Northern Way, along the Coast: routes, stages, and advice

Discover the unique charm of the Northern Way with Mundiplus. We customize your Journey and adapt it to your pace and particular needs, so that every moment becomes a story to tell. Embark on your journey with us! We’re going to explain everything related to this route. You will get to know its different stages in detail, and we will give you some advice to make the experience as satisfying as possible.

Stages of the Northern Way of St. James

The Northern Way of the Coast has a route of more than 800 Kms, from its start in Irún to Santiago de Compostela. Within this, there are some sections that we consider more interesting and that we are delighted to expose to you so that you know them better before traversing them.

We know that this experience will be unique and one that you will remember forever. We will help you live this “adventure” your way and with the planning of your Way, based on our extensive experience.

You can start the way in any town along the route and finish it the same way.

You can start the Way wherever you want, in Santiago de Compostela or in another town along the Way – you decide.

Why is it called the Portuguese Way?

The Northern Way, one of the most evocative routes to Santiago de Compostela, gets its name from its route along the north coast of Spain. This journey winds through landscapes where the sea and the mountain meet, offering pilgrims a unique experience due to its proximity to the Cantabrian Sea. Unlike other more traveled routes, the Northern Way offers an introspective and tranquil journey, crossing coastal towns, remote beaches, and green valleys, staying true to its name by guiding travelers along the northern edge of the country. This journey, full of history and natural beauty, is an invitation to explore the rich culture and stunning views that only the north of Spain can offer.

Origin and history of the Northern Way, along the Coast

The Northern Ways have different origins. It is believed they were among the first routes to reach Santiago de Compostela. Spain around the year 1000, was still a great battlefield due to the Muslim invasion of the Peninsula, so the paths closest to the Cantabrian Sea were the safest and furthest from the Muslim invader. All this, favored by the infinity of fishing and commercial ports that dotted the entire Cantabrian coast since they allowed pilgrims from all over Europe, to land in the Peninsula, and from there, start their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Is it possible to do the Northern Way by bicycle?

Yes, it is possible to do the Northern Way, both by bicycle and on horseback. The bike route is a popular option for those looking for a different experience or have less time. They allow covering greater daily distances, although they require proper physical preparation.

However, special planning is needed regarding routes, accommodations, and logistics for the transport and care of the bicycle or horse.

Why choose the Northern Way, along the Coast?

There are several reasons why this route is one of the most popular of the many that end in Santiago, spanning a long journey that crosses the entire northern peninsula, parallel to the Cantabrian coast, through the communities of the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. They are distinct from one another, yet share a similar climate and topography, where the green color of the landscape is a unifying identity feature.

The Northern Way along the Coast is not just a pilgrimage route; it’s a journey through the history and culture of Spain. With over 800 kilometers from Irún to Santiago de Compostela, this route stands out for its immense cultural, landscape, artistic, and gastronomic richness.

The route offers us, above all, lushness, a magnificent landscape where mountains and sea merge, with an abundance of forests, meadows, and agricultural lands, sections along the cliffs, and even across the sand of some beaches. It also offers pilgrims tranquility since this route is not yet overcrowded with pilgrims compared to other routes ending in Santiago.

Although it is impossible to mention all the monumental and artistic richness found along such a long route, we highlight some of the most important towns for their cultural, historical, and representative character of the route:

In Gipuzkoa, towns like the beautiful Easo (San Sebastián), which we will walk through its promenade, as well as Zarautz and Getaria, accompany us along the sea.

Planning the Northern Way

Now that you know what this route offers for the pilgrim, you might be envisioning the journey in your head. It sounds very nice, and it truly is, but for an excellent experience, it is essential to plan the Northern Way along the Coast.

Best Time to Walk the Northern Way

The choice of the best time to walk the French Way depends on various factors such as climate, the influx of pilgrims, and personal preferences. Traditionally, the busiest months are from May to September, taking advantage of the warmer climate and the longer days. However, each season has its own characteristics.

Spring

It's an ideal time for many. The landscape comes to life, with green fields and wildflowers. The temperatures are pleasant, although there may be rain. The influx is moderate, which allows for a quieter experience.

Summer (July-August)

Although it is the high season, with more pilgrims on the way and greater activity in towns and cities, you should also consider the high temperatures.

Autumn (September-October)

Similar to spring in terms of weather, autumn offers a landscape with ochre tones and cooler temperatures. There are fewer pilgrims, allowing for a more introspective and peaceful experience.

Winter (November-March)

It is the least crowded time. Some sections can be challenging due to cold, snow, or rain. However, it is ideal for those seeking solitude and reflection. It's crucial to check the availability of accommodations as many close during this season.

How many kilometers are walked per day on the Wey?

The distance to be covered varies significantly depending on the pilgrim and their planning. On average, you should walk between 20 and 25 kilometers per day, although you will always decide what you want to do. It's important to take into account the terrain conditions and the weather. Some stages can be more challenging due to steep terrain or adverse weather conditions, which could reduce the distance covered in a day. Planning ahead, taking these variables into consideration, ensures a more comfortable and satisfying experience. Finally, flexibility is key. Each pilgrim should adjust the daily distance according to their needs and abilities, ensuring a memorable and enriching journey.

Safety on the Northern Way

The Northern Way is a safe itinerary for pilgrims thanks to good signage, established infrastructure, and the presence of other walkers and locals, who can help, guide, or advise on any need you may have. However, as with any trip, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, mainly knowing the places you will be passing through and the citizen assistance phone number (112), as well as having one of the numerous guides and applications that provide extensive information about the route. The route is well marked with the famous yellow arrows and scallop shells, and other types of signage, minimizing the risk of getting lost.

Yes, this is an enriching experience, but for people doing it for the first time, some advice can make the journey more pleasant and meaningful:

Prior Training: A minimum of physical preparation will facilitate the way. Taking long walks before departing helps to acclimatize the body and to test the footwear and equipment.

Light Luggage: Carrying only what is essential is key. Wear comfortable clothes suitable for different climates, and remember that most accommodations offer laundry services. The ideal weight of the backpack should not exceed 10% of your body weight.

Appropriate Footwear: A good pair of hiking shoes is essential. They must be well-fitted and comfortable to prevent blisters and foot injuries (never use shoes that you haven’t walked in before).

Hydration and Nutrition: Maintain a good level of hydration and carry energy snacks. Throughout the journey, there are numerous places to replenish supplies and water. It’s very important to drink water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Rests and Pace: Listen to your body. It’s important to maintain a comfortable pace and not to exceed your limits. Remember, you should go at your own pace, not someone else’s, and above all, don’t rush to reach the end of each stage. Remember, the importance of the Way is the journey itself, not the destination.

Documentation: Always carry your passport, health insurance card, and the Pilgrim’s Credential with you. The latter is essential to obtain the Compostela at the end of the Way.

Open Mind: This is as much a physical as it is a spiritual and social experience. Be open to meeting new people and sharing experiences. Many of the most valuable lessons come from the people you meet along the way.

Planning, but with Flexibility: Being open to changes can enrich your experience. Part of the adventure is adapting to unforeseen circumstances on the route.

Always remember that the Northern Way is your personal journey: every step is part of your own story.

Tips for Beginners on the Northern Way Tips

Sections of the Northern Way

Although you decide your Way, the stages you take and the route will depend, to a large extent, on the time you have available to do it, the final destination, and the kilometers you want to walk per day.

As a guide, the “usual” stages tend to be 20 to 25 Kms per day.

However, there are some “typical” routes that the majority of pilgrims usually take, to some extent, because they coincide with localities that have acceptable services, both for accommodation and for food, health, etc.

We mention some of the most common stretches. that are usually done, depending on what was previously explained:

Stages of the Northern Way by the Coast on Bike

Just like if you do the Way on foot, there are no totally defined stages if you want to do the Way by bicycle, as it will depend on what was previously exposed for the walking routes.

As a general rule, cyclists tend to cover stages of 40/60 Kms per day.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions
About the Northern Way

In case you still have doubts, we will answer the most common questions regarding the Northern Way.

Other recommended Ways of Santiago

Abrir chat
Mundiplus
Hola 👋
¿Te ayudo a resolver tus dudas?