From Santa Marina to Luarca, Camino del Norte Stage no. 21




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Basic Details

  • Starting point: Small village of Santa Marina with a pension frequented by pilgrims (pilgrim friendly place with great prices, in the zone of small villages with a few pilgrim-friendly places).
  • Ending point: The city center of Luarca (1 pilgrim albergue and other accommodation options, an architecturally specific town of about 4,600 inhabitants with all services).
  • Availability of alternative routes: Not really, at least not any sing-posted or commonly traversed alternative. However, for the last 7.5 kilometers before Luarca, you can actually follow a small and little-traversed trail on the coast, that passes through some nice little-known beaches, especially in the zone of the village of Barcia, such as the Playa de los Molinos.  I made for you a map of this detour, and you can check it out (and export it as GPX if you like) here: the way with extra coastal variant before Luarca. The beaches in this zone are mostly stone beaches, and most of them aren’t easily accessible by car, which means few people go there. On some of them you can observe nice rock formations and on a sunny day this variant is definitely worth doing. Just keep in mind that the trail is often a narrow path, and in certain periods of the year it can be overgrown by grass in some sections. Nevertheless, for true coast lovers who want to know all beaches in the zone, it is worth following.
  • Distance: Official Camino route: 26 km (download GPS here).
  • Elevation difference: +600m, – 720m
  • Link to online map: here.
  • Difficulty score: 4/5
  • Beauty score: 3/5.
  • Terrain/asphalt: 40%/60% (for a big part of today’s walk you are in a close proximity of A8 highway–obviously not walking on it :)–but close enough to hear the traffic and everything; things improve significantly on the last few kilometers before Luarca).
  • Next stage: Camino del Norte, stage no. 22, Luarca – La Caridad.
  • Previous stage: Camino del Norte, stage no. 20 – Muros de Nalon – Santa Marina.


Elevation profile of the route

– As you can see, the stage is far more difficult than it may seem when looking at the map. Basically the first 9 kilometers there’s almost no flat terrain, you descend and ascend the small valleys between the small coastal villages, often crossing small streams. The only real relief are the last 8 kilometers to Luarca, which is practically all descent.


Advanced info about the stage

  • Trail marking: Generally really good, the only tricky stage is the entering of Luarca (and later existing it), since one can easily make a wrong turn in the maze of all little streets of this town. However, any street doing downwards you walk, it will eventually take you to the little port and the bridge you have to cross in the city center, to get to the pilgrim hostel or to continue further on the camino.
  • Natural places worth seeing: There’s nothing worth a special mention, at least for me, since I do not know all the beaches in this zone that well (that’s the task for the future :)). However, judging by the several beaches I know in this zone, they are mostly rocky, not-easily accessible by car, often deserted, and you can typically see many sea gulls hanging around and enjoying the freedom of the flight and free fall to the sea water. The only really touristic beach (with restaurants, parking places, sands and hordes of tourists in the summer) in the beach of  Cadavedo. Decent for both swimming and surfing and only a short 400 meters detour from the Camino, many pilgrims stop here for a break & a swim on a sunny day.
  • Historical, architectural, and culinary places worth seeing:
    • The city of Luarca, the ending point of today’s walk, has a specific black & white architecture of harmonic buildings descending all the way from the hill to the central fishing & pleasure port. Walking on the edges of the town, you’ll get a chance to take some great pictures on which the architecture really stands out. One special place in Luarca is the parochial cemetery, (see the “few tips at the end section” of this article), however morbid it mat sound :).
    • The railroad viaducts, see the gallery below for illustration. One cannot stop marveling at the beauty of Spanish architecture when it comes to roads and railroads and bridges. On today’s stage you can enjoy several beautiful viaducts, and you do not have to make any detour for that.
    • Cabo Busto, with the iconic lighthouse located at the edge of cliffs with pristine nature around. Busto as a little town is itself worth visiting, though probably excessively touristic for a typical pilgrim. The lighthouse is a 3.5 km detour from the Camino, but definitely worth visiting if you’re into lighthouses and locations that will steal your heart :).
  • Camping/bivouac options on this stage: Really good overall, in terms of both wild and organized camping options. Since this zone isn’t overly touristic, and you are never too far from the coast, and there are always both forested parts and grassy patches close to the coast, you can basically just head north from any point of today’s stage, and find some good and hidden spot to spend the night close to the coast. Definitely my favorite spot is Pico de La Pena, a little-known viewpoint, 900 meters away from Camino, over the dirt road, with benches to sit at and nice level ground and grass to pitch a tent. Since the access road is wide enough for cars to pass, you may sometimes (especially in August) encounter there someone sleeping in a camper van. But this isn’t necessarily a minus in my view–one may even feel safer if there is someone else sleeping nearby. Another godd spot closer to Luarca is the Playa de los Molinos de Barcia, where you can camp or bivouac near to the ruins of ancient mills, or directly on the beach (hard to reach though!). Again it isn’t a touristic spot and nobody should bother you there, especially if you find some good hidden location for camping. In terms of organized camping places, you will find two in close proximity to the ending point of today’s stage, Luarca:
    • Camping Los Cantiles: A stunning location, pilgrim friendly, they accept dogs (though they are not allowed to the bar area), good prices. However, when I was there the last time in 2023 the camping was closed in summer (temporarily), so make sure to call in advance and ensure it is open. It is located about 700 meters of the Camino.
    • Camping Playa de Tauran: Fantastic location with great beach and views (even from the tent), dog friendly, has some nice surprises on site (a small library, a sauna, just to give you an idea), and overall a great camping. The only downside is that the opening season is rather short (typically just from the end of June to the mid September), so make sure it is open, should you walk the Camino outside of the summer months. It is located about 1.5 kilometers away of the Camino, just after Luarca.
  • Dog friendly score: 4/5. Overall the stage is really good for dogs, since you will cross many small streams, the terrain isn’t monotonous at all, and even the roads you will walk on are really on the quiet side with little traffic, even in the summer. The only downside is that you won’t find any dog friendly accommodation in Luarca, and will have to either walk next 7 km to the small donativo albergue in Otur (which accepts dogs), or camp (which isn’t hard in this zone, see the paragraph above). For that reason I keep the rating at 4/5 – really good for dogs.
  • Special remarks: Even though Luarca is a touristic city, we are already quite far from the most touristic parts of Asturias. This means that here, all shops are closed on Sundays, even in the height of summer (in other parts of Asturias big shops are open on Sundays from mid June to mid September). That’s something you should keep on your mind if you rely on the town to stock on some provisions.


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. Albergue de Peregrinos de Cadavedo, Cadavedo (km 9). Location and reviews on Google maps here. One of the least expensive albergues on the entire way–5 euro only12 beds, early check-in from noon, until 10pm. Historically the place had rather negative reviews, but there are new people in charge since 2023, and certain things have improved. Of course, you cannot (and shouldn’t) expect great things for 5 euro, but I believe that for one night it is a decent place for a stay. It is also important to have albergues of this kind along the camino, for people who travel on a tight budget. Does not accept reservations, but you do not have to worry since it isn’t a popular place and more often than not you’ll get a bed.
  2. Albergue La Yalga, Queruas (km 15). Location and reviews on Google maps here. 21-25 euro/night, 16 beds in shared rooms, plus some private rooms (more expensive). A clean hostel with great reviews, not exactly a pilgrim place, but 90% of guests are pilgrims. Recommended especially in summer months, outside of the main season of May-October they may not accept you to stay for one night only (will require a minimum stay of two nights). Check-in from 3:30pm, recommended way of making a reservation: or phone call, +34 644 213 695.
  3. Albergue Villa de Luarca, Luarca (km 26). Location and reviews on Google maps here. 22 places, 14-18 euro/night. The albergue is very central and the installations are in good condition. The price isn’t too bad for the location. The only negative thing is a person in charge, who runs the place merely as a business, and doesn’t have any real connection to the Camino… This reflects on their communication (or lack of it) with the pilgrims, and also some strange behaviors, such as that they may cancel your reservation without any real reason, for example when you do not arrive until 4pm. In any case, speaking about “pilgrim” places, in Luarca this is the only one that can be considered as such. Check-in from noon, recommended way of making a reservation: phone call, +34 660 819 434.


Privacy/luxury options:

  1. Hotel Dabeleira, Luarca (km 26). Location and reviews on Google maps here. And excellent hotel, surprisingly good for 2 star rating. Frequented by pilgrims, spotlessly clean, lot of attention to detail. Prices start from 40 euro/night, but can go up a notch in the main summer season. Check in from 3pm to 9pm, recommended way of making a reservation:
  2. Finca Portizuelo, Barcia (km 24). Location and reviews on Google maps here. A heaven of peace next to the beach of Barcia, which is basically a village where rich people from Luarca move (or people from other parts of Spain buy a second residence here). Excellent reviews on all platforms, not a pilgrim place, but great for privacy and a bit of luxury on your Camino. Recommended especially if you decide to take a break in the zone and stay for two days. Prices from 100 euro/night, check-in from 3pm. Recommended way of making a reservation:

Pictures from the stage

– Even without making any detours, you will pass close enough to some nice rocky beaches, typically deserted in the morning, even in the height of summer.

– Some of the beaches in this zone or reachable only by a boat, unless you have some rock climbing experience and a lot of courage :). Still, they are nice to look at from high above.

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 🙂

– One of several beautiful viaducts you can observe on today’s walk. If you’re very lucky, you can even see a train there, on a little frequented railroad from Ferrol (the starting point of Camino Ingles, in the north of Galicia) to Oviedo (staring point of Camino Primitive and the capital of Asturias). It is hard to believe that such trains still do exist, but this slow train covers 250 kilometers in over 7 hours, and taking it is a must for every die-hard train lover. The scenery is pretty nice as well. Just for the records, there are only 2 trains per day 🙂

– The city of Luarca, with its characteristic architecture. The famous days of this traditional fishing town are long gone, but it still attracts plenty of tourists (and pilgrims) every summer.

Playa de las Arreas, no doubt the nicest beach in the zone of Luarca. However, it is reachable only by a boat. Or maybe I just couldn’t find a route down there. You can give it a try if you want :).


Few tips at the end

  • As morbid as it may sound, the parochial cemetery of Luarca is probably the nicest place to see in town. The graves with a nice little church and see in the background make for a perfect photograph. It is also one of the busiest cemeteries in Spain, since many tourists passing through the zone pay it a visit. Perhaps it isn’t only a bad thing–at least you won’t be afraid of the ghost of the past (or the future?), when you have some company on the cemetery.
  • The “pilgrim hostel” in Luarca doesn’t really have a great reputation. It is run by an owner of a nearby hotel, and while the location is great and the facilities are decent, the pilgrim spirit just isn’t there… Hence if you do not feel like staying in Luarca, or perhaps start walking from a later point than Santa Marina in the morning, I recommend you staying in an Albergue La Casa de Peregrino, in Otur, roughly 7 kilometers after Luarca. The albergue has only 10 beds but they accept reservations, and it is one of those places run in a spirit of traditional pilgrim hospitality (warm welcome, communal dinner, etc).

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