The coast of the Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte is the pilgrim route that runs along the Cantabrian mountain range, with the intense blue of the Cantabrian Sea as its backdrop. Without a doubt, one of the great attractions of the Camino del Norte to Santiago is its beaches.
If you want to know more details about this route, you can see our article on the northern route of the Camino de Santiago. In it, you will find all the information you need to prepare your pilgrimage.
Of course, the beaches are not the only attraction on the Camino del Norte. This pilgrimage route also has other wonders such as the greenery of its landscapes, the culture of the regions that it crosses, etc. If you want to discover more wonders on this route you can see our publication “The Camino Coastal Route”.
However, in this post in our Santiago blog, we want to focus on talking about some amazing beaches that you can visit on the Camino del Norte. There are many, so we will dedicate a couple of articles to talk about the beaches on the northern route if you are a lover of the sea, do not miss any of the details.
La playa de la Concha, the jewel on stage 1
The end of the first stage of the Camino del Norte already leads us to the Cantabrian coast. The arrival in San Sebastián is completed with wonderful views of La Zurriola beach. This beach is located in the district of Gros and will delight the lovers of surfing and beach sports.
Shortly thereafter, and before you have left your backpack at your accommodation, the beautiful beach of La Concha will open up before your eyes. An urban beach with fine white sand, which stands out for the intense blue colour of its water. The people of the famous “Travel and Leisure” magazine named it one of the five best urban beaches in the world.
If there is a symbol of identity that defines the city of Donostia is the emblematic beach of La Concha. Its weight in the city is so important that the famous San Sebastián Film Festival uses the statues of the streetlights that are on its promenade.
A distinctive feature of La Concha Beach is the presence on its coast of the Island of Santa Clara. On this small island, you will find a small beach of 30 metres in length. In summer, you can take a boat that leaves the port every half hour to visit it.
Another well-known beach in San Sebastián is the Ondarreta beach. This is where the famous wind comb designed by Chillida is located.
The largest beach in Guipúzcoa (stage 2)
The second stage of the northern route ends in Zarautz. In this locality, we will find the largest beach in Guipúzcoa, three kilometres long. In Zarautz beach in addition to the bathing area, you will find a set of dunes with great richness in flora and fauna.
The beaches on stage 3 of the Camino del Norte
Stage 3 of the Camino del Norte offers two variants. If you take the one that runs along the coast you can enjoy even more of the Cantabrian Sea.
During the tour, you will pass by Malkorbe beach, located in the town of Getaria. It is a small beach less than half a kilometre long, surrounded by tourist establishments.
The stage concludes in Deba, where you will find the beaches of Santiago and Lapari. The sand on the Santiago de Deba beach is of a dark colour, due to the slate rocks of the mountain formations that surround the beach and is typically used by surfers. In addition, the locality hides several small coves, in which you can relax and regain strength for your next stage.
The diversion of the Camino del Norte towards the interior
At the beginning of stage 4, the Camino del Norte moves away from the beaches and veers inward. Away from the sea you will pass by Markina, Gernika, Lezama, Bilbao and Portugalete. Finally, on Stage 9, it returns to the coast, meeting up again with the Cantabrian in Pobeña.
However, although the Camino del Norte in these stages does not run properly along the coast, it will not be difficult to escape from. In fact, this coast stands out due to the presence of majestic cliffs, such as those in Itzurun. The only downside is that to get to them you will need to take transport.
In Bilbao, you will also have the opportunity to escape to some of the nearby beaches. Some examples are the Barinatxe beach, one of the most popular in the city.
This beach is separated from another beach, Arriatera, by a rocky cove that the Bilbao people call “La Triangu “. If you practice nudism, it is interesting to mention that nudists who traditionally visit this beach congregate on its sides.
If you are looking for more tranquillity, you can also visit the Plentzia or Gorliz beaches. To reach all of them you will have to walk for a while or take some means of transport, but if after the end of the stage you want to relax on the beach, your effort will be more than justified.
The return from the Camino del Norte to the beach (stage 9)
As we said in the previous section, the Camino del Norte returns to the beach on Stage 9 and does so in Pobeña. In this town you will find a magnificent cliff. You’ll have to divert a bit along the way to visit it, but it’s worth it.
You will also find the Playa de la Arena with dark-coloured sand. The beach is located within the protected area of the Barbadún Estuary.
The stage ends in Castro Urdiales, where more beaches await you to recover from the harsh stages on the Camino del Norte. The most traditional bay is formed by Brazomar beach and the Solarium de Don Luis.
But you can also visit the artificial beach at Ostende, located in the western area of Castro Urdiales, and the El Pedregal beach, located in the Sailors district. The latter is considered a natural swimming pool, in which during the hours of high tide it is possible to enjoy the fresh and clean water of the Cantabrian.
Stage 10: Entrance to Santoña National Park
Stage 10 of the Camino del Norte finishes in Laredo. In this seaside town, you can visit the Salvé and Aila beaches, although the latter has many more waves.
Since Laredo is one of the gateways to the Santoña Marshes Natural Park, you can also dedicate the afternoon to discover it. In it, you will find beautiful beaches, almost untouched, in which you will be able to enjoy the sun and the tranquillity. An example is El Regatón beach.
Stage 11: more beaches on the Camino del Norte
On the 11th stage, the Santoña Marshes National park is crossed by boat. Shortly after you put your feet back on the ground, you will find Berria beach, which we will ascent a stretch of the Camino del Norte.
From the top, the huge Trengadín beach will appear before your eyes. This beach is located in the town of Noja and has a length of six kilometres, so it is considered one of the largest in Cantabria.
In the municipality of Noja, you will also find Ris beach. The beach is pretty breezy, but it’s usually very crowded.
Arrival in Santander: stage 12 on the northern route
On stage 12 of the Camino del Norte, there is no shortage of beaches. Shortly after starting the tour you will pass by the cliff near Arnillas and Langa beaches, on which a fantastic viewpoint is located. Then the route continues along the cliff.
Then the Camino del Norte goes into an environment of dunes, which leads to the pilgrim to Playa de Los Tranquilos and then to Loredo beach. Soon after, Santander will then appear before your eyes, where many more beaches await you.
The most popular is the Sardinero beach. It is a small urban beach that has a blue flag and which the locals feel a special affection to. But in Santander you will not lack beaches to escape to, the city has a total of eleven urban beaches.
On the outskirts of the Cantabrian capital you will find several small coves, for example, Playa de la Maruca, in the area of Monte, Playa de la Virgen del Mar, in San Román, or Playa de Mataleñas, one of the farthest away.
Stage 13: in Santillana del Mar there are no beaches
Against what you would expect from a stage that ends in a town called Santillana del Mar, on stage 13 of the North route we do not find a beach. Santillana del Mar is one of those places that are known as the town of three lies. Neither a Saint, nor flat, nor does it have any sea.
However, those pilgrims who do not want to give up a single day to the fresh fragrance of the Cantabrian Sea, they can escape at the end of this stage to the Santa Justa beach, located in Ubiarco, 6 kilometres from Santillana del Mar. It is a small beach that is not usually very crowded, so in it, you will find the ideal tranquillity to enjoy a quiet afternoon.
Stage 14: a quick escape to the sea
Stage 14 of the Camino del Norte runs mostly through the interior. However, after the modifications that were made in its layout, in 2007, the route now passes by Luarca beach. On it, you can refresh yourself, and then continue towards Comillas.
Beautiful, but not famous beaches (stage 15)
Stage 15 ends in Colombes. On the outskirts of this town, you will find La Franca beach. It is a small beach of fine white sand. It is not the most popular in the region, but it’s worth a stop.
Stage 16: the coastal route in all its glory
After two stages with only a few beaches, the Camino del Norte returns in all the splendour that makes it a coastal route. On this day there will be no shortage of sea.On the route, in Andrín, from the Mirador de la Boriza, you can enjoy beautiful views over several beaches and cliffs. In the background, and located a few kilometres away, you will see your destination today, Llanes, where several beaches await you to help you to relax.
In Llanes, you can relax on Sablón beach, located in the heart of the town. In the centre, you will also find Puerto Chico beach, although this beach can only be enjoyed when the tide is low because when the sea comes in, it covers the beach completely.
If you want to get away from the town, you can visit Toró beach, located on the outskirts of the town, but which can be accessed on foot. The only downside to this beach is that if the tide is very high, it covers almost all of the sand.
Stage 17: there is a beach also on the Camino del Norte
On this stage, you will have several opportunities to get out of your shoes and walk in the sand. The day ends in Ribadesella, where Santa Marina beach awaits you, located in the middle of town.
More beaches on the Camino del Norte (stage 18)
Stage 18 of the Camino del Norte will begin by advancing along the Ribadesella Marina beach. Soon after, you will enter Ribadesella beach and pass by the beaches of Arenal de Moris, La Hoya and La Beciella.
Then you will arrive at the beaches of Moracey and La Espasa and you will be able to go barefoot and walk in the sand. The stage ends in Sebrayo.
For today we leave it here. If you want to continue discovering the magnificent beaches on the Camino del Norte, do not forget to consult our next article about the coastal route along the Camino del Norte.
Have you ever been to any of the beaches that we’ve talked about in this article on the Camino del Norte? Which one did you like the most? Do you think we left out any beach that we should have included? We look forward to your comments!