Steep cliffs, rushing waves, wide views out to sea and ancient monasteries and chapels — this is the Camino del Norte, the northern section of the world's most famous pilgrim route. Winding its way along the coast, this stretch of epic trail will open up magnificent views of the open ocean and Spain's beautiful northern coastlines — and will deliver a peaceful experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Steep cliffs, rushing waves, wide views out to sea and ancient monasteries and chapels - this is the Camino del Norte. The northern branch of the famous Pilgrim's Way to Santiago is still a real insider tip among pilgrims. The pilgrim's path always winds its way along the coast through the hilly landscape of northern Spain. Walking a pilgrimage path means a lot of peace and self-discovery – even for people who are not religious – and it is precisely this peace and seclusion you can still find on the Camino del Norte. This is an experience that you will live and tell about for the rest of your life.
The Camino del Norte, also known as Camino de la Costa, runs from San Sebastian along the Atlantic coast to Santiago de Compostela. You will need about five weeks for the whole section, but we have put together a compact two-week tour for you. In 15 daily stages you hike from the Asturian capital Gijón to the famous cathedral. This is enough time to get a deep pilgrimage experience and can also be combined with your holiday calendar.
Gijón can be reached via the nearby Asturias airport. From there the train will take you to the city centre. Santiago de Compostela also has an international airport, via which you can return home. Just remember: The popularity of this route is not to be underestimated. It's crucial to book your accommodation well in advance, even if real pilgrim hostels won't turn you away if you're desperate.
Your first day on the Camino del Norte starts in the Asturian port of Gijón. It forms with the milestone Aviles the industrial center of the region and you will get to see clearly on this tour. Gijón itself has a very beautiful old town, whose streets can be wonderfully explored. If you have already arrived the night before, one of the best pastimes is to taste the well-known regional drink in one of the siderias.If you leave the city area to the west, you will soon encounter heavy industry. The iron ore, which is transported openly with trucks and also trickles out of them enough, the road surface and apparently the entire environment has turned rusty red.But soon you leave the industrial complex behind you and climb a green hill. The valley between the two industrial cities, embedded in two small hills, is surprisingly very green and calm. At the end of the valley, a church awaits you for a stop, where you can fortify yourself for the last few kilometers to the final destination of Aviles. The lead unfortunately along a main road and exactly through the industrial area including blast furnaces. Although this is not the nature experience that you are looking for on a pilgrimage, but the buzz is still interesting to look at. And we promise you one thing: after leaving Aviles behind you on tomorrow's stage, things will quickly become calmer and more natural. Once in Aviles, it is worth exploring the beautiful old town.
At the port of Aviles, the Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer awaits you with a special architectural treat that stands out clearly from the buildings in the region. If you leave Aviles, it was once with big cities. It is becoming increasingly rural and the rugged topography of the region is beginning to make itself felt. It usually goes either up or down, so you will collect in the coming days, a lot of altitude. The good thing about it: it always offers great views of the surroundings and the sea.Asturias Airport will once again remind you of the hustle and bustle of the world, but at the latest when you cross the river Nalon, you have also left this trouble spot behind. Between your stage destination, the small town of El Pito and Muros de Nalon is a large beach. If you still have a little bit of breath and time, you can visit it on a detour. In the stage destination El Pito a real Renaissance castle with garden awaits you.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
From the palaces in El Pito you just walk down the hill to the beautiful fishing village of Cudillero. The houses are colorfully painted here and cling to the rock. Take a few minutes to explore the harbor, from the lighthouse you have a particularly good view.After Cudillero follows the typical ups and downs on the coast, again and again the rugged coastal rocks give the view of small beaches. A particularly beautiful is the Playa del Silencio, which you reach shortly after the small settlement Nuviana. Here it is, as the name suggests, really very quiet and lonely.After listening to the surf on the surrounding rocks, you wander through small forests and settlements to your destination in Ballota.
From Ballota it goes down to the small Rio Cabo, the run is overgrown wild and you cross it on a small bridge. At its mouth into the sea, a stone beach has formed. For the next few kilometers beach here clings to cliff to beach. Afterwards you will leave the coast for a while and walk across the typical hills of the region through agricultural areas and small villages.The highlight of the day is your milestone. Lluarca is a small port town located at the mouth of a river. The spectacular is how the city squeezes itself into the narrow valley with its high rising flanks. Take a little time to explore the winding streets of the city.
Today you are hiking from Lluarca to Cartavio. If you have some time in the morning, you can take a look around the harbor and stock up on provisions for your day's hiking. The day is relatively relaxed with some distance to the coast. Only two river valleys want to be crossed.The city of Navia on the banks of the river of the same name is ideal for a break. It's a good idea to explore the lanes and stock up on your provisions before setting out on the remaining five kilometers of the day.
Today's stage is very long, so get on the track early. On some beautiful beaches, you can rest and take a nap, should you not have been well rested yet. After about half of the way you will reach the beautiful and lively port of Tapia de Casariego.The border between Cantabria and Galicia is marked by a river. This is very wide at its mouth and a large highway bridge crosses it at a spectacular height. On the bridge there is a sheltered, but narrow, pedestrian area. From up here you have a great view of the bay and your today's destination, the place Ribadeo.
After a hearty breakfast in Ribadeo, you make your way to the interior. The best place to look for breakfast is a place that offers a view of the sea, because you will not see that in the next few days.The Galician hinterland compensates but like for the abstinence of the sea and provides you with enough water - like in the form of fog or rain. Joking aside, in the summer it is not rainier in Galicia than in other European regions and the landscape is just wonderful. Today's section is sparsely populated and you can listen to yourself in peace. At least now you have arrived correctly at the longed for relaxation and inner retreat of a pilgrimage.Only in Lourenza it becomes lively again. The monastery built here is one of the most impressive of the Camino del Norte. Look at the impressive façade and then sit down in one of the siderias of the town.
With the visit of Mondoñedo today is another delicacy on the plan. The first few kilometers of the day are not particularly remarkable because of their proximity to the motorway, but in and above all Mondoñedo it is really nice.The city is one of the ancient capitals of the Galician kingdom. You can tell that from the beautiful slate-roofed granite houses and the large cathedral in the village. The forecourt invites you to linger with its gastronomy.Have you sufficiently recovered from the first part of the day, then you leave Mondoñedo in the direction of the creek Valinadares. For the next ten kilometers, it is in the valley created by him once steadily uphill. The scenery is a contrast to the morning. There are cows grazing in the lush green pastures, and you see old granaries in heaps - it is as rustic as you have imagined.Only at the top of the valley do you realize then that the highway was not so far away the whole time, so little you get from her. The church of San Cosme marks the end of the valley and from here it continues largely flat to Abadin.
The region around Vilalba is called Terra Cha, which means as much as Flat lands. Accordingly, today you do not expect so many altitude meters today. But the area is wooded and there is a lot of agricultural use. Their products can then be eaten in the market town of Vilalba. Especially the cheese is really delicious.
The path from Vilalba to your stage destination Baamonde is similar to the previous day, passing agricultural farms and several forests. What you will notice are the elaborately decorated cemeteries of the region. Likewise, the granaries have changed their appearance. While they were still square in their layout in Asturias, they are now much narrower in Galicia.When you arrive in Baamonde, it is best to walk straight through the village to the south. There, at the Rio de Parga, you can jump into the water and recover from the day of hiking.
On the way from Baamonde to Miraz, another highlight day awaits you. If you are still running the first few kilometers parallel to the motorway, then after crossing the Rio de Parga, you leave behind the big roads behind you.Then it gets a bit more rural than on the previous days. You expect only slight climbs through predominantly wooded area. The settlements you meet along the way have been around for thousands of years. Just like the way itself, which is lined by ancient walls.Since the places are really small, you should be well supplied with provisions. The Camino has become more and more popular in recent years, so in many places there are small bars specializing in pilgrimages, such as its big brother, the Camino Frances.
Today you reach the roof of the tour, which, of course, with just under 700 vertical meters is not very impressive, but at least the highest point and a reason to be happy.To fortify you for the two crisp climbs, you can return to Roxica. The highlight of the day is Sobrado dos Monxes. Shortly before the village you can cool your legs down again in the pond of the same name. In the village itself stands the monastery of Santa Maria. This has been around since the tenth century. The associated church has a Baroque facade. In the village there are some pubs and bars that provide you with all sorts of drinking and eating.
Now it is over with the tranquility of the Camino del Norte, because you will meet the much more frequented Camino Francés. So be prepared to meet many fellow pilgrims, especially in the warmer months.Today's stage is actually the only one where you will run more downhill than uphill. This sensed tailwind takes you to the short climb before the finish in Arzua. Since the city is located directly on the Camino, it is very busy. But that's a nice change after the last very quiet days.
This stage is your penultimate one and the proximity to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is becoming more and more visible. Before you leave Arzua, you should try the local cheese specialty, for breakfast, it gives you the perfect basis for the coming day of pilgrimage. Your camp is in O Pedruozo. Now it is only one more night and you have reached your goal.
After two weeks on the feet, your first days on the Camino will probably seem like an eternity away. Now you have almost made it, the big goal, the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is just a day's walk away.At the latest on Monte do Gozo, the mountain of joy, when you see the cathedral for the first time, you will run the last kilometers as if inspired. The city is full of relieved pilgrims and there is a wonderful euphoric atmosphere.Every lunchtime a pilgrim worship service is held that you should not miss - not only because of the infamous censer. Do not forget to pick up your well-deserved certificate at the pilgrim's office.