Picos de Europa – A four days roadtrip

Picos de Europa are a range of mountains in the northern cost of Spain belonging to the autonomous communities of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla & León.

We wanted to visit this place for a long time. And finally in May 2017 we left Madrid by car in direction to Las Arenas in the Asturias region (approx. 500 km or 5h driving). We arrived around 8:30 pm, left our stuff at the apartment and went out for dinner. We had dinner right in the village (Cafe Restaurante Cares) and we can totally recommend it: great typical food and huge portions.

Day 1 - La Hermida, Santa Maria Church, Potes, Santo Toribio Monastery and Fuente Dé

On the first day we drove from Las Arenas to Potes (52km / 1h) stopping several times during the way to take pictures. It is a very photogenic route, surrounded by green mountains, small villages and the river. Our favorites were Panes, La Hermida and Church of Santa Maria. This route is known as the 'Desfiladero de La Hermida' and it is really beautiful.

Desfiladero de La Hermida

We had lunch in a terrace in Potes, one of the most attractive villages in Cantabria region. It has a medieval atmosphere with several historical buildings and houses.

After Potes we drove all the way to Fuente Dé (23km / 26m) to take the cable car to the top where the views from the adjacent mountains are absolutely amazing. The ride is pretty spectacular and quick. There are several hikes one can do at the top but it was really windy and cold so we decided to take pictures and admire the views. It was one of the best views we got in Picos de Europa.

Funte Dé - Cable Car

Funte Dé - View from the cable car

Funte Dé - View from above

From Fuente Dé and on our way to Las Arenas we stopped at Santo Toribio, a roman catholic monastery located near Potes founded around the 6th century.

We finished our first day with a great asturian dinner at Las Arenas.

Day 2 - Ruta del Cares

We spent the entire second day hiking the famous 'Ruta del Cares', 12 km path carved in the rocks of the mountains connecting Poncebos (Asturias) to Cain (Leon). We wrote a full article about this route that you can read here.

Day 3 - Covadonga, Cangas de Onís and Gijon

On the third day we left our apartment in Las Arenas and drove until the lakes of Covadonga (45km /1h driving), two (sometimes three) glacial lakes and the original center of the Picos de Europa National Park created in 1918. The road that leads to the lakes starts at Covadonga and is approximately 13 km. Driving this road is beautiful and we stopped so many times that it took us more than one hour to get into lakes Enol and Ercina. Once there we stayed for a while enjoying the views of the lakes and the green mountains around.

Driving to Covadonga Lakes

Covadonga lakes

After a while we drove from the lakes until the village, to visit the famous religious sanctuary and have lunch. Covadonga is actually one of the most important sites in Asturias, surrounded by a wonderful mountain scenery. It is very famous for its basilica and the holy cave. The basilica can be seen for miles around since it is located up a mountain, and it can also be visited inside. The holy cave is a place of cult, existing since the prehistorical times. Famous people were buried here, like Afonso I of Asturias.

Covadonga monestary

After Covadonga we visited Cangas de Onís, a small pretty village well known for its Roman bridge and one of the bases to visit Picos de Europa, due to its reasonably priced hotels and restaurants.

In the afternoon we drove from Cangas de Onis to Gijon (75km / 1h) where we  had opportunity to walk around and have a great typical dinner in the seaside. Gijon is the largest city in Asturias (although the capital is Oviedo) and mainly an industrial port and fishing village.

Gijon sea view

We slept at Oviedo, after driving 30 km (25m) from Gijón.

Day 4 - Oviedo

Our last day was spend exploring the capital of Asturias and an attractive university city: Oviedo. Oviedo is a small city, but full of history and with a few monuments worth seeing. There are plenty of small churches, old buildings, narrow streets and little squares ('plazas'). We visited Plaza Alfonso II at the heart of the old town, the cathedral and the Museo de Bellas Artes, this last one built in a 18th century palace with plenty of Asturian and Spanish paintings. We also took pictures with Woody Allen statue (where 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' was partially filmed). Apparently, Woody Allen considers Oviedo his second home!

Oviedo city center

We spent a great morning walking around the city center and had lunch outside the city (local's recommendation). After lunch we had to come back to Madrid (450km / 4h30 driving). Next day was working day for all!

Practical information

  • Main costs: Apartamentos el Caxigu in Arenas de Cabrales (90€/night/2 bedroom apartment), Hotel Clarin in Oviedo (49€/night/double bedroom)
  • Other costs: Breakfast (approx. 5€/person at Panaderia Cafeteria Cideres in Arenas de Cabrales), cable car (17€/person), Dinner (approx. 15€/person)
  • Are you interested in Picos de Europa? See our article about Hiking Ruta del Cares

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