The Camino Primitivo, or the 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.
- Oviedo – Asturias’ capital
- The first and original Way of St. James
- Green throughout the year and impressive landscapes and authentic villages
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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.
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Oviedo
Day 2: Oviedo – Grado | 25 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.
- Walking for the day: 24 km, 6-7 hours, ↑250 m ↓375 m
- Accommodation: A family-run hotel in Grado
Day 3: Grado – Salas | 22 km
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: 22 km, 6 hours, ↑425 m ↓350 m
- Accommodation: rural hotel in Salas
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: a family-run hotel in Tineo
Day 5: Tineo – Pola de Allande | 27 km
This is not an easy stage, especially because it is one of the longest of the entire route, but the effort is worth it. 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 Pola de Allande.
- Walking for the day: 27 km, 7-8 hours, ↑500 m ↓300 m
- Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Campiello
Day 6: Pola de Allande – Berducedo | 18 km
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 hotel in Berducedo.
- Walking for the day: 18 km, 6-7 hours, ↑520 m ↓450 m
- Accommodation: albergue in Berducedo
Day 7: Berducedo – Grandas de Salime | 20 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.
- Walking for the day: 20 km, 6 hours, ↑330 m ↓970 m
- Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Grandas de Salime
Day 8: Grandas de Salime – A Fonsagrada | 25 km
Today’s section 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 A Fonsagrada.
- Walking for the day: 25 km, 6 hours, ↑530 m ↓225 m
- Accommodation: pension in A Fonsagrada
Day 9: A Fonsagrada – O Cádavo | 24 km
Your first fully stage in Galicia won’t disappoint. Much of the route is on dirt tracks, but even so, the scenic beauty is enviable. The first part of the route is with few ascents until Montouto, there begins a long descent and then up to A Lastra. You continue a little more until you reach O Cádavo.
- Walking for the day: 24 km, 5-6 hours, ↑400 m ↓200 m
- Accommodation: pension in O Cádavo
Day 10: O Cádavo – Lugo | 30 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 Lugo.
- Walking for the day: 30 km, 7 hours, ↑150 m ↓250 m
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Lugo
Day 11: Departure
Arrange extra nights in Lugo or enjoy breakfast and then make your way to Santiago Airport.
What to Expect
Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and comfortable hotels (1-star, 2-star and 3-star), located close to the route of the Camino. You will always have a private room and an en-suite (attached) bathroom. All accommodations have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Extra nights can be booked at any of the locations along the way.
*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.
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 30 km); the terrain is flat or hilly (read more about difficulty grades). 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 maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.
When to go
This trip is available from the beginning of March till mid-November. 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.
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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-SDR, Bilbao-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 Lugo
- Bus tickets can be booked online at www.alsa.es
- 10 nights in private en-suite rooms
- 10 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 20 kg per person)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
- 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)