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Cycling the Authentic Camino Primitivo  The Natural Adventure Company 1

Cycling the Camino Primitivo: Oviedo to Santiago (10 Days)

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 merges with the Camino Primitivo in Melide, after Lugo. Our cycling itinerary follows this authentic route, which was very popular in the early Middle Ages when pilgrims aimed to avoid the constant conflict between Christian and Moorish kingdoms in Central Spain. Throughout this trip, the history and beauty of ‘España Verde’ will act as a backdrop for your pilgrimage, as you cycle through the surprisingly varied countryside of Asturias and Galicia.

The Camino Primitivo is a route which is a lot quieter 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. 

We have designed this cycling itinerary inspired by the original Camino Primitivo, following surfaced country roads with little traffic, riding parallel to the historical footpath. Of course, as you cycle, you’ll see all the major highlights and get a true taste of the special atmosphere enjoyed by pilgrims on the walking trail. However, if you prefer to cycle more off-road and ride on the walking trail wherever possible, you might be interested in our 8-day version of this tour.

Highlights

  • Great cycling through the gorgeous landscapes of Galicia
  • Exploring charming villages, friendly locals and traditional architecture
  • Enjoying pleasantly welcoming accommodation in rural surroundings or historical settings
  • Delicious regional gastronomy – locally-produced artisan cheeses and fresh garden produce and free-range meats
  • Green pastures, cool woodlands, rolling hills and some undulating hills
  • Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago; three cities with a great historical legacy

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Oviedo

Visit the Gothic Cathedral devoted to San Salvador and enjoy Oviedo’s charming historical centre’s lively atmosphere, with plenty of cafés, restaurants, bodegas, and cider bars. Accommodation in a modern 4-star hotel near the main train & bus station and 10min walk from the historical centre.

Day 2: Cornellana to Tineo | 33 km

In the morning, a taxi will take you to Cornellana, where you start cycling right at San Salvador Monastery (11th century). If you have rented a bike from su, you will first be taken to the bike rental shop to try out your bikes and make the necessary adjustments. To avoid the heavy traffic, you will not follow the original trail but make a small detour south via Soto de Los Infantes, through the beautiful Narcea River Valley before ascending to Tineo, a historical town on the Camino. Accommodation is at a 4-star historic hotel in the centre of town.

Day 3: Tineo to Pola de Allande | 32 km

Today you first visit the Romanesque church and Monastery of Obona. These monuments used to be part of an important cultural and intellectual centre for centuries. From here a succession of small churches and chapels leads you up to Lavadoiro Pass (812 m) before you descend to Pola de Allande, a lovely little town with Asturian flavour. Accommodation in a nice 2-star hotel famous for its regional cuisine.

Day 4: Pola de Allande to Grandas de Salime | 39 km

In the morning you will have to tackle am elevation gain of 625 m to reach Puerto del Palo. At 1146 m, the pass divides the green, wooded area of Allande from the vast, more barren mountains to the south. If the climb is too steep for you, you always have the option of walking your bike and enjoying the scenery. On the next section, you descend for 35 km to Lake Grandas; your destination is 4 km further ahead, at the top of a hill. Grandas is a pleasant town with a Romanesque church and ethnographic museum worth a visit. Lodging is in a recently renovated 2-star hotel with a good regional fare.

Day 5: Grandas de Salime to Fonsagrada | 32 km

Again you start the day with an ascent, up to Alto del Acebo Pass at 1030 m (475 m gain). Then you descend into Fonsagrada. Optional detour to the beautiful villages of San Martin and Santa Eulalia de Oscos, famous for their traditional architecture in dark slate. Once you cycle into Galicia, you leave the steep ascents and mountainous areas behind, moving into a gentle rural landscape, dotted with picturesque hamlets. The accommodation is at a cosy hotel in the centre of the small mining town.

Day 6: Fonsagrada to Lugo | 60 km

A relatively long tour today, with lots of prolonged downhill sections and only a few short ascents. The easy riding allows you to truly enjoy the Galician countryside, with exquisite traditional architecture such as the ‘Pazos’ and ‘Casas Grandes’, well-preserved country homes on large estates, all impressive buildings in stone and wood. At the end of the day, you reach Lugo, where the town centre merits a place on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List. Several interesting buildings are to be visited, including the Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and Baroque town hall and Palace. Outside the walls, there are Roman baths at the natural hot springs on the River Miño bank. Accommodation is at a 3-star hotel in the historical centre of Lugo.

Day 7: Lugo to Palas de Rei | 42 km

This morning you have time to visit the major monuments in Lugo before you get back on your bike for a relatively short ride. From Lugo onward, the Camino Primitivo merges with the more popular French Route, somewhere between Palas de Rei and Melide. There are several routes to choose from, to reach Palas de Rei. Accommodation with traditional Galician hospitality at a charming ‘casa grande’ in the countryside. 

Day 8: Palas de Rei to Arzúa | 30 km

You first take a short-cut to the Camino Frances, past the Castle of Pambre. Then, in Coto, you will find yourself joining many other pilgrims along the route, as everyone begins to feel the excitement as they near Santiago. Accommodation near the village of Arzúa, at one of the typical Pazos.

Day 9: Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela | 40 km

On your last day, you share the route, scenery and atmosphere with other pilgrims as you approach the Monte do Gozo (where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of Santiago) and then downhill to the St James Cathedral. The afternoon is free to spend exploring Santiago.

  • Cycling for the day: 40 km, ↑310 m
  • Accommodation: Alda Bonaval or similar

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast, your cycling trip comes to an end.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in very nice, comfortable hotels, located close to the route of the Camino. All of them have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to visitors, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality.

Click to view default hotels

Hotel Campoamor , Hotel Palacio de Meras, Hotel Nueva Allandesa, Hotel Las Grandas, Hostal Cantábrico, Hotel Méndez Núñez, A Parada Das Bestas, Pazo de Santa María, Alda Bonaval 

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 on all days. 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. You can have dinner either at the accommodation for the day or at some of the local restaurants, you can count that you host will give you the best options.

Difficulty & terrain

This trip is graded as easy to moderate, as it includes average cycling distances of 40 km per day (except day 6) on a mixture of asphalt and dirt roads, with a maximum daily elevation gain of 1050 m. To enjoy the cycling sections, it is recommended that you have some previous experience and are in good physical shape (read more about difficulty grades). You can also rent an E-bike, which makes the trip accessible practically to everybody. The routes are well waymarked, and the itinerary is easy to follow. We will also 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 April till the end of October. 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.

Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your route 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 tour in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have cycled the last 200 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!

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Asturias airport (OVD)Santander (SDR) or Bilbao (BIO).

By train or bus


Arrival in Oviedo

  • If you are flying to Asturias airport-Ranon (OVD), there’s a regular shuttle bus service to Oviedo city centre. Departures are once per every hour. Travel time is 45 min and a single ticket costs approx 8,00 €.
  • If you are flying to another airport (Santander-SDRBilbao-BIO or Valladolid-VLL), there are good bus connections to Oviedo from those cities. For timetables and reservations, go to www.alsa.es. You can also book your bus tickets in advance with us, upon request.
  • Direct taxi transfers can be booked in advance as well. Prices on request, depending on the size of the group. 

Departure from 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 30 min and to Bilbao 11 h 30 min.
  • Bus tickets can be booked online at www.alsa.es or through us, upon request.

Inclusions

Included

  • 9 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers on all cycling days
  • Taxi transfer on Day 2
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • Detailed maps and route descriptions in English (in digital format)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Lunches and dinners
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Tourist tax
  • Transfers by public transportation
  • Transfer to first/ from last accommodation
  • Bicycle hire or helmet
  • Personal expenses, such as drinks, phone calls, tips, extra transfers, etc

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, there is a solo traveller supplement to the standard price (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights before, after and during the trip (upon request)

Bike Rental

We offer trekking and hard-tail bikes with front suspension (100mm travel) and 24-27 gears, as well as E-bikes, suitable for the routes. Please note that a solo traveller rental supplement is applicable, in case you are not part of a group.

  • Each rental package includes a repair kit, pump and lock
  • Depending on the type of bicycle you can add (for free, but on request): map holder, 1 front pannier or 1 rear pannier
  • Helmet available (on request),  free for children

Sample bikes models: Cube Touring, MMR KUMA 29, Kalkhoff Endeavour MOVE B9 Trapez

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