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 16 day walking holiday covers the complete route between Oviedo and Santiago, staying in hotels and guesthouses, with luggage transfers.
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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 | 25km
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: 25km, 6-7h, ↑250m ↓375m
- Accommodation: A family-run hotel in Grado
Day 3: Grado – Salas | 22km
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: 22km, 6h, ↑425m ↓350m
- Accommodation: rural hotel in Salas
Day 4: Salas – Tineo | 20km
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: 20km, 6h, ↑575m ↓300m
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Tineo
Day 5: Tineo – Pola de Allande | 27km
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: 27km, 7-8h, ↑500m ↓300m
- Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Campiello
Day 6: Pola de Allande – Berducedo | 18km
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: 18km, 6-7h, ↑520m ↓450m
- Accommodation: albergue in Berducedo
Day 7: Berducedo – Grandas de Salime | 20km
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: 20km, 6h, ↑330m ↓970m
- Accommodation: 2-star rural hotel in Grandas de Salime
Day 8: Grandas de Salime – A Fonsagrada | 25km
Today’s section more or less follows the main road to Puerto del Acebo (1165m), 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: 25km, 6h, ↑530m ↓225m
- Accommodation: pension in A Fonsagrada
Day 9: A Fonsagrada – O Cádavo | 24km
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: 24km, 5-6h, ↑400m ↓200m
- Accommodation: pension in O Cádavo
Day 10: O Cádavo – Lugo | 30km
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: 30km, 7h, ↑150m ↓250m
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Lugo
Day 11: Lugo – A Ponte de Ferreira | 26.5km
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: 26.5km, 7-8h, ↑200m ↓200m
- Accommodation: a family-run hotel in Ferreira
Day 12: Ferreira – Melide | 20km
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: 20km, 5h, ↑280m ↓350m
- Accommodation: rural house in Melide (A Lúa do Camiño Guesthouse or similar), breakfast included
Day 13: Melide – Arzua | 14km
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: 14km, 4h, ↑150m ↓200m
- Accommodation: Pension Casa Teodora or similar in Arzúa
Day 14: Arzúa to O Pedrouzo | 19km
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: 19km, 4h
- Accommodation: A family-run hotel in O Pedrouzo
Day 15: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela | 19km
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: 19km, 4h
- Accommodation: Lux Santiago or a similar in Santiago de Compostela
Day 16: 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
Accommodation is in simple but comfortable hotels and guesthouses, located close to the route of the Camino. All of them have private or en-suite facilities and offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Important: We aim to book you into each town listed on the itinerary. However, in case of low availability, we may book you two nights in the same town with provided transfers. Also, on some occasions, your accommodation can be located a few kilometres away from the trail, so we organise transportation to/from your accommodation.
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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 (usually buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) 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. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty and reasonably priced pilgrim menus.
Difficulty and 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 mid-March till the end of October. 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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Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are Asturias Airport (OVD), Santander (SDR) and 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 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 Alsa or use the Omio planner above.
- You can also arrive into Santander or Bilbao by ferry from the UK or to Bilbao from Ireland with Brittany Ferries.
- If you are able to travel to Oviedo without flying, this holiday is reachable by rail with train stations in Madrid, Santander and Santiago de Compostela. For more details, see the national rail operator Renfe or use de Omio planner above.
Departure from Santiago de Compostela:
- There is a shuttle bus to the airport of Santiago from the centre of Santiago with different stops in the city. Check Freire for more details, or use the Omio planner above.
- From Santiago, there are regular train services to many destinations in Spain. For more information and tickets, visit Renfe or use the Omio planner above.
- You can also book private transfers with us
- 15 nights in private en-suite rooms
- 15 breakfasts
- Pilgrim Kit: Credencial (passport)
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 20kg 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
- Local tourist taxes & entry fees (payable on the spot)
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme
Options, extras and 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 (only if you have walked the last 100km, 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 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 15 April and 15 October, 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!