START POINT: IRÚN
END POINT: ARZÚA
DISTANCE: 784 km
This Way runs along the Cantabrian coast, mixing large cities and tourist areas with stretches of luxuriant nature and beaches.
It is the second longest route after the Silver Way.
The Northern Way remained a lively route until the 18th century. Not only did it attract French, Basque, Cantabrian and Asturian pilgrims – territories through which it passes, but also believers from England, Flanders, Germany or Scandinavia – by sea, arriving at the main ports in the coast. Today, the French border at Txingudi Bay in Irún is considered as the starting point of the route, although other pilgrims choose to start it in the city of Hondarribia. The route then heads for Donostia-Saint Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón, Avilés and Ribadeo. Before arriving in Gijón there is a possibility to take a detour and head for Oviedo to visit the relics kept at the Holy Chamber (called “Cámara Santa” in Spanish) in the cathedral, which is actually a massive incentive.
In 2015, the Northern Way was recognized by UNESCO, alongside the Primitive Way, as a World Heritage Site, the highest recognition that a cultural asset can receive. In addition, you will cross landscapes declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, such as the surroundings of the Eo river or the Terras do Miño, among others.
INFORMATION FOR PILGRIMS
Despite being one of the Ways of Saint James in the peninsula with more ups and downs due to its mountainous relief, this will not present a major problem to hikers used to walking.
The Northern Way can be done riding a bike. Although the terrain may pose some difficulties, these are scarce and we can always resort to alternative roads or paths.
Considered a tourist area, we will find a wide variety of accommodation to spend the night and the offer of privately-run hostels for pilgrims is increasing.