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Picos de Europa • 8 day mini-trek
style :
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Duration :
8 days
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May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Trekking Walking
price in double room from: € 475
Picos de Europa • 8 day mini-trek

Picos de Europa • 8 day mini-trek

Unspoiled natural beauty in northern Spain

  • The Picos de Europa National Park: natural, rural and authentically unspoilt
  • Idyllic meadows, immense glacier valleys, rushing streams, limestone spires
  • An impressive array of flora carpeting every square inch
  • Friendly locals, tiny villages & one mountain hut
ESSW038-Picos de Europa Mini Trek map
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Start: Arenas de Cabrales          Finish: Arenas de Cabrales

Day 1: Arrival in Arenas de Cabrales, optional walk (10 km)
Day 2: From Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón through the Cares Gorge (12 - 21 km)
Day 3: From Valdeón to Espinama (16 - 17 km)
Day 4: From Espinama to Sotres (max. 17 km)
Day 5: Circular walk in Ándara - Pico San Carlos (12 - 18,5 km)
Day 6: From Sotres to Vega de Urriellu (12 km)
Day 7: From Urriellu to Poncebos (9,5 km)
Day 8: End of tour

Day 1:    Arrival in Arenas de Cabrales, optional walk (10 km)

Travel to the Picos de Europa and settle in at your hotel in Arenas de Cabrales. Check out the Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria de Llas and get last-minute walking gear and special food items at the village shops. If you arrive early, stretch your legs on an optional warm-up walk. This evening, get a taste for the Picos with a bit of local blue cheese, Queso Cabrales, and refreshing apple cider.

Challenge: 3,5-4 hrs, 10 km, 380 m ascent/descent

Day 2:    From Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón through the Cares Gorge (12 - 21 km)

Your introduction to the national park is an absolute Picos de Europa ‘must-hike’, the stunning Ruta del Cares. Walked yearly by thousands, this impressive limestone gorge remains strikingly beautiful. And pleasantly easy, as the route parallels a 12-kilometre canal which feeds the Poncebos hydroelectric station. After a 5-minute transfer and short steep ascent, the path levels off and you cruise the rest of the way to Caín ‘on the flat’. From there, you have the option of continuing up the valley on foot (another 8 km) or taking a taxi to your hotel in Posada de Valdeón.

Challenge: 3,5-7 hrs, 12- 21 km, 300 m ascent and 50 m descent OR 800 m ascent and 125 m descent

Day 3:    From Valdeón to Espinama (16 - 17 km)

Take a deep breath of clean mountain air and set off uphill on the historic traders’ path called ‘el Camín del Mercadillo’. After 7km and 800m in ascent, you reach the idyllic meadows at Caben Remoña right on the border between León and Cantabria. From there you can choose to walk straight down to Espinama or do the spectacular high route to Vega de Liordes and Fuente Dé, ending with a bus or taxi ride 3,5km to your hotel. If you have booked luggage transport, option of shortening the route at the start by riding the first 5km with your bags (also saves on ascent).

Challenge: 6,5-8,5 hrs, 16-17 km, 800 m ascent and 900 m descent OR 1270 m ascent and 1120 m descent

Day 4:    From Espinama to Sotres (max. 17 km)

Amble over to Fuente Dé and steel yourself for the cable car journey (pardon the pun) soaring high up into the Central Massif. Optionally, you can choose to climb directly up from Espinama following woodland tracks to Áliva Pass, elevation 1645m. An impressive glacier moraine then leads down the Duje Valley to Sotres. At 1050m, the highest village in the Picos makes an ideal base for unbeatable walking on the Asturian side of the range. After a long hike, the end of your route is an invigorating 150-metre ascent up to the village!

Challenge: 6.5-7 hrs, max. 17 km, 700 m ascent and 560 m descent OR 925 m ascent and 750 m descent

Day 5:    Circular walk in Ándara - Pico San Carlos (12 - 18,5 km)

Zoom uphill on a short taxi ride into the Eastern Massif and embark on a gorgeous and infinitely varied loop in the area known as Andara. Trundling up a historic mining track into a world of karst, you make your way to a fabulous overlook at the far eastern edge of the massif, San Carlos Peak, elevation 2215m. The long descent takes rocky paths and winding cattle trails down steep slopes bakc to your hotel in Sotres.

Challenge: 5,5 hrs, 12 km, 550 m ascent, 840 m descent. For optional peak, add: 3 hrs, 6,5 km, 500 m ascent

Day 6:    From Sotres to Vega de Urriellu (12 km)

The highlight of this trek of highlights pierces the very heart of the Central Massif as you clamber up to the hut beneath Picu Urriellu, a stunning slab of limestone and mecca for world-class rock climbers. Starting slow on local farming tracks, you wind your way up from Sotres passing happy cows and perfect stone barns to reach Pandébano Col. Next is a narrow path going up and up into a lunar landscape, home to chamoix and alpine choughs with the peak's imposing 400-metre looming above. 

Today you carry just a few things for your overnight stay at the refuge, while your main luggage is transported to the next hotel. Snow can be a factor on this route early in the season. In the event the hut cannot be reached, the alternate program includes a circular walk to nearby Tielve and overnight stay in Sotres.

Challenge: 5,5 hrs, 12 km, 1085 m ascent, 180 m descent

Day 7:    From Urriellu to Poncebos (9,5 km)

Get to know yet another facet of the Picos as you test your knees on a steep descent to the remote village of Bulnes (no road access). After a swig of water and helpful 'tapa' to keep you going, it continues to be all downhill, this time through the craggy goat-filled Teju Gorge to Poncebos. You have now come full circle, back to the very start of your trek. A splendid journey full of mental snapshots and, most certainly, an inordinate number of holiday photos!

Challenge: 5-6 hrs, 9,5 km, 50 m ascent, 1900 m descent

Day 8:    End of tour

Your self-guide trek comes to an end today after breakfast. Taxi transfers can be arranged to the airport (Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao).

Challenge: Departure from the Picos de Europa

'standard' hotels

The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Some of the hotels we work with appear here. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked. 

Extra nights:

Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.

Hotel La Rivera (Arenas de Cabrales)

Welcoming rural accommodation, located in the limit of the National Park of Picos de Europa, no too far from the well-known "Cares Gorge" route. Warm atmosphere and traditional decoration, with good quality services that will make your stay a very nice experience.


Cumbres de Valdeón (Posada de Valdeón)

This hotel is located in Posada de Valdeón. Surrounded by the impressive summits of Picos de Europa and on the Cares riverbank. An ideal place to relax and enjoy nature. Comfortable rooms


Hostal Nevandi

This hostel is set in the picturesque town of Espinama, one of the main entries to the central massif of Picos de Europa. It has 9 comfortable and welcoming rooms, as wel as a nice restaurant with a magnificent gastronomic offer that includes homemade specialities from the area. It also has a private outdoor swimming pool. 


Hotel Sotres

Family-run hotel, inaugurated in 2005. The rooms and terraces offer spectacular views to the Picos de Europa. They have a restaurant that offers the traditional gastronomy of the area.  


Refugio Vega Urriellu

Urriellu mountain refuge is located in the very heart of the National Park of Picos de Europa, just at the base of the iconic "Picu Urriellu", also known as "Naranjo de Bulnes". It has a total of 96 beds, grouped in 4 dormitories of 24 beds, distributed in 4 large bunk bed rows. 


practical info

NOTE: This trip is also offered as a 12-day option (See trip "Picos de Europa Mountain Trek")

You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between May 15th and October 15th 

The nearest airports to the Picos de Europa are Oviedo (OVD), also known as Asturias airport, Santander (SDR) and Bilbao (BIO).

Arrive in Arenas de Cabrales

From the airports there are good bus connections to city centre bus stations, where you can catch a connecting bus to your destination (ALSA bus company, see time tables at www.alsa.es).

From Oviedo centre there are direct buses to Arenas de Cabrales, though these services cannot be booked in advance. From Santander and Bilbao, you take a direct bus to Unquera and then continue by taxi to Arenas de Cabrales.

NOTE: It is wise to book your bus tickets and taxi transfer in advance, especially for arrivals and when travelling in summer or on Friday afternoons. You can buy your bus tickets through the ALSA website www.alsa.es or through your S-cape office in Spain, also responsible for booking your taxi from Unquera to Arenas.

Departure from Arenas de Cabrales

Your trek ends in Arenas de Cabrales. Bus tickets can be booked in advance through S-cape Travel.

Airport transfers for arrival / departure can be booked in advance through S-cape Travel. Costs will depend on number of passengers, airport used and time of pick up.

GPS tracks are available on request.



  • Accommodation for 6 nights at good family-run 2*  hotels, 1 of them with a swimmimg pool (rooms with private bath room)
  • 1 overnight stay at mountain hut in dormitories with simple bathing facilities (toilet & sink)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • Transfers on days 2 (to the beginning of walk in Poncebos, luggage continues to Sotres, where it will be kept until day 4), 5 (to the beginning of walk) and 7 (Poncebos - Arenas, except optional cable car and funicular railway)
  • Luggage transport on days 2 (Arenas - Sotres) & 7 (Sotres – Arenas)
  • 24-hour telephone assistance, just a phone call away
  • Detailed route description and maps

Not included

  • Transport to first / from last accommodation
  • Dinners not mentioned in the "included" section
  • Lunches (provisions can be bought in villages along the way, pack lunches may be ordered at some of the accommodations)
  • Luggage transfers on day 2,3 and 4  (Poncebos-Valdeon-Espinama-Sotres) 
  • Bus and cable car ticket on day 4 and funicular ticket on day 7
  • Optional taxi transfers  
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.


  • Single Room Supplement(s)
  • Solo Traveller Supplement
  • Luggage transport on days 2, 3, 4 (Poncebos-Valdeon-Espinama-Sotres) can be booked as an optional service at the cost of 430,- euros per booking
  • Transfers from / to airports on arrival /departure can be arranged
  • Extra nights can be booked at any of the standard accommodations, at city hotels in Oviedo, Gijón or Bilbao or at charming rural accommodations on the Asturian coast


This trip is also offered as a 12-day option


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