Northern Way or El Camino del Norte – Explained

Written by Gail Delahunt

Northern Way explained


Camino del Norte is a route of the Camino de Santiago which starts in Irun, Northern Spain and can finishes in Santiago de Compostela (the final stage of this walk is along The Original Way). It travels along the coast of the north of Spain through Basque country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia and runs for almost 500 kilometers. Camino del Norte

The origins of El Camino del Norte pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that runs along the northern coasts of Galicia and Asturias dates back to the period immediately following the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Saint James the Great around 820. The original routes from the old Kingdom of Asturias, were the first to take pilgrims to Santiago. Historically the Camino del Norte was as busy as older pilgrimage routes, long before the Spanish monarchs proclaimed the French Way to be the ideal route. It provided a link for the Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. This endorsement of the French Way did not, however, bring about the decline of the Asturian and Galician pilgrimage routes. In actual fact, the stretch of the route from Leon to Oviedo enjoyed even greater popularity from the late 11th century onwards.

Northern WayThese pilgrims walking the Camino del Norte came by land from France or by sea from Atlantic nations such as England, Flanders, Germany,  Ireland and Scandinavia. These nations reached the ports of the Basque Country and Cantabria. Pilgrims walking this Camino would then set out on their journey towards the sanctuary of San Salvador of Oviedo and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Nowadays anyone choosing El Camino del Norte for a walking holiday will enjoy passing through delightful towns and villages such as Gernika, Portugalete, Laredo and Santillana del Mar. Northern Europeans tend to find this route easier to walk in Summer as it is generally cooler than any of the southern Ways in to Santiago. Fresh coastal winds help to ensure you’re kept cool and fresh during long summer days.

Food along this route is second to none, portions are generally large, food is hearty and cider is a way of life! Expect a lot of seafood, comforting stews and local ham.

Scenery is dramatic when you are out on the coast and inland expect emerald greens of the like you’d expect to see in Ireland. The north of Spain is very picturesque so trust us, you’ll never be bored by – just walking.

Take a look at our article on the Camino del Norte and Primitivo now part of UNESCO World Heritage List here

If you want more information on walking the Camino del Norte, click here. Contact us at for any questions on our other Camino de Santiago tours or our services.

Originally published on 27th June 2015

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