Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hiking Adventure in the Picos de Europa

A wild trek amongst high peaks in Northern Spain's hidden gem of a mountain range

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Trip Ref #10318

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hiking Adventure in the Picos de Europa

A wild trek amongst high peaks in Northern Spain's hidden gem of a mountain range

DURATION

6 nights

LOCATION

Spain

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

Jun-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Asturias Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse · Mountain hut · Hotel

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

A steady hike with some big ascents and descents and some summit scrambles. You'll need good fitness and a head for heights

Tackle an epic route through rugged limestone peaks and deep valleys in one of Europe's quieter mountainous corners

Soak up the good life in Asturias and Cantabria provinces, Spain's best kept secret far away from the crowds in the South

Bunk down in rustic rural villages and hiker refuges deep in the Picos, fuelling up on delicious Spanish food along the way

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Shirley, July 2022

    Picos trip is amazing, scenery, local hosts and guides are really friendly, and professional, everything provided by MBA was excellent, make sure you have hiking experience some parts of the walks can be challenging but for me I loved it !..wish I brought more snacks as I struggled with hut food options as I am picky eater ...although the last hut provided me the most amazing soup and cheeseboard ! A trip I would recomend for sure

    JOHN JOSEPH, October 2022

    Guiding, accommodation and meals excellent. The information on local culture was very insightful. I can only say great things about this trip.

    Alison, October 2022

    A challenging but rewarding trip. Our guides Midori and Ruth were absolutely excellent, ensuring the group worked smoothly as a team and supporting everyone through the challenges of the terrain and environment of the Picos. They are a stunning mountain range but very challenging to hike (think carefully if you don’t have much prior hiking experience/suffer from vertigo). Packing light is recommended! The huts were basic but a fun experience to stay in and the hotels were very nice. Food was generally very good, although breakfast in the huts was very basic given the difficulty to supply fresh foods to them given location/accessibility.

    David, October 2022

    This trip exceeded my expectations and was organised superbly by our fantastic guides Midori and Ruth. The scenery was stunning and the terrain challenging.This was my first group walking holiday and it was great to share the experience with a supportive group of hikers. Whilst it is difficult to sleep in the huts the experience of bedding down high up in the mountains was amazing and one I will never forget. Good value for money as well - would definitely recommend.

    Mary, October 2022

    I can’t recommend this trip enough! So, so great. Don’t be fooled by the walking distances in the itinerary; I was worried the hike would be too easy (!) but one 8km day took us ten hours with all the tricky bits, plus some rather treacherous snow! You’ll be fine if you have a good level of fitness, though - and it was so worth it for the incredible views and million-miles-from-anywhere feeling of remoteness. The guides were fantastic as well. I did the trip in early October and would recommend this as a good time to go - warm but not baking, with clear blue skies all week. Don’t forget to pack something cosy for those chilly evenings, though!

    Becky, September 2022

    It was bloody brilliant! Ernesto and Txetxu were brilliant guides, clearly knew their stuff and were very knowledgable about the local area. It was a joy to walk with them and ask them questions. The group I was with were 10/10, there is no-one else I would rather choose to share a giant bunk bed with (Joking). Logistically everything went smoothly, it was good to have an easy first day and then be able to dump extra things I didn't need for pick up at the end. There was lots of food, but if you easily tire of meat/cheese/bread then take some snacks with you. All in all it was fab, and I wish I wasn't back at work today!

    Denise, October 2022

    Fantastic trip run by a brilliant local company. Couldn’t have asked for better guides in Ruth and Midori!!! The trek is definitely challenging and tough carrying everything for 4 days so keep it to a bare minimum. Keep snacks to a minimum, the huts have some to buy as you go. Sleeping in the huts was also challenging so pack ear plugs! Would definitely recommend this trip

    Ivan, October 2022

    If you want really challenging mountain hiking in lunar landscapes, this trip is for you. Guides organized it perfectly, and helped in most challenging places to ensure the safety. Food and wine is awesome even in huts where it is delivered rarely by helicopter. Sleeping in hut can be unusual experience - earplugs or headphones with white noise are required.

    David, September 2022

    Amazing scenery, challenging hiking and fantastic endings at the mountain refuges. So nice to have a beer (or 3) after a day's hiking.

    Ieva, September 2022

    Absolutely amazing experience that was better than I expected. I knew the trek would be challenging and it definitely was that. I hadn’t had move scrambling / loose rock trekking experience and maybe I should have prepared better, but the amazing guides were very helpful and taught us technical bits. The hiking poles ARE A MUST!! I couldn’t have done the trek without them. Very well planned trip, amazing food, the local huts were a great experience - great hosts and good local food. Getting sleep in the mountain huts was the only issue because some didn’t have much sleeping space and because of others making noise, but what can you do… it was still worth it! We had a great group of people and that made the adventure. If I was asked for advice, I’d say to train at least a bit on loose stone so that your knees get used to that sort of physical activity, ensure your boots are in a good shape, don’t have to bring too many snacks as there’s a lot of food, and good ear plugs for sleep!

    Included

    Guides

    Expert, English speaking mountain guides

    Accommodation

    4 nights in rural hotels and guesthouses, 2 nights in mountain refuges

    Meals

    6 breakfasts and 6 dinners

    Transfers

    Airport transfers and everything in between

    Equipment

    Hiking poles, if you need them

    Not Included

    Travel insurance

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    Personal expenses

    Some meals as described

    Tips for your guides

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Asturias Airport

    16:00

    Ends

    Asturias Airport

    14:00

    Transfers

    Your host will meet you at Asturias Airport and transfer you to Cangas de Onis for your first night. On the final day, your host will transfer you from Espinama back to Asturias Airport. Airport transfers are included in the trip cost as long as you arrive and depart on Day 1 and Day 7. Your host is able to arrange private airport transfers from Asturias Airport or from Santander Airport if you are arriving before Day 1 or departing after Day 7, please see Optional Extras for more details.

    Travel options

    Asturias Airport is accessible via various direct flights from the UK and mainland Europe. Flights from the US generally connect through Madrid, Paris or Amsterdam. If you're looking to make your own way to Cangas de Onis and not use the group transfer at Asturias Airport, you may wish to look into combining flight options into/out of Asturias, Santander & Bilbao airports, all of which are only an hour or two's drive away from Cangas de Onis, with public transport options between them.

    UK travellers with a bit more time (and possibly a vehicle) on their hands can travel to Asturias using the popular Portsmouth-Santander ferry route. Rail travellers can get to the start of this trip via Bilbao's main railway station - Bilbao Abando - which is well connected to various major cities in Spain and France if you are travelling by train from the UK. From Bilbao you can get as far as Arriondas by train, and from there it's a short bus ride to Cangas de Onis.

    Day 1

    Guesthouse · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2

    Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 3

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 4

    Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 5 – Day 6

    Guesthouse · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 7

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    For the first, second and final day of the trip, your evening meals will be local specialities in restaurants selected by your guide. You'll enjoy a variety of tapas and 'pinchos' (small traditional snacks popular across northern Spain), a main course usually with fish or meat, dessert and local wines. In the mountain huts, you'll keep fuelled up with various dinners of pasta, lentils, chickpeas, soups and meat-based dishes. Lunches are not included, you can buy your own each morning before the day's trekking either from local bakeries and shops in Arenas de Cabrales and Espinama on days 2 and 3, or from the mountain refuges on days 4, 5 and 6. You should budget around €10-15 per day for your lunches and any snacks.

    Asturias is famous for its milk, so there are plenty of cheeses to sample throughout the trip. Another local Asturian speciality is cider; your final meal of the trip is at a local cider factory where you can toast the climax of the trek in style and attempt the traditional pouring method - raising the bottle above your head and pouring into the glass from a height, so as to carbonate the cider while holding the glass low in your other hand. This becomes more challenging after your 3rd, 4th and 5th glass!

    Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Cangas de Onis

    Your first night of the trip is spent at Hotel Los Lagos Nature in the centre of the picturesque town of Cangas de Onis, which sits at the foot of the Picos and on the banks of the Sella River. Housed in a historic building with a characterful bar and restaurant, you'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

    Mountain Refuges

    You'll spend two nights at different refuges within the Picos de Europa National Park, namely Refugios Collado Jermoso and Vegabaño. You'll stay in mixed dorm-style bunk rooms. Since Covid, the refuges have stopped providing bedding and pillows, so you'll need to bring a lightweight sleeping bag and travel pillow. The refuges will serve your evening meal and breakfast, and you'll also be able to buy your lunch for each day from the refuges before setting off. There are shared toilet facilities and showers available to use.

    Espinama

    After the more rustic stays at the mountain refuges, you'll stay at Hostal Remoña in Espinama, a charming guesthouse in a quaint village nestled beneath the Picos - not far from where the road comes to end, as it meets the impassable mountains. The guesthouse is well known for its homemade, traditional Cantabrian food and extensive wine list, which you'll enjoy while taking in the views of the Picos. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with private bathrooms.

    Hotel Presa

    Hotel Presa is in a stunning location by the Riaño Reservoir on the edge of the National Park, with incredible sweeping views of the peaks. It offers traditional, country-style accommodation in twin-share rooms with private bathrooms. You'll spend one night here, in between your stays in the mountain refuges.

    Day 1

    Arrival

    Your host will meet you on arrival at Asturias Airport in Oviedo and drive you to the picturesque town of Cangas de Onis. Meet up with your guides for a chat about the challenge ahead and tuck into a traditional meal.

    Day 2

    The trek begins

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 14km · 700m up · 300m down

    Hop in the van for a short ride to Amieva village where the trek gets under way. This is an ancient route called La Senda de la Jocica, which kicks things off with some stunning views of peaks as you hike over rivers and pastures. Pass through a quaint old village and high up into the beech forests until you reach Vegabaño, where you can enjoy some truly spectacular panoramas of the highest peaks in the western massif. Enjoy a sundowner and bunk down in the in Vegabaño refuge.

    Day 3

    Amazing views from Jario Peak (1914m)

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 15km · 600m up · 900m down

    Fuel up on breakfast at the refuge and set off again through a beech grove and another area of woodland, reaching Jario peak (1914m) as the vistas open up further to include the Western Massif of Picos de Europa and the mountains of Ponga and Redes. Enjoy a long and gentle descent into the Valdeon valley until the path begins to get wider and reveals a track that will take you to the village of Caldevilla. From here, follow the course of the Cares River to the town of Boca de Huergano for a well-earned shower and beer at Hotel Presa, your base for the night.

    Day 4

    Deeper into the Picos

    Hiking

    3-4hrs · 9km · 700m up · 400m down

    Head to the other side of the massif today with a short drive through stunning mountain scenery to Pandetrave pass and then by dirt track to Valcabao. Today's route is a beautiful one across limestone rocks and high mountain pastures, with eagles and vultures soaring above and chamois grazing. Hiking deep into the mountains, you'll reach Collado Jermoso refuge, where the sunsets can be spectacular.

    Day 5

    Collado Jermoso to Fuente Dé

    Hiking

    4-5hrs · 12km · 150m up · 1150m down

    Retrace your steps slightly until Vega de Liordes, then hike on to Fuente Dé through a steady downhill transition from high mountain to the valleys, passing oak and beech forests in the surroundings of Fuente Dé to the alpine grasslands at the foot of the rocks of Peñas de Cifuentes. The trail runs through one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the National Park, with species such as the Cantabrian brown bear, wolf, deer and wild boar calling the area home. A 5-minute drive takes you from Fuente Dé to Espinama village, where you'll enjoy a glass of wine and a meal at Hostal Remoña - named after Peña Remoña, the most beautiful and iconic of the peaks on this side of the Picos.

    Day 6

    The big one - to Horcados Rojos

    Hiking

    4-5hrs · 12km · 800m up · 800m down

    An epic culmination awaits today, starting with taking the cable car from the bottom of Fuente Dé, whisking you up 750m in just 5 minutes, back into the high mountain area. The hike is along a steady track cutting into the lunar landscape of the high peaks, aiming for Horcados Rojos. Reaching a pass after a few hours, you'll see all the way out to the Cantabrian Sea. An easygoing switchback scramble will see you at the summit of Horcados Rojos (2506m), a magnificent balcony inside the Central Massif. Hike back to the cable car station via Cabaña Veronica hut. After taking the cable car back down, there may be time for a short drive to Potes this afternoon - the main village in this area - before a meal and sundowner back in Espinama, to toast the end of an incredible week of hiking.

    Day 7

    Adios Asturias

    The adventure comes to an end today as your host drives you back to Asturias Airport in time for your onward flight home. If you are lingering longer in Spain, the Asturian coastline has some incredible beaches, good surf and laid back bars and cafes to discover.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What's included?

    • Hiking poles (optional)

    What do I need to bring?

    BAGS
    Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack for left luggage in Espinama on day 3
    Daypack (40-50 litres)
    Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack/drybags

    CLOTHES
    Lightweight down or synthetic jacket
    Lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket
    Breathable wicking layers
    Fleece jacket or similar
    Buff or neck scarf
    Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts for hiking
    T-shirts
    Underwear and socks
    Swimwear for hotel
    Sunglasses
    Sunhat
    Gloves
    Something to sleep in
    Hiking boots (worn-in)
    Lightweight shoes for refuges

    SLEEPING
    Sleeping bag (2/3 season)
    Pillowcase

    OTHER
    Universal travel plug adapter
    Power bank or solar charger
    Passports (and visas)
    Travel insurance documents
    Suncream
    Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
    Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
    Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
    Quick-dry towel
    Alcohol hand-gel
    Face mask
    Headtorch or torch
    Two reusable water bottles x1 litre
    Water purification tablets/treatment system

    OPTIONAL
    Earplugs
    Energy bars and snacks
    Trekking poles (your host can provide these if desired)

    Single room

    Payable Before Departure

    Single room

    Twin/Double room

    Payable Before Departure

    Twin/Double room

    Optional Private Room Upgrade (July & August trips)

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade (July & August trips)

    Per Person

    Optional Private Room Upgrade (Jun, Sept & Oct trips)

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade (Jun, Sept & Oct trips)

    Per Person

    Private transfer Asturias Airport or Santander Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-4 people)

    Payable Before Departure

    Private transfer Asturias Airport or Santander Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-4 people)

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 150kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    This trek involves five consecutive days of hiking between 4-6 hours per day, so you'll need to be comfortable with doing this. Four out of the five days of hiking involve ascents of 600-800m, and a mixture of terrain from easygoing dirt trails and pastures, to the tougher-going limestone rock areas in the higher mountain areas. Although the daily distances covered are not too great, the terrain requires steady footing. You won't need any technical mountaineering or trekking experience, and the altitude is no issue as the maximum altitude you will reach is 2504m. An expert guide is there to help if there are any sections where you feel you need a hand.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion and are non-compulsory on this trip. Of course, if you feel that your guides provided an exceptional experience then you are welcome to tip as much as you feel is appropriate. You should factor in tipping 10% on top of the bill in any bars and restaurants during the trip.

    The water in the Picos is safe to drink and you are able to fill up freely at each of the refuges and guesthouses that you stay at. Make sure to bring a couple of 1-litre reusable drinking bottles or a bladder.

    The weather in the Picos can be very changeable, so be sure to pack for all weathers. Mainly it tends to be dry and sunny on the south face of the Picos and at high altitudes over 1,500m. Lower altitudes and on the north face of the Picos is more humid and sometimes rainy. The maximum temperature is around 20 degrees and the minimum around 8-12 degrees. Perfect trekking temperatures!

    Yes, you can leave your luggage in Cangas de Onis. This can be collected on the way back to the airport on Day 7.

    For current advice about travelling in Spain, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

    You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

    Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

    Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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