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Picos de Europa, Spain. Photo: Shutterstock-2261345255
4.9
| 45 reviews

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

Annual Leave

1 week off work

Group Size

Up to 14 people

Season

Jun-Oct

Location

Spain

Meeting Point

Bilbao Airport

Classic Accommodation

Guesthouse · Mountain refuge · Village refuge

Customer Reviews

(45)

4.9

Difficulty

Challenging

From

From

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(November 2023)

This hike was a fab time :)

Catherine(October 2023)

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(October 2023)

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(October 2023)

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(October 2023)

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(October 2023)

Fabulous trip.

Dan(October 2023)

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

Katie(August 2023)

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

James(July 2023)

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(July 2023)

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!

Laura(July 2023)

Picos de Europa are beautiful, and challenging. We had a very international group which was wonderful. We all got along super well. The mountain huts were awesome. Highly recommend.

Laura(June 2023)

Our hiking trip to Picos was amazing. Highlight was Midori and Irene, the guides. They were wonderful. Group dynamic was great. Mountain huts were wonderful. Hotels were nice. Hikes and views were amazing. Our group got along super well. Very international group. Perfect trip. Would do the trip again in a flash. There was one day with a long downhill on rocky terrain that was tough for me, but the rest of the trip was amazing. Distances were not long on the hikes, but there was a technical aspect to some of the hikes. I found hiking poles to be useful. Highly recommend.

Shirley(November 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 J.(October 2022)

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

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.

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.

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(October 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!

Chloë(September 2022)

This was an absolutely brilliant trip - I would recommend it to anyone! There are moments that are very challenging but my guide was brilliant and really supported me through those moments. The views are incredible - especially the sunsets and the stars at night.

Vivien(September 2022)

Great trip with fantastic local guides. Terrain is challenging but manageable. Good snacks are a must, as is a book for the downtimes without phone signal! Will definitely be heading back to the Picos in the future

Floris(September 2022)

This trip exceeded my expectations! The hike itself was challenging but doable, also with limited hiking experience. The scenery at the Picos de Europa is incredible and the memories of this hike will stay with me for a long time. The trip was also very well planned with a slightly easier first hike, then 3 nights in refuges and the most challenging walks, and finally a very nice hotel and even better restaurant in Llanes to conclude the week. I wouldn't mind doing exactly the same trip again next week! 10/10

Kate(September 2022)

Overall a great week. Lovely guides, good food and accommodation, great views, well balanced week. Good to take some snacks but I wouldn't overdo it as you get a hearty basic meal at each refuge. Despite the previous reviews, I didn't find it challenging. Some days very short distances, though terrain is somewhat tricky it's true. Depends how fit/experienced you are as to how challenging it will be. Don't underestimate how chilly it can get (though apparently during previous weeks it was boiling). We were lucky with the weather, but can change quickly so be prepared. My first experience of a group walking holiday, and I was glad to have the support of guides as would be challenging without. The group was a mix of singles and couples/friends.

Alison(September 2022)