Camino del Norte Day 1 – Irun to Igueldo

Have you ever wanted to walk the the Camino del Norte ? It’s a fantastic Spanish Camino walking along the coast of Northern Spain. Follow along on our journey through Basque Spain through some amazing coastal scenery.

Camino del Norte Day 1 - Irun to Igueldo

Table of Contents

The Camino Del Norte Day 1 – Irun to Igueldo is ahead of us as well as some tough days of walking with lots of high elevation gain.

Camino del Norte Day 1 Overview

  • Distance – 30km
  • From – Irun
  • To – Igueldo
  • Elevation gain – high
  • Calories – 6,000

Arrival into Irun

On this journey on the Camino del Norte we caught a train from London into Paris and after lunch got the all day train from Paris to Hendaye, one of the last towns before Spain.

We arrived in Hendaye about 10pm, came out of the train station and turned left to walk to the bridge over the river Bidasoa into Spain. It took about 20 minutes to walk into the heart of Irun and find our hostel, the Jakobi Albergue.

After travelling all day we fancied a few beers before bed and found a local bar which was really busy and we had a few beers and chatted to the locals, mainly about the Camino de Santiago.


We have walked the Camino Frances before and whilst that walk has some steep climbs, they are nothing compared to the elevation gain the el Camino del Norte has over the first few days.

After a late night  in Irun we were up and off at 6.30am and left with our head torches on and smiles on our faces.  We we’re walking on the the Camino again…

One of the highlights of Day 1 on the Camino del Norte is the small ferry at Pasajes de San Juan which we were all looking forward to. More on that later


We had an 18km hike before breakfast and had to climb Mount Jaizkibel which is a tough climb. 

At Santuario de Guadalupe there is a rest stop and the views of the Bay of Biscay and surrounding forests are amazing. The route splits here and there are 2 options to take. 

The high steeper option is shorter than the lower option but the elevation gain is significant. 

If you don’t mind a very steep climb I recommend this high option.

The tough part of the Camino del Norte Day 1 is the elevation gain as you have to climb a lot and then walk all the way back to sea level and it turned out to be sea level to 1,000 ft and back again. Up and down and up and down and I already feel like I have a toe nail that could come off ! 

The views were amazing and some I’ll remember forever..

Pasajes de San Juan

Walking into Pasajes de San Juan

We arrived above Pasajes de San Juan and the only way to get down to the harbour is via lots of steps and its tough on the knees.

We finally made it down the harbour and there is a large square with colourful apartments and sone cafes. breakfast me thinks.

It was good to get my Osprey Talon 33 pack off my shoulders and and have breakfast. We had Spanish tortilla and it was immense ! Washed down with a cafe con leech. Does it get any better ?

Cafe in Pasajes de San Juan

Whilst we had breakfast we waited for the ferryman to go back and forth as we had to get over the harbour and across the port.

The Ferry is just a little boat and a ferryman takes some locals but mainly Pilgrims from one side to the other. 

Its a great experience and a bargain at .80 cents each.

The view from the middle of the harbour of Pasajes de San Juan is stunning.

The Ferry in Pasajes de San Juan

On the other side, after walking along the river towards the cliffs there is a steep climb to get out of the village which levels out again once you get to the cliff top.


After another few climbs we come across the tourist city of San Sebastián which I am really looking forward to seeing. 

Its been 26km so far to this point but after visiting the city we are continuing as the cost of albergues and hostels here is really expensive.

If you plan on stopping here I would recommend  book ahead.

San Sebastian


We finally arrived in San Sebastián after a couple of hours feeling very tired. Its a large city and it took about an hour to walk through but its beautiful.

The 2 beaches in the city are absolutely gorgeous and if I didn’t have walking boots and a backpack on i’d be in the sea straight away. 

We found a restaurant and had an excellent salad and veg dish which was gorgeous. 

San Sebastian is a really cool place and I wish we had stayed there for the night. Next time…… I’ll be back !

Some cool things to do in San Sebastián

After leaving San Sebastián we walked another 8km to get to our accommodation for the night and this included another 1,000 ft climb. We’ve done over 50,000 steps today climbing over 400 floors. 

We stayed in a caravan park in Igueldo, which was really good, they even had a swimming pool which was amazing. 

After a swim we had beers and a pizza for evening dinner with a game of cards.

We crashed pretty early as we have another good day ahead of us tomorrow.

Buen Camino

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