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There is more than one route leading to Santiago de Compostela, but the Camino del Norte is really wonderful. The coast offers a variety of landscapes in four stages.

In the past, the Camino de la Costa was not very popular. It featured few hostels and almost no signs or markers for directions. Nowadays, however, the landscape is quite different, and more and more pilgrims walk their way through this route. Covering 91km from Markina-Xemein to Kobaron you will find 12 pilgrims’ hostels. And the villages on the coast offer everything you might need on your pilgrimage to the west.

The Camino de la Costa is as old as the Camino Francés (French Way) is. Many European kings in the Middle Ages would follow this route to reach Santiago de Compostela. During the Spanish Reconquista and inensuing centuries, the Northern Way was neglected in favour of other routes. Fortunately, the route along the Cantabrian coast has regained popularity.

The Camino del Norte is the second longest route, only behind Vía de la Plata in southern Spain. Unlike the southern route, the northern way offers a variety of landscapes: forests and hilly greenery in the countryside, the sea and the briny breeze in the coastal villages, the vestiges of an industrial past that revolved around iron, and the contemporary architecture of Bilbao. As you can see, there is something for every taste along the northern route.

Stages

5th stage. Markina-Xemein to Gernika-Lumo. The fifth stage starts in Markina-Xemein, the first village of the Camino upon entering Bizkaia. Worth visiting are the shrine of San Miguel de Arretxinaga, with its hexagonal plan and three huge rocks inside held together to form a tiny chapel, and the Zenarruza Monastery, named a National Monument of Euskadi.

Along the four stages, you will enjoy amazing natural and urban views that will leave you speechless

6th stage. Gernika-Lumo to Bilbao. Along the Ruta Juradera (Oath-Swearing Route), the one followed by the Señores de Vizcaya noblemen, you'll see Muxika and Morga

You will leave Urdaibai behind to enter the Txorierri Valley and pass through Larrabetzu, Lezama, Zamudio and the Avril hill on your way to Bilbao. Spanning 29.8km, the sixth stage is the longest of the route.

7th stage. Bilbao to Portugalete. The countryside gives way to the city. You will walk through the Casco Viejo, Bilbao La Vieja and Calle Autonomía. Climb the Kobeta to observe the contrast between Bilbao’s industrial past and its futuristic present. At this stage you will also go across Barakaldo.

8th stage. Portugalete to Kobaron. Here you will return to the coast through Meatzaldea, the Mining Area of Bizkaia. In Portugalete there is an undulating cycle path leading to Muskiz. This is the easiest stage. It passes through Ortuella and Abanto Zierbena and reaches La Arena beach. Leave Pobeña to get to Kobaron on the Vía Verde, the old Meatzaldea railroad. The views are amazing.

How To Get There

  • You can follow the Camino de Santiago on foot, on a bike or on horseback. For more information, contact the albergues (hostels) in Bizkaia, listed below.

    Markina-Xemein
    Carmelite Fathers’ Convent. Open from 15 May to 30 September

    Ziortza
    Ziortza Beitia Hostel. Phone number: +34 946 165 722

    Zenarruza Monastery
    Zenarruza Pilgrims’ Hostel. Open year round. Phone number: +34 946 164 179

    Mendata
    Idatze Etxea Municipal Hostel. Open year round. Phone number: +34 946 257 204

    Gernika-Lumo
    Pilgrims’ Hostel. Closed from 15 December to 15 January. Phone number: +34 946 126 959

    Morga
    Meakur Youth Hostel. Phone number: +34 944 911 746

    Lezama
    Lezama Municipal Hostel. Open from 1 June to 30 September. Phone number: +34 609 031 526

    Bilbao
    Bilbao Pilgrims’ Hostel. Open 1 July to 31 August. Phone number: +34 609 031 526
    Egeria Pilgrims’ Hostel. Phone number: +34 944 125 712 / +34 606 730 045
    Bilbao Youth Hostel. Open year round. Phone number: +34 944 270 054

    Portugalete
    Portugalete Pilgrims’ Hostel. Open from 1 July to 31 August. Phone number: +34 944 729 314

    Pobeña
    Pobeña Hostel. Open from 1 July to 31 August. Phone number: +34 609 031 526

  • The Camino del Norte spans 91km on four stages across Bizkaia. Wear trekking shoes for trails and travel light. Bring some food for the day, water, cap and sunscreen. And your raincoat, just in case.