El Northern Way along with the Primitive Way, are considered as the first pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, used by the first European pilgrims, mainly from Northern Europe, because at the time of the discovery of the remains of the Apostle Santiago, the Iberian Peninsula was, to a great extent part, invaded by Muslims, except in the northern part, so these were the routes most traveled for security reasons.
As a result of the Muslim retreat, to the South, other routes were incorporated, less demanding and with better weather conditions for pilgrims, such as the French Way.
The Camino del Norte constitutes the second great long-distance Jacobean itinerary that, starting at the Santiago Bridge (border of Spain with France), successively crosses the Communities of the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, in a route of 810 km , approximately.
There is not a single Northern Way, as other “Roads” start or link from this route, such as El Salvador, Camino Primitivo, Camino de Balmaseda (between Bilbao and Burgos), Camino del Interior (Irún - Vitoria - La Rioja), Camino del Besaya (between Santander and Carrión de los Condes), Camino Lebaniego, Camino Vadiniense and Camino de Covadonga.
The Camino del Norte travels between the sea and the mountains through forests, meadows and stretches of cliffs, of great monumental beauty, in which the Jacobean tradition has left its mark throughout history. It has a rugged terrain, although not too demanding, except at the beginning of the route in the Basque Country.
The itinerary takes place in a very pleasant, predominantly rural environment, dotted with numerous wooded areas and water courses, ending the stages in beautiful cities full of history, such as San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón and Ribadeo, among others, as well as have the possibility to visit some beaches of the Cantabrian coast and be able to take some boat rides, between some coastal towns.
The green of its valleys and the numerous rivers that dot it, as well as its accentuated cultural, marine, gastronomic and livestock traditions, are another of the main arguments to travel this route of the Camino de Santiago.
In the Arzúa locality, the Camino del Norte joins the route of the French Way, converging to Santiago de Compostela in a single Camino.