Camino de Santiago from Bilbao

Camino de Santiago from

We tell you how you can plan your way to Santiago from Bilbao, a municipality located in the north of Spain, its stages and why choose this route to make your way

Camino de Santiago from Bilbao
Bilbao - saiko3p/iStock

Bilbao - saiko3p/iStock

Why start the Camino del Norte from Bilbao?

  • What essential visits of the Camino del Norte cannot you miss?

Although there are many popular starting points that we can find on the Camino del Norte, such as Gijón or Santander, Bilbao is one that many pilgrims tend to choose. This point is in one of the main stages of this Jacobean route, so it will allow us to save time when traveling it but without missing everything that this route offers. Starting from this city, there are some of the most beautiful stages of the Camino del Norte according to the pilgrims, making it perfect to enjoy unique panoramic views.

A very important factor for which to choose Bilbao as a starting point is its accessibility, which allows us to reach this city quickly and by different routes from anywhere in the country. We must also bear in mind that Bilbao is the most populated city in the Basque Country and that there are emblematic places that we can visit before starting the journey. On one side is the Guggenheim Museum, a famous contemporary art museum, and on the other, the Seven Streets of the old town, which stands out for its original medieval layout, among many other points of interest.

The Camino de Santiago from Bilbao offers more than interesting alternatives for pilgrims who want to devote themselves to the journey, whether on the French Way or the picturesque Northern Way.
The Camino de Santiago del Norte from Bilbao offers a unique experience, fusing the rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty of northern Spain. Starting from Bilbao you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a city with a lot of charm, known worldwide for its innovative architecture, such as the Guggenheim Museum, or its exquisite gastronomy.

These characteristics, among others, make Bilbao a perfect starting point to get to know the city and subsequently venture on the Camino. Furthermore, being a cosmopolitan city, Bilbao facilitates access to services, quality accommodation and transportation to prepare us for the pilgrimage.

Unlike other busier routes, the Camino del Norte offers a calmer and more serene route, ideal for those looking for a more intimate and reflective experience. Along the different routes of the Camino del Norte you will travel through spectacular landscapes along the Cantabrian coast, with views of the sea and green meadows, which makes this path a perfect choice for lovers of nature and tranquility. Picturesque villages line the Camino del Norte, allowing you to experience local hospitality and discover the unique traditions and stories of northern Spain.

Bilbao | Wikicommons. Autor: Tommie Hansen

Bilbao | Wikicommons. Autor: Tommie Hansen

On the other hand, the French Way is one of the busiest routes on the Camino de Santiago and there are no shortage of reasons! In addition to the richness in fields such as art, architecture and gastronomy of Bilbao, this route has become the favorite of many pilgrims, or the ideal one to begin the first pilgrimage, due to its variety of landscapes. The French Way becomes a parade of majestic mountains and fertile valleys and vineyards, offering a visual feast at every turn.

Each of the regions that we visit on the French Way from Bilbao is a melting pot of languages, traditions and gastronomy with its own identity. Well marked and equipped with all kinds of services for pilgrims, this route facilitates a comfortable and safe trip. Being a very popular route, the French Way provides numerous opportunities to meet and connect with pilgrims from all over the world, creating one of the best community and enriching experiences.

What to take into account if we do the Camino de Santiago from Bilbao?

  • How long does it take to do the Camino de Santiago?

One of the most important things to keep in mind if we want to make the Camino de Santiago from Bilbao is the time we have. There are many kilometers that distance this city from the Galician capital, so we will have to have approximately a month to go through all the stages. Another option is to do the Camino del Norte in stages according to the free time that each one has, and thus not miss anything that this spectacular Jacobean route offers.

Another point to take into account when leaving Bilbao for the Camino de Santiago, is that this city is part of the Camino del Norte, one of the most beautiful routes but with more instability in the weather. If you want to avoid the rain and cold, it is best to choose the summer to make the way from Bilbao. In any case, the usual climate of this area of ​​the peninsula must be taken into account, so do not forget to wear the right clothing to do the Camino, especially due to rainfall.

Pintxos en Bilbao | Wikicommons. Autor: Coralma

Pintxos en Bilbao | Wikicommons. Autor: Coralma

The stages of the Camino del Norte from Bilbao

  • 1. Bilbao - Portugalete
  • 2. Portugalete - Castro Urdiales
  • 3. Castros Urdiales - Laredo
  • 4. Laredo - Guemes
  • 5. Guemes- Santander
  • 6. Santander - Santillana del Mar
  • 7. Santillana del Mar - Comillas
  • 8. Citas - Colombres
  • 9. Colombres - Llanes
  • 10. Llanes - Ribadesella
  • 11. Ribadesella - Sebrayo
  • 12. Sebrayo - Xixón
  • 13. Xixón - Avilés
  • 14. Avilés - Muros de Nalón
  • 15. Muros de Nalón - Soto de Luiña
  • 16. Soto de Luiña - Cadavedo
  • 17. Cadavedo - Luarca
  • 18. Luarca - La Caridad
  • 19. La Caridad - Ribadeo
  • 20. Ribadeo - Lourenzá
  • 21. Lourenzá - Abadín
  • 22. Abadín - Villalba
  • 23. Villalba - Miraz
  • 24. Miraz - Sobrado dos Monxes
  • 25. Sobrado dos Monxes - Arzúa
  • 26. Arzúa - Pedrouzo
  • 27. Pedrouzo - Santiago

How to travel to Bilbao from the main Spanish cities?

This city of more than 300,000 inhabitants has a very good communication network with the rest of the cities. To get to this city you can travel by bus or car, like by train or plane.

  • Distance Madrid - Bilbao: 322.82 km
  • Distance Barcelona - Bilbao: 468.90 km
  • Distance from Valencia to Bilbao: 472.68 km
  • Distance from Seville to Bilbao: 702.31 km
  • Distance from Pamplona to Bilbao: 116.14 km

What to see in Bilbao?

Bilbao is a vibrant city full of culture in the heart of the Basque Country. It is the perfect starting point for those embarking on the adventure of the Camino de Santiago. But before embarking on this journey, it is worth spending time exploring the treasures that this city offers. Bilbao perfectly combines modernity with tradition, offering its visitors a rich experience in fields such as art, gastronomy and architecture. Some of the areas that you cannot miss in Bilbao are:

Guggenheim museum

Bilbao's iconic contemporary art museum is a must-see. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building is famous for its stunning architecture, as well as its notable collection of works of art. The building itself is a titanium, glass and limestone masterpiece, becoming a symbol of the city.

Old Town

The historic heart of Bilbao, known as the Seven Streets, is a labyrinth of cobbled streets, full of shops, bars and pintxos and old buildings. Here you can visit other places that you should not miss, such as the Cathedral of Santiago, a beautiful example of Basque Gothic; or Plaza Nueva, perfect for enjoying local cuisine.

Aste Nagusia | Wikicommons. Autor: Itsasoruntz

Aste Nagusia | Wikicommons. Autor: Itsasoruntz

Vizcaya Bridge

A little far from the center, this suspension bridge is a World Heritage Site, joining the two banks of the Bilbao Estuary. Its unique design and functionality make it a must-see.

Ribera Market

It is the largest covered market in Europe and is a true gastronomic paradise. Here you can taste a wide variety of fresh local products, from seafood to Idiazabal cheese and Basque beef ribeye. Don't forget to try the pintxos in the nearby bars for a complete culinary experience.

Doña Casilda Park

For a respite from urban life, Parque de Doña Casilda is a green oasis in the center of Bilbao. It offers beautiful gardens, a pond with ducks and swans, and a wide variety of flora and fauna. It is a perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic in the middle of the city.

Festivals and traditions of Bilbao

The city of Bilbao and its surroundings have a cultural and festive tradition that reflects the Basque identity and the vitality of its community. Some of the festivals that you should not miss the opportunity to get involved in or at least visit are:

Big Week (Aste Nagusia)

Bilbao's Semana Grande is one of the most anticipated festivals of the year and is generally celebrated at the end of August. For nine days, the city is filled with music, dance, fireworks and activities for all ages. Outdoor concerts, food competitions, and sports competitions are just some of the many activities you can enjoy during this celebration.

Mercado de la Ribera | Wikicommons. Autor: Alberto-g-rovi

Mercado de la Ribera | Wikicommons. Autor: Alberto-g-rovi

The Tamborrada

This festival is a deep-rooted tradition in the nearby city of San Sebastián, but Bilbao also joins in on the fun. On January 20, San Sebastian Day, the streets of Bilbao are filled with people dressed in traditional costumes, playing drums and barrels in honor of the patron saint of the neighboring city. It is a loud and happy event that shows solidarity between Basque cities.

Burning of Badajoz

In the neighborhood of La Galea, in Getxo (a town near Bilbao), this curious tradition is celebrated on June 23 during the festival of San Juan. The neighbors build a doll called Badajoz that represents a modern-day character and burn it on a bonfire while singing popular songs. This holiday has a humorous and satirical character.

Saint Thomas Day

On December 21, Bilbao celebrates Saint Thomas' Day, a traditional fair where agricultural and artisan products are sold in the city center. Visitors can enjoy foods such as churros, roasted chestnuts and fresh cider, as well as shop for local products and crafts.

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