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Walking in the Picos de Europa

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.8 Read 27 reviews
  • Breathing in the crisp, clean air in the Picos de Europa National Park
  • Authentic Spanish cultures and customs
  • Tasting the famous ‘Queso de Cabrales’ with the locals
  • Journeying through ‘environments past’ in the vast glaciated valleys
  • Stay in charming hotels and guesthouses, hand picked for their food and character
The Picos de Europa is one of the most impressive mountain ranges in Spain and a superb environment for walking. This self guided holiday will take you through jagged limestone mountains providing magnificent scenery and harbouring a rich variety of flora, fauna and wildlife. Initially based in the quiet village of Arenas de Cabrales, your first day's walk is a colourful, rewarding ascent to Nava above the Cares River. Further on the village of Tielve awaits with neighbouring Valfríu tempting you with their famous ‘Queso de Cabrales’ - local blue cheese. Through landscapes of heather, beech woods and flowing streams you arrive in Sotres, the highest of all the villages. This will be your base for 4 nights. Day walks through Ándara, to Vega de Urriellu and Tresviso take you into the Eastern and Central Massif. Catch a glimpse of the rare Capercaille and following an ancient footpath find yourself in Bulnes, accessible only by foot or by funicular railway. Extend your walk a little further through a deep gorge where vultures nest before arriving back in Arenas de Cabrales.
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What To Expect

This trip is best suited to keen walkers who want to experience the very best of Spain. The walks are between 4 & 6 hours each day with varying ascents and descents. They reward with fabulous views and new discoveries around every corner.

Tour Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.

Activity:

Multi Center Walking | You will spend multiple nights in one or more of the locations on this walking tour

Ideal if you have an interest in:

National Parks & Trails, Mountains

Inspiration:

  • Most Popular

Activity Level & Terrain

This walking tour is graded Moderate overall. Walks are between 4-7 hours and there is an ascent/descent of between 600m to 1135m. The hike covers 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. There are also a couple of exposed sections which would not be suitable for anybody who suffers from vertigo although we can provide options to avoid these sections. These sections are on the walks on Days 5 and 7. Days 5 and 7 are also graded as Moderate-Strenuous due to the fact that they involved more ascent/descent and/or are longer days. On Days 2, 6 and 7 there are options of different walks. Our grading is based on choosing the most difficult walk so the actual walk you choose on those days may be easy-moderate rather than moderate. We recommend using walking poles for balance on this tour.

Navigation

The routes on this trip are generally marked but this can be poor in places and you will need to follow the 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 recommended.

Accommodations

We specifically select your accommodation to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.  We aim to give you an authentic experience and use local family-run accommodations.

Alternate accommodation

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.

Solo Walkers

This holiday is available for solo walkers but we would recommend that you are experienced in walking and navigating alone. If you are travelling solo the holiday is slightly more expensive as some costs are not shared.

Single Rooms

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.

Meals

A delicious breakfast is included at the Arenas de Cabrales and the Sotres Hotel each morning and 4 dinners whilst at the Sotres Hotel.  The accommodations are happy to provide a packed lunch - this should be requested on arrival. Or you can pick up lunch in the village or stop along the trail. Your route notes have details for each day.

Included
  • 7 Nights accommodation in hotels and guesthouses
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 4 Dinners
  • Luggage transfer (on days 3 & 7)
  • Bus tickets from Bilbao or Santander to Unquera
  • Transfers from Unquera to Arenas de Cabrales and vice versa
  • Detailed maps and route descriptions in English
  • 24/7 emergency telephone support
  • Access to GPX tracks on the Macs Adventure App
Excluded
  • Lunches (pack lunches can be ordered at the accommodations)
  • Bus from Bilbao Airport to centre of Bilbao
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, tips & Fenicular Railway tickets
Extras
  • Extra night/s at the standard accommodation
  • Airport arrival and/or departure transfers

When To Go

This holiday is available to start any day of the week between the end of April and end of October. Extension prices will be displayed as part of the booking process.

Weather and Climate

The weather in this part of Spain is most comfortable for mountain walking at this time of year, and whilst sudden mists are common they usually burn off by mid-day. As with all mountainous areas and particularly because of the proximity of the mountains to the coast in this area, the weather can also change suddenly and there can be sudden rain-showers, or even snow at any time of year so you should be prepared for all weather conditions with waterproof gear and plenty of sunscreen!  We also recommend checking daily weather forecasts whilst you are out there and taking care when crossing streams which may fill up during the spring and autumn.

Getting to the Start

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).

To Airports - There are ample bus services to the airports. A very useful website is www.alsa.es. Please bear in mind that services at the weekend are less frequent. If you have a very early flight it’s advisable to stay in the city prior to your flight the night before.

For further information please refer to our travel blog.

Getting from the End

To Bilbao Airport - On your final day, an included transfer will take you from Arenas de Cabrales back to Unquera. From Unquera, take a bus back to Bilbao (2.5 to 3hrs). Take a bus or taxi (Approx 25€) from the centre of Bilbao to the airport. 

To Oviedo AirportOn your final day, an included transfer will take you from Arenas de Cabrales back to Unquera. From Unquera, take a bus back to Oviedo (2hrs). Take a bus or taxi from the centre of Oviedo (45mins) to the airport.

To Santander AirportOn your final day, an included transfer will take you from Arenas de Cabrales back to Unquera. From Unquera, take a bus back to Santander (1hr 20min). Take a bus or taxi from the centre of Santander (15mins) to the airport.

To Airports - There are ample bus services to the airports. A very useful website is www.alsa.es. Please bear in mind that services at the weekend are less frequent. If you have a very early flight it’s advisable to stay in the city prior to your flight the night before.

For further information please refer to our travel blog.

Luggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred between your accommodation as per your itinerary. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.

Equipment

Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Spain / Arenas de Cabrales Day 2 Circular Walk from Arenas 6.9 miles / 11 km Day 3 Walk from Tielve to Sotres 5.6 miles / 9 km Day 4 Circular Walk to Ándara, Eastern Massif 7.5 miles / 12 km Day 5 Ascent to Vega de Urriellu 11.2 miles / 18 km Day 6 Circular walk to Áliva 11.8 miles / 19 km Day 7 Walk to Poncebos 8 miles / 13 km Day 8 Departure Day

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