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Grand Tour of the Picos Mountains

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Homepage > Spain > Grand Tour of the Picos Mountains
  • Duration: 11 Nights
  • Difficulty: Level 3
  • Tour Type: Self Guided
  • Availability: Daily 15th May to 15th October
  • Location: Arenas de Cabrales
Tour Details

The Picos de Europa are without a doubt the most impressive mountain range in Spain that is ideal for hiking. This walking holiday in the Picos de Europa will let you discover some of Spain’s best scenery, so make sure you take your camera! The heart of the Picos de Europa is formed by three limestone massifs, that aren’t easily crossed on foot or by car (luggage transport). See them emerging from a coastal landscape as a natural frontier between the green north of Spain and the more arid Castille. You can enjoy many different types of fauna, flora and wildlife on this walking holiday in Spain.

You will enjoy lots of Picos de Europa hiking from your first base which is Arenas de Cabrales before moving on to other handpicked accommodation in  Posada de Valdeón, Espinama, Sotres, Vega de Urriellu before returning to Arenas de Cabrales.

This walking holiday in northern Spain for certain allows you to see the high peaks of green Spain, enjoy local cuisine and lets you escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Let us organise the details of your walking holiday in the Picos, so you can relax and enjoy this amazing place.

Starting Location

Arenas de Cabrales

Price Includes

  • 11 nights Bed & Breakfast and 8 dinners
  • 10 nights in hotels, 1 night in Dormitory in mountain hut
  • Information Pack
  • Navigation by Smart Phone App
  • Transfers days 3,8,9 (except optional cable car and funicular)
  • Luggage Transfers – (days 3,5,7,11), not to mountain hut.
  • GPS Files on request

Price Excludes

  • Transport before and after tour
  • Single Rooms
  • Flights
  • Public Transport
  • Funicular railway, cable car, bus day 5
  • Travel Insurance
  • Optional taxi transfer
  • Rented blankets at mountain hut
  • Entrance to attractions
Trip Info

Travel Insurance

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


Day 1Arrival in Arenas de Cabrales

Settle into your hotel situated in 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 2Circular Walk from Arenas  7.1 miles 11.5km,650m up/down 5.5 hours

Ascent to the summer meadows at Nava, situated 500m above the Cares River, with excellent views of the Picos. A strenuous but very rewarding walk, especially in early summer when the meadows display a multitude of brightly coloured flowers. There is also an option of doing an alternative shorter walk to Vanu (Banu), through the shady countryside at a lower elevation

Day 3From Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón through the Cares Gorge 12.5 miles, 20km 680m/100m up/down 6.5 hours.

An absolute classic from the local repertoire, this stunning route is walked by thousands each year and remains strikingly beautiful. You walk on a good footpath, used to maintain a 12km channel which feeds the hydroelectric station in Poncebos. Your day starts off with a 5min transfer to the start of the walk. After a short but steep ascent of 150m on a zig-zag trail, the path then levels off and you continue the rest of the way to Caín nearly “on the flat” (12km). From there, you have the choice of continuing another 8km up the valley or taking a taxi to your hotel in Posada de Valdeón.

Day 4Circular walk from Valdeón  7.8miles, 12.5km 600m up/down 5 hours

After 2 tougher walks in the Picos de Europa, today you do a circular nature walk in wooded surroundings near Valdeón. This area is inhabited by wolves and bears. At mid-day, you reach a shepherd’s refuge on the north side of the Picos’ western massif: Vega de Llos (1545m), an excellent place to stop for a rest. If you’re aching for an even better panorama, option of continuing on up to El Frade pass (1785m), for sweeping views all the way to the sea.

Day 5From Valdeón to Espinama via Liordes  10 miles 16km, 800/1235m, 900/1135m up/down 7-8 hours.

Today’s route starts off with an ascent on the historic traders’ path, el Camín del Mercadillo, which leads from Posada de Valdeón to Liébana. After 7km walking with 800m in ascent, you reach the Meadowlands at Caben Remoña, which is situated on the border between the provinces of León and Cantabria. Here you have the choice of walking straight on down to Espinama (9km with 900m in descent) or taking the spectacular high route via Vega de Liordes down to Fuente Dé (bus or taxi 3,5km to your hotel). If you have booked luggage transport, there’s the option of riding for the first 5km with your bags (thus saving 500m in ascent).

Day 6 Horcados Rojos  6.5 miles, 10km, 500m up/down 4.5 hours.

You have the option today of taking a rest day today, to relax in the hotel garden by the pool. If you wanted to go explore you could do a day-trip to nearby Potes, a lovely village with a historic Medieval centre. If you prefer to walk, you first take the bus to Fuente Dé (1100m) and ride the cable car up to 1835m. There you begin a spectacular route up to Horcados Rojos, an impressive vista point with splendid views of the Picos and far beyond.

Day 7From Espinama to Sotres  10 miles, 16km, 900/750m up/down, 6 hours.

A long but technically easy walk, first along footpaths through woodlands near Pembes, then on farming tracks to Áliva Pass (1645m). You then follow a glacier moraine down the Duje River valley to reach Sotres. At 1050m, this is the highest village in the Picos de Europa making an ideal base for some excellent walking routes. After a long day, the end of your route is a stimulating 150m ascent to reach Sotres!

Day 8Circular walk in Ándara (Pico San Carlos)  10 miles, 16km, 640-1040/900-1300m  up/down 5.5-8 hours

After a short transfer, you start a beautiful and extremely varied route in the Eastern Massif known as Andara. The first section follows a historic mining track, into the heart of the massif. You then continue on to reach an elevation of 2215m. Descent via cattle trails, back down to your hotel in Sotres.

Day 9Circular walk via Tresviso  6.8miles 11km, 450/680 up/down 4-5.5 hours.

Today is a shorter route beginning the with a transfer. You will then walk into a landscape with fields of heather and ancient oakwoods to reach the nearby village of Tresviso. Along the way, stunning views down into the Urdón Gorge and a chance of hearing the characteristic laughing call of the rare capercaillie.

Day 10From Sotres to Vega de Urriellu  6.2 miles 10km 1025/150m up/down 5 hours.

The highlight of this trek takes you up to the legendary Picu Urriellu – also called Naranjo de Bulnes – a stunning peak and mecca for world-class rock climbers. You first take farming tracks from Sotres up to Pandébano Col. Then you follow a footpath up into the lunar landscapes at the heart of the central massif, home to chamoix and alpine choughs.

For your overnight stay here at the refuge, you’ll carry just the things you need for the day, while your luggage is transported to the next hotel. Early in the season, snow can be a factor. If the event the hut cannot be reached, the alternate program includes a circular walk to nearby Tielve and overnight stay in Sotres.

Day 11From Urriellu to Poncebos 5.3 miles, 8.5km 1650m down 5 hours.

Your last day of walking explores yet another facet of the Picos as you traverse a steep footpath down Camburero Gorge to reach the remote village of Bulnes (no road access). You then continue in descent through the Teju Gorge to reach Poncebos, coming full circle back to the start of your trek. Early in the season, today’s descent may be impracticable due to the water level from snow run-off. The alternate route goes by way of Pandébano. At Poncebos you take the public bus to Arenas de Cabrales or if the bus is not running an included taxi.

Day 12Departure


How to get there

By plane to Bilbao airport or to Santander airport
By Ferry to Santander or Bilbao from UK.
Public Transport from Bilbao around 3.5 hours and from Santander around 1.5 hours.
Private transfer available to/from Santander
Private transfer available to/from Unquera  – Arenas.

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