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8-Day Walking Tour: Picos de Europa Mountain Range

La Mesa clouds
  • Las Arenas, Spain

  • 7 nights

Grade 3 - Brisk

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The crown jewel of Spanish hiking speaks to adventurous spirits and landscape lovers alike. Its terrain, tranquillity and inaccessibility make the Picos de Europa paradise for those who prefer exploring on their own two feet. This weeklong group journey through Spain’s first national park and third-highest mountain range is powered by adventure experts Exodus Travel. Expect surprising scenery at every turn—especially along the iconic Cares Gorge trail that was carved dramatically into the side of a mountain. Quaint mountain villages are scattered throughout this land of dramatic limestone peaks, green pastures filled with wildflowers and endless possibilities.

The Basics

  • Start and Finish: Arenas de Cabrales, Spain
  • Minimum Age: 16
  • Group Size: Minimum 4, Maximum 16
Casano Bajo Niebla
Group walking


Exodus Travels brings you into the famous Picos de Europa mountain range for an unforgettable journey from the colorful valleys to towering peaks and through traditional Spanish villages in between.

  • Embark on daily hiking journeys through Spain’s first national park
  • Ascend to a maximum altitude of 2,214 meters or 7,264 feet high in the Picos
  • Spot diverse wildlife including Chamois, Golden eagles and Griffon vultures
  • Take a trip to the coast, try caving, canyoning or self-guided canoeing on your free day
  • Spend 7 nights at a family-run hotel with stunning panoramic views



The trip starts in Arenas de Cabrales this afternoon. Those on the group flights will be met at Bilbao Airport and transferred to the hotel, which has views up to the highest peak in the national park.

Meals included: Dinner

Visit the Arenas de Cabrales Valley; pastures of Vanu and spectacular views: Moderate departure (level 3)
The walk begins directly from the hotel. After leaving the village, a path leads you up to the pastures of Vanu with the most famous peaks of Picos de Europa visible on sunny days.

You will continue onwards where the scenery changes and you are able to view across the main valley of Cabrales. During springtime, it is possible to see a large variety of flowers. Looking skywards it is also possible to spot some vultures soaring above.

For lunch, you will approach the village of Inguanzo before completing the final part of the walk. This section of the walk is more undulating and provides you with fresh views and a comfortable last mile takes you back to Arenas de Cabrales.

Most of this first day’s walk follows wide easy tracks for warming up with some steep ascents. There is only a short section of downhill walking during today's trekk.

Walking approx. 16km/ 10 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +730m; descent -730m. Highest point (Los Fresnos col): 720m.

Classic Cares Gorge Walk, one of the most popular walks in Spain: Challenging departure (level 5)
See day 4 of Moderate (level 3) itinerary description for further details.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


NOTE: All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Ascent to Pandescura peak with superb views of the Western Massif- Moderate departure (level 3)
A short transfer takes you to the village of Canales. The first part of the day follows farm tracks before a short climb up to the 'Collado de los Buitres'. If you are lucky you may see Griffon vultures soaring above. You will then follow open terrain, slowly ascending to the base of the Pandescura peak. A simple ascent to the top will lead you to an ideal lunch spot with superb views of the Western massif peaks. You will then descend through green hills to the village of Bovia.

Walking approx. 14km/ 9 miles; duration 6 hours; ascent +550m; descent -580m. Highest point (Pandescura peak): 1000m.

Up to the high pastures of Nava; on to the summit of Juan Robre; descend back to Arenas de Cabrales- Challenging departure (level 5)
The walk begins directly from your hotel. After leaving the village, an ancient Roman path leads you up to the high pastures of Nava, which in the months of May and June are alive with a sea of flowers. You will continue up where the scenery changes to one more reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales, with limestone outcrops jutting out of the landscape. Looking skywards it is possible to spot a variety of eagles and vultures roaming the thermals.

The path leads you to the summit of Juan Robre, which rewards you with commanding views of Arenas de Cabrales far below and the jagged peaks of the central massif in the distance. The descent is via the Juan Robre ridge brings you back to Arenas de Cabrales for an opportunity to sample a refreshing glass of cider to cool us down.

This walk may be done in the opposite direction according to the weather conditions.
Walking approx. 14km/ 9 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +750m; descent‐750m. Highest point: Cabeza Juan Robre 871m.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Classic Cares Gorge walk, one of the most popular walks in Spain- Moderate departure (level 3)
The classic Cares Gorge has been described as the jewel in the crown of Spanish hiking. For 12 km, the engineered path has been blasted into the rock face. Originally built in the 1940s as part of a hydroelectric scheme, it is now one of the most popular walks in Spain. In places, the surrounding peaks rise over two thousand meters above the path and if we're lucky, we may catch a glimpse of the rare and beautiful wall creeper bird. The path eventually emerges in the village of Cain, where you will have lunch before your return along the same path to Puente Poncebos. Transport will be waiting here to take you back to the hotel in Arenas. The walk is relatively flat with a gradual ascent of just 350m from Puente Poncebos to Cain.

Walking approx. 24km/ 15 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +550m; descent -550m. Highest point (Los Collaos): 510m

Summit Main range; descend to the area of the Pandebano Col then to Bulnes- Challenging departure (level 5)
You will start the walk by Tielve village (located 650m above sea level). An ascent of 1000m through hazel and beech woods surrounded by limestone will take you to one of the classic viewpoints of the Picos; the summit of the main range. From the summit, you will descend to the area of the Pandebano Col with fantastic views of the Central Massif of Picos de Europa and its northern valleys.

From here, you will start the second part of the descent into the small hamlet of Bulnes, which is nestled in the shadow of vast cliffs and its only communications to the exterior used to be old donkey tracks until 2001, when a funicular railway was constructed. Those wishing to end the walk here can take the train to the bottom (approximately EUR 17 per person), whilst those wishing to continue will follow a small and narrow valley down to the old bridge.

Walking approx. 16km/ 10 miles ; duration 10 hours; ascent +1150m; descent ‐1500m. Highest point (Cabeza La Mesa): 1612m

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Optional activities include caving, self-guided canoeing, canyoning or a trip to the coast- Moderate (level 3) & Challenging (level 5) departures
Today is free for you to visit the coast or try a spot of caving, self-guided canoeing or canyoning. The local staff will be able to help organize any of these activities.

Meals included: Breakfast

Summit of Peña Main, one of the classic viewpoints of the Picos; continue on to Pandebano Col- Moderate departure (level 3)
Starting close to the village of Tieve, you will walk up into the Main range and summit Peña Main, one of the classic viewpoints in the Picos. You will walk to Pandebano Col and then begin your descent.

Walking approx. 11km/ 7 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +1050m; descent -740m. Highest point (Cabeza La Mesa): 1612m

Lakes of Covadonga; Majada de Belbin & Peak Pandescura- Challenging departure (level 5)
Today, you will head west to the lakes of Covadonga, making a short stop at the Covadonga Sanctuary before following a winding road to the lake. The first part of the day is a loop around the traditional mountain farming area near the lakes. It is a really beautiful part of the Picos and is wonderful to visit during good weather.

After walking past the lakes, you will soon descend into the Majada de Belbin, where cheese is still produced using traditional methods during the summer. After filling your water bottles, you will then join an ancient Roman path that takes you down to the foothills of the Western Massif for an ascent of Peak Pandescura (1004m).

From the peak, you will walk along the green hills and will descend into the Cabrales valley where you will finish the walk at the hamlet of Canales. The transfer back to the hotel will be around 10 minutes.

Walking approx. 17km/ 11 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +550m; descent ‐1250m. Highest point (Majada Las Bovias): 1270m

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike to the twin summits of Mancondiu offering fantastic views of the Central and Eastern Massifs- Moderate departure (level 3)
At 2000m, the twin summits of Mancondiu are the highest point you will reach during the week. Most of the walking apart from the last 200m is on disused mining tracks. The top offers fantastic views of the Central and Eastern Massifs and is a fantastic end to a diverse week of walking.

Walking approx. 11km/ 7 miles ; duration 5 hours; ascent +735m; descent -735m. Highest point: Macondiu peak 2000m

Twin summits of Mancondiu; on to San Carlos Peak- Challenging departure (level 5)
At 2000m, the twin summits of Mancondiu will be one of the first highest points you reach today. Most of the walking apart from the last 200m is on disused mining tracks. The top offers fantastic views of the Eastern Massif and is a fantastic end to a varied week of walking. There is the option to traverse between the two peaks across an exposed ridge, but this is not recommended for those who are uncomfortable with steep drops.

From Mancondiu, you are able to see the next peak you will climb, San Carlos. This ascent is easier but longer than Mancondiu and you will enjoy views over the next valleys and ranges to the south of Picos. You will then backtrack for approximately one hour before you reach an alternative footpath that will take you back to the beginning of the walk.

Walking approx. 17km/ 11 miles; duration 9 hours; ascent +1180m; descent ‐1180m. Highest point: San Carlos or Sagrado Corazon peak 2212m.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The trip ends in Arenas de Cabrales this morning.

Meals included: Breakfast


  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Single supplement

Yes. The minimum age requirement is 16 and the group must be between 4-16 people total.

This trip is Activity Level 3 (Moderate) with 5 days of walking.

The walking here is varied and spectacular, with some superb scenery at the higher levels. Over the course of the week, you will try and tackle two classic gorges and one peak in each of the three massifs in the Picos de Europe, Spain's first national park. Most of the walking is on shepherds' paths, old disused mining paths and some sections of Roman 'roads', although the final ascents of the peaks can be quite rough underfoot.

The majority of the trip departures are Level 3 (Moderate). However, they also offer a selection of departures as Level 5 (Challenging). This is to offer those who wish to ascend to higher peaks the opportunity to do so. It is important to be assured of your fitness on these departures.

As in all mountain ranges, the weather is unpredictable and this may affect several walks. With changeable weather, it should be expected that on some rare occasions higher-level walks may not be available. Although please be assured that your leader will always try to find a suitable alternative.

Please note that due to high demand for this tour, some weeks they may lay on a second group departure, which will follow an alternative itinerary. This includes the same walks but taken in a different order, usually reverse.

Following a review of all their trips, they have categorized this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However, if you are a regular traveler on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches and 6 dinners are included.

The region has several delicious specialties for you to try while you are staying here. The area is famous for its gold-medal-winning blue cheese, Queso Cabrales, which is matured in some of the thousands of deep limestone caves that dot the hills. Lesser known, but equally appealing is the local lamb Cordero al la Menta and a wholesome bean stew, Fabada Asturiana. Fresh fish comes from the coast at Llanes and Ribadesella, half an hour's drive away. The local wine is lovely, though a glass of local cider can be more refreshing.

Breakfast: Fruit juice, tea, freshly ground coffee, cereals, bread, cold meats, cheeses and a selection of local fruit (depending on season) offered buffet-style. There are also eggs cooked to order, sponge and Anis cake.

Lunch: Generally includes a large bread roll, with a choice of fillings daily, chocolates and fresh fruit.

Dinner: Homemade four-course meal usually consists of soup or salad for the first course, a choice of 3 main courses, with meat, fish, or vegetarian, followed by a homemade dessert.

Wine: To accompany the evening meal, the hotel has a reasonably comprehensive wine list available.

Over the years, the hotel has developed tasty vegetarian alternatives. Please let us know in advance if you are vegetarian or have any other special dietary requirements.

There can be snowfalls in the Picos as late as May, and the area is subject to rain at all times of the year (although this typically falls in the evening and rarely affects the walking). From early June to early October, the weather should be very pleasant for walking, though it is rather unpredictable and mists can come in from the coast. Those wishing to join the Picos departures at the beginning and end of the trekking season should go prepared for cooler weather. In early June and late September, there may be snow on the upper reaches of the trek.

Essential Equipment

In addition to your 'normal' daily clothes, you will need the following:

  • Daypack (50-60 lb capacity)
  • Refillable water bottle (30-60 ounce capacity at least)
  • Traditional or lightweight walking boots with good ankle support and a strong sole
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket (preferably Gortex) and waterproof trousers
  • Sunglasses
  • A warm 2 season jacket or sweater/fleece
  • Sun hat, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Sandals or slippers for indoors
  • Please note that tap water is safe to drink in the area which means all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill at the hotel. Please add this to your
  • packing list as this will save on wasteful plastic bottles.

Optional Equipment

  • Warm hat and gloves for departures in Spring and Autumn
  • Walking poles

During the free day (numbers/transport permitting) you should have the opportunity to go caving, climbing, canyoning or to the beach. The prices range generally from $20-$50 per person.

Although optional, a tip for the leader at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated. As a guideline, they recommend a contribution of between EUR 15 to EUR 20 (approximately US$20-$30) per client. It is also customary to leave a tip for the driver and the local staff at the hotel. This can be handed to your leader at the end of the trip. For the local staff, they recommend to budget approximately EUR 10 to EUR 15 (approximately US$15-$20) per person.


Tour operated by Exodus Travels Limited. The prices listed include taxes.

Single Supplement

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy. Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room. Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively. Single supplement from $560.50.


In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described within. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call Vacayou and ask to speak to a concierge.

Full joining instructions will be provided after booking including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, which will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here. 


  • Deposit at the time of booking at least 10% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum $300 per person or equivalent)
  • We will then invoice you for the remainder of the cost due before you travel, which you must pay not later than 70 day


Cancellation due to COVID-19 with Proof: Refundable minus certain fees that cannot be refunded like Park Passes etc.

  • More than 42 days out: No cancellation fee. Deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original booking. Any remaining balance will be refunded. This excludes all non-refundable costs as set out in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 41 and 21 days (inclusive): No cancellation fee. Balance and deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original booking. This excludes all non-refundable costs as further explained in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 20 and 15 days (inclusive): 80% of the holiday cost.
  • Non-refundable within 14 days or less (or failure to join the holiday)