The Camino del Norte


Surround yourself in beauty on this breathtaking Camino de Santiago along the north coast of Spain. Spanish Steps is excited to be offering this route once again with a few additional extras!

For over 1000 years, pilgrims coming from the north of Europe didn’t always make the journey to Santiago by foot, many came by boat to the fishing villages and small cities that were springing up along the Cantabrian coast.

On this 10-day pilgrimage, we’ll be covering approximately 100-kilometers on foot. We will wander along country roads and tracks through farmland, forests, and little villages. Otherwise, we will be on beautiful coastal footpaths along sea cliffs, coves, and beaches.

The northern coast of Spain is dominated by karst, limestone rock making this coast a natural paradise of caves, sea cliffs and extraordinary rock formations amongst its evergreen hills. The coast is also renowned for the many caves that contain world class Paleolithic rock art. Of these you will have the option of visiting the UNESCO world heritage caves of Altamira (replica), Tito Bustillo and Peña de Candamo.

We will meet in Santander on Day 1 and drive westwards to the medieval town of Santillana del Mar for the first two nights. This is a magical place where time has stood still. From here, our pilgrimage begins. We will follow the famed scallop shell and yellow arrow of the Camino, as well as taking a few detours down secret coastal paths.

This journey will take us to three of Spain’s autonomous regions: Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. Along the way, we walk through beautiful seaside villages such as Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera. Once in our beloved Asturias, we will sleep in the seaside villages of Llanes and Ribadasella. Finally, we will celebrate our accomplishment of this Camino in Ribadeo, Galicia. From here we offer transfers to either Oviedo/Asturias airport (OVD) or to the Oviedo city center.

All hotels, breakfasts, 5 dinners, with wine, van support w/ healthy snacks are included in the tour price.


Day 1 – Santillana del Mar to Cobreces: 12 km

We meet in the city of Santander at 9am. Please be dressed and ready to walk. We will drive to Santillana del Mar (approximately 30 mins) and set off on foot to begin our pilgrimage. A single yellow arrow will guide us on our ’way’ from the town square, westward, walking along old cart tracks and lanes that wind through fields and hamlets. We finish our walk at the village of Cobreces and head down to the beach of Luaña before returning to Santillana for the night. Before dinner a local guide will give us a tour of Santillana del Mar, taking us back in time and sharing with us the history of this, one of Spain’s most charming old towns. Dinner included.

Day 2 – Comillas to San Vicente de la Barquera: 12.5 km

This morning we head to the town of Comillas and take a guided tour of Antonio Gaudi’s palace El Capricho (exterior only). This is a playful and musical house with a sad story. From there, we will start our walk heading to the coast and Playa Oyambre, famous for being the landing site of the first ever US cross Atlantic flight. From here we continue westwards climbing over the headland and along a beautiful beach to the fishing village of San Vicente de la Barquera. This is one of the most picturesque sights on the Cantabrian coast, with the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Picos de Europa mountains standing proudly as a backdrop. We return to Santillana del Mar and visit the caves (replica) of Altamira renowned for its prehistoric art of local fauna and human hands, the earliest of which dates back 36,000 years. Breakfast included.

Day 3 – Cobijeru (Buelna) to Llanes: 18.5 km

Today’s walk starts with us making our way down to the coastal paths to explore some magical, hidden sea caves. Please bring a flashlight, so if you would like to enter the caves you can do so safely. Leaving the caves, we will walk west along cliffs, through fields and little villages to the popular seaside town and fishing port of Llanes. Llanes’s old quarter was declared a Historic and Artistic Site, a great place to take time to wander the little streets, the port and up to the sea cliffs. (Dinner & Breakfast included)

Day 4 – Llanes to Nueva: 19 km

Upon leaving Llanes, we guide you along more dramatic coastal trails as we continue west toward Santiago, breathing in the salty air. Country roads and coastal trails; quiet coves and sleepy villages are part of today’s landscape.

Return to Llanes with plenty of time to explore this fascinating town and dine out in one of its many restaurants. (Breakfast included)

Day 5 – Bufones de Pria to Ribadesella (Acantilados del Infierno)

We start walking from Bufones de Pria, the blowholes of Pria. Today’s hike will take us along an extraordinary section of coastline where beautiful cliffs and blowholes (where air gets forced out of tiny caves by the power of the ocean waves, like a whale exhaling).

At the end of the hike, we will drop down into Ribadesella for well-deserved “culin” de Sidra! Then we have a real treat in store as we visit the Caves of Tito Bustillo, which boast some of Spain’s most magnificent prehistoric cave art, dating back from 22,000-10,000 BC. We’ll stay in Ribadesella for the next two nights at a seaside hotel. (Dinner & Breakfast included)

Day 6 – Ribadesella to Playa Espasa or Colunga: 15.5 km or 20 km

This morning’s trail leads us up to the lighthouse just west of Ribadasella and down to a favorite beach of Playa la Vega. We’ll take a break at one of the chiringuitos (beach side bars) to soak up the atmosphere for a short while before returning to the trail, up again along a cow path to the town of Berbes and onwards to the beach of Playa Espasa.

There is an alternative option today (for those who like a challenge) to summit Pico Pienzu. This route starts at Mirador del Fitu along the Sierra del Sueve, climbs from 598m to 1,159m and is 7.5 miles. This is an optional climb….

We return for the night to Ribadesella, a town famous for its port and wonderful sandy beaches that were the childhood summer holiday destination of our current Queen Letizia. The town name refers to being on the banks of the Sella River which tumbles down from the Picos de Europa. Breakfast included

Day 7 – Cadavedo (la Regalina) to Cabo Busto: 20 km

We’ll travel from the east to the west part of Asturias. Just over an hour drive will take us to the region known as “the occident” by the local Asturian people. We will notice a marked difference in the architecture and landscape from the neighboring Galicia; more rolling hills, less mountains, coastline with its high cliffs.

Today we will walk along part of the coast. The views will be amazing during the whole trail as we weave in and out of small and picturesque hidden beaches, tiny villages, and ending in one of the northernmost points of the Cantabrian Coast, Cabo Busto. Weather permitting, we will have the best viewpoint along our journey, taking in the Cantabrian Sea and surrounding coastline.

After our hike, we will visit a modern but traditional pastry shop run by an award winning, nationally recognized pastry chef, experiencing his creative style and new expressions in this “sweet” word. (Breakfast and dinner included)

Day 8 – Playa de Barayo – Playa de Frexulfe or Navia: 15 km

A 45-minute drive west brings us to the trailhead for the Senda de la Costa Naviega, one of the most remote and protected stretches of the Asturias’ coastline. This gentle cliff top trail takes in sweeping vistas and hardy wildflowers. We will arrive into the tiny fishing village of Puerto de Vega in time for a late lunch and then continue for a few more kilometers before taking a shuttle ahead to sleep in Galicia port town of Ribadeo. Breakfast included.

Day 9 –Tapia to Ribadeo: 18 km

Today is our last day in Asturias as we cross back over the River Eo to Tapia de Casariego. Continuing along the Mar Cantábrico and taking in some half dozen beaches, we navigate the rugged coastline around the numerous headlands (puntas) to finally head southwards to Figueras. Here we will seek out a fisherman to ferry us back across to Ribadeo. We will gather together for a final dinner tonight. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 10 – Tour End

We will take our final stroll along the coast from the tiny fishing village of Rinlo to the famed Playa das Catedrales for a dramatic view of ocean landscape. There will be a group transfer to Oviedo airport and Oviedo city center. There is a possibility of visiting Oviñana with views of Cabo Vidio on the way to Oviedo. Here we will say our farewells to our traveling companions and guides. *Book your onward flight from Asturias after 5pm.



How many miles do we hike per day?

On this trip, the mileage varies from day to day, but we average around 7-12 miles per day or 12-20 kilometers. We encourage people to ride in the van if their feet are feeling fatigued or to walk more miles if they have the energy. Most pilgrims walking the trail independently walk 25 kilometers a day with a heavy pack. With Spanish Steps, we have the luxury of a fully supported van, which carries our baggage and carries us the extra mile when needed.

What kind of hotels do we use?

We use a combination of restored farmhouses known as Casa Rurales, small hotels, and family run Casona Indianos (turn of the century mansions.) They are located along the Camino, situated in small towns or villages, usually away from the large cities so most days will involve a group transfer at the beginning and the end of the day. All rooms have private baths. The smaller inns have no phone of TV in the room.

Is there WIFI at our hotels?

Our hotels nearly always have free WIFI available although it is often just in the lobby/public areas. We generally stay at historical hotels, which often have thick walls, so WIFI rarely works in the rooms. Most bars and cafes enroute have free WIFI also.

How many meals are included?

All breakfasts are included in the price of this tour. Breakfast in Spain tends to be very light. We will do our best to accommodate any dietary requirements. Please let us know in advance as much as possible. You are responsible for your own lunch; you can eat at one of the many cafes that cater to pilgrims or purchase sandwich items and fruit locally. Five dinners are included. Our hotels will be happy to provide a vegetarian option should it be required. On the nights when dinners are not included, your guides will recommend places for you to eat. The van will be stocked with healthy snacks and water.

How does one get to SANTANDER?

  • Most people fly from Madrid to Santander. Check with your local travel agent about flight connections.
  • We do NOT sleep in Santander as a group. We recommend the Silken Rio Hotel (by the water!)

How does one get from OVIEDO to Madrid?

Most people fly from Oviedo to Madrid. Check with your travel agent and purchase your return ticket before arriving in Spain. You can take a bus or train to Madrid: or

What kind of equipment should I pack?

The hikes are not fancy. We will supply you with an equipment list of basic items to pack. You are limited to one bag weighing 30-lbs and a one-day pack to hold items such as your camera, rain gear and water bottle. Hiking/trail shoes or lightweight hiking boots will be your most important pieces of equipment. Please be sure they are well broken in and that you have proper socks before arriving in Spain. Please bring hiking poles if you wish to use them

How do I access spending money/how much should I bring?

Most people travel with an ATM card. Money machines are everywhere in Spain but be sure you know your PIN number before departing the US. Some dinners and lunches will be a separate expense. The Menu del Dia or Menu del Peregrino is available at local cafes and will cost between 12-22 Euros. There are three course meals with wind and water included – a great value.

Should I leave a gratuity for our guides?

This is a very common question my clients ask–As a person working hard in the service industry to please the traveler, a gratuity is much appreciated by the staff members at the end of the tour. As a general guideline, people tip around 10 Euros per day, per guide. For trips where we have a bus driver, a gratuity of around 25-30 Euros per person at the end of the trip would be appreciated.

What is the average age of the group?

The average age of the hiker on a Spanish Steps tour is 50 years old during the spring and fall months but younger during the summer months. Most trips are a mix of a 40/60 ratio of men to women. We have taken school groups where the age range is 13-20 years old. With an eager heart and a mind full of curiosities, a healthy person of any age is able to walk the Camino. Pilgrims of all ages are welcome of course!

What is the terrain like?

The trails are well marked with yellow arrows and the scallop shell tile. There are some long, slow climbs through farming areas but not Himalayan or Rocky Mountain like terrain. The paths are well worn and are not difficult if you have trained for this sort of trip. We walk along a lot of secondary farming roads, coastal footpaths, beaches, chestnut and eucalyptus forest and old country roads. Your footwear is key. Be sure they are comfortable and have good tread on the soles.

Is there a single supplement?

Some people would like to be matched with a roommate. I can’t guarantee a match but will try to place you with someone if there are any requests. The price of the single supplement is 500 EUROS per person for this eight-day trip.

Can you provide references?

We would be delighted to share with you some references from former clients who have walked with us. If you would like to contact any former Spanish Steps participants, let us know by calling us. Check out our Customer Comments.