From Onton to Laredo, Camino del Norte, Stage no. 8




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Basic Details

  • Starting point: Albergue de Peregrinos Onton (a donativo pilgrim hostel in Onton, run by nice people with a communal dinner, definitely worth staying at).
  • Ending point: Center of Laredo.
  • Availability of alternative routes: Yes, and worth taking. The alternative route goes through a spectacular natural reserve at the edge of the ocean. Pristine beaches, cliffs, a mountain right at the edge of the ocean, and a short but steep part of the path you’ll remember all the way to Santiago :). This alternative route is so good that we have a special page dedicated to it. You can check it out here. * Important note: Some signs and some camino guides say it is a dangerous way, and not good for pilgrims. But that’s simply not true! As long as you follow the trail (which should be easy with our GPS file), and have at least a decent hiking condition, the trail isn’t dangerous in any means. So do not get discouraged by those other guides, whose authors most likely never walked the path…
  • Distance: Official camino route: 40 km (download GPS here). Alternative camino route (over Sonabia and Monte Candina): 34km.
  • Link to online map: here.
  • Elevation difference: Official camino route: + 1010m, – 1020m . Alternative route: +1005m, -1015m
  • Difficulty score: Official Camino route: 4/5. Alternative Camino route: 5/5
  • Beauty score: Official Camino route: 4/5. Alternative Camino route: 5/5 (the alternative route is no doubt one of the most beautiful stretches on the entire Camino del Norte)
  • Terrain/asphalt: Official camino route: 20%/80% . Alternative camino route: 45%/55%.
  • Next stage: Camino del Norte stage no. 9, Laredo – Guemes
  • Previous stage: Camino del Norte, stage no. 7, Bilbao – Onton
  • Alternative stage page: Camino del Norte stage no. 8, a beautiful coastal alternative over Sonabia and Candina mountain.


Elevation profiles for the routes

– Official camino route, chart generated by

– Alternative camino route, chart generated by


Advanced info about the stage

  • Trail marking: Now we’re in Cantabria already, and to be honest, it is the province with the worst trail marking on the entire Camino del Norte. I do not know why, but it seems locals do not care too much about the camino. On several occasions arrows point to contradictory directions, and unless you have a good map in your phone or good sense for navigation you really do not know where to go. On the top of that the trail on the alternative route is marked only with black dots on rocks that aren’t always perfectly visible. If you follow the alternative route (which I highly recommend for anyone in a decent shape), having a GPS of the trail, or at least some decent mapping application for the Camino, is a must.
  • Alternative route info: Yes, and worth taking, 100%. I won’t elaborate on it too much, since we have an entire post dedicated to this route, which is no doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the entire Camino. Check it out here.
  • Natural places worth seeing: All beaches in the zone of Castro Urdiales, Playa de San Julian (see the video below) near Liendo. It is one of the nicest beaches of Cantabria, and since it is hard to reach by cars, it is never really busy. See the video below and consider yourself whether it is worth visiting it and the surrounding locations :).

  • Historical, architectural, and culinary places worth seeing: The abandoned mining locations close to Castro Urdiales, the Cargadero de Saltacaballo, Cargadero de Mineral de Mioño, and the Antiguos depósitos de mineral de Setares, are all worth a short detour from the Camino (typically less than 100 meters, some of the structures you can see directly from the Camino). From the architectural point of view, Castro Urdiales is a pretty interesting city, with a really nice old town and port, and, on the other hand, the ugly suburbs, formed by decadent “for tourism” architecture. It is one of those cities that you either love or hate :). For the lovers of churches, we recommend the blue church of Sonabia (on the alternative way), and the Ermita de San Julian (you can see it on the video above), which perhaps isn’t itself super beautiful or interesting, but the location and surrounding nature is just breath-taking.
  • Camping/bivouac options on this stage: Finally, after a couple of stages (close to the big city of Bilbao) where camping was almost impossible, and bivouacking very tricky to say the least, pilgrims on budget, or those who simply love to camp, can breath easily, and enjoy their favorite activity–sleeping under the open sky, with no snorers nearby. For the camping, by far the best area is the plato high on the Candina mountain (on an alternative route over Sonabia). The approximate GPS coordinates for good camping spot are here. That’s after you overcome the steep climb and are more on a plato. Please note that this is a beautiful mountain and the terrain isn’t exactly flat... But if you look carefully you’ll find a few fitting camping spots, and you can be 100% sure nobody will disturb you there in the night. I camp there myself once, so speaking from direct experience. Other than that, you can find a good (and more even spot) close to the Playa de San Julian, or the Ermita de San Julian. Here it can be more busy, especially in the summer (not very busy, but a few people will arrive by car each evening to see the chapel and perhaps also the beach) so if you decide to go for it, I suggest you to pitch the tent only when it is already getting dark. In terms of organized camping places (paid alternatives) you have the following options:
    • Camping de Castro Urdiales – Right on the Camino, with a pool, about 1 km from the beach and center of Castro Urdiales, decent reputation. Price about 20 euro per pilgrim, but the owner is a nice person and if the place is not full you can negotiate a discount for a pilgrim.
    • Camping de Playa Arenillas – Again right on the Camino, very close to a beautiful beach (within 5 minutes of walk), restaurant and a small shop (overpriced) on site, clean and well maintained facilities.
    • Camping Orinon – On an alternative route, by only 100 meters detour from the Camino if you follow the alternative route.  Great beach for surfers (very windy), the facilities are a bit run-down, in my opinion overpriced for pilgrims. Communication a bit hard, better to simply walk in and ask for a place to pitch a tent…
    • Camping Carlos V – Directly in Laredo, the final point of the stage. However, it is more expensive than the albergues in the city, and poorly maintained. I do not recommend this camping, but if you (for one reason or another) do not have any other options, you can stay there for the night.
  • Dog friendly score: 3/5. Mixed stage when we talk about dogs. Some parts are really nice, with shade, water, trails. On the other hand there is a lot of road walking, especially if you follow the official Camino (and not the alternative route over Sonabia and Candina mountain). With dogs I recommend taking the alternative route (and a plenty of water for the dog). Laredo, the town where this stage ends, is dog-unfriendly, and you will find it close to impossible to get any accommodation that accepts dogs. Hence if you walk with dog, you better stay in one of the places before Laredo (for example camping outside or on one of the organized camping grounds).
  • Special remarks: This is a stage with a lot of variety, and many small detours worth taking. For example to the old mining locations close to Castro Urdiales, to the beach of San Julian (and also to some beaches in the zone of Castro), to some scenic viewpoints located just a stone throw away from the Camino, and so on. Hence I strongly recommend you not to rush this one. Book your albregue (or decide about a camping spot) in advance, so you can enjoy all the beauty and variety this stage offers. It is not doubt one of the highlights of the Camino, when we speak about variety and natural beauty…


Accommodation options on today’s stage

* The infographic displays the number of pilgrim hostels (only pilgrims allowed), hostels (anyone allowed, shared rooms), and other accommodation options (hotels, pensions, etc, private rooms) in each point along the route, together with price range. For exact explanation of the pictograms we use check the explanations page. Below the infographic you will see our recommended picks (up to 3 pilgrim options and 1-2 “privacy” options, maximum five) for the stage, together with important information (but not too much info, just what you need :-)).

Recommended places to sleep along this stage

Pilgrim options:

  1. Hostel Islares, Islares (km 17). Location and reviews on Google maps here. 14 beds, 25 euro/night. New, clean, and comfortable, with a great person in charge. It isn’t only for pilgrims, but 80% of guests are pilgrims, especially outside of the month of August. Check in from 1pm to 7pm. Has these Chinese beds with built in light etc–you may know such beds from some modern hostels in big cities. Great location and everything. Recommended way of booking: phone or email, +34 653 554 433, [email protected] .
  2. Albergue de peregrinos Saturnino Candina, Liendo (km 34). Location and reviews on Google maps here. 10 euro/night, 17 beds, open all year long. Rarely gets full since most people continue to Laredo. Pretty good reviews across all platforms, nearby you’ll find supermarket and restaurants and everything. Highly recommended. Doesn’t accept reservations.
  3. Albergue de Peregrinos. Casa de la Trinidad, Laredo (km 40).  Location and reviews on Google maps here. 10 euro/bed, 42 beds in small rooms (2-4 beds). Run by nuns who each evening do a small celebration and pilgrim blessing. Communal dinner. Check in from 3pm to 5:40 pm and than from 7:30pm to 10:30pm. Officially they do not accept reservations, but based on my experience you can make a reservation on one of the following phone numbers: +34 942 606 600, +34 639 053 072 . Overall a very interesting place to stay, especially for pilgrims who like quiet contemplative places.


Privacy/luxury options:

If you find any information on this page incorrect or outdated, or have a suggestion how to improve it for fellow pilgrims, please let us know. Thank you for helping the pilgrim community, and buen Camino 🙂
  1. Pension La Mar, Castro Urdiales (km 8). Location and reviews on Google maps here. Economic option next to the beach, you can get a room for 35 euro (not in the high season though). Check-in from 2pm, friendly people, speak some English. Recommended way of making a reservation:
  2. Hotel Cosmopol, Laredo (km 40). A three start cosmopolitan hotel. Location and reviews on Google maps here. Close to the beach, a “big hotel” vibe, offers both company and privacy–whatever you seek on the day. Check in from 2:30 pm, prices start at 80 euros/night in low season (get much higher in summer). Recommended way of reserving a room:

* Generally speaking, Laredo isn’t particularly renowned for good hotels for pilgrims, and the same is true about Castro and other cities on the way. I would recommend staying in a pilgrim place instead (for example in the convent in Laredo, or the albergue in Liendo), and sped the extra money for a private room on some other day of your Camino.

Pictures from the stage

Few tips at the end

  • If you do not plan to camp outside, I strongly recommend you booking a place in Laredo in advance. There aren’t many pilgrims places around town, and this is a long and beautiful stage. It is much better enjoying it without unnecessary nerves, knowing that you have a bed for the night and do not have to race with other pilgrims.

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