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 so that depending on your riding style you can choose between following the Original Way’s mountain trails (more challenging and appropriate for a mountain bike) or take alternative routes, following surfaced country roads with little traffic, riding parallel to the historical footpath. In both cases, you’ll see all the major highlights and get a true taste of the special atmosphere enjoyed by pilgrims on the walking trail. If you prefer a more leisurely approach, you might be interested in our 10-day version of this tour.
- Great cycling through the gorgeous landscapes of Asturias and Galicia
- Old trails, Medieval villages and traditional architecture
- Welcoming locals and excellent gastronomy
- Charming accommodations in rural areas or historical settings
- Mountainous terrain, dense forests, green pastures and exciting mountain passes
- Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago; three cities with a great historical legacy
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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 10-min walk from the historical centre.
- Accommodation: Hotel Campoamor or similar
Day 2: Oviedo to Salas | 51 km
You start your pilgrimage following the Jacobean copper shells through the city centre’s narrow lanes, getting out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes, old footpaths and country roads take you through quiet villages and hilly countryside. You will get to Cornellana Monastery, founded in 1024; it was a centre of great religious and political importance throughout the Asturias’ Christian kingdom’s early history. After a rest stop, you will take on the last stage with some ascents and descents, until you reach Salas. Your hotel is located in the historical town centre, inside a former castle with a museum of Pre-Romanesque architecture next to it.
- Cycling for the day: 51 km
- Accommodation: Hotel Castillo Valdés or similar
Day 3: Salas to Pola de Allande | 49 km
You start cycling south, via Soto de Los Infantes, through the beautiful Narcea River Valley before you ascend to Tineo, a historically significant town on the Camino. As you continue èn route, you will pass by the Romanesque church and Monastery of Obona. These monuments, partly in ruins, formed part of an important cultural and intellectual centre for centuries. From here a succession of small churches and chapels will lead you up to Lavadoiro Pass (812 m) before you descend to Pola de Allande, a lovely little town with Asturian flavour. Default accommodation at a good 2** hotel famous for its local cuisine.
- Cycling for the day: 49 km
- Accommodation: Hotel Nueva Allandesa or similar
Day 4: Pola de Allande to Fonsagrada | 70 km
A tough day, since you have to climb 625 m this morning 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. But then, there is the reward; you will be able to `sail down´ the 35 km left to Lake Grandas, from where you will have 4 km to your final stop, located at the top of a hill. Grandas is a pleasant town with a Romanesque church and ethnographic museum worth visiting. Another steep ascent still awaits: Alto del Acebo Pass (1030 m, 475 m up), before you glide down into Fonsagrada, where your next accommodation is.
- Cycling for the day: 70 km
- Accommodation: Hostal Cantábrico or similar
Day 5: Fonsagrada to Lugo | 60 km
Once you cycle into Galicia, you leave the steep ascents and mountainous areas behind, moving into a gentle rural landscape, dotted with picturesque hamlets. This section is easier and will allow 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, Lugo awaits with its Roman walls, dating back to 3rd century, and many interesting buildings to be visited in the old town secluded inside these walls. Outside the walls, there are Roman baths at the natural hot springs on the River Miño. Accommodation is at a 3-star hotel in the historical centre of Lugo.
- Cycling for the day: 60 km
- Accommodation: Hotel Méndez Núñez or similar
Day 6: Lugo to Melide | 48 km
You might have some time to visit the major monuments in Lugo, and maybe do some shopping before you get back on your bike today. The Camino Primitivo merges with the more recent, but more popular French Route from Lugo onward, somewhere between Palas de Rei and Melide. The quiet lanes and paths get busier, and you will feel a stronger “pilgrim atmosphere” from here.
- Cycling for the day: 48 km
- Accommodation: Hotel Xaneiro or similar
Day 7: Melide to Santiago de Compostela | 54 km
On your last day, you will feel the excitement of a close arrival to the final goal. You will share the route, scenery and atmosphere with other pilgrims as you approach the Monte del Gozo (where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of Santiago) and then downhill to the St James Cathedral. Accommodation is at a charming hotel in the centre. The afternoon is free to spend exploring Santiago.
- Cycling for the day: 54 km
- Accommodation: Hotel A Tafona or similar
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast your cycling trip comes to an end.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in nice, comfortable hotels, located close to the route of the Camino. They all 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.
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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 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 moderate, as it includes average cycling distances of 60 km per day 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.
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.
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!
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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 are once per every hour. Travel time is 45 min and a single ticket costs approx 8 €.
- If you fly to another airport (Santander-SDR, Bilbao-BIO or Valladolid-VLL), there are good bus connections to Oviedo from those cities. For timetables and reservations, go to www.alsa.es or use the Omio widget above. You can also book your bus tickets in advance with us.
- 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.
- 7 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
- Luggage transfers on all cycling days
- Detailed maps and route descriptions in English (in digital format)
- Tracks for GPS devices or smartphone apps
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Lunches and dinners
- 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)
We offer trekking and hard-tail mountain bikes with front suspension (100 mm 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