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Camino de Santiago / Highlights of the Camino Primitivo & Camino del Norte

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13394
10 days, 9 nights, Guided
Max People : 12
Iberian Adventures > Destinations > Guided Trips > Camino de Santiago / Highlights of the Camino Primitivo & Camino del Norte
Tour Details

A Guided Trip – 10 Days & 9 Nights. 7 days walking.

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 3 days of spectacular trails on the “Camino del Norte” along the rugged Atlantic,  days of hiking the most beautiful stages of the Camino in Asturias, , 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 2 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! 

Trip Dates:

15 & 22 April, 20 & 27 May, 16 September, 21 October

Private dates available on dates of your choice for groups of 2 or more. Just ask!

Meeting Point:

Santander – several daily connections from Madrid by air, rail or bus.

Difficulty & Terrain:

B+ / C- (Easy to Moderate)

The ground underfoot is quite easy with mostly gently rolling terrain & occasional steep ascents. Surfaces range from hard-packed earthen paths and dirt or muddy farm tracks to ancient paved trails and quiet asphalted backroads.

Daily distances & times:

14.5 – 24.5 km / 9 – 15 miles.

Most days are about 5 to 6 hours of walking. Daily distances might seem challenging, but completing this itinerary is well within reach of anyone who maintains a moderate level of fitness!

Accommodations:

In Santander, 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 mostly 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.

Group size:

Minimum: 4            Maximum: 12

Price:

Discounts for 3 or more persons

2023 DEPARTURES (prices for 2023 are pending confirmation)

3050 € per person in a twin or double bedded room

415 € single room supplement

 

EXTRA NIGHTS IN SANTANDER

90 € per person in a twin or double bedded room.

60 € single supplement.

 

EXTRA NIGHTS IN SANTIAGO

90 € per person in a twin or double bedded room.

145 € single supplement.

Extra night prices include breakfast and taxes.

Highlights

Santander: located in a privileged location, surrounded by wide open spaces and beaches, Santander became popular among the Spanish monarchy and gentry at the end of 19th century. Highlights are the palace of La Magdalena, the streets around the Puertochico -where some of the best and authentic restaurants for sea food and Cantabrian gastronomy are- and the historic building of Mercado del Este, no longer a farmers’ market but an interesting place to sip some wine and eat delicious quick bites!

Oviedo: dubbed the “cleanest city in Spain”, with a beautifully conserved, pedestrian-only old quarter, and a 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.

Coastal Camino Trails: this trip features 3 days of hikes on the coast of Cantabria and Asturias, some of the most beautiful walking terrain in all of Europe. Scenic paths, beautiful sandy beaches, rocky coves, green pastures and gorse and heather clad clifftops.

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.

Santiago de Compostela: 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.

Itinerary

Day 1Santander

Welcome to Santander! Meet trip leader and other guest in the afternoon for a short orientation meeting. Walk to explore the peninsula of La Magdalena, the Sardinero beach and Puertochico. Tapas dinner at a typical tavern.

Overnight: Santander – 4 star hotel facing the ocean.

Included: dinner.

Day 2Transfer to Santillana del Mar & Coastal Trails

This morning we leave Santander, transferring westward along the coast to the small picturesque village of Santillana del Mar, which holds the status of National Monument due to its great artistic value. Warm up walk to explore the Costa Verde along verdant green meadows and stunning ocean cliffs. On clear days, amazing views of the Picos de Europa – only 20 km inland – can be seen. We will enjoy lunch at a seafood tavern with ocean views.

Overnight: Santillana del Mar – 3 star hotel.

Included: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 3Altamira Cave Art & Transfer to Llanes. Coastal trails of the Camino del Norte.

After, breakfast we’ll take a short walk to the site of Altamira, a fascinating cave with prehistoric art. Closed due to conservation reasons, only 5 lucky people are now allowed to enter per week, with slots awarded in a draw. We’ll visit therefore the excellent replica and the Museum. The Altamira cave contains the first Paleolithic art to be discovered in Europe in modern times, which radically changed the perceptions of Stone Age people. The concept of Paleolithic cave art had remained rather unrecognized and nothing like it had been seen before. The images on the ceiling and walls of the Altamira Cave simply did not fit with archeologist’ perceptions of primitive gatherers’ abilities. Recent studies show that the cave paintings are at least 20,000 years older than previously thought and thus date back to at least 40,800 years ago, in the early Upper Paleolithic. This indicates that this first artistic activity in Europe was possibly produced by Neanderthals.

We will then transfer to the nearby Principality of Asturias to continue exploring the Coastal trails, scenic beaches and coves. After lunch in a tavern by the port in the picturesque former whaling town of Llanes we will take another hike on the Camino de Santiago along lovely clifftop trails linking golden sand beaches and rocky coves.

Overnight: Llanes – 3 star historic hotel in the old quarter.

Included: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 4Coastal 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. After lunch at a beach bar, we transfer to stately Oviedo, capital of Asturias. Guided tour of its Gothic cathedral, Pre-Romanesque Holy Chamber (UNESCO World Heritage), and attractive old quarter.

Overnight: Oviedo – 4 star hotel in the old quarter.

Included: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 5Forest trails of the Camino Primitivo & Tineo

Today we head inland, for our first walk on the Camino Primitivo, the oldest of all the Camino pilgrimage routes. Farm tracks and country lanes through beautiful rolling countryside with sweeping views into Tineo – one of the highest towns of Asturias, in the hills above the Narcea river valley. Some notable historical figures hail from Tineo, such as of Doña Isabel – first queen of Portugal – and Doña Ximena, the wife of El Cid. After lunch we continue through dense forest until we reach an abandoned 11h century Benedictine Monastery.

Overnight: Tineo – 4 star hotel.

Included: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 6Mountain Trails of the Camino Primitivo & Roman Walls of Lugo

One of the most challenging stages of the medieval Camino, this is perhaps the most spectacular section of the Camino Primitivo 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, our efforts are rewarded with 360-degree sweeping views (or swirling fog!) and further appreciation for the achievements of those early pilgrims. We enjoy the scenery and drop by a nearby hamlet for lunch. Then transfer to Lugo, which has some perfectly preserved 3rd century Roman walls(UNESCO World Heritage). Tour of the walls and catedral.

Overnight: Lugo – 4 star hotel in Lugo.

Included: breakfast and lunch.

Day 7Celtic hill fort and begin the last 100km

We visit a nearby prehistoric Celtic hill fort settlement, one of the most well-studied in Galicia. Continuous archeological excavations have slowly unearthed a Celtic village that survived the Roman conquest. We continue on the Camino Primitivo, the route wends through verdant hills, tiny hamlets scattered among lovely rolling Galician countryside. This will be our last day of relative solitude, as we’ll soon merge with the busy French Way in Melide.

Overnight: a comfortable family-run Galician manor house.

Included: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 8Last stretch to Compostela & free time in Santiago

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.

Time to explore on your own the squares surrounding the cathedral and sit down for a relaxing lunch. If you’d like, you can rejoin the group for a tour with a local guide and attend a pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral. You may even get to witness the swinging of the Botafumeiro, one of the largest censers in the world (53 kg). Dinner is on your own tonight, allowing you more time to explore the wonders of the city.

Overnight: Santiago – close to the magnificent Obradoiro square and cathedral, this 4 star hotel is in a beautifully restored wing of a working Franciscan monastery.

Included: breakfast.

Day 9Cape Finisterre & free time in Santiago

A day trip out to the Atlantic coast, where you’ll hike on “pagan” Camino trails to the highest point of the cape and then down to the lighthouse. For millennia, this was the most western point in mainland Europe – where the Sun sunk into the ocean. This is a fantastic final hike to your Camino experience! Return to the town of Finisterre for lunch by the waterfront and then back to Santiago.
Meet in the evening for a celebratory dinner at one of Santiago’s finest restaurants.

Overnight: same as day 8.

Included: breakfast and dinner.

Day 10Departure

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!

No accommodation

Included: breakfast.

Map

Photos