Primitive Way | Camino de Santiago Primitivo

The Primitive Way or Original Way (known in Spanish as El Camino de Santiago Primitivo) was the first pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. At that time, nearly the whole Iberian peninsula was under the caliphs’ rule, but a tiny Christian kingdom remained unconquered protected by the mountains of Asturias. They started the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela following the hardest but most protective way crossing the heart of the mountains range.

Theoretically, the Primitive Way (Camino de Santiago Primitivo) starts in the Asturias coast, nowadays as a deviation of the Northern Way or Camino de la Costa. Some pilgrims who were following the Northern Way along the coast from the Basque Country, close to France, decide to divert their way towards the Primitive Way in the town of Villaviciosa. However, if you want to walk only the Primitive Way you can just start in the city of Oviedo, capital of Asturias (see the Primitive Way map below).

This Camino de Santiago is not long: it can be completed in around ten or eleven days but it is physically demanding with many ups and downs and with a wet and fresh weather, still, you’ll have the reward of walking through unspoiled nature, beautiful mountains, streams of fresh water and charming little old villages some times untouched by progress. The Primitive Way is, therefore, a Camino de Santiago for the physically fit pilgrims, for nature lovers and who doen’t mind – or are actually looking for – a bit of solitude since this is one of the less crowded Camino de Santiago. One final tip is to walk the Primitive Way well prepared with rain gear and preferably in the late spring or summer months.

Map of the Camino Primitivo:

View Camino Primitivo in a larger map

11 replies on “Primitive Way | Camino de Santiago Primitivo”

Hi, what are the possibilities for camping along the route? Either wild camping or outside alberges or anywhere really… Thanks!

Hi MBS, did you camp? I am going Camino Primitivo starting 01 April from Oviedo. I would like the option of camping on some nights. What did you do?

Anyone know where I can get a guidebook for the Primitivo? I’m just back from walking Sarria to Santiago, and regretting I didn’t start further back. Planning to walk the Primitivo in March 2018.

Tommy I hope you’re still planning on the Primitivo in a few weeks. And I hope you report back on camping along the way. Be safe out there & enjoy.

I did the Primitivo in Feb/Mar 17 and I used an app called Buen Camino. Its a brilliant app and I recommend it highly. Its not one of the cheapest apps about but it has offline maps, explanation, photos off the route etc. Worth the money in my opinion. If you don’t want to take or use electronics I’d recommend a book called The Northern Caminos. This includes all the northern routes , including the Ingles and Finisterre and Muxia routes as well. The app is available for IOS and android by the way. The Primitivo is considered the most beautiful of routes and is generally well marked. The Asturians take a lot of pride in their Camino route and as a result it’s enjoyable. Good luck.

Just did the Primitivo. Took 15 days since I spent time in Lugo.
I took the Hospitales route which was beautiful and long without services or water so prepare.
Saw some camping in the wild but be sure to find a Fuente , fountain, for water since they are not always frequent. No fires please since the route has been damaged near Grande Salime by wildfires.
Albergues vary in quality; 5 euro for mater de cristi in Tineo was spotless, alb. Camino Primitivo 5 euro and best 9 euro meal of my trip in berducedo. Great bar too. Best bar on trip was Casa Verde in the otherwise nothing way station of salcedo. Expect rain!
lots of suggestions if you need them. Buen camino.