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Swim off a sandy beach in the middle of a meadow or stand on a high peak with a blanket of clouds at your feet? Just ask your guide. Discover the very best of the Picos de Europa with some days of private guiding to complement your days spent exploring together as a family.
Call 01273 676 712 to talk to someone who knows this trip
All I can say is that Alex (our guide) was superb, enthusiastic, polite, funny and knowledgeable. He was great with the children, clearly loved and cared for the environment we were in, gave me total confidence when abseiling etc and was a pleasure to be with. He is a real ambassador for your company. Simon D & family
Arrive in northern Spain. Collect your car at the airport and drive to first hotel to settle in and start your active exploration of the Picos de Europa mountains. This area is fantastic for adventure activities, high mountains and also the beach - a variety which works really well for any family.
During your time in the Picos, you have two full days with your own Pura Aventura guide. Today your guide leads you through some fun water based activities. Start with river canoeing this morning, moving on to canyoning this afternoon. This activity has been likened to a log flume without the log and that pretty much sums it up.
One of the most stunning walks is to a viewpoint from where you can see all three massifs of the Picos range. Walking up a steep initial section, you make it up to the top of a ridge from where you have views of the highest peaks to the south and the sea to your north.
Today you can choose to take it easy at leisure on the beach or head off for activities nearby such as walking, mountain biking or surfing. The beach is reasonably close by so you can have a day on the coast if that appeals.
You might like to start the day with the most famous walk in the Picos: the Cares Gorge. The walk starts you uphill on a winding, gravelly path before levelling out and leading into the gorge opening up ahead. The path runs along the wall of the gorge, cut into the rock, narrowing to just two metres in places.
After a couple of active days, perhaps you’d like to take it easy today. There are lots of options within striking distance. Potes, the medieval capital of the Liebana Valley is a short drive away and is the hub of activities. Equally, you have notes and maps for some lovely walks in the area.
Set off early to beat the queues today as you ride the cable car into the high mountains. The cable car at Fuente Dé provides a spectacular three minute ride up 1,000m to the upper reaches of the mountains in the heart of the National Park. The contrast with the green valley floor is striking as you step out into a moon-like landscape of splintered rocks, jagged peaks and deep ravines.
Today you change hotels again to spend your last three nights in a village right up by the coast. From here you still have easy access to the Picos, particularly the western massif, as well as being close to some lovely, peaceful sandy beaches.
Spend another day with your Pura guide as they lead you on a bike ride along the coast. The coast of northern Spain is defined by rolling hills breaking off into the sea to reveal hidden sandy coves and beaches. What makes this stretch of coastline so unusual and special is that you can see the high mountain peaks, some up to 2,600m, as you ride.
Your last day in the Picos de Europa is yours to relax.
Head back to the airport, port or railway station for your journey home.
Swim off a sandy beach in the middle of a meadow or stand on a high peak with a blanket of clouds at your feet – just ask your guide. Discover the very best of the Picos de Europa with some days of private guiding to complement your days spent actively exploring as a family.
As a tailor made trip, the level of exertion on this trip is determined by you. The sample itinerary described above assumes a wide variety of activities, from walking to canyoning.
When walking, you will notice that the Picos de Europa are dramatic and rugged mountains but there is a huge difference between walking in the rocky uplands and walking through the green valleys or even along the coastal meadows. There is genuinely a walk to suit all moods in these mountains, from easy to very challenging. For families, this flexibility is critical. The way it works on the ground is that we provide you with maps and routes for a variety of hikes, from half day strolls to full day hikes.
Included in the suggested version of this holiday is canyoning. This activity consists of getting kitted up in wetsuits, helmets and harnesses before hiking up towards the upper reaches of a stream. Getting into the water at the top, you then make your way down the riverbed towards the bottom. This consists of paddling, swimming, jumping, rappelling and sliding. It's all great fun in a rough and tumble sort of way. There are various canyons we visit, depending on the weather, time of day and intensity of activity you want we will choose one or other of these. The jumps are not particularly high, a couple of metres or so.
Also part of the suggested trip is canoeing which is in two person open canoes along the wide lower reaches of a river, as it approaches the sea. As a result, this is a really quite gentle activity, more of a cooling splash than an adrenaline rush.
The mountain biking is along the undulating coastline, the circular route is half on very, very quiet paved roads and half on open dirt tracks which lead across the coastal meadows. Though the ride is fairly long at 20km, it is not particularly challenging and there's always the carrot of a picnic on the beach to encourage everyone along.
The inclusion of guided days allows you to easily alternate days of guided activity and days of more relaxed independent exploration as a family.
The accommodation on this journey is comfortable though not fancy. There are three hotels we use on this trip in order to allow you to explore the different parts of the Picos without having to travel back and forth too much. The hotels are very traditional rustic stone buildings with thick walls and small windows. Expect a warm welcome, delicious food and very peaceful nights' sleep. We assume separate rooms for children and parents. Rooms are always en suite. We also use hotels that have restaurants so you can eat on site in the evening.
The weather in this part of Spain is notoriously fickle i.e. wet. This is 'green Spain' after all. If you travel in May or June you are likely to enjoy decent daytime temperatures of around 15°- 20°, though you will almost certainly see some rain and cloudy days. It is a beautiful time of year in the forests and mountains with spring flowers in the meadows and snow still up on the high mountains.
The peak summer months of July and August are warmest though still daytime temperatures are unlikely to go much over 25°. September is usually the driest month of the year, will be pleasantly warm and the sea should still be good for a refreshing dip. October is going to be similar in temperature to May/June, perhaps a little drier, as you get into later October the autumnal colours will be beautiful particularly in the forests of the Liebana Valley.
The Picos de Europa is rich in rural culture as well as having some fascinating historical sites.
The way of life up in the mountains has changed remarkably little in the last 50 years, you will still see people scything the hay and leading there sheep out to graze in the high pastures.
Artisan food production is a major part of the economy here, cheeses in particular are famously good. The powerful blue Cabrales cheese is made up in the village of Tielve, the very, very special Gamoneu cheese just across the valley. Bread baked in wood-fired ovens (pan de lena) is still made in most parts of the mountains.
There are very significant prehistoric cave paintings at the Tito Bustillo caves though easier to visit are the Altamira caves an hour or so to the east of the mountains in Santillana del Mar.
The church of Santo Toribio tucked away near the town of Potes is said to contain the largest piece of the lignum crucis, the true cross. As a result, it is considered to be the fourth most important pilgrimage site in Christianity, behind Jerusalem, the Vatican and Santiago de Compostela. In truth it's quite a way behind…
With time spent with your own guide exploring the area, you will start to discover how people live in the Picos so we fully expect you to come away from this trip having had a great, fun adventure holiday in beautiful surroundings but also with an appreciation of the culture of the Picos.
We provide you with all the maps, walking notes and local information you will need to make the most out of your trip.
There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you.
However, as a tailor made trip, in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you, we really need to discuss things with you first to find out how many of you there are, your ages, interests, when you want to travel, etc.
In the form set out above, the holiday price includes accommodation in two rooms, mid-sized rental car, breakfasts and guided excursions, activities and entrances as per the detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.
Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to Santander (airport code: SDR), Asturias (airport code: OVD) or Bilbao (airport code: BIO) though transfer prices will vary according to which you choose. Rail connections are less good but still possible.