The coastline near Deba northern Spain on a sunny day with clear blue skies

Zarautz to Deba: Camino Del Norte Stage 3

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Reading time: 16 minutes

Zarautz to Deba: Camino Del Norte Stage 3

Posted: | Updated:
Reading time: 16 minutes

Simon Kemp Camino de Santiago author

By: Simon Kemp, Editor

The coastline near Deba northern Spain on a sunny day with clear blue skies

Route Description

The third stage of the Camino del Norte route takes pilgrims from the coastal town of Zarautz to the fishing village of Deba. This section of the Camino offers stunning ocean views, rolling hills, and the opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage of the Basque Country.

Stage Distance

The distance from Zarautz to Deba is approximately 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), and the estimated walking time is around 5-6 hours, depending on the pace and fitness level of the pilgrim.

Detailed Breakdown of the Route

The stage begins in Zarautz, a popular seaside resort known for its beautiful sandy beach and promenade. From Zarautz, the route follows the coastline, passing through the small fishing villages of Getaria and Zumaia. Along the way, pilgrims will be treated to panoramic views of the Cantabrian Sea and the rugged cliffs of the Basque coast.

After Zumaia, the path turns inland, climbing gently through rolling hills and pastoral landscapes. The route passes through Itziar before reaching the final destination of Deba with it’s picturesque fishing harbor and historic center.

Changes in Terrain and Elevation

The terrain along this stage of the del Norte is primarily coastal and hilly, with some moderate ascents and descents. The highest point of the stage is around 200 meters (650 feet) above sea level, offering impressive views of the surrounding countryside and coastline.

Points of Interest Along the Route

Historical Sites:

  • The historic fishing village of Getaria, known for its association with the explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, the first person to circumnavigate the globe.
  • The Basilica of Santa María la Real in Zumaia, a Gothic-style church dating back to the 16th century.

Natural Features:

  • The dramatic cliffs and rock formations of the Basque coast, particularly the Flysch formations in Zumaia, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The lush, green hills and valleys that characterize the inland portion of the route.

Local Landmarks:

  • The picturesque harbor and historic center of Deba, a traditional Basque fishing town.
  • The Sanctuary of Itziar, a popular pilgrimage site dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Potential Challenges or Difficulties

While the terrain along this stage is generally moderate, there are a few potential challenges for pilgrims:

  • The coastal sections can be exposed to wind and weather, so proper clothing and footwear are essential.
  • The ascents and descents, while not overly steep, may be tiring for some.
  • The path can be rocky or uneven in places, requiring caution and good balance.

Rest Stops

Along the way, pilgrims will find several towns and villages where they can rest, refuel, and seek accommodation:

  • Zarautz: A popular seaside resort with a wide range of accommodation options, restaurants, and amenities.
  • Getaria: A fishing village with a few cafes and small hotels.
  • Zumaia: A larger town with a wider selection of lodging, eateries, and services.
  • Deba: The final destination of this stage, offering a variety of hotels, hostels, and restaurants.

Map of Zarautz to Deba

Depart fromt: Zarautz

Zarautz, a picturesque coastal town in Spain’s Basque Country, is situated 15km west of San Sebastián along the Bay of Biscay. For pilgrims on the Camino del Norte, it’s a welcome sight after the challenging 22km stage from Deba, which involves significant elevation changes. The town sits between the Cantabrian Sea and lush green hills, offering a diverse landscape for travelers.


Founded in 1237 by Fernando III of Castile, Zarautz has roots dating back to Roman times. Archaeological findings suggest it was an important Roman settlement. During the Middle Ages, it gained significance as a whaling port. Pilgrims can sense this rich history while traversing its ancient streets, some of which follow medieval layouts. The town’s coat of arms, featuring a whale, pays homage to its maritime past.

Natural Features

The crown jewel of Zarautz is its 2.8km-long beach, the longest in the Basque Country. For pilgrims, it offers a chance to rest tired feet in the therapeutic waters of the Bay of Biscay. The beach is also popular for surfing, hosting international competitions. Mount Talaimendi, rising 180 meters above sea level, provides panoramic views of the coastline and surrounding mountains for those with energy to climb. The Iñurritza Biotope, a protected coastal ecosystem, offers a unique natural environment with dunes and marshes.

Cultural Highlights

Zarautz offers pilgrims experience of authentic Basque culture. The local Euskera language is widely spoken, and traditional sports like pelota can often be observed. The town’s cuisine is a highlight, with numerous pintxos bars offering these Basque tapas. Local specialties include txakoli (a slightly sparkling white wine) and fresh seafood. The Photomuseum, dedicated to photography and cinematography is fascinating, as is the Science Museum.

Architectural Points of Interest

Torre Luzea, a 15th-century tower house,represents the town’s medieval past. The 16th-century Narros Palace, with its Renaissance style, offers a glimpse into aristocratic life. The Church of Santa María la Real, dating back to the 15th century, is a must-visit for pilgrims. It not only provides pilgrim stamps but also houses valuable artistic works. The modern Zarautz Eureka! Science Museum offers an interactive experience for those interested in science and technology.

Modern Amenities for Pilgrims

Zarautz caters well to pilgrims with various accommodation options. The municipal albergue, located near the beach, offers affordable beds for Camino walkers. There are also numerous pensions, hotels, and camping sites. Essential services like pharmacies, supermarkets, and banks are readily available in the town center. The local tourist office provides valuable information and assistance to pilgrims.

Pilgrim-Specific Information

Yellow arrows and scallop shell symbols guide pilgrims through the town, typically entering from the east and exiting to the west. Many pilgrims perform a symbolic foot-washing in the sea, a tradition dating back centuries. Local churches, including Santa María la Real, offer blessings to pilgrims. The beach provides a perfect spot for meditation or yoga at sunrise or sunset. The town’s location makes it an ideal rest day spot for those needing to recuperate before the next stage, Deba to Markina-Xemein.

Local Events and Festivals

While festivals may not align with most pilgrims’ journeys, they offer insight into local culture if timing permits. The San Pelaio festival in June features traditional Basque dances and music. The Zarautz Pro surfing competition in September attracts international surfers. The Zarautz Blues Festival in July offers a unique cultural experience for music-loving pilgrims.

Historical Background

Zarautz’s historical journey from a medieval fishing village to a key waypoint on the Camino del Norte reflects the broader cultural and spiritual significance of the pilgrimage route. The town’s ability to adapt and evolve while maintaining its connection to the Camino has created a unique blend of historical preservation and modern pilgrimage culture.

From a Camino pilgrim’s perspective, Zarautz’s rich history is deeply intertwined with the Camino del Norte, offering a glimpse into centuries of spiritual and cultural significance along the Basque coast.


  • Evidence of human presence since Upper Paleolithic period
  • Possible Roman settlement or trading post
  • Founded in 1237, granted town charter in 1344
  • Developed as a whaling and fishing port
  • Church of Santa María la Real: spiritual beacon for pilgrims
  • Hospital for pilgrims established in 1564
  • Visits by royalty and notable figures on pilgrimage
  • Briefly occupied during various conflicts
  • Transitioned from fishing town to popular summer resort
  • Railway connection in 1858 facilitated pilgrim access
  • Visited by influential figures like Miguel de Unamuno

As a pilgrim, walking through Zarautz connects you to a long lineage of travelers, from medieval times to the present, each contributing to the town’s ongoing Camino story.

Main Attractions & Points of Interest

From a Camino pilgrim’s perspective, Zarautz offers several significant attractions that blend spiritual, historical, and cultural experiences:

Iglesia de Santa María la Real

  • 15th-century Gothic church
  • Special blessings for pilgrims
  • Tomb of local noble Juan Ortiz de Zarauz
  • Bell tower with panoramic views (small fee)

Palacio de Narros

  • Houses Zarautz Museum of Art and History
  • Exhibits on local maritime history
  • Peaceful gardens for reflection

Torre Luzea (Tall Tower)

  • Part of Photomuseum complex
  • Rooftop terrace for old town views

Zarautz Beach

  • Longest in Basque Country (2.8 km)
  • Tradition of pilgrim foot-washing in the sea
  • Promenade for evening walks

Santa Barbara Hermitage

  • 16th-century chapel on Mount Talaimendi
  • Scenic 1-hour hike from town center
  • Panoramic coastal views

Pilgrim’s Office

  • Essential pilgrim services:
    • Credencial stamping
    • Route information
    • Accommodation assistance
    • Basic medical supplies
  • Small museum of pilgrim artifacts
  • Talks on Camino history and spirituality

Euskal Jaiak Cultural Center

  • Basque culture preservation
  • Exhibitions on traditional crafts

Mercado de Abastos (Town Market)

  • Local produce and specialties
  • Opportunity to interact with locals

Pilgrim’s Services

Zarautz is well-prepared to meet the diverse needs of pilgrims. Its infrastructure and services cater to travelers seeking rest, nourishment, and support on their journey. It is a welcoming place to rest after the previous stage you walked from San Sebastián to Zarautz .


A busy tapas bar scene from Zarautz
The busy Zarautz restaurant scene

Zarautz offers a variety of lodging options to suit different preferences and budgets:

  1. Albergues (Pilgrim Hostels):
    • Albergue de Peregrinos de Zarautz: A municipal hostel with 46 beds, offering basic amenities and a communal atmosphere.
    • Iturrikoetxea Aterpetxea: A private hostel with both dormitory and private rooms, featuring a garden and kitchen facilities.
  2. Hotels:
    • Hotel Zarauz: A 3-star hotel near the beach, offering comfortable rooms and a restaurant.
    • Hotel Alameda: Centrally located, providing modern amenities and easy access to the town’s attractions.
  3. Bed and Breakfasts:
    • Pensión Itxas Gain: A cozy guesthouse with sea views and home-cooked breakfasts.
    • Casa Rural Artetxe: A rustic farmhouse accommodation on the outskirts of town, offering a tranquil setting.

Many accommodations provide pilgrim-specific services such as early breakfasts, laundry facilities, and secure storage for bicycles.

Dining Options

Zarautz is celebrated for its gastronomic offerings, particularly its seafood and traditional Basque cuisine:

  1. Pintxos Bars:
    • Karlos Arguiñano: Owned by the famous Basque chef, offering innovative pintxos.
    • Bar Gure Txokoa: A local favorite known for its classic pintxos selection.
  2. Seafood Restaurants:
    • Restaurante Kirkilla: Specializing in grilled fish and seafood with ocean views.
    • Asador Bedua: Famous for its wood-fired grills and fresh catch of the day.
  3. Traditional Basque Eateries:
    • Elkano: A Michelin-starred restaurant known for its whole grilled turbot.
    • Etxeberri: Offering hearty Basque stews and locally-sourced meats.
  4. Cafés and Bakeries:
    • Pastelería Juliantxo: Perfect for breakfast pastries and coffee.
    • Cafetería Alameda: A popular spot for light meals and refreshments.

Many establishments offer “menú del peregrino” (pilgrim’s menu) - affordable, set menus designed to provide the calories and nutrition needed for the Camino.

Health Services

Zarautz is equipped to handle various health concerns that pilgrims might encounter:

  1. Health Center:
    • Centro de Salud de Zarautz: A well-equipped public health center offering general medical services.
    • Address: Calle Salbide, 5
    • Open 24/7 for emergencies
  2. Pharmacies:
    • Farmacia Gallo: Centrally located, stocking a wide range of medications and first aid supplies.
    • Farmacia Etxebeste: Offers extended hours and specializes in foot care products for pilgrims.
  3. Physiotherapy Clinics:
    • Centro de Fisioterapia Zarautz: Provides treatments for common pilgrim ailments like muscle strains and tendinitis.
  4. Podiatry Services:
    • Clínica del Pie Zarautz: Specializes in treating blisters, calluses, and other foot-related issues common among pilgrims.

Additional Services

  1. Tourist Information Office:
    • Located in the town center, providing maps, guides, and advice on the Camino route.
  2. Gear and Supply Shops:
    • Decathlon Zarautz: A large sporting goods store for any equipment needs.
    • Farmacia Gallo: Stocks hiking essentials like blister pads and electrolyte supplements.
  3. Transportation:
    • Zarautz train station: Connects to other coastal towns and San Sebastián.
    • Local bus services for exploring nearby areas or skipping sections of the route if needed.
  4. Laundry Services:
    • Lavandería Automatica Zarautz: Self-service laundromat open daily.
  5. Banks and ATMs:
    • Several banks in the town center, including BBVA and Kutxabank, with 24-hour ATM services.
  6. Post Office:
    • Correos Zarautz: For sending packages or excess gear ahead on the Camino.

Local Customs & Traditions

As a Camino pilgrim passing through Zarautz, you’ll see that this town is deeply connected to its Basque heritage.

Semana Grande

If you’re fortunate enough to visit in August, you might experience the Semana Grande festival. As a pilgrim, you’ll appreciate the lively atmosphere, with traditional Basque music and dance filling the streets. The festival provides an excellent opportunity to refuel with local specialties like bacalao al pil-pil and pintxos, perfect for replenishing your energy for the Camino.

Concurso de Aizkolaris

This annual lumberjack competition showcases the town’s connection to nature and its forestry roots. As a pilgrim, you might draw parallels between the strength and determination of the competitors and your own journey along the Camino.

Natural Beauty & Surroundings

As a Camino pilgrim, Zarautz offers a breathtaking respite along the Camino del Norte route. The town’s expansive golden beach provides a welcome opportunity to rest weary feet in the gentle waves of the Cantabrian Sea. The dramatic coastline, with its rugged cliffs and hidden coves, serves as a constant reminder of the pilgrim’s journey and the forces of nature that have shaped this landscape for centuries.

The promenade offers a chance to reflect on the day’s walk while taking in stunning views of the sea and distant Basque mountains. For pilgrims seeking a deeper connection with nature, the surrounding countryside presents numerous trails that wind through lush forests and rolling hills, echoing the footsteps of countless pilgrims who have traversed these paths before.

Practical Information

From a Camino pilgrim’s perspective:

Getting There

  • Zarautz is easily accessible on foot via the well-marked Camino del Norte (Northern Way)
  • Regular bus services connect Zarautz to nearby cities like San Sebastian and Bilbao

Best Time to Visit

  • Spring and summer offer mild weather and vibrant festivals
  • The Semana Grande in August is a cultural highlight
  • Year-round appeal with each season providing unique experiences

Pilgrim Considerations

  • Zarautz serves as an ideal rest stop or overnight location on the Camino del Norte
  • The town offers pilgrim-friendly accommodations and services
  • Coastal trails provide scenic walking routes for pilgrims
  • Local cuisine and hospitality cater well to tired travelers


  • Mild climate year-round
  • Spring and summer are most popular for pilgrims
  • Fall and winter offer quieter periods for reflection and solitude

Zarautz’s location, amenities, and welcoming atmosphere make it a valuable stop for pilgrims on the Camino del Norte.

Arrive at: Deba

Artist's impression of the rugged coastline at Deba, Northern Spain
Artist's impression of the rugged Deba coastline

Deba is a picturesque town situated along the Camino del Norte route. It is a significant stopover for pilgrims embarking on the centuries-old pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. This coastal town between the Cantabrian Sea and the Basque hills, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Deba’s origins can be traced back to the 12th century, when it was first mentioned in historical records as a fishing and trading port. Over the centuries, the town has played a crucial role in the Camino del Norte, providing shelter, sustenance, and spiritual nourishment to countless pilgrims on their journey.

With a population of around 5,500 inhabitants, the town maintains a delightful small-town atmosphere, where the local Basque culture and traditions are deeply rooted and celebrated.

Historical Background

Deba has a rich and storied history that is deeply intertwined with the Camino del Norte. As early as the 12th century, it was an important stopover for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela, with many historical accounts documenting the presence of pilgrims in the town.

One of the most notable figures to have passed through Deba was the renowned Spanish mystic and poet, St. John of the Cross, who is said to have spent time in the town during his pilgrimage in the 16th century. The town’s role as a hub for pilgrims continued to grow over the centuries, with the construction of several churches and pilgrim hostels to accommodate the influx of travelers.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Deba experienced a period of economic growth, with the development of its fishing and shipbuilding industries. Despite these changes, the town has remained steadfast in its commitment to preserving its rich Camino heritage, with numerous historical sites and landmarks.

Main Attractions & Points of Interest

Deba is home to a wealth of historical and cultural attractions that offer insights into the town’s Camino heritage and Basque identity. One of the most prominent landmarks is the Church of Santa María, a stunning Gothic-style structure that dates back to the 15th century. The church’s ornate façade and intricate interior details make it a must-visit for pilgrims and visitors.

Another significant site is the Hermitage of San Roque, a small chapel that was once a popular resting place for pilgrims. The hermitage’s serene setting and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside make it a popular destination for those seeking a moment of reflection and contemplation.

The town’s Pilgrim’s Museum, located in the historic center, offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and traditions of the Camino del Norte. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, view artifacts, and learn about the experiences of past pilgrims who have made the journey through.

Pilgrim’s Services

Deba is well-equipped to cater to the needs of pilgrims traveling along the Camino del Norte. The town boasts a range of accommodation options, including albergues (pilgrim hostels), hostels, and hotels, catering to various budgets and preferences.

For food and sustenance, the town is renowned for its delicious local cuisine, with numerous cafés, bars, and restaurants serving traditional Basque dishes, as well as international fare. Some must-try local specialties include the town’s famous pintxos (Basque-style tapas), fresh seafood, and the region’s renowned cider.

In terms of medical services, Deba has a well-equipped health center and several pharmacies that can provide assistance to pilgrims in need. The town also has a dedicated Pilgrim’s Office, where travelers can obtain information, stamps for their pilgrim’s passports, and other helpful resources.

Local Customs & Traditions

The town takes great pride in its Basque heritage and celebrates its cultural traditions throughout the year. One of the most notable events is the Fiesta de San Roque, a lively festival held every August in honor of the town’s patron saint. The festivities include traditional music, dance performances, and the popular “Tamborrada” drum parade.

Another unique custom is the “Txikiteo,” a social tradition where locals and visitors alike gather in the town’s bars and cafés to enjoy pintxos and share stories. This convivial atmosphere demonstrates the town’s warm and welcoming spirit, which is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Natural Beauty & Surroundings

Deba’s stunning natural setting is a true highlight for many pilgrims. The town is located between the Cantabrian Sea and the lush, rolling hills of the Basque countryside.

One of the town’s most popular attractions is the Flysch, a unique geological formation along the coastline that features dramatic cliffs and rock formations carved by the relentless waves of the Cantabrian Sea. Pilgrims can enjoy scenic walks and hikes along the coastal paths.

Inland, the town is surrounded by verdant hills and valleys, with numerous hiking trails and walking routes that offer a peaceful respite from the Camino. The nearby Urkiola Natural Park is a particular favorite, with its rugged peaks, lush forests, and tranquil streams.

Practical Information

To reach Deba, pilgrims can access the town via public transportation. The town is well-connected by bus, with regular services from nearby cities and towns along the Camino del Norte route. The nearest train station is in Zarautz, approximately 15 kilometers away, with connections to major hubs.

The best time to visit is during the spring and summer months, when the weather is mild and the town’s festivals and events are in full swing. However, the town can be enjoyed year-round, with each season offering its own unique charm and experiences.

Within Deba, pilgrims will find a range of amenities, including ATMs, supermarkets, and other essential services to support their journey. The town’s Pilgrim’s Office is a valuable resource for information, stamps, and any other assistance needed along the way.