Camino Guide Part 3: Which Pilgrimage Route? – Camino Del Norte & Camino Primativo
The Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte offers a great maritime walking experience through Northern Spain. Starting in Irun, at the French border, the route runs parallel to the sea and passes through the stunning seaside town of San-Sebastián; the cosmopolitan Basque city of Bilbao; and the elegant city of Santander in Cantabria. The route of the Camino del Norte is 825km long. Pros: • Experience the beautiful coast of northern Spain. • Less challenging than the mountainous Camino Primitivo. • The way marking and infrastructure for pilgrims have improved a lot over the years. • Part of the Camino del Norte can travelled in conjunction with the Camino Primitivo making it 867km from Irun to Santiago de Compostela via Oviedo and Lugo. Cons: • The terrain is more challenging than the Camino Francés.
The Camino Primitivo
The Camino Primitivo is a wonderful route which offers tranquility and a challenge as it crosses the rugged and diverse landscapes of Asturias in Northern Spain. Originally an essential part of any medieval pilgrimage, diverting to the “Camara Santa” of Oviedo’s Cathedral was just as important as arriving at the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela. Starting in the coastal town of Villaviciosa then passing through Oviedo, the former medieval capital of the Kingdom of Asturias, you can gain a real feel for the medieval pilgrim at the beginning of this shorter Camino. It tends to be walked by those who already have a Camino under their belt and are looking for a more challenging experience. Spanning 322km (200miles) the Primitivo is considered an ideal shorter alternative to escape the traditionally busier Camino Francés. Pros: • Quieter alternative to the Camino Frances. • Physically demanding. Cons: • Some knowledge of Spanish is really recommended to get the most out of the Primitivo; many of your fellow pilgrims may only speak Spanish. • This route is not recommended for those who are uncomfortable walking along paths with steep climbs and descents. • The mountain terrain can be muddy and infirm. • Excluding the summer months, you are almost guaranteed snow covered landscapes and paths, which will be more challenging.