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Camino Primitivo in Style: Oviedo to Santiago  The Natural Adventure

Camino Primitivo in Style: Oviedo to Santiago

Overview

The Camino Primitivo, or Original Way, is considered to be the very first of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago and is believed to have been the route taken by King Alphonse II in the 9th century. The Camino Primitivo is also the link between the Northern Way, which starts in San Sebastian and ends in Oviedo, and the French Way, which the Camino Primitivo joins in Melide.

The Camino Primitivo is a Camino route that is both quieter and more demanding compared to the French Way or the Portuguese Way as it crosses the rugged and diverse landscapes of the Asturias in Northern Spain, where you will witness spectacular views of the Embalse de Salime, the River Navia and the surrounding mountains. It is highly recommended for those who have already completed the traditional Camino routes and a looking for a more challenging and rewarding walk.

This ‘In Style’ itinerary includes a selection of hand-picked charming guesthouses and family-run 3- or 4-star hotels (on some occasions – 2-star). Note that we have chosen not necessarily the most expensive or fanciest places but such with unique character, style and great service.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oviedo

Oviedo is the medieval capital of Asturias and also a delightful university town. If you arrive early, you can explore its many monuments and churches. Visit the Gothic Cathedral devoted to San Salvador, an important Saint for pilgrims going to Santiago. Enjoy the lively atmosphere in the old town centre with plenty of cafés, restaurants, bodegas and cider houses, just around the corner from your comfortable 4-star hotel.

  • Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Oviedo (Campoamor or similar)

Day 2: Oviedo – Grado | 24 km

Start your first walk of the Camino Primitivo, following the Jacobean copper shells through the narrow lanes in the city centre, then out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes and old footpaths will take you past quiet villages. From Puerma you continue along the main road to Grado. Start your first walk of the Camino Primitivo, following the Jacobean copper shells through the narrow lanes in the city centre, then out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes and old footpaths will take you past quiet villages. From Puerma you continue along the main road to Grado. From there, a short transfer will bring you to a charming rural hotel in Sama de Grado.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km, 6-7 hours, ↑250 m ↓375 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star rural hotel in Sama de Grado (Casa de la Veiga or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 3: Grado – Salas | 21.5 km

A short transfer will take you back to Grado. The first part of the route from Grado to Salas goes uphill, following narrow trails and country roads to Cornellana Monastery. Founded in 1024, it was of great religious and political importance throughout the early history of the Christian kingdom in Asturias. For the second part of today’s route, from Cornellana to Salas, you will have to take a few detours, as the motorway is still under construction here. Then descend to Salas.

  • Walking for the day: 21.5 km, 6 hours, ↑425 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation: rural hotel in Salas (Hotel Castillo Valdes or similar)

Day 4: Salas – Tineo | 20 km

After a short ascent through the beautiful fields outside Salas, you will again follow the main road further ascending for about 5 km and then leave it behind in La Espina. The next section on the way to Tineo takes you through quiet woodlands and fields on quiet country paths.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 6 hours, ↑575 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Tineo (Palacio de Meras or similar), breakfast included

Day 5: Tineo – Campiello | 18 km

After a hearty breakfast in Tineo, you will walk through woodlands to reach the peaceful village of Obona, with its historic Monasterio de Santa María la Real. Then you continue on to Campiello and your next accommodation, a welcoming family-run establishment.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6 hours, ↑500 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Campiello (Casa Herminia or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 6: Borres – Berducedo | 18-22 km

The taxi driver will take you to Borres to begin your walk along the original high route, or “ruta de los hospitales”, crossing steep slopes to reach the high pass of Puerto el Palo. Pilgrims’ hospitals were built here centuries ago – on either side of the mountain pass – due to the extreme weather conditions in winter. You will enjoy superb views on your way up. From the pass, you’ll continue for another 9.5 km – mainly on road – to reach your hostel in Berducedo.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 8-9 hours, ↑615 m ↓450 m or 18 km, 7 hours, ↑520 m ↓450 m (easier option)
  • Accommodation: albergue in Berducedo (Casa de Aldea Araceli or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 7: Berducedo – Grandas de Salime | 15 km

From the tiny village of Berducedo, the Camino first makes an ascent up to the windmills above La Mesa; then, it makes a steep descent down to Lake Salime. You’ll enjoy superb views for the first 5 km, then the lovely shade of chestnut trees as you walk down to meet the road. The last 2.5 km follow the tarmac road across the dam and up to your hotel in Grandas de Salime, overlooking the lake.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 6 hours, ↑330 m ↓970 m
  • Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Grandas de Salime (Hotel Las Grandas or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 8: Rest Day or Grandas – Castro | 5 km

After your first week on the pilgrimage, you may wish to take a day off to rest and relax. If you prefer to do a walk today, there are two routes to choose from: a short walk to the village of Grandas de Salime, where you can visit the ethnographic museum or take a dive in the local swimming pool (swimming cap required) OR a 5-km section of the Camino, from Lake Grandas to Castro where you can visit Chao Sanmartin, an interesting archaeological site of Celtic and Roman origin. You can book a taxi transfer back to the hotel (not included).

  • Walking for the day (optional): 5 km, 2-3 hours, ↑310 m ↓20 m
  • Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Grandas de Salime (Hotel Las Grandas or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 9: Castro – Fonsagrada | 20.5 km

A short transfer drops you off at Castro to continue your pilgrimage tour with a section that more or less follows the main road to Puerto del Acebo (1165 m), the gateway to the province of Galicia. You walk mostly on the main road, taking frequent shortcuts, especially on the descent down into Galicia. In the end, there’s one more short ascent to reach the village of Fonsagrada, said to have been the site of one of the miracles of Apostle St James.

  • Walking for the day: 20,5 km, 6 hours, ↑530 m ↓225 m
  • Accommodation: pension in Fonsagrada (Cantabrico Pension or similar), breakfast included

Day 10: Fonsagrada – Paradavella | 14.5 km

From Fonsagrada, you first descend to the village of Póboa de Burón to pick up the oldest Camino Primitivo trail, a high route across green pastures and fields of heather on the way to the ruins at Hospital de Montouto (another pilgrims’ hospital of medieval origin). After an easy descent to Paradavella, a taxi drives you back to Fonsagrada, as there is no other suitable accommodation nearby.

  • Walking for the day: 14.5 km, 5 hours, ↑400 m ↓650 m
  • Accommodation: pension in Fonsagrada (Cantabrico Pension or similar), breakfast included

Day 11: Paradavella – Castroverde | 20 km

After a short taxi transfer back to Paradavella (or a bit further), today’s route mainly follows rural tracks through wooded areas and open fields, with some short sections along the main road. After O Cádavo, you pass by Villabade (an interesting church) before finally reaching Castroverde.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 6 hours, ↑400 m ↓475 m
  • Accommodation: rural house in Castroverde (Casa Rural La Longarela or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 12: Castroverde – Lugo | 22 km

Today, you will enjoy the beauty of Galician countryside as you walk on quiet tarmac lanes and dirt tracks from one hamlet to the next, passing gorgeous examples of traditional architecture until you walk directly up to your modern 4-star hotel in the heart of Lugo’s historical centre, just 100 m from the splendid Roman walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 6 hours, ↑150 m ↓250 m
  • Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Lugo (Hotel Pazo de Orbán or similar), breakfast included

Day 13: Lugo – Ferreira | 26.5 km

From Lugo onward, several Caminos come together to join the main French Route (Camino Francés). Today you have a long walk to reach the next accommodation, situated in Ferreira. The first 20 km until O Burgo are practically paved and mainly uphill, but don’t worry because it is quite easy to hire a taxi in Lugo to shorten this stage! 

  • Walking for the day: 26.5 km, 8 hours, ↑200 m ↓200 m
  • Accommodation: rural house in Ferreira (Casa da Ponte or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 14: Ferreira – Melide | 20 km

Luckily, today’s stage is not as long as yesterday’s. However, the Camino starts and continues uphill until O Requián, and there is another climb until O Monte da Feira. Once there, the route will be a piece of cake until Melide!

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 5 hours, ↑280 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation: rural house in Melide (A Lúa do Camiño Guesthouse or similar), breakfast included

Day 15: Melide – Arzua | 14 km

Today you begin walking directly from Melide. You have now joined the French Route, or Camino Francés, the most popular of all the Camino variants. Suddenly, you find yourself among many pilgrims from all over the world as you follow trails, country roads and footpaths parallel to the main road. Much of the day is shaded, and shortly after Melide, you will walk through oak and eucalyptus forests. Relax on the river bank at Ribadiso before ascending to Arzua.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 4 hours, ↑150 m ↓200 m
  • Accommodation: rural hotel in Arzua (Hotel Pazo de Santa Maria or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 16: Arzua – A Rua | 19 km

Upon leaving Arzua, perhaps pick up some delicious cheese for lunch; then continue through the old quarter of the town as the walk leads past sturdy oak trees, which give way to lush meadows. Visit the medieval shrine at Santa Irene and the Baroque fountain of healing waters. Today’s walk parallels the main road and will enable you to make many new friends among the pilgrims going to Santiago.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 5 hours, ↑220 m ↓225 m
  • Accommodation: rural hotel in O Pino (O Acivro or similar), breakfast and dinner included

Day 17: A Rua – Santiago de Compostela | 20 km

Your final stage! You will walk mostly through rural settings and eucalyptus groves; you will pass the regional airport, cross the highway, railway track and ring-road around Santiago. Nevertheless, it’s still easy to imagine the sheer joy ancient pilgrims felt when they caught the first glimpse of Santiago and the spires off in the distance. At Monte del Gozo, pilgrims historically make one last stop at the spring in Lavacolla to wash face and feet before presenting themselves before the Saint at the Cathedral on Plaza del Obradoiro. Overnight in Santiago de Compostela.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 5 hours, ↑175 m ↓175 m
  • Accommodation: 2-star hotel in Santiago de Compostela (Alda Bonaval or similar)

Day 18: Departure

Arrange extra nights in Santiago or enjoy breakfast and then make your way to Santiago Airport. If you have time, explore the old city of Santiago de Compostela before you leave.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in charming rural hotels and guesthouses and 2/3/4-star hotels located close to the Camino route. They all have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. Some have a swimming pool. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. Note that we have chosen not necessarily the most expensive or fanciest places but such with unique character, style and great service.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) on all days, as well as 10 dinners. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty and reasonably priced pilgrim menus.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes walks of 19 km per day on average (the longest one is 27 km); the terrain is flat or hilly (read more about difficulty grades) without steep ascents or descents. You will follow a mixture of dirt roads, woodland paths, minor roads and some busier roads close to the bigger towns and cities. The routes are generally well waymarked, and the itinerary is relatively easy to follow, but please take care at intersections. There will always be other walkers around in case you are looking for help. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of April till the end of October. The best months to visit are April – June and September – October as in summer months it may become too hot (and crowded). The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are Asturias Airport (OVD)Santander (SDR) and Bilbao (BIO).

By train or bus

Arrival in Oviedo

If you fly to Asturias Airport-Ranon (OVD), there’s a regular shuttle bus service to Oviedo city centre. Departures every hour on the hour. Travel time is 45 min.

If you fly to another airport (Santander-SDRBilbao-BIO or Valladolid-VLL), there are good bus connections to Oviedo from those cities. For up to date timetables and reservations, go to www.alsa.es.

Departure from Santiago de Compostela

The closest airport is the one at Santiago de Compostela. If you’re travelling back to Asturias airport (OVD)Santander (SDR) or Bilbao (BIO), there’s a morning bus from Santiago that takes you to Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao. The trip to Oviedo takes about 8 h 30 min, to Santander 9 h 30min and to Bilbao 11 h 30 min. Bus tickets can be booked online at www.alsa.es

Inclusions

Included

  • 17 nights in charming hotels and rural houses in private en-suite rooms
  • 17 breakfasts
  • 10 dinners
  • Detailed digital holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure, and no printed documents are mailed or provided on-site
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Private transfers as per the itinerary (except the optional transfer on Day 8)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and 7 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Optional taxi transfer on Day 8
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the way (we recommend the rural hotels in Sama de Grado, Tineo, Castroverde and Arzua)

Compostela/Pilgrim Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your walk in the pilgrim’s office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants or hotels along the way. At the end of the walk in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have walked the last 100 km, finishing in Santiago).

Important: Due to the large influx of pilgrims during summer and to avoid long waiting times, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago has installed a numbered ticket system for issuing pilgrim certificates (the Compostela). This new system allows pilgrims to collect their ticket and, using a QR Code, to check the status of the queue and estimated waiting time to obtain the Compostela. However, the number of tickets per day is limited, so on days with high numbers of pilgrims arriving, there is a possibility that not all pilgrims will be able to collect their certificate on the day of arrival and will have to return for it on the following morning.

Therefore, if obtaining a pilgrim certificate is important to you, and if you plan to undertake the Camino between April 15th and October 15th, we recommend that you arrange the return travel in such a way that you will be in Santiago de Compostela during the morning after your arrival. Better still, we encourage you to book a second night in Santiago so that you can collect the certificate without rush and enjoy the charms of the city!

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