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Walk across high mountain meadows and taste cider fresh from the barrel in the company of villagers, as you discover the stunning landscapes of the Picos de Europa mountains. With time in the company of a local guide to balance the freedom of a self-drive, this is the perfect trip for independent yet inquisitive explorers.
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Collect your car at the airport and drive to your first hotel. We assume that you stay in two different hotels over the course of your stay. You arrive in Spain with walking notes, local information and maps to make the most of your holiday. In general you will be armed with upwards of 10 different walking routes so you will have plenty to choose from. Because we tailor this holiday to your needs, the description below should be taken as a suggestion rather than a fixed itinerary.
Spend today with your private Pura guide. Having a local guide with you gives you the opportunity to learn about the area and settle in so that you can enjoy the rest of your holiday all the more. One of the most stunning walks is to a viewpoint from where you can see all three massifs of the Picos range.
The most famous walk in the Picos, probably in all of Spain, is the Cares Gorge. It is a path cut along the cliff face high above the Cares River which cuts right through the heart of the Picos de Europa. In places, the path is just two metres wide cut into a cliff face some 1,500m high. Towards the end of the gorge you pass through a series of short tunnels and over bridges as the path criss-crosses the river below.
Your guide returns to lead you on a walk along the coast. What makes this stretch of coastline so unusual and special is that you can see the high mountain peaks, some up to 2,600m, whilst standing on the sand. Today’s walk takes you out along the edge of the coastal mountain range and then down to the sea to ride along the undulating cliff tops. If you prefer to ride bikes, that is a possibility.
Walk through a pretty forest or visit the Bearded Vulture Foundation visitor centre near your hotel. This centre is dedicated to the preservation of not only the birds but the traditional lifestyles which sustain them. Drive though the narrow, winding Hermida Gorge and into the lush Liebana Valley later, where you stay in a small inn near the town of Potes.
The Liebana Valley has many red-roofed villages perched on green valley walls where the way of life has changed little in many years. Today you walk old trails across meadows between villages then on uphill to a small shrine set on a natural balcony with views over the valley and mountains beyond.
The cable-car at Fuente Dé provides a spectacular 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. You will usually see chamois goats perched on the cliffs and vultures circling below. From here walk up to a high peak for fantastic views.
Time to bid adios to the Picos as you return the car and head home. Hopefully this sample itinerary has piqued your interest in a visit to the Picos de Europa, a place that continues to move us two decades on. You'll find more details below about the accommodation, what's included and how the trip benefits the local communities. The next step is then getting in touch with us to start planning your trip of course.
This trips arms you with the keys to a car, a collection of maps and routes for our favourite walks, the company of our local guides and partners and suggestions for other optional activities available, including biking, canoeing, and even canyoning. To that end, there’s a great deal of flexibility to set the course of the holiday as you go. Being a good walker will inevitably help you get the most out of it, but even then most walks can be tailored to your energy levels on the ground.
If you prefer the idea of exploring the Picos on foot, rather than from behind the wheel, then our 8-day Inn to Inn walking holiday will be of interest.
We’ve designed this trip to give you the power to tailor this trip as you go, so you already have many ways to explore based on our vast knowledge and first-hand experience of the Picos. Having said that, what you have read here is a sample itinerary of what the trip could look like, but there are many different forms that it could take. You might have a little more time to play with, allowing you to spend more time on the coast or perhaps we could link the Picos with other parts of Northern Spain to create a bespoke road trip for you.
Departs any day of the year, from April through November, to suit you. 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 are warmest, though 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 price is per person based on two sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some dinners
Compact vehicle hire
Guided walks in the mountains and on the coast
Picos de Europa Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Spain driving guide
Detailed walking notes where appropriate
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routings are into and out of Santander (SDR) or Asturias (OVD).
What we look for in our accommodation is character, a warm welcome, tasty food and a very peaceful nights' sleep. So nothing too fancy. We tend to use two different family-run hotels 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. For longer trips, we might add a third base near the coast.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
Pura co-founder Diego Martín is a Picos native and still lives there to this day, heading up our Spanish office. His first-hand experience, personal connections and unique understanding of the ways of life here absolutely ensure this trip maximises its positive impact on the region. The hotels and restaurants that we use or recommend are almost exclusively small, family-run businesses.
An important aspect of this trip is the introduction it gives you to the local culture and ways of life in the mountains of Northern Spain. Although the way of life has been changing quickly in the last 50 years, a lot of people still live from the land and traditions are alive and well. Thoughtful tourism is essential in providing an alternative source of income to agriculture and dairy production, maintaining a balance which keeps future generations in employment, without them having to leave for the nearest big city or town.
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