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.
- The first and original Way of St. James
- Green throughout the year and impressive landscapes and authentic villages
- Santiago de Compostela cathedral
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Day 1: Arrive in Lugo
This beautiful city features impressive city walls surrounding the historic centre, Roman baths and other monuments.
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Lugo
Day 2: Lugo – A Ponte de 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.
- Walking for the day: 26.5 km, 7-8 hours, ↑200 m ↓200 m
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Ferreira
Day 3: 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 4: 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: Pension Casa Teodora or similar in Arzúa
Day 5: Arzúa to O Pedrouzo | 19 km
The Camino will take you through pretty woods, sleepy villages and across streams for most of the day. The chapel of Santa Irene, with its unique statue of Santiago, is worth a visit. Along the route, don’t miss the lovely hamlet of Rúa. The rest of the route is along a mix of good and calm country roads and forest tracks.
- Walking for the day: 19 km, 4 hours
- Accommodation: A family-run hotel in O Pedrouzo
Day 6: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela | 19 km
Your final stage! You will walk mostly through rural settings and eucalyptus groves. Your next point of interest is Lavacolla in the outskirts of Santiago, where pilgrims used to wash in the river in preparation for their arrival in Santiago de Compostela. Rows of tall eucalyptus trees line your journey to Monte do Gozo, and it is from here that you will catch your first glimpse of the spires of the cathedral in Santiago. When you arrive in the city, explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s architecture and delight in the wonderful atmosphere of this spiritual and cultural city.
You should be in Santiago in time for the pilgrim mass (12 pm). After visiting Santiago Cathedral and recovering from your walk, take time to explore this gem of a city, small and vibrant. Its old town will enchant you. In Santiago the Compostela, you will find not only pilgrims but also locals and students enjoying a few bites and socialising over a glass of wine in the many bars, restaurants and cosy cafes.
- Walking for the day: 19 km, 4 hours
- Accommodation: Lux Santiago or a similar in Santiago de Compostela
Day 7: 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
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 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 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 Lugo
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
- 6 nights in private en-suite rooms
- 6 breakfasts
- Pilgrim Kit: Credencial (passport) and Vieira (shell)
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 20 kg per person)
- Guided tour of Santiago de Compostela (old town)
- Galician cheese tasting in Santiago (not on Sundays)
- 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)
You need to get your 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,
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 tickets 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 rushing and enjoy the charms of the city!