7 reasons to visit the Picos de Europa: #5. Sand and summits
This article forms one of a seven-part series showcasing how we could share Spain's Picos de Europa with you and your walking boots. You can find an overview of all seven reasons here. Enjoy reading and if it inspires you to come and see it all for yourself, you'll find links to some trip ideas and a direct line to a team of people who'd love to help you plan a visit to somewhere so close to our hearts.
#5. Sand and summits
One of the joys of northern Spain is that you can eat a midday picnic on a mountain summit, take a late afternoon swim in the ocean and sit down for a slow seafood dinner within shouting distance of a bustling fishing harbour.
You need only stand on the golden sands of the Costa Verde and draw your gaze upwards to the high mountain peaks, some up to 2,600m, to share that vision. But you need to rush. There’s time for the hills and time aplenty for the beach.
The coast of Northern Spain, which you might see referred to as the Costa Verde (Green Coast) or the Costa de Cantabria (you can guess at that one), is defined by rolling hills breaking off into the sea to reveal hidden sandy coves and beaches. It stretches east to west from the Basque Country to Galicia, pocketed on route by wild beaches, small fishing villages and green pastures dipping their toes in the sea.
Snapshots of the Costa Verde around Llanes
Just north of the Picos, between the small fishing towns of Llanes and Ribadesella, lies the least built-up and thus best preserved and most beautiful stretch of it all. It’s not for nothing that Pura co-founder Diego Martin has chosen this bit of the world as his home for the past two decades. For all his good intentions, his photos of lush green hills, golden sands and breaking waves do little to cheer the soul on one of our grey Brighton mornings here in the UK!
Having dedicated a bit of time to the big mountains, be it a good day hike or a week-long walking route, things get a lot gentler on the coast. A flat and winding path meanders above the ocean, inviting you down for a barefoot stroll or an invigorating dip at any number of the beautiful (and beautifully quiet) beaches en route. Whilst the water is never warm, the colour can be positively Caribbean.
The pretty waterfront of Llanes with the Picos mountains behind
In the fishing village of Llanes, the Gothic stone basilica and the shell waymarkers of the Camino de Santiago keep close its ties with a lively medieval past. Today though, it’s all the town’s relationship with the sea, whose salty smell hangs in the air and whose fruits are enjoyed on relaxed restaurant terraces, huddled together above fishing boats bobbing gently in the harbour.