The Picos de Europa seen from San Vicente de Barquera in mid summer.
This is the harbour beach of Playa de Tostadero but there is a much better beach – or series of beaches – just five minutes along the coast outside the harbour at Playa de Meron.
Picos de Europa, getting there via Hermida Gorge and Potes
We drove to Unquera and Panes from Santander (Cantabria province) on the fine and fast A8 motorway, taking less than an hour to reach this point (add another hour if coming from Bilbao).
From Unquera/Panes we expected an uphill and seriously winding struggle on narrow roads. Wrong on two counts. Through the Hermida gorge the 20 km road was more-or-less horizontal and not scarily narrow, though quite winding. Cars and vans had no problems though a vast tourist bus we came across was having to take a lot of care not to lose the top deck on rocky overhangs.
The mountain views were excellent in this direction, but a lot better coming back, and not just because the early evening sun was lighting up the rocks.
Buses serve the same route from Santander to Potes (via Unquera) several times a day in summer and once or twice in winter. Change at Potes for a bus to Fuente Dé.
The East approach via Panes and then east to Arenas de Cabrales
The North approach(closest to Oveido, air, Asturias province)
Via Cangas de Onis and south on the magnificent 10kms (6 miles) Desfiladero (Gorge) de los Beyos.
The Hermida Gorge, Desfiladero de la Hermida at about 7pm in July. The gorge sides are so steep that it spends 6 months a year without sunshine.
Picos de Europa museum
Disappointed! What a waste of space and money is this Picos de Europa museum. No doubt funded by useless bureaucrats of the EU who only travel by limousine and have no concept of intelligent spending.
This vast and impressive structure towards Potes contains a mass of exhibits regarding the geology and nature of the Picos but not a word about walks/hikes/routes/weather. Surely 99% of tourists passing by are planning a walk? And could use some advice on difficulty/length/access/parking etc?
Check out the little kiosks on the way (both before and after this brown elephant) that do provide maps and information, though precision is not a part of the Spanish vocabulary. But don’t worry, we are going to tell you how to get high in the Picos, and in English!