Camino Primitivo de Santiago – 12 nights
In the steps of King Alfonso the ChasteBack to Routes
The old road
Grazing in the meadow
Approaching Melide the landscape softens
On the way to Campiello
The bridge at Arzua
A cross marking 'The Way'
A local grain store - an 'horreo'
Camino waymark at San Jorge
Thanks for the solid support. Everything was professional, and set a high bar for further walks we hope to do around Europe.
John and Joan Dean, Rocklin, USA - May 2019
A group of eight mature ladies walked 142 km to Santiago over six days. We stayed in a variety of local hotels or farmhouses, all with en-suite rooms, within a short distance from the well-marked Camino to Santiago route.
The additional information and local maps provided were clear and well used. Our hosts were all obliging, friendly and offered us different menus for breakfast and dinner. One was helpful and mended a walking pole for us too.
Anon - July 2018
Loved walking the Camino.
Surprisingly liked the insight into pilgrimage we gained at Casa Herminia - we also met people that night who we sometimes walked with on subsequent days, which was great.
Steven and Denise Watson, Chichester - September 2017
I'm still on cloud nine over this holiday.
We loved every bit of it, even the two 33-34 km days which were painful at the time, but the two casas at the end of them made us forget quickly! You've got the range and type of accommodation spot on. The luggage transfer worked well. All arrangements went according to plan.
Lisa Weatherall, Chesterfield - September 2017
At a glance
12 nights (11 walking days - missing first two walking days). Shortenable to 11 nights if you miss Campiello (see itinerary). For extra nights Oviedo, Lugo and of course Santiago are a must.
How much walking?
Full days: 14-33 km per day, 4-8 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 14-27km per day, or less with local taxi use.
In the steps of King Alfonso the Chaste (760-842 AD)
12-night version starting at Oviedo; walking starts at Salas.
This version misses out the first two walking days (compromised in any event by road construction), and the nights in Grado and Salas. For general introduction see 14 night version.
The grading of this walk (medium-hard) is more an attestation to the length of the days rather than ups-and-downs; the underfoot conditions are good in the main (prepared path for the final two days) and navigation via the famous scallop shells is easy. You can always shorten days by calling local taxis.
If however you wish to obtain a “Compostela” on completion you need to comply with various conditions, notably that the final 100km must be completed on foot, and that you are walking with a “religious or spiritual purpose”.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Mary and Debbie
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Spain, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Please read our summary of current regulations.
- The cathedral at Oviedo
- The “Hospitales” ridge walk
- Longarela – the prettiest accommodation on the route
- Roman Lugo, its walls, little streets and cathedral
- The Galician countryside
- Santiago – not only the cathedral and the pilgrim atmosphere but the beautiful old town too
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Pilgrimage, Villages and farms, History
Attaining the Compostela, extra nights in Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago. Specially good accommodation in Castroverde and As Seixas may also make an extra night worth considering.
Connoisseurs of On Foot Holidays should know that this walk is atypical in several ways. Firstly, by following an established route we have little control of scenery and accommodation, though in the former case you will enjoy the grandeur of the Asturian Hills and prettiness of the Galician countryside. However the choice of accommodation in some villages is very restricted, but where we can offer an upgrade (often involving a short transfer) we do.
Secondly, the route finding offers no challenges so our route notes are short (mercifully, some might say) and concentrate on the things to see about you. There are unfortunately some sections on asphalt, a few busier than one would wish; console yourself with the knowledge that the Camino Primitivo has the smallest percentage of asphalt of all the Ways.
Thirdly you will not be alone. While the Asturian section is not overly-used, after Melide (two-and-a-half days out from Santiago) the route merges with the Camino Frances and you will be with many others. Here is your opportunity to find out about what makes the other pilgrims do the Way (there are many different reasons); solitude is not an option.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 14-27km per day, or less with local taxi use.
Long days, but on well-marked paths and excellent signage. Highest point on route: 1200m. No vertigo issues.
Medium-hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 577m (300m-900m) per day.
Shortening options always available with local taxis (travelling with luggage not an option as these transfers are by carrier).
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
Best months to walk: May, June, September, October
Other possible months: April, July, August
The shorter option from Lugo to Santiago can be done at any time of year; the weather in the Asturian Hills limits the walking season for the rest of the walk as shown below. We recommend May-June for flowers and October for autumn colour and pleasant walking conditions. July and August should be avoided as it can be very hot and the crowd of boisterous pilgrims may overwhelm. Try to be in Santiago on a Friday evening to enjoy the pilgrims’ service in the cathedral, when the Botafumeiro is in full swing. Use the calendar below to see in more detail the best times to walk.
NOTE: Please be aware that some parts of the inside of the cathedral in Santiago are currently inaccessible due to restoration works. The daily Pilgrims’ Mass has been transferred to other churches nearby, and the famous botafumeiro (massive, swinging incense burner that is a feature of major services) is out of action. This is likely to continue into 2020, with a finishing date yet to be determined. If you wish to visit at Easter, the traditional street processions in Holy Week and Easter Week will still provide a spectacular end to your journey, though be prepared for the town to be busy.
Please note: date ranges shown are for a ‘normal’ year. While Covid-19 restrictions remain, please contact us to discuss your plans and availability.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Lugo
Day 1 - Arrive in Oviedo
Arrive in Oviedo, settle into your hotel and wander around the old town and cathedral before supper and a good night's sleep before you start your journey.
Day 2 - Transfer to Salas then walk to Tineo
After a thirty-minute transfer to historic Salas, walk up a wooded valley out of the town, with a detour opportunity for waterfall viewing, to meet a main road. About 1km of road follwos, then off to meet an under-construction road before finally arriving at La Espina. After La Espina (shops and bars) the Camino follows quiet country roads and tracks. Pleasant for the first hour and from La Espina, with wide views across the valley. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 19km, CUSs 650m) Shorten with local taxi to La Espina (Easy: 3 hrs, 11km, CUSs 300m)
Day 3 - Tineo to Campiello
A very short day starts with a fabulous walk out of Tineo and up to the ridge via a balcony route with great views south. Then down on tracks and paths towards the abandoned but atmospheric Obona monastery. The final stretch into Campiello is an unavoidable asphalt haul, but you will be warmly welcomed on arrival by the legendary Herminia. (Easy-medium: 3½ hrs, 14km, CUSs 300m).
Pre-arranged alternative: the short "Day 5", and the Campiello night, can be missed altogether with a lift from Tineo to either La Mortera for the high level Day 6 Hospitales route or to Pola for the lower level (perhaps bad weather) but equally enjoyable route, both joining at Puerto del Palo.
This shortens the route by one night.
Day 4 - Campiello to Berducedo - the Hospitales route
Campiello to Berducedo. Rightly feted as one of the Camino Primitivo’s best sections with a remote 3 hour walk up to 1200m, fabulous 360 degree views once on the ridge and 3 ruined ‘hospitales’ to ponder on. The descent from Puerto del Palo to Montefurado is also famous, for all the wrong reasons (steep underfoot) but it is short, and thereafter the day is pleasant and undemandingly rural. (Hard: 8 hrs, 27km, CUSs 800m, or 6½ hrs, 21km, CUSs 750m with local taxi at start)
Bad weather alternative: Local taxi at start to Pola for equally beautiful, route up to Puerto del Palo where the two routes join; (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 18km, CUss 800m)
Day 5 - Berducedo to Las Grandas
We suggest making an early start from Berducedo to enjoy the sun coming up over the ridge behind you, a late breakfast in a delightful cafe in the next village, lunch at Las Grandas hotel by the reservoir, and time to visit the very wonderful Ethnographic Museum in Las Grandas (not Mondays). (Medium-hard: 5½ hrs, 20km, CUSs 700m – no realistic shortening options)
Day 6 - Grandas to Fonsagrada
A day of two halves: the first often on an original Camino way through ancient woodland with small chapels to peer through their grilles at (always locked!). However, you are heading for the ridge which divides Asturias from Galicia. Down the other side is a potential lunch stop at Acevo’s old (and only) bar before the climb to ridge top Fonsagrada. Includes 2km main road walking. (Hard: 6 hrs, 26km, CUSs 750m OR local taxi to Acevo then walk – easy: 3 hrs, 12km, CUSs 300m)
Day 7 - Fonsagrada to Castroverde
One of the most pleasant days on the Camino Primitivo, with plenty of track and path walking and little asphalt, plus congenial bars to break up the day. Some of the scenery is very beautiful – wide ranging vistas from the ridge-top windmills, peaceful valleys where rural Galician life can be viewed. The day ends easily with a largely gentle, easy descent to Cadavo and another ascent to the little town of Castroverde from where you will be picked up by your hosts. (Hard: 8½ hrs, 33km, CUSs 900m or save 8 km at the end with a taxi from Cadavo (arrange/pay locally) – medium-hard: 6½ hrs, 25km, CUSs 650m)
Day 8 - Castroverde to Lugo
An undemanding day’s walk on good tracks and quiet (in the main) roads through gentle countryside and pretty stone villages, finally arriving in Lugo itself, one of the highlights of the camino. Massive and ancient stone walls surround the historic centre so be sure to leave enough time to explore. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 22km, CUSs 400m)
An extra night in Lugo provides a good break, and a chance to explore the old core of this Roman-walled town.
Day 9 - Lugo to As Seixas
This long day will be attempted in full only by those anxious to gain the Compostela, as the first half is almost entirely along unremitting asphalt, and occasionally busy too. For ordinary mortals a taxi to San Roman (pay locally) is best, from where the walking becomes more varied and there is still a good 16km to go. (San Roman to As Seixas Medium 4 hrs, 16km, CUSs 450m. Complete walk Hard: 8 hrs, 34km, CUSs 800m.)
Day 10 - As Seixas to Arzua
Gentle walking, for the first half to Melide on quiet asphalt, thereafter on well-prepared track. Although the day is long, the walking is very easy and the kilometres take care of themselves. At Melide (approximately half way) the popular Camino Frances joins, so be prepared for your peace to be broken, but also enjoy the opportunity to swap valiant pilgrims’ tales at the many bars along the way from now on. (Medium-hard: 6hrs, 27km, CUSs 500m OR with local taxi to Melide start easy-medium: 3½ hrs, 13km, CUSs 400m)
Day 11 - Arzua to A Rua or Pedrouzo
The penultimate day and an easy one at that so take your time to savour the walk and to stop at the many bars you will pass by today. The route manages to avoid a great deal of the main road but inevitably meets it from time to time, though never for very long. (Medium: 5¼ hrs, 26½km, CUSs 450m, less if starting from Arzua and/or ending in A Rua)
Day 12 - Journey's end - A Rua or Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela
So… take time to consider what brought you here today as you follow in the footsteps of countless pilgrims. The modern outskirts of Santiago de Compostela (and its noisy airport) arrive fairly swiftly, and the road then leads you into its medieval heart and, of course, your goal, the cathedral of St James. (Medium: 4½ hrs, 20km, CUss 400m)
An extra night in this extraordinary pilgrim destination seems a must. Despite its fame the town is extraordinarily pretty and there is a wealth of fine buildings, many visitable. Take time also to wander the old streets and do some shopping!
The end must come, and it is time to say goodbye to your fellow pilgrims.
ARRIVING AND DEPARTING BY AIR
If starting in Oviedo or Salas the best local airport is Oviedo (short shuttle to Oviedo only, or taxi transfer). Lugo/Castroverde starts can use either Santiago or A Coruña airports (2 hr+ bus transfers or taxi).
The most convenient departure airports for Lugo finishers are Santiago and A Coruña – Santiago finishers can additionally check Vigo flights.
Intercontinental flights would use Madrid – internal flights from there connect with all airports (or transfer by train – see below).
OVIEDO (for Oviedo starts)
Land by: 16:30 if using public transport (later arrivals possible, missing supper).
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (for Lugo/Castroverde starts, all finishes)
Land by: 13:00 if using public transport to Lugo
Return flight earliest: No limit
A CORUNA (for Lugo/Castroverde starts, all finishes)
Land by: 13:00 if using public transport to Lugo
Return flight earliest: 13:00
VIGO (all finishes only)
Return flight earliest: 13:00
Land by/return flight earliest times not applicable if using a pre-booked taxi
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway stations:
Start: Oviedo (for Oviedo or Salas), Lugo (for Lugo/Castroverde)
Finish: Lugo (for Lugo end), Santiago de Compostela
Madrid – Oviedo 4 hrs
Santander – Oviedo 5 hrs
Lugo – Madrid 6½ hrs
Santiago – Madrid 5½ hrs
Santiago – A Coruña 1 hr
Santiago – Vigo 1 hr
Getting to the start of the walk
Start points are Oviedo (full route) or Lugo (5-night route – Castroverde for 6-night Compostela version). 12- and 8-night routes can start optionally at Salas (missing Oviedo).
OVIEDO starts: infrequent but timetabled shuttle bus from Oviedo airport to Oviedo bus station (45 mins, ~€8) plus local taxi to hotel OR pre-booked taxi transfer from airport to first hotel. OR transfer from Oviedo train station: local taxi.
SALAS starts: Prebooked taxi transfer from Oviedo airport or train station.
LUGO or Castroverde starts: Direct bus from Santiago airport approximately every 4 hours (takes ~2 hrs), or from A Coruña airport (every 2 hrs, one change – ~ 3 hrs), then local taxi to hotel OR pre-booked taxi transfer from either airport to first hotel. OR transfer from Lugo train station: local taxi.
End points are either Lugo (8 or 10-night routes) or Santiago de Compostela (5/6, 12, or 14-night routes).
LUGO finishes: Local taxi to bus station, then see above for buses to Santiago or A Coruña airports OR pre-booked taxi transfers to either airport.
OR transfer to Lugo train station: local taxi.
SANTIAGO finishes: regular shuttle to Santiago airport. A Coruña airport can be reached by either train or bus, both involving change in A Coruña to local bus or taxi. Vigo airport – hourly bus (best – 1 hr) or train to Vigo then half-hourly shuttle to airport (or local taxi).
OR local taxi/walk to Santiago train station.
For all pre-bookable taxi prices, see “Prices”.
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.
Where You'll Stay
A wealth of different styles of accommodation from basic to more sophisticated, but all with en-suite facilities. Staying close to the Camino inevitably restricts choice and the only upgrade possibilities are in Lugo, Arzua, Pedrouzo, and Santiago, although you would be welcome to book your own hotel in Oviedo.
Oviedo – Hotel Vetusta (B&B)
Characterful hotel in the city centre where you are well looked after by the wonderful Marta.Website
Fonsagrada – Pensión Albergue Cantábrico (B&B)
Jolly pilgrims' hostal with bedrooms on the second and third floor. Excellent breakfast.Website
Castrovede – Casa Longarela (dinner, B&B)
Beautifully restored farm house with locally renowned cooking and a very warm welcome.Website
Cadavo – Albergue Pension Porta Santa (B&B)
Private rooms in a pilgrim 'albergue' - simple but comfortable, with a friendly host.Website
Lugo – Hotel Pazo de Orban (B&B)
Set in an 18th-century baroque manor house and a 3-minute walk from the Roman Walls of Lugo.Website
Palas de Rei – Casa da Ponte (dinner, B&B)
Simple accommodation in a lovely old farmhouse, quietly situated.Website
Arzua – Pension Luis (B&B)
Cheery and comfortable accommodation in a recently restored house.Website
Arzua – Pazo Santamaría (B&B)
Originally built in 1742, this manor house is set in the peaceful location just on the outskirts of town.Website
O Pedrouzo – O Muiño de Pena (B&B)
Set in a beautifully restored water mill this small family run hotel.Website
Total 12 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, luggage transfers, 3 evening meals, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £385
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £100
Maximum party size: 10
Extra nights in Oviedo (not 5 night version), Lugo, Longarela (not 5-night unless adding on), As Seixas or Santiago: Enquire – seasonal pricing
Taxi from Oviedo airport to Oviedo hotel or to Salas (all versions except 5-night): £50-60 up to 8 people (depends on time and day)
Taxi from Santiago to A Coruña airport: Enquire
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Route designed by:
Aznar Fernandez de Pinedo
Aznar was born and grew up in Bilbao, where he soon developed his love for nature (he is a keen naturalist), hiking and the rural environment in general. He studied Business and has worked for many years in multinational corporations in the IT sector, living in both Barcelona and Madrid. But in 2014 he decided to change his career to work on what he loves most.