Self-Guided Camino del Norte – Basque Coast

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  • Start San Sebastian
  • End Bilbao
  • DateMarch to October
  • Duration 7 nights
  • Distance127 km
  • GradeEasy - Moderate

Enjoy a weeklong exploration of the Camino del Norte’s captivating Basque coastline, a melting pot of history, culture, wine, and gastronomy. Beginning in San Sebastian with its refined golden sand crescent, the journey unfolds through a backdrop of rolling hills and verdant woods, taking adventurers through Gernika and finishing in Bilbao, the region’s pulsating cultural heartland.

Discovering the Basque Coastline on the Camino del Norte

The Northern Camino’s unique charm is its blend of breathtaking coastal landscapes peppered with occasional hills and the charm of myriad small villages and towns. It’s an idyllic trail for nature enthusiasts, characterized by its moist green valleys and dense woodlands. This particular stretch of the Camino offers solitude, making it a preferred choice for those desiring a serene escape from the typical crowded trails.

But it’s not just a walk in the park – hikers should be prepared for a robust challenge. The initial two days take you through fluctuating terrains, oscillating between sea level and heights of 300m. The trail, post-Deba, veers inland towards Bilbao and introduces trekkers to a succession of hills, leading up to the formidable Mount Arno at 500m.

Seasoned walkers often tout the Basque Camino as an ideal summer destination. Warm days, complemented by cooler nights, create a conducive environment for hiking. Though the occasional cloud or spell of rain might make an appearance, the overall climate remains ideal for trekking.

But what’s a journey without a taste of the local flavor? The Basque region dazzles with its culinary delights. Move over tapas – here, it’s the exquisite Basque pinxos that reign supreme, tantamount to miniature gourmet dishes. The Basque heartland is a gastronome’s dream, overflowing with rich food, wine, and cultural experiences. And for the wine aficionados, the route is lined with numerous Txakoli wineries, offering a golden opportunity for unforgettable wine tasting sessions.

(Not the ideal route for you? Browse the rest of our Camino Tours in Spain.)

Price Includes

  • 7 Nights B&B
  • Baggage transfers

Price Excludes

  • Driver Service Fee
  • Guide Service Fee
  • Room Service Fees

Single Supplement

£315

Highlights

San Sebastian

San Sebastian came to fame in the Belle Epoque era (late Victorian-Edwardian period), when Queen Maria Cristina opened her royal summerhouse here.

Travellers in search of sun and sophistication consider the city’s beach La Concha – The Shell, as one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe.

Basque tapas – the pintxo is king in this town. Some of the best are enjoyed in the Parte Vieja (Old Part), famous for having a high concentration of pintxo bars.

Getaria

Getaria is a charming fishing village, bounded on either side by two sandy beaches.

Joined to the mainland there is a little islet called Mont San Anton, a small nature reserve and you can take the path to the top for some wonderful views and photo opportunities.

Down at the fishing port, you will find many places to enjoy fresh-caught fish, perfectly accompanied by the local white wine called txakoli.

Txakoli wineries are all around and in Getaria – don’t miss the chance to take part in a wine tasting and tour.

The haute couture designer Balenciaga has a fabulous museum here in his hometown, displaying many exquisite pieces. Getaria also has another famous son, Juan Sebastián Elcano, the explorer who completed the first circumnavigation of the world.

Gernika

Known throughout the world due to the painting by Pablo Picasso that bears the same name (although spelt the Spanish way, “Guernica”). General Franco considered Gernika to be the northern stronghold of the Republican resistance and ordered it’s destruction by bombing carried out by his fascist allies – Germany and Italy. Make sure to seek out the mural of Picasso’s famous artwork “Guernica” which depicts the tragedy of war.

Two of the most important Basque symbols can be found in Gernika – the Biscayan Assembly House & the Guernica Tree. Under the branches of the Gernika Tree Basques were granted autonomy in the Middle Ages. Next to the tree is the Biscayan Assembly, a place where the political leaders have met through the ages to decide the fate of their people.

Gernika also has its own Basque museum, the Euskal Herria Museum as well as the Peace Museum, so if you are interested in culture and politics, Gernika is a must.

Monday’s Market is one of the most important markets of the Basque Country.

Bilbao

The main draw for visitors is certainly the splendid Guggenheim Museum, designed by the architect Frank Gehry.

Since it’s inauguration this city has undergone a huge transformation and a new modern Bilbao has emerged.

World class architecture, superb Basque cuisine, Basque culture, shopping, nightlife – there is so much to keep you entertained at the end of your Camino journey.

Food & Drink

Pintxos
Pintxos are small gourmet snacks served at bars and taverns throughout the Basque Country. They are the quintessential Basque cuisine, forming the backbone of the local food culture. Basically haute cuisine in miniature.

The name comes from the Spanish verb “pinchar” meaning to pierce or stab. Pintxos often have a toothpick through the middle to hold the ingredients in place.

We recommend you go on at least one pintxo bar crawl. This is a serious business in the Basque Country, with many annual competitions for the best pintxos in the village or town.

If you are serious about your food, we can arrange a professional Pintxo Tour for you.

Txakoli
You will pass numerous Txakoli wineries so don’t miss the chance to enjoy a visit & wine tasting session.

Cider Houses – Sagardotegi
The cider house is one of the Basque Country’s best-kept secrets. Cider is poured for you from giant barrels by skilled staff – and meant to be drunk liberally.

You will soon be tucking into the Cider House menu of the day – accompanied by more cider.

First Plate: Tortilla de Bacalao (cod omelette)
Second Plate: Bacalao al pil-pil (cod in a garlic sauce)
Third Plate: Txuleton (enormous aged ox steak)
Dessert: Walnuts + local cheese with membrillo (quince jelly)

Please ask if you would like us to arrange this experience for you.

Fine Dining
With 40 Michelin starred restaurants, the Basque Country is one of the best fine dining destinations in the world. There is everything here from the traditional to experimental avant-garde cuisine.

It’s not necessarily out of your budget with one star restaurant usually charging around 60-80 Euros per person up to the maximum 3 stars from 200 Euros pp – depending on what you choose from their superlative wine lists.

Itinerary

We highly recommend spending a second night in Bilbao, so you have some time to explore the city fully before you leave.

You can choose to spend an extra night anywhere on the route, especially if you are keen on any gastronomy or cultural experiences during your tour.

 

Day 1 San Sebastian - first night

Day 2 Getaria - 25 km

Day 3 Deba - 18 km

Day 3 Markina - 23 km

Day 4 Gernika - 25 km

Day 5 Lezama - 21 km

Day 6 Bilbao - 15 km

Map

Accommodation

Accommodation
Standard Accommodation
Upgraded Accommodation
Meal Options
Baggage Transfers

We strive to offer our clients the best available experience of the Camino and accommodation plays an important part, together with the local food, culture and history. Our team visit all our accommodations annually, so we know them all personally.

Typical lodgings include a variety of family-run guest houses, historic homes, but mainly one to three-star equivalent pensions, hostals and hotels which all offer private en-suite facilities.

Accommodation on the Camino is geared towards the needs of walkers rather than traditional holidaymakers. Many hoteliers have several years of experience catering to walkers on the Camino. The majority are from the area, their family establishments passing down through the generations.

When you receive your Camino quotation we include links to visit the hotels’ websites and get a feel for their quality. Most itineraries will have a range in the standard of accommodation, which is part of the Camino experience – and determined by availability when you book.

Upgraded hotels are available for roughly 30% of the Camino.

All our accommodations, the owners & staff are well known to us. Wherever possible we select small, comfortable, family-run establishments located on or very near to the Camino.

Most itineraries will have a range in the standard of accommodation, which is part of the Camino experience – and determined by availability when you book.

These establishments are used almost exclusively by travellers on the Camino and geared to meet the requirements of Camino travellers.

In the larger Camino centres, we regularly work with the top-end establishments. There are also some opportunities to book upgraded Hotels in rural parts of the Camino.

Sometimes these upgrades require transfers away from the Camino route, either provided by the hotelier or by local taxi.

If you enjoy a generally higher standard of hotel & dining we recommend you look at our Via de la Plata Last 100km, which features some lovely converted country mansions.

And we also recommend our Rioja Gastronomical Camino.

We recommend booking on Bed and Breakfast basis.

We wish to encourage you to explore and try local eateries in the immediate vicinity which offer a wider range of dishes. It’s also a great way to soak up the local atmosphere, rubbing shoulders with travellers and local people.

Half Board accommodation is available in many of our lodgings, including breakfast and dinner, consisting of a set 3-course menu in the hotel restaurant.

Past experience shows that most clients are glad of the freedom to decide where, what and how much you wish to eat and spend each evening.

You can still enjoy the in-house dinner service, where available, without booking half board in advance.

The choice is yours.

We quote all our journeys with bag transfers as standard. We heartily recommend that you do book your main piece of luggage to be transferred between accommodations. It aids your enjoyment and keeps additional stress off your back and joints. We work with dedicated professional companies who do this essential work day in, day out. The system works very well, with bags picked up between 8 and 8:30 am and delivered to the next hotel between 2 and 4 pm. All you have to worry about is carrying a day sack with your essential items. If you do wish to carry your own bag that is fine with us. But you can always call us and request to add on the service if you change your mind.

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Camino Del Norte - Basque Coast
FromGBP£745

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