From Santillana del Mar to Comillas, Camino del Norte Stage no. 12




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Basic Details

  • Starting point: The city center of Santillana del Mar.
  • Ending point: The city center of Comillas.
  • Availability of alternative routes: No. It may be tempting to think one can go to the coast and follow a trail along, but in this part the coast is very rough and steep, and in most parts there isn’t any trail there. Having said that, if you cannot resist the calling of the sea, you can make a detour to one of the viewpoints and then come back. But following the coast I something do not recommend for this stage.
  • Distance: Official camino route: 22 km (download GPS here)
  • Elevation difference: + 510m, -555m.
  • Link to online map: here.
  • Difficulty score: 3/5.
  • Beauty score: 4/5.
  • Terrain/asphalt: 10%/90% (I know, too much asphalt again, but at least today the roads are not busy, and to some of them cars never venture).
  • Next stage: Camino del Norte, stage no. 13, Comillas – Colombres
  • Previous stage: Camino del Norte, stage no. 11, Santander – Santillana del Mar


Elevation profile for route

– As you can see on the zig-zag chart, you will have plenty of small climbs and descent over this wonderful green countryside. However, when climbing the gradient is never higher than 6%, which means you won’t encounter any super steep climbs on today’s stage. That is one of the reasons why I give it 3/5 difficulty score. While not easy, it isn’t one of those stages that literally take your lungs away :).


Advanced info about the stage

  • Trail marking: As we get closer to Asturias, the signposting of the camino improves. All turns and twists are well marked on today’s stage, and since the roads are not busy and the noise of cars won’t take your focus away, this is one of the stages you can calmly walk without GPS.
  • Alternative route info: There is no alternative route available really, at least not one worth taking about.
  • Natural places worth seeing: All in all the entire day offers many nice spots, where you can just sit on one of the benches and marvel on the beauty of Cantabric countryside. For the first time you can see Picos de Europa in the distance, on your left side, at least from some spots. These mountains are beautiful to look at, and if you have a heart of a mountaineer you may feel a little trembling in your legs, but Camino de Santiago doesn’t go there. Just for your interest, if you ever wanted to make a really mountainous Camino, opt for a camino called Camino San Salvador. We may have a guide for that one too, but you have to wait a bit for that :). Besides the views of Picos and countryside, you may consider making a detour to a very famous viewpoint on the coast, called Mirador de Acantilado El Bolao. It is a touristic spot, and one of those places that attract people who come by car with children (you can park just 200 meters from it), but it still worth visiting it, for the sheer spectacle of the beauty and wildness of the Atlantic ocean, and the work of art only water and wind can create. The best way to reach the spot it leaving a Camino in a place called Barreda la Revilla, and the way is 1.8 km long. You can see it here.
  • Historical, architectural, and culinary places worth seeing: There is no lack of things to see, and places to visit, for any history and architecture lover. Santillana del Mar itself is something special (you can read more about it in the description of previous stage), but today two other cities stand out, Cobreces and Comillas, the ending point of your walk.
    • In Cobreces the historic center is rather small, but very impressive and seen from the distance, mainly because of the Monastery of Santa María de Viaceli and the church of San Pedro Advíncula, with its 30 meters high towers. That’s one of those places where almost every pilgrim snaps a picture :). There is also an albergue in town, and many pilgrims stay here especially during August, since Comillas is one of the most touristic cities on the entire Northern coast of Spain, and doesn’t have enough accommodation capacities for everyone, including the pilgrims (there is a great hostel in Comillas, called Huella del Camino, but it isn’t only for pilgrims, and in summer it often happens that the tourists take the entire capacity of the place). Hence pilgrims stay in Cobreces, and the next day either walk 40 kilometers to Colombres, or stay in San Vicente de la Barquera.
    • Comillas – Has a beautiful promenade, historic center, and a few buildings worth visiting. I especially recommend the Capricho de Gaudi, a luxurious villa with a very specific architecture, built by a famous architect Antoni Gaudi, for one of his rich clients, back in 1885. Just if you did not know, the most famous project of Gaudi is the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, visited by 4 millions people every year. Yep, that’s over 10,000 visitors daily, which makes from Sagrada Familia the most visited tourist spot in all Spain. Luckily in Capricho de Gaudi you won’t have to wrestle among the crowds. Even in summer months the place is relatively quiet, and you can enjoy the beauty and genius of this architect without constantly bumping to other tourists. The entrance fee is 7 euro, but as a pilgrim you can ask for a discount and get in for 5 euro. Besides Capricho de Gaudi there are other nice buildings and you can enjoy them just wandering through the streets of Comillas.
  • Camping/bivouac options on this stage: Since this zone is very touristic, any decent spot for wild camping on the coast, you’ll always have tourists, people in caravans, and so on, and so forth. To sum it up, I would not recommend wild camping on this stage. If you have to, however, the one place I would recommend is this viewpoint, just before Comillas. Since the way there isn’t signposted 99% of tourists won’t venture there, and you have some level ground to pitch a tent there, in relative privacy. But take this with a grain of salt, since Comillas is so popular with Spanish tourists in summer that more and more people come every year, and maybe the place isn’t as quiet as it was once I walked there by accident few years ago :). In terms of organized camping places, you have several options:
    • Camping Comillas: Wonderful location, right on the Camino, very close to everything, beach super nice. However, super crowded in summer, and you may not be able to get a place, even if you try to reserve in advance. It isn’t a cheap one either…
    • Camping el Helguero: Right on the Camino, beautiful location, three swimming pools. But far from the beach, and due to the location as a pilgrim (no car) you are dependent on their own restaurant and a small grocery store (overpriced). However, for one night it is good enough I believe.
  • Dog friendly score: 3/5. Average one. Not too bad and not too good. Again too much asphalt walking, but enough protection from sun, with many trees on today’s walk. And altough you walk on the roads, there are virtually no cars, so you do not have to be too worried about your beloved companion. The only downside is Comillas, which is dog unfriendly and you will find it super hard finding any accommodation that will accept you with the dog. You can always opt for camping, but remember that this camping  ground is super popular in summer, and you may not get a place when you arrive for the night (try to call and reserve in advance).
  • Special remarks: If you want to stay in the only hostel in Comillas (which accepts both pilgrims and tourists), you should make a reservation at least 2 days in advance. It is a very nice place to stay, and really the only affordable option in the entire Comillas.


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 Izarra, Caborredondo (km 6). Location and reviews on Google maps here. A wonderful donation-based albergue. Rarely gets busy due to the proximity of Santiallana, and it is a actually a good alternative if you cannot get a bed in Santillana (definitely can happen in the high season).  16 beds, check in from 3pm to 8pm. Communal dinner. Does not accept reservations, closed on Mondays.
  2. Albergue Viejo Lucas, Cobreces (km 12). Location and reviews on Google maps here. A huge albergue (former dormitory), with over 150 beds. Virtually never gets full, and it is a good option in high season on Camino del Norte when one struggles to get a bed elsewhere. Price from 17 euro/bed. Check-in from noon to 8pm. Recommended way of making a reservation: phone call, +34 625 48 35 96.
  3. Hostel La Huella del Camino, Comillas (km 22). Location and reviews on Google maps here. A wonderful hostel, in all means. The people in charge, the facilities, modern beds that offer good level of privacy, cleanliness of the place–everything great. It isn’t only for pilgrims, but 80% of guests are pilgrims, in some months it is close to 100%. 20 beds, price from 23 euros/night, breakfast included. Highly recommended, but also in high demand, it is advisable making a reservation two days in advance at least. Recommended way of making a reservation: phone call, +34 625 043 654, or


Privacy/luxury options:

  1. Fuente Real Apartment, Comillas (km 22). Location and reviews on Google maps here. An apartment with stunning reviews across all platforms. Ideal if you do a camino as a couple, or in a group of up to 4 people. Prices start at 200 euro/night for the apartment. The only two disadvantages are late check-in (from 5 pm), but based on reviews this can be negotiated, and a fact that you will find it hard to have to leave the place in the morning :). Recommended way of making a reservation:

Pictures from the stage

– As you can see on the pictures, this stage is very nice and green with both nature and architecture to marvel on. You will also encounter several places with benches, tables, water fountains etc. All in all, this stage definitely is “pilgrim friendly”.


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 🙂

Few tips at the end

  • If you stay in Comillas, make sure to visit the Capricho de Gaudi. It is definitely worth it. Contrary to many other museums/buildings in Spain which close on Mondays, Capricho is open daily.
  • If you walk the Camino anytime between 15th June and 15th September, and want to stay in Comillas, make sure to book your place in advance, ideally at least 2 days before arriving. Chances of getting a bed in the only hostel in the city just by arriving there on the day are close to zero :). The next affordable hostel is 11km away, and that’s not a little distance for a tired pilgrim…

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