way. The Camino del Norte could be done by bike, but it's not recommendable as they can find steep hills and mountains hard to cycle. If choosing to do it by bike, make sure to get a strong Mountain Bike suitable for all kinds of grounds.
Get to the starting points
It is the official starting point of the Northern Way and where most pilgrims start their way to Santiago de Compostela.
If you want to get there by car, you can use many different roads such as the GI-636, GI-20 and the AP-8 that links all Northern Spain. If you want to use public transport you have to know that this city is well communicated with many cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, San Sebastián, Vitoria, Bilbao, etc. You can also get to Irún by bus. There are lots of bus companies that get to this city from some Spanish cities but also from abroad.
If you want to get there by plain, San Sebastián airport is located 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Irún. There are regular flights from Madrid and Barcelona many times a day, and also from Málaga and Palama de Mallorca in summer.
This will be the entrance to Galicia if you are doing the Northern Way. It is a village located next to Asturias. There are lots of pilgrims that decide to start their way there because is located more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Santiago de Compostela, so you will get Compostela.
If you want to get to Ribadeo by private car you can use the A-8 that crosses most part of Lugo and Northern Spain. In the A-8 you can get the A-6, which is a dual carriageway that links A Coruña and Madrid. If you are using a national road you can get there by using the N-642 and the N-640, both roads go through many places before getting to Lugo.
Public transport is also a good option. There is a bus station in the city where Alsa and Arriva bus companies get very frequently from different cities of Spain. And there are also many buses that get there from different Galician cities. Ribadeo does not have a train station but the train Ferrol-Gijón stops there, so Lugo, Asturias and the Basque Country are well communicated.
The Camino del Norte goes through the cost, from the East to the West, bordering the Cantabrian Sea through the main municipalities of Northern coast of Spain. It starts in Irún and it goes to Santiago de Compostela going through different cities such as San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander or Gijón before arriving at Galicia. In Gijón we have to make the biggest decision: we can go through Oviedo and then through the Primitive Way; or we can go through Avilés and then enter in Galicia going through Ribadeo, a coastal village of Lugo that is 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Santiago. It is the second largest route, just after Vía de la Plata.
This way has a stunning scenery that balances mountain and sea, constantly surrounded by blue and green colors. Weather is warm in summer, but not as hot as some regions of the Portuguese and French way. The gastronomy is the main highlight of the Camino del Norte. Make your way through Michelin stars winner restaurants, fresh and quality seafood, original Spanish recipes and endless tapas.
The Camino Francés is divided into 34 stages and 824km in length. The most important cities in this way are:
Irun and San Sebastian, Spain
Irún and San Sebastián cities with lots of good and famous restaurants, so we recommend you to taste as many typical dishes as you can. Pintxos (small portions of food) are also very famous in this area.
Most famous cheese in the Northern of Spain is Arzua cheese, originally handmade in this small town.
Points of Interest
Museum of Contemporary Art built in 1997 by the architect Frank Ghery with the purpose of revitalizing the post-industrial city of Bilbao.
Made in the unrepeatable style of the famous architect Gaudí, this mansion combines shapes, colors and materials to achieve a living aspect.
Built in the mid-twentieth century to replace an old Gothic temple destroyed during the Civil War, it presents a historicist style inspired by the Asturian Romanesque and pre-Romanesque.
This monastery was built in the tenth century and is of great relevance in the study of the history of Galicia by the cultural life that developed there.