Highlights of the Northern Caminos: Camino Primitivo & Camino del Norte
A Guided Walking Trip – 12 Days & 11 Nights
The oldest of all the Ways to Santiago is the “Camino Primitivo” - the route taken in the early 9th century by the reigning Christian monarch Alfonso II to visit the Apostle’s recently discovered tomb. The “Camino del Norte” along Iberia’s northern coast came into use shortly thereafter and was used by many pilgrims to link up with the Camino Primitivo. Our exclusive itinerary starts with 4 days of hiking the most beautiful stages of the Camino in Asturias, including 2 days of spectacular trails on the “Camino del Norte” along the rugged Atlantic coast, before heading inland for 2 days on the wonderful forest and mountain paths of the “Camino Primitivo”. On reaching the Galician city of Lugo, we spend our last 5 days walking the final 100 km of the Camino Primitivo to Santiago in order meet the requirement to qualify for “la Compostela” – the official pilgrim’s certificate on arrival at the holy city. IBERIAN ADVENTURES has been running trips on this fabulous Camino route since the late 1990′s. NOBODY knows this route like we do. Join us and we’ll show you some of the many secrets of this oldest of all the Caminos!
DAY 1 - Bilbao
Welcome to Bilbao! Meet your trip leader and other guests in the afternoon for a short orientation meeting. Then, a walking tour to explore the area around the world famous Guggenheim Museum and Bilbao’s old town. Dinner at a typical Basque tavern, sharing “pintxos” – the local version of “tapas” – tasty morsels of varied kinds. Overnight: Bilbao – 4 star hotel convenient to the Guggenheim and old town.
DAY 2 - Cave Art, coastal trails of the Camino del Norte & Llanes
This morning we leave the Basque Country, transferring westward along the coast to the picturesque former whaling town of Llanes, in the “Principality of Asturias”. We stop en-route in Cantabria to visit a fascinating cave with prehistoric art – a UNESCO World Heritage site. After lunch by an old fish market, we take our first hike on the Camino de Santiago, along lovely clifftop trails linking sandy beaches and rocky coves. Overnight: 4 star historic hotel in the old quarter of Llanes.
DAY 3 - Coastal trails of the Camino del Norte & Oviedo
We explore the historic old quarter of Llanes before our next hike on the Camino de Santiago, more scenic paths crossing meadows, beautiful beaches and rugged coastline. In the afternoon, we transfer to stately Oviedo, capital of Asturias, then tour its Gothic cathedral and attractive old quarter. Overnight: 4 star hotel in the old quarter of Oviedo.
DAY 4 - Forest paths of the Camino Primitivo & Tineo
Today we head inland, for our 1st walk on the Camino Primitivo, farm tracks and country lanes through beautiful rolling countryside with sweeping views, into Tineo, one of the highest towns in Asturias and birthplace of Doña Isabel, first queen of Portugal and, Doña Ximena, the wife of El Cid. Our route ends with a visit to an abandoned 11h century Benedictine Monastery. Overnight: in 4* hotel in a 16th C. palace in Tineo
DAY 5 - Mountain trails of the Camino Primitivo & Lugo
One of the most challenging stages of the medieval Camino, this is perhaps the most spectacular in terms of scenery. Even now, this is one of Spain’s most uninhabited regions, home to roaming wild horses and wolves. We revel in our solitude as our path climbs among heather and gorse to an isolated pass where our efforts are rewarded with sweeping views (or swirling fog!) and further appreciation for the achievements of those early pilgrims. Transfer to Lugo (Galicia) Overnight: 4* hotel in Lugo
DAY 6 - Begin the last 100 km & San Román
Our day begins a visit to the Lugo’s impressive Gothic cathedral, and a walk atop the perfectly preserved 2nd C. Roman walls surrounding the old down town (UNESCO World Heritage). So it’s no surprise that the Camino Primitivo now follows an old Roman road all the way to Santiago, these days just quiet country lanes meandering through gentle green landscapes. Shortly after departing Lugo we pass the distance marker indicating just 100km to Santiago! Return to Lugo to sleep a 2nd night. Overnight: Lugo.
DAY 7 - Last 100 km & Merlan
Our route wends through tiny hamlets scattered among lovely rolling green Galician countryside, and we enjoy our last complete day of relative solitude in the knowledge that tomorrow we’ll merge with the bustling flow of pilgrims on the busy French Way. Overnight: a comfortable family-run inn at a lovingly renovated traditional Galician farm house.
DAY 8 - Last 100 km & Merge with the Camino Frances
Verdant hill and rural scenes accompany our steps towards Melide where we merge with the “Camino Frances”. The town is famed for its Pulpo a la Feira – tender morsels of boiled octopus drenched in virgin olive oil, sea salt and paprika, which we naturally taste for lunch. In the afternoon, an especially enchanting stretch of forest trail leads us to our lodgings. Overnight: a renovated family run 15th C. “pazo” (traditional Galician manor house).
DAY 9 - Last 100 km & Pino
Rural paths and country lanes lead through vegetable patches, fields and oak groves, then pine and eucalyptus woods as we near Santiago. Overnight: a renovated family run 16th C. “pazo” (traditional Galician manor house).
DAY 10 - Last 100 km & Santiago de Compostela
Quiet lanes and forest paths wend through increasingly populated countryside until we finally reach the Monte del Gozo—“Mount of Joy”, so named for the emotion of those who were rewarded with their first view of the cathedral spires. Now downhill, following in the footsteps of millions before you, until the magical moment of arrival at the impressive cathedral in the Plaza del Obradoiro – Santiago’s grandiose central square. Overnight: close to the magnificent Obradoiro square and cathedral, this 4* hotel in a beautifully restored wing of a working Franciscan monastery is a fine place to rest your weary bones. 1st of 2 nights.
DAY 11 - Santiago
An early morning tour of Santiago’s bustling market and the main squares surrounding the cathedral with a local licensed guide, finishing in time to attend 12:00 noon pilgrim’s mass. Lunch on your own and afternoon free to explore. We’ll meet in the evening for a celebratory supper at one of Santiago’s finest restaurants. Overnight: as on Day 10.
DAY 12 - Departure
Adios! If you’re flying out, it’s just a 15 minute transfer to the Santiago international airport. NOTE: If you aren’t in a hurry and want to see more of the area or another part of Spain, consider hiring a car and driving from Santiago along the northern coast back to Bilbao, or across the country to Madrid or Barcelona, Andalusia, etc. We can help you to plan your itinerary. Ask us!