Hiking & Walking Picos de Europa (8d) - Spain
Short walks of generally 3-4 hours plus optional day excursions; level or slightly hilly terrain using well kept paths.
2. Average/ Moderate
Easy day walks with more strenuous excursions. 4-5 hours per day in hilly to mountainous areas using well kept, sometimes stony paths.
Strenuous day walks or trekking in mountainous areas. 5-7 hours per day, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for one night; altitude differences between 1,500-3,000 ft. (500-1,000 m.) per day.
Serious excursions in high mountains, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for several nights. 6-8 hours per day; altitude differences up to 3,600 ft. (1,200 m.) per day. Only for those with an excellent condition and without fear of heights.
Easy cycling in nearly flat areas; Little or no experience needed. Approx. 20-50 km daily. Bicycles with up to 3 gears will do.
2. Average / Moderate
Nearly flat to hilly areas with the occasional short climb. Approx. 30-65 km daily. Bicycles with minimum 7 gears will do.
Strenuous cycling with some steeper climbs. Some experience needed. Approx. 30-75 km daily. Bicycles with up to 21 gears needed.
Serious and strenuous in mountainous areas. Slopes are longer and/or steeper. Good physical condition needed. Experience and a mountain bike needed. Approx. 30-80 km daily.
You can choose from 4 different levels of comfort, although most of our trips are rated 2 or 3 (or a combination of the two) on our accommodation scale. We try to provide en-suite rooms where possible but on occasions this may not be possible on some tours.
We are constantly looking for hotels, B&B’s, guesthouses and mountain huts that offer a special location, ambience or atmosphere that fits the trip. Accessibility to the route and personal hospitality of the owners are part of our choice of accommodations.
A hotel, a pension or a mountain hut with all the basic facilities. Most rooms have a shared bathroom.
Fine hotels or B&B’s with basic to moderate facilities. Almost all rooms have a private bathroom.
A 3-star hotel, B&B or guesthouse. Comfortable rooms with private en-suite bathroom and often air conditioning. Some accommodations might have a swimming pool.
A 4-star chateau hotel or guesthouse. The rooms are relatively large with en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. A warm welcome and a high quality are guaranteed. Some hotels have a swimming pool or sauna.
Explore one of the most fascinating, and still largely undiscovered, mountainous destinations in Europe, the Picos de Europa. You can decide the level of activity yourself during this marvellous self-guided walking holiday.
The Picos de Europa are, without a doubt, the most impressive mountains in Spain. A paradise of flower-filled meadows among limestone spires, of rushing rivers and deep gorges, of quiet woodlands and tiny mountain villages. This is one of the most fascinating, and still largely undiscovered, mountainous destinations in Europe.
This 8-day trip is based in the lush green province of Asturias, on the north side of the Picos. This active yet relaxing holiday provides an opportunity to explore an incredible variety of landscapes, doing easy or optionally more difficult day walks in the Eastern and Central Massifs. Optional ascent to the mountain refuge at the famous Picu Urriellu, world-class climbing mecca.
- Idyllic meadows, mysterious woodlands, wide glacier valleys, clear streams and stunning limestone formations, including the impressive Picu Urriellu
- Accommodation at pleasant family-run hotels in authentic Spanish villages in beautiful natural settings
- The famous peak "Picu Urriellu"
- Tasty regional cuisine made from the freshest local ingredients, including delicious Cabrales cheese and traditional apple cider
- An itinerary easy to combine with extra nights on the beautiful Asturian coast or at city hotels in Bilbao, Oviedo or Gijón
- Total distance: 69 km, 43 mi.
The indicated routes on Google Maps are approximate.
Day 1 Arrival in Arenas de Cabrales
Settle into your cozy hotel situated on a quiet lane of the village. If you have time, visit Santa Maria de Llas Church of Romanesque origin. For walking gear or special food items, Arenas is an excellent place to do your shopping. In the evening, try the local cider on an outdoor terrace.
Day 2 Circular hiking trip from Arenas
Distance: 9 km, 6 mi, ↑650 m, ↓650 m, 5.5 hrs. Ascent to the summer meadows of Nava, situated 500 m above the Cares River, with excellent views of the Picos. A strenuous but very rewarding walking tour, especially in early summer when the meadows display a multitude of brightly coloured flowers. Option of doing an alternative shorter walking trip to Vanu (Banu), through shady countryside at a lower elevation.
Day 3 Hiking trip: Arenas - Sotres
Distance: 9 km, 6 mi, ↑575 m, ↓250 m, 4 hrs. Short transfer to Tielve, one of the most authentic villages in this part of the Picos. Walk to Valfríu, where residents still produce the famous local blue cheese, Queso de Cabrales. Gradual ascent through a fairy-tale landscape of heather, old beech woods and streams to a col at 4,068 ft / 1,240 m, then down to Sotres (elevation: 3,444 ft / 1,050 m), one of the highest villages in the Picos de Europa.
Day 4 Circular hiking trip from Sotres
Distance: 13 km, 8 mi, ↑630 m, ↓900 m, 5 hrs. Circular walking tour through Ándara, the Eastern Massif, an area exploited by mining industries in the 19th century. A limestone landscape of sharp ridges, deep depressions and bottomless shafts. Brightly coloured alpine flora among the rocks. Good chance of seeing chamoix, vultures and different types of eagles. Several options to shorten or extend your walk.
Day 5 Hiking trip: Ascent to Vega de Urriellu
Distance: 11 km, 7 mi, ↑450 m, ↓700 m, 4.5 hrs. Walk up into the Central Massif, reaching an elevation of 6,561 ft / 2,000 m at the foot of the imposing Picu Urriellu (mountain refuge here). Return by the same route to Sotres.
Day 6 Hiking trip: Ruta del Urogallo o Valle de Áliva
Distance: 14 km, 9 mi, ↑950 m, ↓1,150 m, 6.5 hrs. A hiking tour through meadows and woods near the neighbouring village of Tresviso, where the very rare Urogallo, or local Capercaille, lives. Or alternatively up to 5,413 ft / 1,650 m through a glacier valley surrounded by sheep, horses and cattle, and soaring vultures.
Day 7 Hiking trip: Sotres - Arenas de Cabrales
Distance: 13 km, 8 mi, ↑335 m, ↓950 m, 5.5 hrs. Leaving the village of Sotres behind, you start off your hiking trip along farming tracks up to Pandebano Col (at 4,084 ft / 1,245 m). Your descent follows an ancient footpath through natural meadows and low vegetation to Bulnes, a truly authentic mountain village accessible only on foot or (since 2001) by funicular railway. Ride the train down to Poncebos or extend the walk through an impressive gorge where vultures nest. Taxi transfer to your hotel in Arenas. If the weather is not the best or you wish to rest your knees, you can walk the famous Cares Gorge today. Return by public bus or taxi.
Day 8 End of program
Departure from the Picos de Europa. Transfers to airports / stations can be booked in advance.
- 7 nights incomfortable hotel rooms with bathroom (for an image selection, please see Flickr)
- All breakfasts and dinners
- Luggage transport on days 3 and 7 according to program
- Transfers according to program (except optional funicular railway on day 7)
- 24-hour telephone assistance, just a phone call away
- Detailed maps and route descriptions in English
- Flights and public transportation
- Travel insurance
- Lunches (pack lunches can be ordered at the accommodations)
- Transport to first and from last accommodation
- Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not mentioned in the program
Optional services (to be booked in advance):
- Additional night(s) at any of the accommodations (please use booking remarks field)
- Airport arrival and/or departure transfers
- Single supplement
Walks of 4 - 5.5 hours, average ascent/descent of 550 m (if you choose the easier walks) or 750 m (if you opt for the more difficult routes). The hikes cover varied terrain following jeep tracks, wide paths, narrow footpaths and animal trails, with some steep ascents or descents. You will walk on gravel, loose rock, grass and dirt. When wet, paths may be muddy and slippery.
How to get there:
The best arrival and departure airport is Madrid.
From there you can take a direct train to Santander in about 4.5 hours. Then hop on the FEVE train to Unquera.
Tip: For online rail connections and reservations visit Rail Europe.