How Long is the Camino del Norte: Exploring the Northern Way

The Camino del Norte, also known as the Northern Way, is a renowned pilgrimage route in Spain that follows the northern coastline, offering breathtaking views and a unique cultural experience. 

How long is the Camino del Norte ? In this article, we will delve into the length and stages of the Camino del Norte, providing valuable insights and tips for those who wish to embark on this scenic and challenging journey.

Understanding the Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte stretches along the northern coast of Spain, starting in the Basque Country and ending in Santiago de Compostela, and is one of the hardest Camino de Santiago routes.

This route is known for its stunning coastal landscapes, rugged cliffs and charming seaside towns. My favourite town by the sea is Castro Urdiales and highly recommended for a stop over if you get the chance.

Pilgrims who choose the Camino del Norte experience a different side of Spain, immersing themselves in the vibrant Basque and Cantabrian cultures while enjoying the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.

Length of the Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte is known for its longer distance compared to other Camino routes. The total length of the route can vary depending on the starting point and chosen variations. 

The Camino del Norte spans around 825 kilometers (512 miles). It is a challenging and physically demanding pilgrimage, requiring adequate preparation and endurance. 

Pilgrims should plan for approximately four to six weeks to complete the entire route, taking into account rest days and the pace of their journey.

With its stunning landscapes, diverse culture, and challenges along the way, this route offers a profound journey of self-discovery and personal growth for pilgrims seeking a different Camino adventure.

Stage Breakdown of the Camino del Norte

To help you plan your pilgrimage, let’s break down the Camino del Norte into key sections:

1, The Camino del Norte in the Basque Country

The journey begins in Irun located near the French border. This stage introduces pilgrims to the Basque Country’s unique culture, picturesque landscapes and culinary delights. 

The vibrant city of San Sebastián offers a perfect blend of beachside beauty at La Concha beach and world-renowned gastronomy, making it a delightful stop along the Camino del Norte. 

You’ll walk this section immersing yourself in the unique Basque culture, taste delicious pintxos, experience traditional festivities, and admire the region’s distinct architectural style.

This section culminates in Bilbao, known for its iconic Guggenheim Museum and amazing old town nightlife.

Pilgrims at the top of the funicular railway in bilbao

2, The Camino del Norte in Cantabria

Leaving the Basque Country behind, the Camino del Norte continues its journey through the enchanting landscapes of Cantabria. 

Pilgrims are treated to the beauty of the Bay of Biscay as they pass through charming coastal towns such as Castro Urdiales and Santander, where they can relax on pristine beaches and explore historic landmarks. 

Castro Urdiales is one of my favourite seaside towns on the whole Camino del Norte and highly recommended as a stop over on the journey.

Cantabria’s lush countryside and rolling hills provide a peaceful backdrop for reflection and a lovely connection with nature.

3, The Camino del Norte in Asturias

Entering Asturias, pilgrims are greeted with a dramatic change in scenery. Majestic mountains, verdant valleys and rugged cliffs characterise this section of the Camino del Norte. 

As the route winds through towns like Gijón and Avilés, pilgrims can immerse themselves in the region’s rich history, admire medieval architecture, and indulge in Asturian cuisine, including the famous cider which is rather nice.

Asturias’ natural beauty and spiritual atmosphere make this part of the journey truly memorable.  Pilgrims will have the chance to explore the picturesque town of Tapia de Casariego before reaching Ribadeo, a border town on the Galician border.

Camino Del Norte
Day 3 from Deba to Markina on the Camino Del Norte

4, The Camino del Norte in Galicia

Finally, the Camino del Norte reaches Galicia, the culmination of your Camino pilgrimage. Galicia typically has lush landscapes with a higher rainfall count and you’ll pass through charming towns like Ribadeo and Lourenzá. 

The region’s rolling hills, eucalyptus forests, and traditional Galician horreos (granaries) create a serene ambiance for contemplation and introspection. 

As the journey nears its end in Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims are rewarded with the awe-inspiring sight of the majestic Cathedral and the walk through Santiago before actually arriving in the main square of Santiago de Compostela and the amazing atmosphere of the famous cathedral itself.

Factors Affecting Duration and Completion Time

The duration of the Camino del Norte can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences.

Factors such as walking pace, physical fitness, and the time allocated for rest and exploration will impact the overall duration of the pilgrimage. 

It is recommended to allow approximately 4-6 weeks to complete the entire Camino del Norte, considering both the distance and the challenging terrain.

scenic view walking from playa de la arena to castro urdiales on the Camino del Norte

Add Your Heading Text HereTips for Planning and Preparing for the Camino del Norte

To make the most of your Camino del Norte experience, consider the following tips:

  1. Research the Route: Familiarise yourself with the stages, distances, and accommodations along the Camino del Norte. Guidebooks, online resources, and smartphone apps can provide valuable information to help you plan your journey.
  2. Train and Prepare: The Camino del Norte is known for its challenging terrain, including steep ascents and descents. Engage in regular physical exercise and hiking to prepare your body for the demands of the pilgrimage. It is also advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on a long-distance trek.
  3. Pack Lightly: Only carry essential items in your backpack, including comfortable walking shoes, lightweight clothing suitable for various weather conditions, a rain jacket, toiletries, and a sleeping bag. Keep in mind that packing light will make your journey more enjoyable and less physically demanding.
  4. Be Prepared for Weather Changes: Along the northern coast, the weather can be unpredictable. Bring layers of clothing to accommodate temperature fluctuations and pack a waterproof jacket to protect yourself from rain and wind.
  5. Embrace the Culture: The Camino del Norte, or Northern Way,  provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant Basque, Cantabrian, and Galician cultures. Embrace the local traditions, savour regional cuisine, and engage with fellow pilgrims and locals along the way.

Conclusion: A Journey Along the Breathtaking Northern Coast

How long is the Camino del Norte ? Spanning several stages and approximately 825 kilometers , this pilgrimage allows travellers to experience the beauty of the Basque Country, Cantabria and Galicia while immersing themselves in the rich cultural heritage of these regions. 

As you embark on the Camino del Norte, let the coastal landscapes, charming towns, and warm hospitality of the locals inspire you on your transformative journey to Santiago de Compostela

The Camino del Norte offers pilgrims a remarkable journey along the stunning northern coast of Spain. It’s a tough Camino but the benefits are amazing !


Q: Is the Camino del Norte as crowded as the Camino Francés?

A: The Camino del Norte is generally less crowded than the Camino Francés. While it attracts a significant number of pilgrims, especially during the summer months, the Camino del Norte offers a more serene and peaceful experience compared to the more popular routes.

Q: Are there accommodations along the Camino del Norte?

A: Yes, there are accommodations available along the Camino del Norte, including albergues, hotels, guesthouses, and private lodgings. However, it’s advisable to book in advance during the peak season or in popular towns to ensure availability as there aren’t as many accommodation options as the Camino Frances.

Q: Is it necessary to speak Spanish or Basque to walk the Camino del Norte?

A: While some knowledge of Spanish can be helpful, it is not necessary to speak Spanish or Basque to walk the Camino del Norte. Many locals and fellow pilgrims along the route have some level of English language proficiency, and basic communication can usually be achieved through gestures and simple phrases.

Q: Can I walk only a portion of the Camino del Norte?

A: Yes, you can choose to walk only a portion of the Camino del Norte based on your time constraints or personal preferences. Many pilgrims opt to start from various points along the route or complete specific stages of the pilgrimage.

Q: Are there alternative transportation options along the Camino del Norte?

A: Yes, there are alternative transportation options available along the Camino del Norte, including buses, taxis, and trains. These can be utilized if needed, either for specific sections or as a means of rest or recovery during the journey.

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