Self-Guided. 12 days, 11 nights. 10 days walking
The oldest of all the Ways to Santiago is the “Camino Primitivo”, following the route taken in the early 9th century by the reigning Christian monarch Alfonso II to visit the recently discovered Apostle’s tomb. This was the beginning of the pilgrimage to the place now known as Santiago de Compostela.
From stately Oviedo, capital of the Principality of Asturias – starting point of El Camino Primitivo, you’ll hike 5 days on the most beautiful and interesting sections of this oldest of all Ways to Santiago between Oviedo and Lugo. Then you’ll hike another 5 days along the final 100 km from Lugo to Santiago de Compostela in order meet the requirement to qualify for “la Compostela” – the official pilgrim’s certificate on arrival at the holy city.
12 Days, 11 Nights
Several daily flights from Madrid, Barcelona and some other European cities, including London). Also daily connections by train and bus from Madrid.
Santiago de Compostela
Several daily connections to Madrid, Barcelona and certain European cities by air. You can also take a slow train to Madrid.
B+ / C+ (Moderate).
The ground underfoot is quite easy but most days are at least 5 – 6 hours of walking. Mostly gently rolling terrain with occasional steep ascents and descents. Surfaces range from hard-packed earthen paths and dirt or muddy farm tracks to ancient paved trails and quiet asphalted backroads.
Total 203 km/ 126 mi. over 10 days. Most days are about 5 to 6 hours of walking and shorter stages are possible on the sections before reaching Lugo.
In Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago we use quality 3* or 4* hotels in restored historic buildings in or very near the pedestrian-only zones of the old cities. Where we stay in rural areas along the Camino, we use 2* to 3* or equivalent small family-run hotels and rural inns in stylishly restored historic buildings, all rooms with en-suite facilities and modern fittings. All properties are personally chosen for their comfort, character, location and overall quality.
Any day of the week from April 1 to October 31
Note: Oviedo cathedral closed on Sunday afternoon
from 1 or more.
Oviedo – capital of Asturias, the “cleanest city in Spain”, with a beautifully conserved, pedestrian-only old quarter, and a UNESCO World Heritage cathedral containing relics that made it Spain’s second most important pilgrimage site after Santiago de Compostela.
Lugo – very important in the history of the Camino, the world’s best-preserved Roman walls encircling the old town and its impressive cathedral with the Holy Sacrament on permanent display combine to merit its UNESCO World Heritage.
Santiago de Compostela – 2 nights in one of the world’s great historic cities, its ancient granite-clad old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to Galicia’s regional government, one of Europe’s oldest universities and the magnificent cathedral that has drawn millions over the centuries like a magnet, it virtually buzzes with a unique energy and is a fascinating place to explore.
Asturias – a “principality” within Spain, this is the peninsula’s most mountainous region and the Camino traverses its most rural and isolated corner, home to western Europe’s largest populations of wolves and brown bears. Here, traditional lifestyles prevail, and the people are fiercely proud of their Celtic legacy and indomitable spirit – the Christian Reconquest of Iberia from the Moors began here with the 1st major defeat of the Moors at the Battle of Covadonga in 792.
Fewer pilgrims, wilder terrain and more authenticity – the first part of this Camino covers mountainous, remote and wild landscapes with relatively few towns and villages, chapels, churches and pilgrim’s refuges. The more challenging terrain and relative scarcity of services results in noticeably fewer pilgrims and a sense of authenticity often lacking on the much busier French Way.
Optional extra day(s) in Santiago
We recommend you spend at least 1 extra day and night in Santiago in order to best experience this magical city. There is plenty to see and do. We will provide recommendations.
Optional add-on at end of trip: self-guided excursion and hike to Finisterre
If you’re staying 1 or more extra nights in Santiago, consider an easy hiking excursion at Cape Finisterre (Land’s End), where many travelers traditionally ended their pilgrimage, a tradition dating from pre-Christian times. We’ll arrange for a private taxi to take you out there, where you’ll hike on our secret trails to the highest point of the cape and then down to the lighthouse. Return to the town of Finisterre for lunch by the waterfront and then return to Santiago. This is a fantastic final hike to your Camino experience! Great views, fascinating history. If you prefer not to hike, group bus tours are also available and can be arranged.
Optional add-on prior to Camino Primitivo: 2 days hiking on the coastal sections of the Camino del Norte in Asturias
If you have time, consider starting your trip 2 days earlier in Bilbao, capital of Spain’s Basque Country and home to the famous Guggenheim Museum. We’ll arrange for private transfers to take you westward along the spectacular Atlantic coast for 2 days of short but truly wonderful hikes on superb seaside trails of the Camino del Norte, linking rocky coves, sandy beaches and verdant green coastal meadows. Night 1 in Bilbao. Night 2 in Llanes. Night 3 in Oviedo (Day 1 of the standard trip described above). See more details here: 2 Nights – Coastal Highlights of the Camino del Norte