After two fairly smooth stages and through fundamentally urban stretches, we will be eager to return to those mountains that during the first days on the Camino del Norte, that tortured us so much with their ups and downs. Now we’re in shape, and now we know we can do it!

What awaits us today are not mountains specifically, but we will go back to landscapes that will help us leave the urban environment behind.

¡Let’s continue on the Camino del Norte!

The great thing about today’s stage is the reunion with the Cantabrian Sea, in Pobeña, which we lost sight of almost a week ago. Much of the stage runs along a comfortable if monotonous, bike path. Around us, we will find a landscape drilled by the presence of mines and deposits.

In Pobeña, accompanied by a sharp cliff, we will say goodbye to the Basque Country to enter Cantabrian lands, in Ontón. From here, we can follow the official route or follow the stretch of road to our destination today, Castro Urdiales.

If you are thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago from Bilbao tell us what your plans are for the Camino de Santiago and we will contact you to advise you on everything you need.

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    Itinerary stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    The route of this stage varies depending on whether the official route, which involves making a rodeo, is followed on arrival in Ontón, or continued to Castro Urdiales along the main road.

    The difference between one route and another is approximately 7 kilometres. If you continue along the road, the total route is 27,6 kilometres, if you opt for the official route it is 34,6.

    Regarding the terrain on the stage, today the Camino del Norte gives us a simple route with a surface in good condition, where much of the route is completed following the bike path.

    Portugalete (km. 0). Beginning of stage

    Muelle de Hierro Portugalete

    Practical tips for this section: Upon arrival at La Arena beach we will find ourselves next to a beautiful cliff sculpted by the waves of the Cantabrian; if you wish, you can deviate a little from the path to enjoy it. Buen Camino!

    We leave Portugalete through the upper part of the town, by Avenida Carlos VII and the road to Ortuella. Approximately one kilometre later, we take the bike path that we follow for ten placid, but somewhat monotonous, kilometres.

    Along the bike path, we find some rest areas. At the end of the path, we cross under the A-8 motorway, border the centres of Nocedo (km. 4.3) and Gallarda (km. 5.5), cross the A-8 again and enter Zierbana, where the bike path ends and the beautiful beach of La Arena (km. 12) awaits us.

    On the other side of the beach, on the left, we find a pedestrian bridge over the River Bardadun. We cross it and pass by the Chapel of Nuestra Señora de Socorro de Pobeña.

    Pobeña (km. 13).

    Practical tips for this section: In this section, we leave the Basque Country to enter the province of Cantabria. Pobeña is a good place to say goodbye to the Autonomous Community that has given us such pleasant moments, so don’t go past without making a stop.

    This location is also a good option for staying overnight if you want to divide this stage in two. Buen Camino!

    Leaving Pobeña on the left, we climb the stairs, on the right, which lead us to a concrete path that borders the coast. Later, after passing the parking area with a picnic area, the path leads to the road, on which we continue to the right.

    One kilometre later we say goodbye to the Basque Country and enter the Autonomous Community of Cantabria. Through a small tunnel, we cross under the A-8 motorway and shortly after, we turn right to descend to Ontón (km. 19).

    At the exit of the town, just where the pilgrim path meets the N-634 road, we are presented with a fork that presents us with two options to reach Castro de Urdiales. One option is to follow the official route, the longer of the two (15.9 kilometres of travel).

    The other option is to follow the route along the national road N-634, which nowadays does not have much traffic, and is considerably shorter (8.6 kilometres).

    Ontón (km. 19).


    Practical tips for this section: The official route of the Camino del Norte on the stretch between Ontón and Castro Urdiales made sense when the N-634 was full of traffic because there was no motorway, but today, given the extra kilometres involved and the fact that it doesn’t end up completely avoiding the asphalt, maybe following the road section now makes more sense.

    If this option is taken, you must follow the road to Castro Urdiales, the pilgrim on the journey will find some yellow arrows that invite them to divert along tracks, these have no way out. Ignore them! Buen Camino!

    Pilgrims who wish to take the official road should only follow the signs of the yellow arrows, passing through Baltezana, Otañes and Santullán, a route that makes a large detour to avoid the road, although it does not just completely avoid the asphalt.

    Those who want to take the alternative route, just follow the route of the N-634 road, passing next to the Saltacaballo bar and then through the town of Mioño. On the descent to Castro Urdiales we can enjoy beautiful views over the ocean that will compensate us for the monotony of the asphalt.

    Castro Urdiales (km. 27,6 by the highway y 34,6 by the Official Route). End of stage

    Castro Urdiales

    Practical tips for this section: We leave Portugalete, the municipality with the highest population density in Spain and conclude the stage in one of the most populated municipalities of Cantabria. Strange, isn’t it? See you tomorrow!

    In Castro Urdiales you will find all kinds of services and various attractions. As examples of religious architecture, you can visit the Chapel of Santa Ana, the Church of Santa Maria de la Asunción and the ruins of the Church of St. Peter.

    Lovers of civil architecture will especially enjoy the visit to this town as it has a wide heritage of palaces and chalets built by the bourgeoisie, throughout the 20th century.

    The most outstanding are the Casa de Los Senes, Casa Isidra del Cerro, Casa Sotileza, Chalet de los San Martín, the Palacete de Los Ocharan, Casa Naturaleza and the residence of Pedro Velarde. Also of interest are the Municipal Market, Torre de Otañés, the water conduction of El Chorrillo and the Old Hospital Santo Civil.

    In the vicinity of Castro Urdiales, you can visit spaces with high archaeological and paleontological value, such as the Castro de la Peña de Sámano and Lastrilla, Cuco and Grande caves. And if you’re doing the Camino del Norte in summer, you can go to San Guillén for a swim.

    Comments stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Below you will find some tips for you to enjoy the last kilometres of the Basque lands and to start discovering the new province that opens before you, Cantabria.

    Precautions stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Today’s stage does not imply any great difficulty. The point of greatest uncertainty is the fork at Ontón that puts us in the position of whether to be purists and follow the official route, accumulating with it more kilometres on our backs, or take advantage of the route along the national road to shorten the route between Ontón and Castro Urdiales.

    Food stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Today, we recommend you try some of the following dishes from the region.

    • Fresh seafood (sea bass, sole, cod, squid, sardines, anchovies, etc.)
    • White Tuna Stew
    • Beef tenderloin
    • Sobaos (sponge cakes)
    • Quesada (egg pudding)
    • Quince with walnuts.

    Services stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Meet the main health care services, cafes, ATMs, restaurants and are in this stage of the Camino del Norte.

    Map stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Consult the map with the route, points and towns along the stage.

    Profile stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Consult the profile of the stage: altitude and degree of difficulty of each section.

    What to do stage Portugalete – Castro Urdiales

    Below you will find information about places of interest that will come your way on today’s stage.

    Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Socorro

    Ermita de Nuestra Senora del Socorro

    The Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Socorro is located on top of the peninsula that surrounds the port of Pobeña. The construction of the temple dates back to 1768 and, according to tradition, was built by order of Captain Pedro De Llano, who after surviving a storm on his journey from Havana to Coruña, promised to pay homage to the Virgin by erecting the small Chapel.

    Inside the temple, is a large altarpiece that houses a carving of the Virgin and two small altars with the images of St. Nicholas and St. Bartholomew.

    Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari 

    The Church of San Nicolás de Bari is located on the outskirts of Pobeña, at the foot of the Camino del Norte. The Baroque-style temple was erected in 1750, under the mandate of Don Pedro de la Quadra, Archbishop of Burgos.

    Its structure consists of a single nave topped in the rectangular apse and protected by a gabled roof. In its interior stands three altarpieces, the central one dedicated to the patron saint of the temple, and the two side altars in honour of Saint Joseph and Our Lady of Carmen.

    Zona costera de Pobeña

    The coastal area of Pobeña is characterized by its sharp cliffs, the fruit of the intense swell that for years has been sculpting its rocks. This coast has only one beach, that of La Arena, located next to the mouth of the River Babadún.

    The La Arena Beach is a dark sandy area, located in a semi-urban setting. Part of the beach is included within the protected space of the Barbadún Estuary.

    Castro Urdiales

    Castro Urdiales

    The town of Castro de Urdiales is located at the westernmost point of the province of Cantabria. After the large cities of Santander and Torrelavega, Castro Urdiales is the most populous municipality of Cantabria, with just over 32,000 inhabitants.

    The town is provided with all kinds of services, and offers visitors various places of interest, especially for those interested in civil architecture and archaeology, although lovers of religious architecture will also find places of interest during your stay in the city.

    The municipality has a good number of palaces and chalets built by the bourgeoisie, mainly throughout the 20th century. Some examples are the Casa de Los Senes, Casa Isidra del Cerro, Casa Sotileza, Chalet de Los San Martín, the Palacete de Los Ocharan, Casa Naturaleza and the residence of Pedro Velarde.

    Other examples of civil architecture are the Municipal Market, Torre de Otañés, the water conduction El Chorrillo and the Old Hospital Santo Civil.

    As examples of religious architecture, you can visit the Chapel of Santa Ana, the Church of Santa Maria de la Asunción and the ruins of the Church of St. Peter.

    In the vicinity of Castro Urdiales, you can visit spaces with high archaeological and paleontological value, such as the Castro de la Peña de Sámano and the caves of Lastrilla, Cuco and Grande.

    Casa de los Chelines

    Casa de Los Chelines is located in Castro Urdiales. It is a building constructed in 1902, neo-Gothic style with modernist influences, declared as a site of Cultural Interest.

    The construction is distributed around a central courtyard on which five floors stand. In the lower areas, some shops are located and the upper floors are intended for housing.

    The façade of the building is formed with rectangular windows and arcades with Gothic ornamentation. The viewpoint located in the centre of the property, which is also decorated with Gothic motifs.

    Casa Isidra del Cerro

    Casa Isidra del Cerro

    Casa Isidra del Cerro is located in the municipality of Castro Urdiales and stands out for being the first construction in Spain with a lift, and is the work of Leonardo Rucabado. In 1990, it was declared a Cultural Interest site. The property, consisting of three floors and an attic, is highlighted by the façade in which a large number of balconies stand out.

    Casa Sotileza

    Casa Sotileza, in Castro Urdiales, dates from 1913 and is the work of the architect Leonardo Rucabado, as well as five other chalets that he built in the town.

    The property declared as a building Cultural Interest in 1989, is divided into three floors and has a semi-detached tower. The entrances on the ground floor formed by half-point arcades which stand out.

    Castro de la Peña de Sámano

    Castro de la Peña de Sámano sits at the top of the Peña de Santullán, in the vicinity of Castro Urdiales. The space has an air of fortification about it as it has a wall more than 2 metres wide and a security path. The wall has a small entrance door known as the Vallegón Gate.

    Inside, the settlement houses two sectors, an area where there are vestiges of the old houses and another area, located on the opposite side, completely empty.

    In the western part of the enclosure a small chamber known as La Cueva del Ziguste is located, in whose environment a large number of materials from the Megalithic Age have been found.

    Chalet de los San Martín

    The San Martín Chalet is located in the village of Castro Urdiales. It is a property built in 1900, by Gregorio de Ibarreche, with a picturesque eclectic style.

    The building has three floors and a basement. On the façade, there is a huge wooden balcony, located on a large terrace. Its cornices and roofs stand out, which have different shapes and heights.

    Cueva de La Lastrilla

    La Cueva de La Lastrilla is located in the vicinity of Castro Urdiales. The opening, declared a Cultural Interest site in 1998, has a route of more than thirteen kilometres in which there are cave drawings from the Upper Paleolithic period.

    Hand-crafted ceramic materials, such as a complete vessel, were found in the cave lobby. Three individual tombs appeared in the upper hall.

    Inside, in a small room, numerous archaeological remains were found such as a wild boar tusk, a ceramic bowl and a red rock painting that was incomplete and could be interpreted as a goat.

    Cueva del Cuco

    La Cueva del Cuco is located near the town of Castro Urdiales. The chamber, declared as a Cultural Interest site in 1996, is 100 metres deep and stands out for the rock art of the Solutrean Paleolithic art that has been found in it.

    The cave was discovered in 1966 and in 1968 its cave paintings were published, by M.A. García Guinea. Inside are etchings of animals of two types, those of fine stroke, in which heads of animals are depicted, and those of wide and large strokes, in which complete crows are depicted.

    Currently the cave is closed to the public. To visit it it is necessary to request permission from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Cantabria.

    Cueva Grande

    La Cueva Grande is also known as Cueva de Los Corrales and is located in the vicinity of Castro Urdiales. It is a chamber, discovered in 1970, with cave etchings of 16,000 to 14,000 years old, from the Magdalenian period. In 1998, the space was classified as a site of Cultural Interest.

    The first thing to be discovered in its lobby were numerous paleontological and lithic materials, as well as ceramic fragments.

    At the bottom of the chamber are different black-coloured paintings from the Schematic–Abstract era in which palaeolithic etchings in fine stroke are depicted, in which opposing animals are depicted. One of them to a deer and the other to a goat.

    San Guillén

    San Guillén is a space located on the seafront of Castro Urdiales, in the vicinity of the Chapel of Santa Ana, where in addition to repairing boats, it is popular as a bathing area in summer. The place is known, among other things, for the bathing party that takes place in summer, with antique costumes.

    Ermita de Santa Ana

    The Chapel of Santa Ana is located on the first line of the coast of Castro Urdiales, on a rocky outcrop. The temple was built in 1941 and to access it it is necessary to cross a medieval bridge of Gothic style formed by a single arch, rebuilt in the year 617.

    Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción

    The Church of Santa María de la Asunción, in Castro Urdiales, is a Catholic temple from the 13th and 15th centuries. In 1931 it was declared an Artistic Historic Monument and, in 2002, of Cultural Interest.

    Its structure consists of a basilical plant divided into three naves topped in straight headwaters. The main façade consists of two floors divided by a beautiful cornice. Inside it has four chapels, three of polygonal plan and a fourth, located in the middle of these, with square plan.  

    Practical information:

    Mass times: From 1 July to 31 August, eves (20:30) and public holidays (12:00). From 1 September to 30 June, only holidays (12:00).

    Conducción de Agua El Chorrillo

    The Agua El Chorrillo pipework is an ancient mechanism of water conduction of Roman times located in the town of Castro de Urdiales. The structure consists of a series of tubes made of stone masonry and joined with hydraulic mortar, which collected water from various springs in the area.

    The pipes are covered with small stone and mortar walls. In its route, there are various arches and cisterns that regulate the water. In 2005, the system was reformed. A year later he was listed as an item of Cultural Interest.

    Mercado Municipal

    The Municipal Market in Castro Urdiales is a building built in 1911 by the architect Eladio Laredo. The market has a single nave, with strong and opaque walls, and is protected by a metal structure as a skylight. The most notable thing about the construction is the floral modernist decoration of its four entrance doors.

    Practical information:

    Hours: Closes on Sundays. Monday to Friday (8:30 to 13:30 and 17:00 to 20:00) and Saturday (8:30 to 14:00).

    Palacete de los Ocharan

    Palacete de Los Ocharan is located in Castro Urdiales. The building dates back to 1901 and is the work of Eladio Laredo. The property stands out for its porched façade, flanked by classic columns, and covered by polychrome ceramics.

    This is divided into two main parts, in the first one you can see a series of ten columns of Ionian style, on which rests the terrace located in the second body.

    The palace is covered by a gabled roof and is topped by a square tower and decorated with floral motifs. Next to it are gardens that house a wide variety of trees and flowers, declared as a historic garden.

    Residencia de Pedro Velarde

    Residencia de Pedro Velarde

    The Residence of Pedro Velarde is located in the town of Castro Urdiales. It is a building constructed in 1899, by the architect Eladio Laredo, in an eclectic style.

    The construction’s façade stands out, lined with brick and ceramics. Its structure consists of four floors, at the bottom is located the entrance with rectangular shape, on the second there is a terrace, with rectangular and ornate sheaths with a frieze, and between the third and fourth, a small-sized oval vain is placed.

    Ruinas de la Iglesia de San Pedro

    The Ruins of the Church of San Pedro, in Castro Urdiales, were declared, in 2000, a site of Cultural Interest for the elements that are preserved within it: part of the foundations, the walls, the apse, a pointed arched door and a window with a half-point arch.

    This ancient temple consisted of a rectangular plant and had a semi-circular presbytery. Its construction was made of masonry stone, except for the corners that showed masonry.

    Torre de Otañes

    Torre de Otañes

    The Torre de Otañes is located in the city of Castro Urdiales. Its construction dates back to 1445 and was ordered by Lope García de Otañes y Salazar in order to have a defensive fortress for the town.

    In 1713, the construction underwent renovation and was covered by a gabled roof, thus losing its appearance of a fortress. Later, in 1757, a third body was added to the tower. Currently, the most outstanding thing about it is the mill that is located in the old courtyard of arms in the fortress tower.

    Antiguo Hospital Santo Civil

    The former Hospital Santo Civil, located in the town of Castro Urdiales, is a mountain-style building, from the early 20th century, by Eladio Laredo. It is an austere construction, divided into four floors, in which the central tower stands out.

    The most characteristic elements of the property are the floor-to-ceiling windows, porch and lines of the bowl-shaped roofs.

    Casa de la Naturaleza

    La Casa de la Naturaleza is a residential villa located in Castro Urdiales, from the mid-20th century. The building is the work of architects Jacobo and Lorenzo Romero. The house stands out for its large dimensions and consists of three floors. From its exterior, it shows the peculiarity of the elements that form it.

    Practical information:

    Hours: Closed On Saturdays and Sundays. Monday to Friday (from 10:00 to 14:00).