DAY 1: Arrive Arenas de Cabrales
Santander is the nearest airport (100kms/1hr20) to Arenas de Cabrales. However, Oviedo (124kms/1hr36) and Bilbao (230kms/2hr21) are other options. All three airports serve flights from London Stanstead and other UK and European airports.
Arenas de Cabrales is a charming village nestled in the foothills of the Picos. Visit the Romanesque Santa Maria de Llas Church or try the regional dish, Fabada Asturina, a hearty stew made with regional ingredients.
Overnight: Hotel La Rivera
Your hotel for the first night is the Hotel La Rivera. This cosy, welcoming hotel is the ideal starting point for your trek into the Picos de Europa National Park.
DAY 2: From Poncebos or Tielve to Sotres
Ascent on foot or by funicular railway to reach the village of Bulnes, nestled among peaks with no road access. You then continue on up, following an ancient cobbled footpath, to gorgeous green pastures and the village of Sotres (elevation 1050m). If this 1200m ascent seems too much for a first day, you can do the walk from Tielve and start at 700m).
Walk: 12/9km, 5/4 hrs1100/400m Ascent, 355m Descent,
Overnight: Sotres Hotel boasts tranquil surroundings with traditional cuisine. It has spacious and comfortable bedrooms and in the evening you can head down to the restaurant and enjoy some wholesome stew, freshly prepared from local ingredients.
DAY 3: Circular walk in the Eastern Massif
Enjoy a circular walk through 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. You have a good chance of seeing chamois, vultures and different types of eagles. Several options to shorten or extend your walk.
Walk: 12km, 5 hrs, 630m ascent, 935m descent
Overnight: Sotres Hotel
DAY 4: From Sotres to Vega de Urriellu
Ascent to the spectacularly located Vega de Urriellu mountain refuge, located at 2000 m at the foot of the silhouette of Picu Urriellu, right in the heart of the Central Massif. You take just your sleeping sheet and a few things to spend one night at the refuge. The rest of your luggage is transported to your next accommodation.
Walk: 11km, 6hrs, 1120m ascent, 165m descent.
Overnight: Refugio Vega de Urriellu
DAY 5: Across the Central Massif to Espinama
You completely traverse the Macizo Central, crossing the Jou Sin Tierra, one of the deepest and widest natural depressions (dolines) in the Picos. You then ascend to a pass at 2350m moving through a truly impressive moonlike landscape to the southern edge of the massif. Descent by cable car and on to Espinama to spend the night.
Walk: 12/23km, 6/8hrs, 575/635m ascent, 750/1100m descent
Overnight: Hostal Nevandi, Espinama
DAY 6: Walks on the South Side of the Picos
Today you can be as active or lazy as you wish, you’ve earned it. Opt for a day of rest, or do a spectacular circular walk which goes from Fuente Dé (1100m), along a jeep track to Caben Remoña (1750m). From there, an steep old mining path leads you up in zigzags to the lovely Vega de Liordes (2100m).
Walk: 11/10km, 5/6hrs, 500/1000 ascent/descent
Overnight: Hostal Nevandi, Espinama
DAY 7: From Espinama to Treviño
After several strenuous days, you do an easier walk through quiet beech woods from Espinama to your rural accommodation in Treviño, an authentic 17th century farmhouse. Or optional rest day (travel with the luggage).
Walk: 10.5km, 4hrs, 600m ascent, 1600m descent
Overnight: La Casona de Treviño
DAY 8: From Treviño to Llánaves
You start off along a jeep track going through woods and high meadows to Collado de Llesba (1650 m). You then have the option of ascending Pico Coriscao (2234m) to enjoy excellent views of the Picos. At the end of the day, you walk down over grassy slopes to Llanaves de la Reina.
Walk: 15km, 6hrs, 930m ascent, 320m descent
Overnight: Hotel San Glorio, Llánaves
DAY 9: “La Tierra de la Reina”
Your walk today explores the vast open region on the south side of the Picos, where bears and wolves still successfully manage to hide out from humans. Here you will admire strange conglomerate rock and totally different flora, and traverse the former domains of the queen of Spain passing nearly abandoned villages and huge grazing lands which were once summer residence for huge herds of sheep.
Walk: 22/27km, 8/9hrs, 850m ascent, 1100 descent
Overnight: Hotel Tierra de la Reina, Boca de Huérgano
DAY 10: Via Oseja to Soto de Sajambre
Transfer to Pontón Pass (1450m) for a 4-hour walk, mainly through dense beech woods, down to the village of Oseja, then up again to your cozy hostel in Soto de Sajambre. If you are feeling a bit tired from yesterday’s walk, you can shorten the route by riding to Oseja (1,5hrs to walk) or rest today, and ride with the luggage transport.
Walk: 5/13km, 2/4.5hrs, 650m ascent, 300m descent
Overnight: Hotel Peña Santa, Soto de Sajambre
DAY 11: The Archdeacon’s Trail
Today you will enjoy the most wonderful walk along the Senda del Arcediano, a historical footpath created by an enlightened archdeacon in the 17th century. You first walk up to Collado de Beza (1495m) to then descend through quiet summer meadows and open beech woods, enjoying pastoral scenes on the way. At the end of the route, you can take a taxi from Amieva or continue along a partly surfaced track right to the door of your typical rural pension in Santillan.
Walk: 12/22km, 5/8hrs, 485/625m ascent, 850/1250m descent.
Overnight: Hotel Casa Remigio, Santillán
DAY 12: Onward travel
We can arrange taxi transfers to the closest town to connect with public transport or to the airport (Oviedo, 1h20, Santander, 2h00 or Bilbao 3h30).
Additional Nights and Extensions
We can add on extra nights and tailor make any itinerary to suit.
Grade, Terrain & Fitness
This trip is graded Moderate to Strenuous due to frequent sustained or steep ascents and descents (some several kilometres long). Each day’s walk averages 6 hours, although there are shorter and longer options available and the possibility of taking rest days.
The walks follow rural tracks, both surfaced and un-surfaced, footpaths and animal trails. There are sections on loose rock and/or muddy terrain. Only a few sections are way-marked.
You should have a good level of walking fitness to enjoy this holiday.
The routes on this trip are NOT way marked so you will need to follow the detailed route notes and maps supplied. You will be walking in the high mountains and the ability to navigate with a map and compass in the event of bad weather is essential.
Ten nights in carefully selected small family run hotels and guest houses that offer comfortable accommodation, the warmest of welcomes and hearty local food. One night in a mountain refuge in dormitory style accommodation. More details and links to the accommodation are detailed on the itinerary page.
During high season, you might be booked into a different accommodation which is not listed in the description, and the start or end of some of your walking routes may be slightly altered. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.
If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. (not possible on day 4)
This holiday is not available for solo walkers for safety reasons.
Meals are included on a half board basis. Breakfast is normally continental whilst dinner each night features a variety of local specialities. Lunch is not included. Packed lunches are available from your accommodation or you can pick up lunch in the village or stop along the trail. Your route notes have details for each day.
Your bags (max 20kg) will be transferred each time you move accommodation apart from on day 4 when there is no road access and you will need to carry a small overnight bag.
Transfers on day 2 and 10 are included. The optional funicular railway and cable car are not included. Airport transfers are available as an optional extra.
You will need standard walking gear such as good walking boots, warm and waterproof clothes, a day pack and a sleeping sheet for the night in the refuge. A full equipment list is included in your info pack.
Getting to Arenas de Cabrales
We can arrange airport taxi transfers, but if you prefer here are the public transport options.
From Bilbao Airport - Take a bus or taxi (Approx 25€)to the centre of Bilbao. From Bilbao bus station take a bus to Unquera (2.5 to 3hrs). From Unquera you take a taxi to Arenas de Cabrales (45mins).
From Oviedo Airport - Take a bus or taxi to the centre of Oviedo (45mins). From Oviedo bus station take the bus to Unquera (2 hrs). From Unquera you take a taxi to Arenas de Cabrales (45mins).
From Santander Airport - Take a bus or taxi to the centre of Santander (15mins). From Santander bus station take the bus to Unquera (1hr 20mins). From Unquera take a taxi to Arenas de Cabrales (45 mins).
Getting from Santillán
You will need to get a taxi to Cangas de Onís (15€) or Arriondas (30€) from where you can get connecting buses to Asturias, Bilbao or Santander Airports.
Oviedo is the closest airport. If you are getting a flight from Bilbao, there are several buses daily from Arriondas to Bilbao city centre (these can be booked beforehand through the local agent). From Cangas de Onís there are bus services to Oviedo, where you can catch the shuttle to Asturias airport (OVD). If you have left your car parked in Arenas de Cabrales, there are direct bus services from Cangas de Onís to Arenas.
It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.