Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao: a route to enjoy the Basque Country
Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao is the first section of the Camino del Norte. Although we won’t reach Santiago de Compostela, Bilbao is also a fantastic travel destination.
We leave the unique coastal town of San Sebastián and hike in a first stage of twenty-two kilometers to Zarautz. This is the same distance that awaits us the next day to reach the city of Deba.
In the third stage from Deba to Markina the route becomes more difficult and we add a few more kilometers. At this stage we will also leave the coast to enter the green landscapes of the Basque Country. The next day brings us to Gernika on a stage of 25 kilometers with some ups and downs. Despite its complicated orography, the stage to Lezama leads through the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve with landscapes that are worth enjoying in peace.
Finally, we reach our destination in a much shorter stage than the previous one of just eleven kilometers: the city of Bilbao.
Donostia – San Sebastián, starting point of the Camino del Norte
Our starting city, San Sebastián, which is directed by the magnificent Bahía de la Concha and lies between the Urgull and Igueldo mountains, is no less spectacular than the entire route. The traditional historic center has of course welcomed the examples of the city’s most modern explosion with buildings like the Kursaal or the Peines del Viento de Chillida. San Sebastián also combines tradition and modernity in the cultural field with celebrations such as the Tamborrada or the Semana Grande with the driving regattas or the current international film and jazz festivals.
Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, the jewel on the Camino del Norte route from San Sebastián to Bilbao.
One of the great attractions of the Camino del Norte is the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, which was declared by Unesco in 1984. It is one of the richest natural spots in the Basque Country with low mountains but considerable slopes open to a valley that leads us to the Cantabrian Sea and forms an estuary.
Bilbao, the end of our route
Bilbao is located in the Bay of Biscay and is now one of the most important cities in the north. Architecturally, the buildings of the Euskalduna Conference and the Music Palace, the Norman Foster Metro, the Calatrava Airport, the towers designed by the architects Arata Isozaki and César Pelli and of course the magnificent Guggenheim Bilbao Museum stand out. The whole old town is also worth a relaxing walk. Visit the many bars with their delicious pintxos.
Basque Country Gastronomy
Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao offers us the appeal of Basque gastronomy. From our own products such as the Txacolí wine or the very tasty Idiazábal cheese to the traditional and varied pintxos that we can try again and again in the bars. In the Basque Country, too, the restaurants, traditional grilled dishes, cider houses and of course the long list of Michelin-starred restaurants stand out.
In addition to those in San Sebastián and Bilbao, on the stage between Guernika and Lezama we will drive through the city of Larrabezu, where the two Michelin-starred restaurants of Eneko Atxa, Azurmendi (***) are located. and Eneko (*).
Landscape along the Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao
The Camino del Norte is known by the combination of coastal and inland landscape. In the special section from San Sebastián to Bilbao we find a route that goes completely through the Basque Country.
The beginning of our tour is marked by the Bahía de la Concha and the climb to Monte Igueldo, from which we can enjoy an unbeatable view of the city of San Sebastián. If we go inside, the landscape becomes greener, with a rather rugged landscape, not very high mountains and valleys with traditional farmhouses.
One of the most notable places, as mentioned earlier, is the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.
One advantage of the Camino del Norte is the weather. Although there is rain or even fog in winter, temperatures are usually not excessively low. In addition, in summer we have the advantage that the heat never gets excessively high with pleasant temperatures, both inland and on the coast. In addition, on the tours on the shores of the Cantabrian Sea, we can enjoy a well-deserved swim on the beaches.
Difficulty of the Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Bilbao
The Camino del Norte is not an easy route. We are in the north of Spain, which has nothing to do with the plateau landscapes typical of the French way. Also, many of the stages pass by the sea in steep areas. In any case, the beauty of the landscapes far outweighs the difficulties of the way.
Once you have reached Bilbao, you can continue the Camino on the following route from Bilbao to Santander.