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Camino del Norte 1/4 - From San Sebastian to Bilbao

Stage 1
8 days
Starting From

San Sebastian to Bilbao Map

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.


San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a great place to start your Camino. From the rolling green hillsides that surround the city to the golden beaches that frame the coastline you can experience, city life, beach life and country life all within a short distance of each other. Elegant architecture sits well alongside the reputation San Sebastian is gaining world wide as a destination for a wonderful culinary experience.


Deba is your last coastal town for the next few days until you reach Bilbao. This quaint seaside town traditionally relied on whaling and trade via the sea but nowadays it focuses on its tourism offering. Here you will find the National Monument of the Church of Santa Maria, one of the finest churches in the region. From the 16th century this church is a prime example of the Basque Gothic style.


Rich in Basque heritage many will know the name of this town from the famous painting by Pablo Picasso. The town was almost completely destroyed in 1937 when it was bombed bu Italian and German forces support General Franco. The town however in true Basque fashion didn’t let this be its end, with the survival of the Biscayan Assembly and the Guernica Tree the town rebuilt itself. Here you can learn more about the Basque culture and how it is preserved today. Every Monday there is a market held that is one of the best in the Basque so if you are here on Monday be sure to peruse the market for some local treats.

San Sebastian to Bilbao
Camino del Norte
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Included in this package
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Specially hand-picked accommodation
  • Our Holiday or Pilgrim Pack
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Virtual face to face pre-departure briefing
  • Premium Accommodation
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Additional Night
  • Dinners
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
  • Day Tours Available
Not included
  • Flights/trains
  • Insurance
  • Drinks/Lunch


Day 1


Once you arrive you’ll be booked into a hotel in the heart of the town. The rooms are en-suite.

Day 2


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.

Day 3


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.

Day 4


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.

Day 5


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.

Day 6


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.

Day 7


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.

Day 8


After breakfast we bid you farewell.

San Sebastian to Bilbao Elevation

How to Get There

Getting to San Sebastian, Spain

It is best to fly to France (Biarritz or Paris), or Spain (Bilbao or Santander).

Fly into Biarritz, France 

Ryanair, easyJet, Air France (via Orly). Biarritz airport info.

Train to Hendaye (45mins), several trains a day. Then bus to San Sebastian (45mins), several buses a day.

Fly into Paris, France

Virtually all companies fly to Paris.

Fly into Bilbao, Spain

A large amount of the passenger traffic at Bilbao Airport comes from internal flights and you can fly from Bilbao to any of the following Spanish Airports: A Coruna, Alicante, Barcelona, Badajoz, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Jerez, Lanzarote, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia and Vigo. European flights to Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, Paris, and Stuttgart are also available.  At the moment, EasyJet, Iberia and Aer Lingus fly from the UK and Ireland to Bilbao. EasyJet offers daily flights to Bilbao from London Stansted Airport, Iberia flies from Gatwick or Heathrow via Madrid and AerLingus operates out of Dublin.

Bus to San Sebastian (takes 1hr15), several buses a day.

Fly into Santander, Spain

Ryanair is the only low-cost airline that currently offers direct flights to Santander. They 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.

Bus to Bilbao 1hr, several buses a day. Then take a bus to San Sebastian (1hr15), several buses a day.

Getting home from Bilbao, Spain

Fly from Bilbao 

Take a bus to Bilbao Airport.

Fly from Santander

Bus to Santander (1hr), several buses a day

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