The Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo

To Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre from Irun or Oviedo

By Dave Whitson, Laura Perazzoli

Guidebook to walking the Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The 820km Camino del Norte from Irún via Bilbao and Santander takes around 5 weeks to complete. The 355km Camino Primitivo takes about 2 weeks. Includes the Camino Finisterre from Santiago to the coast.



Summer/late spring/early autumn are best, because of the weather and because much of the accommodation closes in winter


Irún, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón, Oviedo, Lugo, Santiago de Compostela


While certain stages of the Caminos may be quite physically demanding, the Caminos are largely approachable to any walker, since it is often possible to split difficult stages into shorter sections. Luggage transport services are available for walkers who need support.
Must See

Must See

The rocky coastline of the Basque Country, sandy beaches, the mountains of Astoria, rolling hills of Galicia; some of Spain's most dynamic cities, including San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, Lugo, Santiago; variety of architecture from Lugo's Roman walls, Romanesque and Gothic churches, to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum
15 May 2019
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook describes the Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo pilgrim routes to Santiago do Compostela in northwest Spain. The 820km Camino del Norte follows the coast from Irún, on the French border, and takes about 5 weeks to complete. The 355km Camino Primitivo splits off from the Camino del Norte near Villaviciosa and passes through Oviedo and Lugo en route to Compostela. It takes roughly 2 weeks to walk. This book also includes an overview of a continuation route from Santiago to Finisterre. Physically demanding, but not difficult, the caminos are best walked from in late spring to autumn.

    The guidebook is broken into stages of between 15 and 35km, most of which end in a town or village with a pilgrim albergue. There is indispensable information on facilities, food and lodging, 1:1000 scale maps of the route and town maps for key locations. With notes on preparation and planning, travel and equipment, a list of useful sources of information, and a glossary, the book provides all you need to know to walk the camino.

    Santiago de Compostela, whose cathedral houses the relics of St James, was one of three major centres of Catholic pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. In modern times the Caminos de Santiago have seen a resurgence in popularity, drawing walkers for all sorts of reasons. Passing through the Spanish regions of the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia, the northern caminos are popular enough to offer sufficient facilities, clear routes, and a community of pilgrims, without suffering the overcrowding of the Camino Frances.

  • Contents

    The story of Saint James
    The Northern Caminos: yesterday and today
    Along the routes: different cultures
    Choosing your camino
    When to go
    Preparation and planning
    Being a pilgrim
    Getting there and back
    Postal services
    Telephones and internet
    Other local facilities
    Waymarking, route-planning, and maps
    Using this guide
    The Camino del Norte
    Prologue: The Voie Littorale Bayonne to Irún/Hondarribia
    Stage 1 Irún to San Sebastián
    Stage 2 San Sebastián to Zarautz
    Stage 3 Zarautz to Deba
    Stage 4 Deba to Markina-Xemein
    Stage 5 Markina-Xemein to Gernika-Lumo
    Stage 6 Gernika-Lumo to Bilbao
    Stage 7 Bilbao to Pobeña
    Stage 8 Pobeña to Castro-Urdiales
    Stage 9 Castro-Urdiales to Laredo
    Stage 10 Laredo to Güemes
    Stage 11 Güemes to Santander
    Stage 12 Santander to Santillana del Mar
    Stage 13 Santillana del Mar to Comillas
    Stage 14 Comillas to Colombres
    Detour: The Camino Lebaniego Muñorrodero to Santo Toribio de Liébana
    Stage 15 Colombres to Llanes
    Stage 16 Llanes to Piñeres de Pría
    Stage 17 Piñeres de Pría to La Isla
    Stage 18 La Isla to Villaviciosa
    Detour: The Camino Covadonga Amandi (Villaviciosa) to Covadonga
    Stage 19 Villaviciosa to Gijón
    Stage 20 Gijón to Avilés
    Stage 21 Avilés to Muros de Nalón
    Stage 22 Muros de Nalón to Cadavedo
    Stage 23 Cadavedo to Luarca
    Stage 24 Luarca to La Caridad
    Stage 25 La Caridad to Ribadeo
    Stage 26 Ribadeo to Lourenzá
    Stage 27 Lourenzá to Gontán/Abadín
    Stage 28 Gontán/Abadín to Vilalba
    Stage 29 Vilalba to Miraz
    Stage 30 Miraz to Sobrado dos Monxes
    Stage 31 Sobrado dos Monxes to Arzúa
    Stage 32 Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela
    The Camino Primitivo
    Stage 1 Villaviciosa to Pola de Siero
    Stage 2 Pola de Siero to Oviedo
    Stage 3 Oviedo to Grado
    Stage 4 Grado to Salas
    Stage 5 Salas to Campiello
    Stage 6 Campiello to Berducedo
    Stage 7 Berducedo to Grandas de Salime
    Stage 8 Grandas de Salime to A Fonsagrada
    Stage 9 A Fonsagrada to Castroverde
    Stage 10 Castroverde to Lugo
    Stage 11 Lugo to As Seixas
    Stage 12 As Seixas to Arzúa
    Primitivo–Norte Link via Oviedo Oviedo to Avilés
    Primitivo–Norte Link via Friol Lugo to Sobrado dos Monxes
    The Camino Finisterre
    Stage 1 Santiago de Compostela to Negreira
    Stage 2 Negreira to Olveiroa
    Stage 3 Olveiroa to Finisterre

    Appendix A Useful sources of information
    Appendix B English–Spanish–Euskera glossary
    Appendix C Suggestions for further reading

  • Updates
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    May 2019

    The Camino del Norte

    Stage 13: In Comillas, Albergue de Peregrinos La Peña has closed. A new albergue, however, has opened: Albergue La Huella del Camino (15-20€, 20 beds, kitchen, @, c/San Jerónimo 30, 942 172 571)

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Dave Whitson

Dave Whitson is a high school History teacher in Portland, Oregon and a graduate of the University of Washington. He made his first pilgrimage in 2002 on the Camino Francés and was inspired to return with a group of his high school students, which he did in 2004. He has made long-distance treks in Norway on the Pilgrim Road to Nidaros, in England on the North Downs Way to Canterbury, and in Turkey on the Lycian Way, all told walking roughly 10,000 kilometers on pilgrim roads in Europe.

View Articles and Books by Dave Whitson

Laura Perazzoli

Laura Perazzoli graduated from John Hopkins University with a degree in Writing Seminars and currently lives in Seattle, Washington. She completed her first pilgrimage in 2004 on the Camino Francés as one of the students on Dave Whitson's initial student pilgrimage. After this trip, she was excited to provide others with a similar experience and has since led student pilgrimage trips on the Camino Francés, the Camino del Norte and the Via Francigena. Laura first walked the Camino del Norte and Primitivo with a student group in 2009 and returned in 2011 to re-walk the route and to complete the Camino Inglés to ensure up-to-date route information for this guidebook.

View Guidebooks by Laura Perazzoli