A Self-Guided Trip. 9 days, 8 nights. 7 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 2 of the most beautiful and interesting sections of this oldest of all Ways to Santiago between Oviedo and Lugo, and then 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
9 Days, 8 Nights
Several daily flights from Madrid, Barcelona and some other European cities, including London. Also daily connections by train and bus from Madrid, Bilbao and León (on the Camino Francés).
Santiago de Compostela
Several daily connections to Madrid, Barcelona and certain European cities by air. Train to Madrid. We can arrange private transfers to Oporto or Lisbon (Portugal).
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 144 km/ 89 mi. over 7 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 4* hotels in great locations in the pedestrian-only zones of the old cities. In rural areas, we use the best available, mostly 2* to 3* or equivalent, small family-run hotels and inns. All properties have en-suite bathrooms and are personally chosen for their comfort, character, location and overall quality, with a preference for stylishly restored historic buildings. Good food is also a must!
You can start on any day of the week.
Note: Oviedo cathedral closed on Sunday afternoon
from 1 or more.
Oviedo – capital of Asturias, declared 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.
Oviedo, declared “cleanest city in Spain”, has a beautifully conserved, pedestrian-only old quarter with attractive squares and pleasant safe streets. The city has several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Holy Chamber of the Gothic San Salvador cathedral with relics that made it Spain’s second most important pilgrimage site after Santiago de Compostela. Optional guided tour of the cathedral and surrounding area available.
Overnight: 4 star hotel in the old quarter of Oviedo.
Meals: we include no meals on arrival day
Today you’ll begin walking the Camino Primitivo! A short transfer, then start hiking along farm tracks and country lanes through beautiful rolling green countryside, into Tineo, perched high on a verdant hillside with sweeping views of oft-snow-capped mountains to the south. The town is birthplace of Doña Isabel, first queen of Portugal and, Doña Ximena, the wife of El Cid. Continue on to an abandoned 11h century Benedictine Monastery. Short transfer back to Tineo to spend the night.
Hike: 19.8 km / 12.3 mi. Shorter stages are possible.
Overnight: in 4* hotel in a 16th C. noble home in Tineo.
Meals: Breakfast included.
One of the most feared stages of the medieval Camino, this is perhaps the most spectacular in terms of scenery and probably the most physically challenging. 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. At end of stage, transfer to Lugo. Optional guided tour of Lugo’s impressive Gothic cathedral, and a walk atop the perfectly preserved 2nd C. Roman walls surrounding the old down town (UNESCO World Heritage).
18.2 km / 11.3 mi (+750 m / 2641 ft
– 350 m / 1148 ft elevation gain & loss). A shorter stage with less elevation gain is possible.
Overnight: 4* hotel in Lugo (1st of 2 nights)
Meals: Breakfast included.
Given Lugo’s Roman history, 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.
Hike: 19.6 km / 12.2 mi.
Overnight: as on day 3.
Meals: Breakfast included.
The Camino Primitivo wends along mixed forest trails through tiny hamlets scattered among rolling green Galician countryside. It’s a short stage, allowing you to explore Lugo in the morning if you like and/or enjoy relaxing at our luxurious inn, one of the best on the Camino.
Hike: 14.6 km / 9 mi
Overnight: a comfortable family-run inn at a lovingly renovated traditional Galician farm house.
Meals: breakfast & dinner.
Verdant hill and rural scenes accompany our steps towards Melide where we merge with the Camino Frances – the “French Way to Santiago”. The town is famed for its Pulpo a la Feira – tender morsels of boiled octopus drenched in virgin olive oil, sea salt and paprika. In the afternoon, an especially enchanting stretch of forest trail leads us to our lodgings.
Hike: 25.3 km / 15.7 mi
Overnight: a renovated family run 15th C. “pazo” (traditional Galician manor house)
Meals: breakfast & dinner
Rural paths and country lanes lead through vegetable patches, fields and oak groves, then pine and eucalyptus woods and excitement mounts as we near Santiago. A short transfer to the inn.
Hike: 24 km / 14.9 mi
Overnight: a renovated family run 16th C. “pazo” (traditional Galician manor house).
Meals: breakfast & dinner.
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. Although dinner is not included, we’ll provide recommendations and can reserve you a table to eat a celebratory evening meal at one of Santiago’s finest restaurants.
Hike: 23 km / 14.3 mi
Overnight: close to the magnificent Obradoiro square and cathedral, this 4* hotel in a beautifully restored wing of a working monastery is a fine place to rest your weary bones.
The trip officially ends with breakfast at your hotel. If you’re flying out, it’s just 20 minutes by taxi to Santiago international airport. If you have an afternoon flight, in the morning you could visit Santiago’s bustling market and attend 12:00 noon pilgrim’s mass. There is also an option for an early morning tour of the main squares surrounding the cathedral with a local licensed guide.
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