What You Need to Know about the Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa (Asturias)
Transport options to arrive: Car or Bus
Although you can get into this national park by bus, I would highly recommend going by car as you have more flexibility in regards to where you want to go and when you want to go there (including when you want to pull over to take pictures). In addition, if you are planning on staying for any duration of time, you will want to bring some of your own food as there are some restaurant options but few grocery options inside the park. Even though two of my camping buddies thought this would be fun to carry it all on our backs, I personally was glad to have a car to lug around three days worth of food and drinks.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: The Picos de Europa are open to the public all year round, however, I would recommend getting away for a few days in the summer and taking advantage of the beautiful nature by camping (there are also hotels if camping is not your thing!). Obviously, there are people who are happy to camp in the winter, but remember that Picos literally translates to peaks and that you are in the mountains, so it will be cold. We were there for four days, but I can easily see spending more or less time in the area depending on how much you exploring you want to do.
Fun Fact: The history and significance of these Picos is interesting, but what stood out to me was the incredible amount of wildlife hanging about. As it is a national park, be ready to see cows and goats walking around and grazing (even in the middle of the road). Look to the skies for different kinds of birds, and be open to the fact that you are in a mainly undeveloped area.
Top three must-sees*:
1. Covadonga Lakes: The day we did this walk/hike was one of the most beautiful in the Picos. It is great for people of all skill levels as there is a path…and freedom to go off it. I especially enjoyed the ridiculous number of cows who were just hanging out and happy to take part in our photo sessions.
2. Ordiales Scenic Balcony Trail: This trail is over 20 km or 12.5 miles round-trip and it just about killed me by the end (although that might have to do with the fact that I did it with some extremely fit Germans). Luckily the views are beautiful, the goats are playful, and there are places at the end to buy food and drinks if necessary. We took our own lunches but decided to stock up on soft-drinks to replenish our sugar levels.
3. Driving through the mountains: And seeing a sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird) from a high place. There is not a specific spot that I would personally recommend to see the sunset, just that it is beautiful to see the sun disappear behind the mountains around you, leaving everything magically tinted. Remember, though, that as soon as the sun goes down it will get cold, so be prepared to move along quickly.
One thing to drink: Water
This probably sounds like a silly tip as there is so much you can eat and drink in typical Asturian fashion (the food and the cider are both winners in my book). However, if you are going to be hanging out and hiking around the Picos, I would recommend bringing and consuming high quantities of water. Due to the elevation, you will get dehydrated more quickly than normal and if you are taking part in sporty activities it is important to keep you liquid levels (and electrolytes) high.
*There is so much I didn’t see that these are my personal recommendations for things to do in the area. Check out this page for more information on other hikes!