This second section connects two of the major cities in the north of Spain, Bilbao and Santander and has you leave the Basque region to enter the region of Cantabria. Bilbao is a wonderful mix of Basque traditions and contemporary architecture. Surrounded by green hills and right on the coast there is much to see and do within close proximity of this city.
The first day walking although predominantly urban and industrial it has a sense of peace and calm as it follows the river, before ascending to Portugalete. Leaving briefly the coastline and passing through a forest you will return on the same day to the coast and Castro Urdiales. A spectacular cliff walk will take you to the popular beach town of Laredo. A short, flat walk through Santoria’s marshland then takes you to Escalante your last stop before Santander.
Your final day walking this section is via beaches where at the end of the day you have the option to take a traditional boat across the bay to the city centre of Santander. Santander, another port city not only boasts a historic centre and beaches but is where the royal family of Spain use to take their summer breaks.
This trip createstonne(s) of CO2, we offset it for free
This seaside town developed from a small fishing village. In the town centre you will find traditional medieval houses with wooden balconies, wander the narrow streets or relax and enjoy the fresh sea breeze by the harbour. A must see when here is to walk up to the Gothic Church of Santa María de la Asunción, built in the 13th century the exterior has a French Gothic style feel with its flying buttresses and pinnacles. Beside the church you will also find the Santa Ana Castle an original medieval castle that is also a lighthouse and finally the Medieval Bridge of Castro Urdiales. Be sure to have your camera to get some great pics!
This town grew around the Monastery of San Martin, today it is one of the main tourist towns on the coast. With its long beach, old medieval part of town and the newer suburbs you can easily see the appeal of this town.
The Camino del Norte appeals to many as it traverses the coast line and therefore passes by many beaches. And some of these beaches are certainly a highlight of this route. From Playa de la Arena which is a hit with surfers, to Playa de Ostende in Castro Urdiales that is great place to relax in the sun, Playa de la Salve Laredo long beach great for a stroll to finally Playa do Somo which provides an opportunity for you to kick off your walking shoes and walk barefoot on the sand with the cool waves lapping at your ankles.
Bilbao to Santander
Camino del Norte
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You will be booked into a hotel in the heart of Bilbao. The rooms are en-suite.
Day 2 16.6km
First, a relatively short stage, going through the old industrialised Bilbao. After passing the suspension bridge, the Camino enters the industrial heart of the Basque Country; despite this, it is a place of peace and calm along the Cadagua River. Crossing the historical “Devil’s bridge”, the Camino arrives at the hermitage of Santa Águeda. From there, we take a deep breath before the steep ascent to the town of Barakaldo. Following a footpath along the Galindo River, we arrive in Portugalete.
Day 3 25.9km
What a wonderful section! The Camino now leaves the coast, ascending to Otañes with beautiful views of the craggy coast below. From here the Camino enters a forest track that brings us to Robredal and its church of San Nicholas. Finally we arrive in the coastal town of Castro Urdiales, passing the bullring and the beach. Castro Urdiales is an interesting town with a mix of medieval and modern architecture.
Day 4 26.9km
Today, the Camino passes a medieval castle/lighthouse and follows the coast along spectacular cliffs, overlooking the Cantabrian Sea. Reaching Guriezo, we continue on the main Camino to Rioseco, passing the Chapel of Santa Isabel, crossing the bridge over the River Aguera and on to the Church of La Magdalena. From Guriezo the Camino continues to Liendo where there are two route choices to Laredo; either crossing the valley and passing the Church of Nuestra Senora de Liendo in Hazas, or following paths up to the Chapel of St Julian, and finally to Laredo. Laredo is a popular town reputed for its beautiful beaches, medieval quarter (Puebla Vieja) and lively atmosphere.
Day 5 16km
The Camino continues from Laredo in the direction of Colindres (where it is possible to cross to Santona by boat). We continue by road, following Santoria’s Marshes. This marshland is of considerable importance to the migration and wintering of numerous aquatic birds. Although today’s walk is flat, the scenery is exciting. Survey the coast and mountains as you continue towards Escalante.
Day 6 34.7km
From Escalante, the Camino continues via the beaches of Berria and Helgueras until reaching Noja. From there, the Camino heads south towards San Miguel de Meruelo, or an alternative Camino can be taken that continues north along the coast to pass through the town of Isla. Both Caminos converge in Bareyo where it is worth stopping to admire the beautiful Romanesque Church of Santa Maria. From the village of Somo, you can catch a “pedrenera”, a traditional boat used to connect the two sides of the bay.
After breakfast we bid you farewell.
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