Start: San Sebastian- Donostia Finish: Gernika
What makes San Sebastian special? ...
It is a refined city focused on enjoying with the five senses: their gastronomy, the summer beach, the basque culture, a great film festival ... In the city, the "Old Port" neighbourhood is a must visit along with a dip in their everyday beach and a stroll along the 19th century shopping district.
It is easy to travel from Bilbao airport (Loiu) to San Sebastian, since there is a direct connection with San Sebastian.
It takes a while before you leave the city, but if you are dropped off at the Ermita Guadalupe, just above Fuenterrabia (Hondarribia, in Basque), you will immediately enjoy it. While walking up to the Jazkibel peak, enjoy views of the Gulf of Bizkaia and of course San Sebastian. There are remains of at least 5 military forts here, the last one built in 1900 needs no further explanation, being so close to the border with France. Close to the Jaizkibel cantina - the last chance for coffee or beer - you leave the ridge and descend through an open meadow and heath landscape to the narrow fjord-like port of Pasaia. Here you take the pedestrian ferry and then decide (after 9 km of walking) whether you want to take the bus back to San Sebastian or walk another 9 km to the door of your hotel. A surprisingly rugged coastline ends abruptly above Zurriola beach and the Urumea estuary. Afterwards, just 2km to get back along the beach, via the modern art centre Kursaal and the oldest district of the city, near the harbor.
Challenge: 19 km, 200m ascent, 600m descent.
Today you walk 16 km, unless you want to shorten the hike and take the bus from the city to the Monte Ezquiel (150 m) getting off at the point where you pick up the Camino del Norte pilgrimage path. The path follows mostly paved and unpaved roads and remains higher than the coastal path, which constantly goes up and down. You stay tonight at a homely accommodation in Orio, just across the river and near the train station.
Challenge: 16 km, 5.5 - 6 hrs, 585m ascent/descent.
Today the Camino stretch remains low, following mainly paved roads from village to village, including the port of Guetaria. You will pass today a real city, Zarautz, where you can walk along the seafront with many cosy cafés and restaurants, such as the one of Spain's most famous television chef - Arguiñano. The final stop today is a town that became better known in Spain because of the film '8 Apellidos Vascos´ (with the English version translated as "Spanish Affair"). The port of Zumaia and the chapel of San Telmo appeared in several scenes, so now they have suddenly become popular selfie decors. In the welcoming centre of town there are several good (fish) restaurants and, as in every Basque port, there is also a small beach near the centre. The modern hotel where you stay for 2 nights is located exactly between the centre and the beach, in a quiet suburb.
Challenge: 16 km, 6 - 6.5 hrs, 585m ascent/descent.
After following the Camino out of town, you hop over to the GR-121 in order to enjoy the unique and bizarre rock formations that appear along the Flysch geopark at the coast. Flysh is an interesting sequence of sedimentary rock layers that has a marine origin, created 60 million years ago, they are old formations that are almost artistic and certainly unique. At the beginning and the end of the hike, you follow parts of the Camino del Norte and you will end at the station network in Deba, where every hour a slow train leaves for Zumaia. After a 14-minute train ride, you walk for 20 minutes to the hotel.
Challenge: 12 km, 5.5 hrs, 740m ascent/descent.
After a morning transfer, today you start turning your back away from the sea and embarking on an exploration of the Basque inland; known for its lush woods and rounded hills as well as for being sparsely populated. As you follow wide forest paths and gravel roads, you pass remote farms and you might meet a single pilgrim. Enjoy the tranquility and the sounds of the forest. Until you reach the lively town of Marquina - Jemein where the chapel of San Mikel will immediately catch your eye: a strange cult place under a huge menhir which was 'packaged' by an hexagonal building with a clock tower in the 18th century. After a break at one of the nice bars and tabernas in the center of Marquina - Jemein, you walk the last stage along a footpath along the river to the oldest water-powered forge of Bizkaia that is still standing. The water wheel is still intact; the 500 m2 large forging was converted in the early 90s into a pleasant and comfortable hotel. The spacious lounge with an open fire invites you to chat with other guests (including many pilgrims); in warmer weather a large terrace is at your disposal.
Challenge: 18 km, 7 h, 500m ascent, 600m descent.
The last hiking day on the Camino del Norte we skip a section to avoid a boring part, so you will be dropped off in Bolibar. After a short ascent you reach the first historic high point on the Camino: the monastery of Zenarruza. Founded in the 10th century, it became an important stop on the Camino after the construction of the Colegiata church in 1379 and the further expansion in the 15th century. After this, the Camino follows paved and unpaved country roads through a hilly and rural area; with a village or hamlet every other time. The arrival in Gernika is a shock: this town was destroyed in 1937 by the German aviation who came here to 'practice' a new war tactic. In the afternoon if you take a stroll around, don´t miss visiting the Assembly house, located in the place where it the Gernika Tree grows. This was the meeting place of the peoples of the Bizkaia regions from the 14th century onwards and symbolizes the continuity of Basque tradition. This oak tree, which is substituted by a cutting from the old one when it needs replacing, stands behind the Casa de Juntas. This building is the seat of one of the oldest parliaments in Europe.
Challenge: 19 km, 8 hrs, 750m ascent, 925m descent.
Your programme ends today after breakfast. From Gernika to Bilbao city there are direct buses (travel time around 1.30 h) once you get there, you can transfer to the airport on the shuttle bus you can get at the central bus station (30 min extra).
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Some of the hotels we work with appear here. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.
Hotel Niza in San Sebastian is an emblematic family run hotel in an idyllic location just a stones throw from La Concha beach, offering you everything you could want. The rooms offer sea views to La Concha beach.
Mailan, a rural traditional Basque-French manor house that was restored and converted in this nice rural hotel. With a personal and tasteful decoration and beautiful gardens. The rooms offer lovely views to the mountains and the estuary.
A newly built construction, only 3 years old, designed to ensure that visitors enjoy a restful and comfortable experience. Directly above the famous Flysch - a privileged spot - and only a moment’s walk from the San Telmo hermitage. The hotel has a unique decoration, made by the Basque artist Anton Eguiguren, giving a unique personality to each room. The hotel staff pays great attention to details to ensure that guests leave with the memory of a unique and friendly experience.
A charming family run hotel that was a former Medieval forge, closed in the early 19th century. With 15 rooms, all different and unique. They kept the structure and main elements of the original building in the restoration and the small mill that was part of the property and had been working until the 1950´s. With thier own restaurant that offers homemade traditional cuisine using mainly local products.
Placed in the centre of Gernika, this traditional hotel offers 40 comfortable rooms with complete bathroom, TV, heating, air conditioning and free WIFI. Their welcoming staff is always around for anything you may need.
You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between May1st and October 25th.
The nearest airport to fly to is Bilbao (BIO)
Arrival in San Sebastian
It is easy to travel from Bilbao airport (Loiu) to San Sebastian, since there is a direct connection with San Sebastian. Check at Bilbao airport website: www.aena.es
A bus leaves every hour from 6.45 hrs from the exit of the “Arrivals” hall. It has a possible stopover in Zarautz, on the way to San Sebastian, about 1,15h from Bilbao. In the summer months (July and August) the bus even leaves every half hour from 7.15 hrs.
The bus (line DO50B) only stops in San Sebastian on Pius XII Square. From here, there are 1.7 km to the hotel; most convenient by taxi. Check bus time schedule at www.pesa.net. Buy tickets in advance via their internet website!
Departure from Gernika
From Gernika to Bilbao city there are direct buses (travel time around 1.30 h) once you get there, you can transfer to the airport on the shuttle bus you can get at the central bus station (30 min extra).
GPS tracks area available upon request.