The Camino Primitivo, or Original Way, is so called because it is believed to be the original route taken by pilgrims to Santiago. It is quieter, quicker and considered more demanding than the Camino Frances or the Camino Portugues as it crosses the rugged and diverse landscapes of the Asturias in Northern Spain. The Camino Primitivo joins up with the Camino Frances in Melide. This itinerary for cycling the Camino Primitivo follows the whole route as much as possible, over 11 days, staying in hotels, with luggage transfers. If you prefer to cycle more off-road, check out our 8-day version.
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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 hotel in one of the most central streets of the city.
- Accommodation: Hotel Fruela or similar
Day 2: Oviedo to Grado | 25km
In the morning you start cycling at San Salvador’s Cathedral in Oviedo following the Jacobean copper shells through narrow lanes in the city centre, then out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes, old footpaths and country roads take you past quiet villages and through the hilly countryside to Grado. If you have rented a bike, it will be delivered to your hotel in Oviedo in the morning.
- Cycling for the day: 25km, ↑515m
- Accommodation: Albergue La Quintana or similar
Day 3: Grado to Tineo | 56km
Today’s route begins with a challenge: 520m ascent before you arrive in Cornellana and San Salvador Monastery (11th century). 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 town centre.
- Cycling for the day: 56km, ↑1,270m
- Accommodation: Hotel Palacio de Meras or similar
Day 4: Tineo to Pola de Allande | 32km
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 (812m) 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.
- Cycling for the day: 28-32km, ↑475m
- Accommodation: Hotel La Nueva Allandesa or similar
Day 5: Pola de Allande to Grandas de Salime | 39km
In the morning you will have to tackle an elevation gain of 625m to reach Puerto del Palo. At 1,146m, 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 35km 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.
- Cycling for the day: 39km, ↑700m
- Accommodation: Hotel Las Grandas or similar
Day 6: Grandas de Salime to Fonsagrada | 32km
Again you start the day with an ascent, up to Alto del Acebo Pass at 1,030m (475m 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.
- Cycling for the day: 32km, ↑1,050m
- Accommodation: Hostal Cantábrico or similar
Day 7: Fonsagrada to Lugo | 60km
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 historic centre of Lugo.
- Cycling for the day: 60km, ↑650m
- Accommodation: Hotel Pazo de Orbán or similar
Day 8: Lugo to Palas de Rei | 43km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 43km, ↑600m
- Accommodation: A Parada Das Bestas or similar
Day 9: Palas de Rei to Arzúa | 30km
You first take a shortcut 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 10: Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela | 40km
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: 40km, ↑310m
- Accommodation: Alda Bonaval or similar
Day 11: Departure
After breakfast, your cycling trip comes to an end.
What to expect
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.
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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 your host will give you the best options.
Difficulty and terrain
This trip includes average cycling distances of 40km per day (except days 3 and 7) on a mixture of asphalt and dirt roads, with a maximum daily elevation gain of 1,050m. 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 more accessible (previous experience with e-bikes is essential). 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 early April until the end of October. The best months to visit are April-June and September-October, 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 200km 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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Our recommended airports for this tour are Asturias airport (OVD), Santander (SDR) or Bilbao (BIO). You can also arrive into Santander or Bilbao by ferry from the UK or to Bilbao from Ireland with Brittany Ferries.
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-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. You can also book your bus tickets in advance with us, upon request. You can also arrive into Santander or Bilbao by ferry from the UK or to Bilbao from Ireland with Brittany Ferries.
- 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.
- 10 overnights as detailed in the itinerary in private rooms
- 10 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers on all cycling days (1 piece up to 20kg per person)
- 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
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfersers
- Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Tourist tax and entrance fees (to be paid on the spot)
- Bike rental
- Personal expenses
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme
Options, extras and 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
- Bike rental
We offer the rent of hybrid and electro bikes (hybrid); mountain bikes and electric mountain bikes (not to be mixed). 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
- Bike model: GIANT, ESPECIALIZED or CUBE TOURING
- Bike Type: Hybrid trekking bike
- Frame: aluminium
- Wheels: 28″
- Gears: Adults bikes: 21 or 24 gears // Kids bikes: 7, 14 or 21 gears
- Suspension: Yes
- Frame sizes: (Adults): XS ,S ,M , L, XL
- Bike model: MMR KUMA 29
- Bike type: MBT
- Frame: Aluminium 6061-T6 double hydroformed crowned
- Brakes: Shimano MT-200 Hydraulic
- Tires: Hutchinson Python 2
- Bike model: Kalkhoff Endeavour MOVE B9 Trapez
- Bike Type: Electric
- Motor: Bosch Performance Cruise, 250 W
- Frame: 28 ” Aluminum Wave
- Battery: 500 Wh
- Autonomy: 180 km
- Technology: Shift-sensor technology for smooth shifting
- Wheels: Schwalbe Marathon Plus
- Sizes: S, M & L (Unisex)