Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa can best be described as WOW! WAUWWWWWW! or WAUWWWWWWWW! Because holy shit how beautiful is this part of Spain. A feast to roadtrip through let alone hike. They are not the highest mountains in Spain, but perhaps one of the most beautiful. Not for nothing that the Picos was declared a national park in 1995. The area is 40 km wide and sandwiched between three major river gorges. The mountain range is spread across the provinces of Asturias, León and Cantabria.
The park has high mountain peaks interspersed with deep gorges and canyons which together make for a spectacular and picturesque landscape. The highest can be found in the central mountain range. Here, among others, you can admire or even climb the Torrecerredo (2,646 m), Naranjo de Bulnes (2,519 m) and Pico Tesorero (2,570 m).
Driving through the Picos, you don’t know how many times you have to stop. Everywhere you will find viewpoints from which to admire the beauty of the park.
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What to do in Picos de Europa
If you’re in the Picos then of course you come to hike or hike if we want to give it a cool name. The diversity of hiking trails for all skill levels makes the picos perfect for everyone. So you will find multi-day hikes to small hikes. The most popular trail is the 12-km-long Cares Gorge, but actually you will find hiking trails everywhere, all of which are unforgettably beautiful.
Overview of Picos de Europa attractions
- Hike the Ruta del cares: the most famous hiking trail in the Picos
- Hike even more
- Visit the town of Potes
- Visit the pilgrimage site “Covadonga”
- Fuente Dé cable car: The Fuente Dé cable car takes you in 4 minutes from Potes to the heart of the Picos de Europa at an altitude of 1823 meters.
- Viewpoint of the Tombo: a beautiful viewpoint on the road to Posada Valdeon
- Naranjo de bulnes: the Naranjo de Bulnes is a limestone peak from the Paleozoic era
- Desfiladero de la Hermida: an impressive gorge
- Las Arenas de Cabrales: a nice village to visit
- Visit Cangas de Onís for the beautiful Roman bridge and Roman chapel of Santa Cruz
- Ride the Desfiladero de los Beyos for a spectacular ride through the mountains
- Oseja de Sajambre: a beautiful village to visit where you can walk straight into nature
Ruta del cares or the The Cares Hike
The most popular hike in the Picos is the Ruta del Cares where you hike along the famous Cares gorge. It is a huge gorge 1,000 meters deep and some 12 kilometers long. It is one of the most beautiful walks in northern Spain, perhaps Spain, that you can do. The trail is easily accessible and is for all skill levels. You usually start the hike from the village of Cain, but it is also possible to walk all or part of the gorge via Poncebos.
Visit the town of Potes
We actually ended up at the popular town of Potes by chance and immediately fell in love. Potes is a sort of gateway to the national park. You will find numerous campsites and hotels, stores and super nice eateries. We found it a lovely town to start the Picos with.
Covadonga can be found in 12 kilometers southeast of Cangas de Onis. This is a historic site and an important place of pilgrimage. In deep green forested valley you will find a cathedral next to the sacred cave of Covadonga. In summer it is very crowded, but still an impressive place to visit.
Visit the town of Bulnes
Bulnes is a tiny charming village in the middle of the Picos de Europa. A village such as there are few left. In fact, Bulnes can only be visited on foot or by cable car. It is the perfect place to escape from the crowds and enjoy a beautiful walk through nature and the fine atmosphere of this village. The village still has 30 inhabitants.
Visit a big city or go surfing
Besides beautiful hikes and nature, you can also combine the Picos super well with a city trip or even a surfing trip. Santander is a fun city to add to your schedule during your visit to Picos de Europa. If you are a surf enthusiast, we definitely recommend stopping in the surf town of San Vicente. But you can also combine Bilbao and San Sebastian with a visit to the Picos.
Best time to travel to Picos de Europa
The best travel time to visit the Picos de Europa is from June to September. Then you have the least chance of rain and the park is nice and green. We found June perfect for visiting the Picos. It was still wonderfully quiet and everything was in beautiful bloom. The valleys then look beautiful, and if you look closely, some mountain peaks are still covered with snow.
Transportation in Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa is perfect for a mini road trip. Take the car or RV and enjoy the beauty of the park. We visited Picos de Europa during our road trip through northern Spain and found this really a great route to drive. We drove from San Vicente into the park toward Potes and through Potes we drove on to Posada de Valdeón. It is also possible to visit Picos de Europa from Santander or from Oviedo. Through both cities there is public transportation to the Picos, but surely the best way to explore this area is by private transportation. This allows you to stop at beautiful viewpoints and discover unique places along the way.
Which budget do i need in Picos de Europa?
- Cost camper or camping in Picos de Europa:
- Hotel: 50 euros per night
- Dining out: 20 – 40 euros
- Sightseeing: go hiking, it costs nothing and so incredibly beautiful. Visiting Covadonga requires paying a small entrance fee. About 5 euros p.p.
Day budget to visit Picos de Europa
- Camping: 20 euros per person per day
- With accommodation: 40 euros per person
Practical information about Picos de Europa
- Before entering the area, check the car carefully for oil and coolant. The roads are good, but sometimes ask a lot of your car, camper or bus.
- Bring plenty of cash. Pinning is very difficult in the middle of the area.
- Do your shopping in advance. In Potes you can still do some shopping, but then it becomes increasingly difficult.
- Hiking boots and hiking poles are definitely not a luxury. Especially if you want to do a multi-day hike.
- Bring plenty of sunscreen and water during your hike.
- Flying a drone is not allowed in the area.
- Download a translate app. During our trip, there were few people who could speak English. Google Translate was really a lifesaver then. Or download duolingo and start learning Spanish. Even better, of course.
- Use the app park4night or camper contact to find the nicest RV sites and campgrounds
- Looking for a free overnight stay? Through TrustedHousesitters, you can babysit other people’s homes and pets for free.
- We have already had 2x per breakdown on the road and then were very I with the ANWB. This year we even opted for the complete package, since last year we got stuck in Germany for 8 days and only spent 80 euros per day on accommodation
- Download the foreign affairs app and stay up to date with the latest travel advice
- Attention Orange Travel Advisory. Also, if you travel through an orange area, your insurance can deny charges. If there is an orange travel advisory regarding Corona, the insurance will only not cover costs related to Corona (please check, because this is not the case everywhere).
- Refueling is cheaper in villages. So never fill up your tank on the highway
- If you want to withdraw money in Europe, you often have to pay a small fee to your bank. We recently switched to Knab, which does not charge additional fees. We are very happy with it + you now receive €50 gift when you use Knab’s Switch Service!
- A credit card is really handy to have with you. For example, purchases are extra insured and in some places you can only pay by credit card.
What are nice places to stay in Picos de Europa?
Motorhome site Posada de Valdeón
The perfect place to discover the Picos is in the heart Posada de Valdeón. From here you can walk right into nature. The town of Cain is also not far from Posada de Valdeón. This is the place where the hike Ruta del Cares starts. By car it is easy to reach the town of Cain with the motorhome or bus is not recommended due to the steep slopes and narrow roads. Yet we saw some people doing it. We left the bus and hiked a different route.
For the RV site, you pay 10 euros. DIt can be done digitally or in cash. There are in the town 2 small restaurants and an inimini supermarket. The village itself is not very special, but is really in a prime location with stunning views.
Campsites in Potes
In Potes you will find several cozy campsites. We really wanted to be at Camping La Viorna, but unfortunately it was still closed in June (+ Corona), so it ended up being Camping la Isla Picos Europa. A small simple campground on a creek within biking distance of the town.
Hotels and B&B in Picos de Europa
Of course, we also spotted lots of cool hotels in Picos de Europa for you. Again, saves some searching.
Plus we always like a booking through We Wander Why. You pay nothing extra and we get a very small fee for each booking. So if you are happy with this article and would like to receive more We Wander Why content in the future, please make us very happy with a click to our friends at Booking.com.