Picos de Europa is a National Park located in the north of Spain.
As a matter of fact, it was the first National Park in Spain, created in 1918.
It was originally only in Asturias, but it has since greatly expanded, and now spans over 3 regions.
The National Park is one of my favourite spots in Spain, and if you’re an outdoors lover just like me, I can guarantee you’ll love it too.
From epic mountains to climb to beautiful alpine lakes to discover, wild animals and delicious food, Picos de Europa might very well be your next favourite destination.
List of the Best Things to Do in Picos de Europa
No time to read the full guide? Don’t worry, just save the list below and use it to plan your trip to Verona!
Here are the best things to do in the National Park:
- Hike of the 36 official hikes
- Take the Fuente Dé cable car
- Visit the Real Sitio de Covadonga
- Go on a Caving Expedition
- Canoe down the Sella River
- Taste Local Cider & Cabrales Cheese
So there you have them all, the very best things to do & see in Picos de Europa.
Now let’s see in more detail each of these exciting activities!
Hike one of the 36 official hikes
Let’s start right away with the main thing Picos de Europa is great for hiking.
With a total of 36 official hikes in Picos de Europa, there’s more than enough hike to last you a full month.
The hikes range from an epic 8 days long circuit around the park to nice 2h stroll perfect for the whole family.
My favourite hike is the hike around the Lagos de Covadonga.
The Lagos de Covadonga are 2 alpine lakes, that can easily be reached by car.
The hike is pretty easy, on a well-maintained trail, without too much elevation.
What I love about the hike is that it offers incredible views at all times and that you are surrounded by animals (cows, sheep, goats…)
Another favourite of mine is the Ruta del Cares, often praised as one of the best hikes in Spain.
Looking for other hiking ideas for Europe, what about Preikestolen in Norway, or ideas for seven great hikes you can do in Switzerland.
The hike is carved on the side of the mountain and takes you along a small canyon with rugged cliffs and stunning views all along.
It takes around 8h for the return hike, and might not be suited for travellers prone to vertigo.
- We won’t cover all of these incredible hikes in this guide, but here’s a shortlist of the best ones:
- Lagos de Covagonda
- Ruta del Cares
- Horcados Rojos Summit
- Poncebos to Bulnes
- Bulnes to Sotres
- Ordiales Scenic Balcony Trail
Take the Fuente Dé cable car
You’d like to get grand views of the mountains without actually having to hike?
Well, you’re in luck, because there’s exactly the right thing for you here in Picos de Europa: the Teleférico de Fuente Dé!
The cable car is located in Cantabria, in the southern part of the park.
The cabin will take you up the mountains, 735 meters from the station (1,090m to 1,850m).
The ride only lasts 3 minutes and 40 seconds, but boy does it seem fast!
All along the ride, you have splendid views of the mountains around through the glass doors, and you’d wish it was longer.
When you arrive at the summit, you can walk out to the lookout for one of the best views of the park.
To get back down, you have 2 options: the easiest one is obviously to take the cable car for the return trip.
The other option is to hike back, which takes around 4h30.
Cable car price: 17€ for roundtrip
Tip: get there early to beat the crowds, it’s one of the main attractions around!
Visit the Real Sitio de Covadonga
We talked about the Lagos de Covadonga earlier in this post, as one of the best places to hike.
But Covadonga has more to offer than just beautiful landscapes: it’s also a pilgrimage site.
The site is dedicated to Our Lady of Covadonga, in memory of the Battle of Covadonga (718-722). It’s made of several monuments:
The Basilica de Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga: a beautiful basilica that makes for the best photos from outside, and a real treat to see from the inside
The Santa Cueva de Covadonga: the Holy Cave of Covadonga is the final resting place of King Pelagius and King Alfonso I
The Collegiate Church of Nuestra Senora de Covadonga
The Monasterio de San Pedro
A great idea for a visit is to start with an early hike in the Lagos de Covadonga before the crowds swarm the place, and then finish with a visit to the Sanctuary de Covadonga at the end of the day.
Go on a Caving Expedition
Did you know that some of the deepest caves in the world were located in Picos de Europa National Park?
Here are some of the deepest caves in the park:
Torca del Cerro del Cuevon(-1589 meters)
Sima de la Cornisa (-1507 meters)
Torca Los Rebecos (-1255 meters)
Poza del Madejuno (-1252 meters)
The Torca del Cerro is actually the 8th deepest cave in the world!
With so many caves in the area, it’s only logical that great activities in Picos de Europa include going on a caving expedition.
Of course, I don’t advise going on your own, as it can be dangerous.
There are many companies offering caving experiences for all levels of experience.
You’ll discover horizontal caves with no risks, where you can see stalactites, stalagmites, and even underground rivers!
Average price: around 25€ per person
Average duration: around 3h
Canoe down the Sella River
Ready for high-adrenaline experiences? Then you’ll love this one!
The River Sella takes its source in the Picos de Europa mountains and meanders through mountains and valleys down to the Bay of Biscay where it meets the sea.
The International Descent of the Sella River is a world-famous event where participants canoe down the Sella river, year after year.
You can live this experience yourself, with one of the many tour companies offering this activity in the park.
They provide all the equipment, will drive you to the starting point, and pick you up from down the river back to your starting point!
There are different parts of the river you can go to, and you can choose different lengths for your experience: from 7km to 17km (2h to 4h).
While you descend the river on your canoe, you’ll come across several bars where you can stop to have a drink.
You’ll also come across some great beaches where you can stop the canoe to swim and enjoy the freshwater of the river!
Average price: 25€ per person
Average duration: from 2h to 4h
Not a fan of canoeing? Well, there are some other options available, like stand-up paddle or rafting!
Taste Local Cider & Cabrales Cheese
And finally, the last item on this list of best things to do in Picos de Europa National Park: tasting local food & drinks.
I don’t know about you, but after all these outdoor activities I’m in desperate need of great food!
Picos de Europa has exactly what you need to recharge your batteries at the end of an exhausting day.
First, you need to try the local cider. It’s quite different from the usual cider, but you’ll have to taste it to get what I mean.
It’s made directly in Asturias and often made by local producers.
Oh, and the most interesting part is probably how they serve the cider:
Raising the bottle high up above their head, and serving a short amount in a glass they hold low (many tourists try it themselves, hence the often sticky ground in front of the bars!).
On top of the cider, you’ll also find several great kinds of cheese, and in particular blue cheese.
The most famous one is El Cabrales, a strong blue cheese made from 90% cow milk and a part of wild goats milk mixed with sheep milk.
You can eat the cheese on its own, or try it in one of the many dishes: escalopines de Cabrales (escalope with cheese), tallarines al Cabrales (pasta with cheese), or potatoes with blue cheese.
How to Get to Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa is located in the north of Spain and spans over 3 regions: Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y Leon.
It’s a huge park and depending on which part of the park you’ll visit; there are different ways to get to it.
The most popular part to start your visit to the park is Cangas de Onis, up north.
Below are the driving times to Cangas de Onis from different cities in Spain:
Oviedo to Cangas de Onis: 1h
Bilbao to Cangas de Onis: 2h30
Valladolid to Cangas de Onis: 3h30
Madrid to Cangas de Onis: 5h35
The best way to explore Picos de Europa is definitely with a car.
I recommend renting a car, it will greatly improve your experience in the area, and will make it much easier for you to get from one part of the park to another.
There are other options, though.
You can catch a bus from Oviedo to Cangas de Onis for around 8€, from where you can take local buses to the Lagos de Covadonga for example.
All in all, I hope you enjoy your time in Picos de Europa!
It’s definitely one of the best outdoors areas in all of Spain, and there is no shortage of awesome things to do there.
Oh and if you’re all out of activities, don’t worry: there’s always the nearby Somedio Natural Park to explore!
Kevin is a French travel photographer running the popular travel blog Kevmrc.com
He’s sharing mostly outdoors guides, and his happy place is hiking high up in the mountains.
His camera never leaves his side, and he uses it to share high-quality photos in hope to inspire readers to discover new places.