Camino del Norte 1/4 - From San Sebastian to Bilbao
This first section of the Camino del Norte takes you from the city of San Sebastian to the city of Bilbao. San Sabastian makes a wonderful starting point for the Camino del Norte. Located on the Bay of Biscay in the mountainous Basque Country, San Sebastian is known for its beaches and waterfront promenade. Here you can enjoy world-renowned cuisine as well as the more informal dining experience of Pinxto’s and wine pairings.
This walk will take you from the city out along the coastline past traditional whaling towns to arrive in the harbour village of Getaria. From here continuing to follow the coastline, walking on quiet country roads will take you to the wonderful beach town of Deba. After Deba you will move inland through the countryside and will not come back to the sea until Bilbao. In Markina you will witness a village that holds strongly to its Basque traditions. Following cobbled roads, passing an ancient Monastery and woodland you will arrive to Gernika. Farmland, forest and traditional villages take you then to Lezama before your last day from here through more farmland to summit of Mount Avril where you get a spectacular view of Bilbao before descending to the industrial port city that mixes the modern with the old to spectacular effect.
Once you arrive you’ll be booked into a hotel in the heart of the town. The rooms are en-suite.
From San Sebastian to Getaria (26km, 6h30)
Leaving San Sebastian and the unspoiled Bay of Biscay, this route curves along the coastline through grassy fields and rolling hills. First, you’ll see the Church of San Martin de Tours, a lovingly resorted national monument, before passing through some traditional whaling towns. Later, you arrive in the picturesque village of Getaria, perched on a rocky headland above a cute harbour.
From Getaria to Deba (17km, 4h15)
For Day 3 you’ll set out on a small country road hugging the coast, eventually arriving in Zarautz. From there, take the small footpath into farmlands until you reach the Church of Santa Maria la Real and birthplace of explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano, the first man to circumnavigate the earth back in the 16th Century. Once you’ve stopped to admire the town, continue along the coast to the last stop – the stunning beach town, Deba.
From Deba to Markina (20km, 5h45)
Today, we leave the sea behind for more mountainous landscapes and won’t see the coast again until Bilbao. The route crosses a river and starts climbing into dense scrub, until it reaches the Hermitage of El Calvario. From here, keep to the narrow footpath (GR-121), which passes through many hamlets. Finally, the trail descends steeply into Markina, a village with strong Basque traditions.
Markina to Gernika (24km,6h)
Leaving Markina, the route follows an ancient cobbled road and crosses the river in Bolivar (28 km). It ascends to the 15th Century Monastery of Cenarruza, which contains a Gothic Renaissance church and medieval cloister. Leaving the monastic site, the path moves into dense woodland, up to Gontzegarai, and down to Gerikaitz. At the Hermitage of Santiago, a steep footpath leads downhill to a creek and finally to Gernika.
From Gernika to Lezama (20km, 5h45)
Setting out this morning you’ll leave Gernika by the hermitage of Santa Luzia Zallo. Shortly after, we’ll reach the road (PR-173) that will take us to Morga. Here, we leave the farmland and enter a forest, following a steep descent to the traditional villages of Goikoletxea, Larrabetzu, and finally, Lezama.
From Lezama to Bilbao (11km, 3h)
This is a relatively short stage through pastoral farmland. First, we pass Zamudio and the Roman Church of San Maarten, where the Tower of Malpica is visible above. Slowly climbing to reach the summit of Mount Avril, we’re rewarded with spectacular views of Bilbao and the valley below. On arrival in the suburbs of Bilbao, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Bego, as well as Place de Unamuno, in the old quarter of Bilbao.
- Great mix of comfortable accommodation in 2-3* hotels or equivalent
- Bed & Breakfast
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
- Our Holiday/ Pilgrim Pack
- 24/7 Customer Service
- Great dinners with local food
- Extra nights
- Upgrade to authentic & luxury accommodation
- Airport transfers
- Visit San Sebastian with a guide
Option 1 – Bilbao
Bilbao airport with Aerlingus, Easyjet or British Airways (can book return flights).
Option 2 – Biarritz
Biarritz Airport with airlines – Ryanair, EasyJet or British Airways.
Option 3 – Santander
Santander airport with Ryanair offer flights from London Stansted and now Dublin, Frankfurt, Milan and Rome as well as Reus and Madrid in Spain.
Iberia offers a good selection of internal flights from Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Valencia.
1 – From Bilbao airport. Bus to San Sebastian (takes 1hr15), several buses a day
2 – From Biarritz. Train to Handaye (45mins), several trains a day. Then bus to San Sebastian (45mins), several buses a day
3 – From Santander. Bus to Bilbao 1hr, several buses a day. Then take a bus to San Sebastian (1hr15), several buses a day
Option 1 – Bilbao
Option 2 – Santander
Bus to Santander (1hr), several buses a day