Hiking 8 Days 8+ People Difficulty: Medium Season: spring to fall


The Picos de Europa are located within the central zone of the Cantabrian Mountain range, in Northwest Spain. They are split across the three provinces of Cantabria, Leon, and Asturias and they comprise three major massifs: the western or Cornion, the central or Urrieles, and the eastern or Andara. This tour will feature hikes in all three of these massifs.

Millions of years ago there was a shallow sea where the mountains now stand. The Alpine orogeny is the process by which the Cantabrian Mountains formed as the Iberian and Eurasian tectonic plates collided, forcing the sea bed upwards to form the sharp summits of these contemporary mountains. The majority of this process occurred at the end of the Late Mesozoic Era, approximately 66 million years ago, although the mountains are still forming slowly today. 70,000 years ago the last ice age began and glaciers carved the Picos de Europa into polished U-shaped valleys. More recently, water has eroded and carved the surface of these valleys into spectacular formations, to create the impression of a vast piece of natural artwork. The resultant breathtaking deep, narrow and vertical chasms throughout the Picos de Europa can be disorientating for hikers travelling without a guide. In addition to the surface erosion, the interior of the mountains also has huge galleries and deep caves that have been formed by the Karst process, where highly soluble limestone has been eroded over millennia by running water.

The abruption of this mountain range from the surrounding landscape has enhanced the preservation of some remarkable species of flora and fauna, such as the brown bear, the Iberian wolf, and in contenporary times the Lammergeier, thanks to an ongoing reintroduction proyect.
For many centuries humans have also been making their mark on this natural masterpiece, with traditional extensive farming, villages in inaccessible and remote locations, and even mines in inhospitable places. Nowadays, the Picos people mostly make their living from tourism and farming. This is typified in the local production of some very well known cheeses, such as Cabrales. Thus, supporting sustainable tourism is vital to help maintain the essence of this unique place and we will have the opportunity to visit some traditional cheese factories, as well as enjoying the natural world, during this eight-day tour across the Picos Natural Park.

This tour will have a maximum group size of 8 people plus one guide.


The group will be arriving in Santander or Bilbao Airport and, depending on the flight schedule, we will briefly visit the city before heading out to the mountains. We will travel through the spectacular Hermida gorge, to our first Hotel, called the Hotel Picos de Europa, in Arenas de Cabrales within the province of Asturias on the north side of the Picos de Europa. Here we will have our tour briefing and enjoy an excellent dinner whilst getting to know each other.
DAY 2 DAY 2 Covadonga Lakes
The Picos de Europa is the oldest National Park in Spain, created over 100 years ago and the Covadonga Lakes were the very first area to be protected. Located in the western massif, they comprise two beautiful lakes of sparkling water, surrounded by vertical peaks, of which Santa Maria de Enol is the most impressive. Beech woods mixed with grassland and alpine meadows dotted with traditional sheep pens, called “majadas”, create a picturesque insight into a remote way of life from a bygone era, framed by the huge surrounding peaks of this unique region. Depending on the time of year, we will park by the famous Covadonga Basilica and adjacent Holy Cave and use public transport to take us up to the Covadonga Lakes. On our return from the walk, we will spend some time visiting the spectacluar Bascilica and Holy Cave. Both are Roman Catholic sanctuaries; the cave, which was formerly a site of Pagan worship, is extremely beautiful and contains a chapel and sacred well. We will then return to our hotel for a refreshing local cider next to the river,before dinner. Length: 9,42 km / Elevation gain: 238m / Time: 5 hours
DAY 3 Caseton de Andara
After an impressive drive from our hotel in Arenas de Cabrales to the very top of the road in the mountains, we will start our hike in the Jitu Escarandi, and will walk up to an old miner’s hut that now has been turned into a mountaineer’s hut called Caseton de Andara. From there, in the heart of the Eastern massif, we will explore the valley and if the conditions are suitable we will climb up to San Carlos ridge, for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. After that we will descend to Sotres, for a little coffee break in the charming pastoral village. Then we will visit Queseria Maín, a local cheese factory that produces the famous traditional Cabrales cheese. We will visit the Queseria Main cave where the cheese is matured and we will have a tasting session accompanied by a wonderful local Asturias cider. Afterwards, we will return to the hotel in Arenas for dinner. Lenght: 15,24 km/ Elevation gain: 917 m/ Time: 7 hours
DAY 4 Llames hike and transfer to the second hotel in Potes
Today we will stretch our legs with a short and gentle circular walk from the village of Llames in Asturias, along the beautiful coastline. We will explore the bufones de Pria, an astounding blow-hole in the cliffs, where we may hear the powerful sounds of the waves breaking within. The cliffs we will be walking along form part of the North Coast “Camino de Santiago” pilgrim route, on its way to Galicia. After the walk we will drive to the nearb fishing port of Llanes, where there will be time to explore this medieval walled town and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch. In the afternoon we will drive back up high into the Picos de Europa mountains, ascending via another pilgrim route, the Camino Lebaniego. This Camino runs from the coast up to the 12th centuary monastery of Santo Toribido de Liébana. The monastery is one of only five places on Earth where Christians may receive perpetual indulgances, a reduction to the amount of punishment one must undergo for one’s sins. The monastery’s relics include what is said to be part of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified, which is housed in a spectacular gold case encrusted with gem stones. We will have time to visit this beautiful monastery, as well as the nearby town of Potes, which is the capital of the Liébana region. In Potes, there will be an opportunity to explore the shops and buy souvenirs, such as local wooden artisanal crafts, local books and maps of the region. We will then make our way to our second hotel, the Hotel del Oso in Liébana, with fabulous views over the Liébana Valley. There will be time to relax at the hotel before dinner, enjoying a good drink as well as a dip in the swimming pool for those that wish. Length: 4,21 km/ Elevation gain: 40 m/ Time: 2 hours
DAY 5 Fuente Dé – Fuente Dé
Today we will venture out for the most spectacular of our hikes. A 15 minute drive will take us to Fuente Dé in the Central massif of the Picos de Europa. From here we will take a cable car and ascend to 750m. We will now be over 1800m above sea level and we will enjoy spectacular views of the central massif from the top of the cable car, affording an excellent photo opportunity. From there we will start a gentle walk upwards, to the base of Peña Vieja, a massive vertical peak, on which we will have a good chance of seeing some fantastic birds including wallcreepers and snowfinch. From here we will walk along a high ridge, taking in the breathtaking views and from where we will have the chance to see chamois and Egyptian vultures, before beginning our descent back to the bottom of the cable cars. On our way down, we will see moraines, ridges of glacial debris formed as glaciers retreated during the last ice age. This old glacier moraine was once an intense copper mining area, now abandoned and where cattle, farmers and hikers share it together with the wildlife. A disued British copper mine stands as a reminder of this bygone era. The nearby Chalet Real was built in the UK and then shipped to Spain over 100 years ago, making it possibly one of the oldest prefabricated buildings in Spain. Adjacent to the Chalet is the Hotel de Aliva, a picturesque spot where we will stop for a picnic. We will enjoy superb views and a good chance of spotting chamois from our picnic vantage point. Native tudanca cattle can also be seen roaming here. They are a beautiful and hardy mountain cow, slender in shape, black with a white muzzle and sporting long curved horns. After the picnic we will continue our hike down through some fabulous beech woods, to arrive back at the base of the cable cars. Afterwards we will return to our nearby hotel, to enjoy some rest and relaxation before our well-earned dinner. Lenght: 15,23km/ Elevation gain: 130 m / Time: 8 hours
DAY 6 Pico Jano
Today will will venture further afield with a drive of 45 minutes from our hotel in Potes to reach the beautiful village of Doberganes. From here we will set off for a circular walk. Our hike today will lead us to the summit of Pico Jano and a superb panoramic vista of all three massifs of the Picos de Europa. We will stop at this stunning location for a summit picnic. The return leg of this hike will take us through a beautiful oak wood peppered with picturesque ponds. We may have the opportunity to see, amongst other species, roe deer and middle spotted woodpecker during our walk today. After the trek, we will drive back to Potes to visit a local brandy distillery. The local brandy is called “orujo”, sometimes also called “firewater”, which was first introduced to the region by the monks and has been distilled in the monasteries of Liébana since the middle ages. Potes even has an annual “Fiesta del Orujo”, a competition in which participants distill their own batches in public, hoping to win the prestigious accoldate of best orujo. After tasting the orujo, we will enjoy a wonderful dinner followed by a good night’s sleep at the Hotel del Oso. Lenght: 9,89 km/ Elevation gain: 586 m / Time: 5 hours
DAY 7 San Glorio, Valle del Naranco
Located at the boarder of Cantabria, Palencia and Leon, San Glorio is a quiet place that boasts super views of the Eastern massif. This is a protected area of great important for bears, wolves and grey partridge. Whilst we are unlikely to see the mammals themselves on our walk today, we may see evidence of their activitiy, including tracks and droppings. From San Glorio we will explore the Naranco Valley. This is a south-facing valley, with its waters eventually running on into the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its southern orientation, this landscape is drier than others we will have seen on the tour, resulting in quite different ecosystems here. From the valley we will walk up to the Robadoiro Pass for breathtaking views of the nearby north face of Peña Prieta, a vertical rock face rearing some 500m high that is an iconic climbing route. Our return walk to San Glorio will take us on a slightly different path back through the Naranco Valley, to continue enjoying this visually different landscape. We will return to our hotel for our final evening together, where we will enjoy a lovely dinner and can share our stories and memories from the trip. Lenght: 8,03 km/ Elevation gain: 663m / Time: 6 hours
DAY 8 Back to airport
This is the end of our tour, but on our way back to the airport we will stop in Unquera to buy delicious corbatas, which are puff pastry cakes unique to the area. Depending on the available time today, we may be able to explore Bilbao or Santander prior to the return flight.


Hiking in the Picos de Europa can certainly vary from warm hot days to snow, at pretty much any time from May to October. So all weather can be expected during our tour, and we will therefore need to be prepared. Our professional guides will always negotiate the weather conditions to ensure optimal safety for the group and therefore the itinerary may be subject to change during the tour. Due to the variable weather, all-conditions clothing and hiking gear is recommended for the tour. Sturdy walking shoes providing considerable foot and ankle support will be required, as well as a pair of hiking poles. Sun glasses, a hat and a reusable water bottle are also recommended. The tap water is fully drinkable.

Whilst enjoying the hikes and scenery, our guide will be pointing out the flora and fauna of the region, so a light pair of binoculars will be useful to carry. Our guide will also endeavour to highlight the human heritage of the region during the tour, to enable the visitors to gain a holistic appreciation of the remarkable Picos de Europa region.
The maximum group size will be 8 people plus one guide and we will all walk together at a leisurely pace, with frequent short stops. Our guide will ensure that the walking pace is suitable for everyone in the group. The hikes will involve an appreciable elevation gain. Whilst the walks will be suitable for an average hiker, some degree of previous training is advisable to enhance your enjoyment of the trip.

For lunch we will mostly eat sandwiches. You may wish to bring a travel mug, but culterly and a plate will not be required. It is worth noting that toilet facilities can be limited during the hikes.
There will be opportunities during our visits to the towns to purchase postcards, maps and gifts.

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