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Hut-to-Hut Trekking in the Picos de Europa

A wild trek amongst the high peaks of this hidden gem of a mountain range in Northern Spain

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Trip Ref #10318

Hut-to-Hut Trekking in the Picos de Europa

A wild trek amongst the high peaks of this hidden gem of a mountain range in Northern Spain

DURATION
6 nights
LOCATION
Spain
ANNUAL LEAVE
1 week off work
SEASON
Jun-Oct
GROUP SIZE
Up to 14 people
MEETING POINT
Bilbao Airport
ACCOMMODATION
Classic

Guesthouse · Mountain refuge · Village refuge

OVERALL RATING

4.9

Based on 45 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Challenging

A challenging trek with big ascents and descents and the odd summit scramble: you'll need good fitness and be happy deep in the mountains

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

Bag the summits of Jario (1913m), Cotalba (2026m) and La Padiorna (2319m) as you go, with fun scrambles to reach epic vistas

Bunk down in mountain refuges deep in the Picos, sipping local sidre at sunset and fuelling up on delicious Spanish food

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

Day 1

Arrival

Your host will meet you on arrival at Bilbao Airport 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

6-7hrs · 13km · 950m up · 350m down

Head off early to the Covadonga Lakes to kick off the trek in the west of the Picos. Hit the trailhead at Pan de Carmen and after an hour or so of hiking, the towering peaks of the western massif reveal themselves. The trail gets a bit rockier and you might spot chamois as you approach the Mirador de Ordiales, an epic viewpoint with a 1000-metre drop to the Angon Valley below. This spot is the final resting place of the founder of the Picos de Europa National Park, Pedro Pidal. Trek up to the Cotalba peak at 2026m, enjoying a cool little scramble just before you hit the top. Once you're up there, the high peaks of the western massif seem so close, and you can spot the lakes in the distance, plus the stunning Ponga Mountains. Descend to the Vegarredonda Refuge for dinner and your first night in the Picos' network of welcoming mountain huts.

Day 3

Vegarredonda to Vegabaño

Hiking

8hrs · 16km · 1000m up · 1100m down

Today is the most challenging day of the trip, so fuel up at the refuge before kicking things of with an ascent to Collado Les Merines at 2100m, entering a huge limestone area through the Pozas Jou. Take a rest at the Prieta spring before continuing past the enormous peak of Vega Huerta and heading south down the Canal del Perro. Descend among the beech trees that surround the Vegabaño shelter, a welcome refuge after a killer day. Soak up this beautiful spot – next to the source of the Dobra River and by the thousand-year-old oak tree of Vegabaño – with sundowners, dinner and an overnight stay at the refuge.

Day 4

Vegabaño to Santa Marina de Valdeon, via Jario peak

Picos de Europa, Spain
GETTY - Western massif of the Picos de Europa National park and the village of Santa Marina placed in the Valdeon valley at sunrise, Leon, Spain. Photo: Getty # 1557607794

Hiking

5-6hrs · 12km · 600m up · 1000m down

Bid farewell to the Vegabaño shelter and enter a beech grove, going up a gentle slope and passing the habitat of capercaillie birds. Time for another summit: hike steadily up to the peak of Jario at 1913m. Separated from the rest of the massif by large meadows, you'll find an extraordinary viewpoint here, from which you'll see the summits of the Picos de Europa. Continue through the virgin woodland up to Dobres Rock, before starting your descent into the Valdeon Valley all the way to the village of Caldevilla. Follow the course of the Cares River to the village of Posada de Valdeón for a late lunch back in civilisation, before carrying on to the small village of Santa Marina de Valdeon to settle into the auberge here for dinner and another well-earned sleep.

Day 5

Valcavao to Collado Jermoso refuge

Collado Jermoso, Spain. Photo: Host/Rumbo a Picos

Hiking

4-5hrs · 9km · 800m up · 400m down

Soak up the views from one of the Picos' most stunningly situated refuges this morning with a coffee and breakfast before taking a short transfer to the Pandetrave mountain pass and on by farm track to Valcavao. Today's section is a wonderful route from Valcabao to Collado Jermoso mountain hut via the Canal de Pedabejo, trekking through the spectacular Vega de Liordes and along the cliffs of Colladinas until arriving at Collado Jermoso. The refuge here is blessed with sweeping views of the Valdeón valley and the Western Massif, and sunsets here are often spectacular.

Day 6

Collado Jermoso to Fuente Dé

Hiking

5-6hrs · 11km · 600m up · 900m down

One last epic day of trekking in the Picos awaits today as you head towards the finish line. Set off from Collado Jermoso mountain hut and retrace your steps until Las Colladinas, which marks the start point of an ascent to the fabulous summit of La Padiorna (2319m) with stunning views of the whole Central Massif and Liebana Valley. Descend via the Canal de San Luis traversing a lunar landscape in this high part of the massif, all the way to the cable car station. Hop in the cable car and enjoy a brisk 750m descent in a matter of minutes down to Fuente Dé at the foot of the mountain range. Take a short drive to Espinama to settle into your guesthouse back in civilisation after a wild week in the mountains. Late in the afternoon, you can visit the picturesque medieval town of Potes before heading back to Espinama for a farewell dinner and some drinks to toast the culmination of an epic trek in the north of Spain.

Day 7

Adios Asturias

The adventure comes to an end today as your host drives you back to Bilbao 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.

Included

Guides

Expert, English speaking mountain guides

Accommodation

4 nights in mountain refuges, 2 nights in rural guesthouses

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

Visas where required

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Mountain refuge · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Village refuge · Multi share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Mountain refuge · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

For the first 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 dinners that typically consist 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 (for Day 2) and Espinama (for Day 6), or from the mountain refuges for the other days. You should budget around €15-20 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 and Village Refuges

You'll spend three nights at different mountain refuges within the Picos de Europa National Park, namely Refugios Vegarredonda, Collado Jermoso and Vegabaño. In these 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. You'll also spend one night in a village refuge at the Refugio La Ardilla Real in Santa Marina de Valdeón. This refuge is of a higher comfort level, more like a B&B with smaller dorms and a cute restaurant and bar. Your host will try to arrange same-sex share basis for this night depending on availability.

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.

Upgrades

A limited number of optional solo room upgrades are available on some nights of the tour (not available in the mountain refuges) - please see Optional Extras for Prices.

If you would like to book extra nights' accommodation in Cangas de Onis before the tour or in Espinama after the tour, please contact your host for availability and prices. We are not able to list prices as they tend to vary throughout the season.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Bilbao Airport

12:30

Ends

Bilbao Airport

12:00

Transfers

Please arrive at Bilbao airport by 12:30 on Day 1 in order to join the group transfer to Cangas de Onis for your first night. On Day 7, your host will provide a group transfer from Espinama back to Bilbao airport, dropping you off at approximately midday.

If you are arriving/departing at different times, on different days or flying to/from alternative airports (Asturias Airport or Santander Airport) your host can arrange private airport transfers for an additional charge, subject to availability. Please see Optional Extras for prices.

Travel options

Bilbao Airport is accessible via various direct flights from the UK and mainland Europe. Flights from outside of Europe are typically indirect. If you're looking to make your own way to Cangas de Onis and not use the group transfer at Bilbao 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.

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.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Hiking poles (optional)

What do I need to bring?

BAGS
Trekking backpack (approx. 40-60 litres) for carrying all belongings during trek on Days 2-6 Waterproof liner or drybag for backpack

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
High factor suncream and lip salve
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
1 litre reusable water bottles x 2, or at least 1 x 1.5 Litre bottle

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

*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

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 or Santander Airport to Llanes (1-8 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private Transfer Asturias or Santander Airport to Llanes (1-8 people)

Private Transfer Bilbao Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-8 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private Transfer Bilbao Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-8 people)

Private Transfer Espinama to Bilbao Airport (1-8 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private Transfer Espinama to Bilbao Airport (1-8 people)

Rachel

This hike was a fab time :)

Catherine

Would highly recommend this trip - The guides were excellent, really knowledgeable and friendly :) Great hikes, plenty of local food to try and a variety of stops along the way One of the best weeks ever!

Bruce

The organisation and communications were all good. The plan to hike in and out of the mountains between hotels in towns and mountain huts worked really well. It gave us a walk through a variety of landscapes. The guides set a comfortable pace for the whole group. They explained the geographical, historical and biological features of what we saw. Their leadership made a huge difference to the success of the whole holiday. The weather was far better that I expected for early October. Not a drop of rain or blast of wind. Health and safety seemed good and the recycling in the huts explained. If anything could be improved it would be making sure the windows in the huts were left open as it got quite hot on the top bunks. Our group had a very wide age range (25 to 75) but still gelled and had fun.

Sarah

The Picos de Europa is a beautiful area of varied terrain with amazing views at every turn. This trip provides an opportunity to explore the mountains and stay in two different huts - watching the sun set and rise in the mountains and enjoying great food. We enjoyed getting to know our fellow travellers and felt very well looked after by our three lovely guides

Yevhen

The trip was awesome! Very beatifull locations, stanning views. Huts are placed in amazing locations. Very good, delicious food in each place. And I want to highlight the hosts - they were awesome! They know everything about that place, they were really kind, hospitable, intelligent and funny! They created a really positive friendly vibes within our group! Irene and Midori you are awesome! I really enjoyed being the part of the group in this adventure! Love!

Stephen

Fabulous trip.

Dan

Our guides, Midori and Irene, saw to it that we were well cared for and kept us laughing throughout the trip!

Katie

Great trip in the beautiful Picos. Guides were incredible. Fun group. Definitely recommend!

James

I attended this trip in June 2023 as a solo traveller. The whole experience was amazing - the hiking, the scenery and the friends that I made will not be forgotten for a very long time. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone seeking to switch off, unwind and broaden their horizons in a truly beautiful and unique part of the world. A special mention must be made of our local guides Midori and Irene who led us through the mountains with great energy and humour, keeping us well informed and safe throughout the duration. I am already looking forward to booking my next trip with MBA and plan to return to the region in the future.

Alex

An amazing trip to a less known mountain range in Europe. It felt like we were in the heart of the Alps, without seeing other people, but with the same spectacular views and trails! The guides were amazing and more than happy to meet our needs. I will be back to the area for sure!

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

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 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. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

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 is a significant trek, comparable to the famous trails like the Tour du Mont Blanc in terms of distance and elevation gain and the general level of fitness needed. You'll be doing five consecutive days of hiking between 6-9 hours hours per day with up to 1100m elevation gain and loss to achieve each day, so you'll need to be comfortable with doing this on a mixture of terrain from easygoing dirt trails and pastures, to the tougher-going limestone rock areas in the higher mountain areas. You won't need any technical mountaineering knowledge but some experience of multi-day trekking will be useful, however as long as you are fit and determined with good hiking boots and a comfortable pack to trek with, this trip can be done by anyone just with some experience of long day hikes. There are some light scrambles to reach the summits long the route, no experience is needed for these and an expert guide is there to help if there are any sections where you feel you need a hand. You will be carrying your belongings in a backpack - see FAQ below.

Yes. From Day 2 to Day 6 you will need to carry all of your necessary gear for five trekking days and four overnights in the mountain and village refuges. In addition to clothes and toiletries, you should factor in having to carry drinking water and a packed lunch each day.

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

Sure can! Over 70% 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!

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 for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

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 always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

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

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

June 2024

Sunday • 16th June 2024

to Saturday • 22nd June 2024
10 Booked • 4 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 30th June 2024

to Saturday • 6th July 2024
3 Booked • 11 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 14th July 2024

to Saturday • 20th July 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 28th July 2024

to Saturday • 3rd August 2024
4 Booked • 10 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 4th August 2024

to Saturday • 10th August 2024
4 Booked • 10 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 18th August 2024

to Saturday • 24th August 2024
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 1st September 2024

to Saturday • 7th September 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 15th September 2024

to Saturday • 21st September 2024
4 Booked • 10 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 29th September 2024

to Saturday • 5th October 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 6th October 2024

to Saturday • 12th October 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

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