hikers and rocky summits of the Picos de Europa in Spain

The Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa, just 10 miles inland from the coast of northern Spain, is a hiker's paradise of deep gorges, sheer rock walls, secret villages, and serene lakes.

Photo by Ruivo Madeira

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Bilbao and the Picos de Europa route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4195  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Bilbao, Spain
Depart: Oviedo, Spain
Lodging: 8 nights in hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner and 1 lunch
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 6 hiking days on moderate to strenuous trails, 3-6 hours a day, van support
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Highlights

  • Spectacular Cares Gorge, mountain amphitheater of Fuente Dé
  • Ancient traditional villages, savory local cuisine
  • Bulnes, one of the most remote hamlets in Spain
  • Bilbao and the Guggenheim, Oviedo’s medieval quarter


I enjoyed the Picos de Europa trip very much. The Trip Leaders did more than a fantastic job and the cultural aspects of the trip were way above expectations. I particularly enjoyed the Pindal caves, the cabrales cheese hike, the tour of Oviedo, and of course the Bilbao Museo. And the first lunch on the water was fantastic!Sandra G. Weis—Sarasota, FL

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

The spectacular massif of the Picos de Europa straddles the provinces of Asturias, Leon, and Cantabria with sheer limestone peaks and lush valleys wedged between tremendous river gorges. In this natural frontier between the green north and the arid plains of Castile, our hikes follow breathtaking alpine trails where we discover a traditional lifestyle in ancient mountain villages and sample the wonderful local cuisine, from delicious fresh-made ciders to the piquant blue cheese queso de Cabrales. We begin our hiking journey with explorations in fascinating Bilbao, home to the Guggenheim Museum, and end in enchanting Oviedo, with its delightful Old Quarter.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Bilbao / La Cueva del Pindal / Picos de Europa / Potes

After a morning visit to Bilbao's extraordinary Guggenheim Museum, we journey along the Cantabrian Coast to visit the Paleolithic rock art at Pindal, a World Heritage Site. Continuing inland, we find ourselves in the Picos de Europa, rising steeply to nearly 9,000 feet. On Day 2, we hike  in the natural mountain amphitheater of Fuente DÉ (3,600'), where a breathtaking ride by teleferico (cable car) brings us to the highest station in the Picos and gives us easy access to these wonderful mountains. Here we feast our eyes on panoramas of knife-edged summits soaring into the sky. Chamois, griffon vultures, and eagles can often be spotted in this lofty realm. Our descent takes us down through beech and oak forests. Later we visit the charming town of Potes, where we sample local tapas. Overnights are in the pretty mountain village of Cosgaya.

Days 3-4
Valdeón Valley

We hike through leafy forests and up medieval trading paths once used by the people of the Valdeón Valley, with a descent to Santa Marina de Valdeón. The next day, we hike along the Rio Cares as it flows through the valley then head uphill into the realm of shepherds for a picnic lunch. Overnights  are at an inn in Posada de Valdeón, a lovely village surrounded by soaring mountains.

Day 5
Cares Gorge / Arenas de Cabrales

Today we enjoy one of the most spectacular hikes in the Picos as we follow an amazing footpath hacked out of the cliff face above the stupendous Cares Gorge. The 10-foot-wide-path brings us through a massive cleft in the mountains, zigzagging along the natural contours of the canyon, passing under overhangs, and crossing bridges. Overnight  in friendly Arenas de Cabrales, where we can check out the Cueva Museo del Queso Cabrales to see how the region’s renowned Cabrales cheeses are made.

Days 6-7
Bulnes / Enol and Ercina Lake / Cangas de Onis

Our hike brings us to the tiny and delightful stone-built hamlet of Bulnes, one of the most remote villages in Spain, and the next day we enjoy splendid Picos views as we v enture up to the glacial lakes of Enol and Ercina, set on a wild limestone plateau. One afternoon, we visit the ancient pilgrim town of Covadonga and its ancient cave-shrine and visit the local sidrerias (traditional cider houses) in Cangas de Onis. Our hotel is a parador set on the banks of the Rio Sella.

Days 8-9
Oviedo

Bidding farewell to the mountains, we head to Oviedo, capital of Asturias and a lively university city with 12 centuries of history. We explore its medieval quarter as well as two of Oviedo’s World Heritage churches, among the most remarkable in all Spain, set on wooded slopes above the city. Depart on Day 9.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 3+, Moderate to Strenuous. We hike from 3 to 6 hours on most days. Trip members carry a daypack only, as luggage is transported by vehicle between overnight stops. You should be fully prepared for the hikes and bring your sturdy, well broken-in hiking boots. On some days, the hiking terrain will be rocky or muddy, often along shepherds’ paths and in forests, but on other days, the trails will be easy and wide, crossing meadows with stunning views of the peaks and massifs. We enjoy our lunches in local cafes and also have some picnic lunches along the way. Overnights are in comfortable small hotels.

Please note that in Spain, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 9:00 PM.

Although rooms are not always of uniform or international size, our leaders always try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms can be requested but are not always available, due to the limited space in the hotels. If you require a single room, please make the request as early as possible.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Jul 4-12, 2014

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$4195 (13-15 members)
$4395 (10-12 members)
$4695 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $450
Forced single supplement: $225
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included except 1 dinner and 1 lunch
  • Land transportation

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare; airport departure taxes; any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure; airport transfers; optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff; hotels en route to/from Spain; any additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by international airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations; visa fees (if applicable); travel insurance; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Hotel del Oso

Hotel del Oso

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Cosgaya, Spain

This small hotel tucked halfway between Potes and Fuente De has great mountain ambiance, an excellent restaurant, and extras like a big pool, a ...
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CTR Picos de Europa

CTR Picos de Europa

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Posada de Valdeon, Spain

This simple 8-room hotel has great mountain views, a nice garden, a swimming pool, and a tranquil setting in the Picos de Europa. The guest rooms ...
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Hotel Picos de Europa

Hotel Picos de Europa

Day 5 (1 night), Arenas de Cabrales, Spain

With a great location in the center of Arenas de Cabrales, the Hotel Picos has spacious guest rooms and a garden-surrounded pool, great for a dip ...
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Parador Canga de Onis

Parador Canga de Onis

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Canga de Onis, Spain

This parador has a magnificent setting along the Rio Sella with a view of the craggy Picos de Europa. The original building is former Benedictine ...
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Hotel de la Reconquista

Hotel de la Reconquista

Day 8 (1 night), Oviedo, Spain

This historic hotel has a central location that can't be beat for walking to any place in the city. The building, classified as a national monument, ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Marian Gibert

Departure Dates: July 4-12, 2014

Marian Gibert has been a world traveler from a young age. She was born in Bilbao, Spain, grew up in Venezuela, and later lived in Britain, where she studied Business Administration at Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Engelberg, a resort in the Swiss Alps, picking up the Swiss-German and ...
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David Atela

Departure Dates: July 4-12, 2014

David Atela, a graduate of the Universidad del País Vasco in northern Spain’s Basque country, has written several guidebooks on the Picos de Europa and has studied the geology and ecology of many of Spain’s mountain regions. He has also worked as a climbing guide in the French ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Client Comments

I enjoyed the Picos de Europa trip very much. The Trip Leaders did more than a fantastic job and the cultural aspects of the trip were way above expectations. I particularly enjoyed the Pindal caves, the cabrales cheese hike, the tour of Oviedo, and of course the Bilbao Museo. And the first lunch on the water was fantastic! Sandra G. Weis, Sarasota, FL I would definitely recommend this trip to friends. It’s a good mix of cultural activities (the guided tour of the Guggenheim in Bilbao was superior), along with splendid scenery in the Picos de Europa. Jane Snyder, Albuquerque, NM
Everything was very well done! We were so pleased with the way the trip was organized. We learned so much about a beautiful part of Spain that we didn't know existed. Ken J., Coon Rapids, MN