The Camino Primitivo is also known as the Original or Primitive Way and dates back to the 9th Century. This is when King Alfonso II took this route to visit the remains of St. James, which were just discovered. It’s one of the most established routes that has been continuously traveled for centuries.
The Camino Primitivo starts at Oviedo (Uviéu is how you’ll see it spelled/pronounced in Asturias), the capital of Asturias, and goes west towards A Fonsagrada, in the province of Lugo. The Camino Primativo will wind to Palas de Rei and you’ll follow this to Melide, where it connects with the Camino Francés.
The route has great signage and crosses rich scenes on the outskirts of Asturias and Galicia. It scarcely experiences streets and keeps away from activity more often than not, which makes your pilgrimage a quiet walk in nature. The Camino Primitivo does have a little bit of everything: sections with challenging climbs, quiet paths, some streets, tiny villages, larger cities, and everything in between.
Advantages of Walking the Camino Primitivo
You will find the Camino Primitivo easy to navigate, thanks to the waymarked route. Be aware of the direction the shells in the concrete in Asturias and Galicia. In Asturia, the end of the shell points in the proper direction. In Galicia, the wider, open end of the shell points towards Santiago de Compostela.
Similar to walking the Camino de Invierno, the Camino Primitivo offers a lot of stunning and dramatic scenery through the mountains.
Small Towns All Along the Route
There tends to be a town every several miles, so you do have a fair amount of options to plan your stages, and take breaks when needed.
A balance of People and Solitude
If you want to meet other pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, but don’t want to deal with too many people, this can be a good route for you. It’s not as crowded as the Camino Portugués or the Camino Francés, and it doesn’t have the solitude of Camino de Invierno.
Disadvantages of the Camino Primitivo
The Route Can Be Difficult
This route can be hard on your knees. There are three climbs that go over 1000m in Asturias and then you have one more climb of 1150m in Galicia. You’ll come across hard surfaces and challenging mountain terrain.
How to Get to the Camino Primitivo
Oviedo is a medium-sized city, so you’ll have a lot of options to get to the start of the route.
Oviedo by Train
The best way to get to Oviedo is by train. Regional trains run from Bilbao, Santander, and Gijón. Trains also run from Madrid, Barcelona and other major cities through Renfe.
Oviedo by Bus
The bus station in Oviedo is located near the railway station. It is a major bus station, with several operators working there. Alsa, Alcotan, Autocares Hortal, Robles, and Pullmans Llaneza, have routes throughout the region.
Oviedo by Plane
Aeropuerto de Asturias is the nearest airport, about 40 minutes north of Oviedo. You can fly there from many destinations in Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Sevilla, Valencia, and Alicante. Elsewhere in Europe, you can get to Asturias from Lisbon, Paris, and London. Alsa operates the shuttle bus that will take you to Oviedo directly from the airport.