Location: Cantabria and Asturias on Spain’s North Coast including The Picos de Europa
Number Days: 6
Number Nights: 7
Difficulty: Medium – hard (Options to shorten the harder days )
Start Location: Solares (just a few kilometers from Santander)
Finish Location: Oviedo
Meals included: Breakfast (6 days), packed lunch (6 days), evening meals (4 nights out of 6)
Access Start / Finish location: Santander has its own international airport and is also accessible by ferry. Oviedo is 50 km from Asturias Internation Airport, a 45 min bus ride. An alternative airport with a greater selection of destinations is Bilbao, with transport by bus.
For 2018 we have updated our route for the Picos de Europa & Cantabria Countryside Bike Tour. This year our route starts in the enchanting rural mountains inland from Santander in an area known as the Valles Pasiegos, and includes a day along the enchanting Cantabrian coastline. Of course we still spend plenty of time exploring the amazing Picos de Europa, before finishing our tour with a chance to climb the mythical Angliru.
‘Spain is different’ went the old Spanish tourism slogan. Well the north of Spain definitely is, a rural eden of green limestone hills and mountains, with a rocky coastline harboring secluded bays. The Picos de Europa themselves, the ‘Peaks of Europe’, were so named as they were the first sight for sailors when returning from the New World. Up close they are even more captivating, craggy limestone peaks and green-carpeted slopes of grazing livestock with views stretching back over the ocean. It is a nature lovers paradise, full of hikers and bikers out exploring the unique flora and fauna, which include wolves and the Cantabrian brown bear. And the cuisine is incredible, from the seafood of the coast to hearty stews and dairy deserts inland.
While it is difficult to pack everything in that this area of Spain has to offer, our Picos de Europa & Cantabria Countryside Bike Tour route comes pretty damn close. We start by climbing through the idyllic Valles Pasiegos before a run along the beautiful Cantabrian coast brings us into the Picos de Europa. We spend most of the rest of the week exploring the magnificent climbs of this Natural Park, including that of the Lakes of Covadonga, before transferring to near Oviedo and an opportunity to experience the Angliru.
Night of arrival: Meet in our hotel just outside Santander and prepare your equipment while meeting your companions on the Picos de Europa & Cantabria Countryside bike tour. For those that want to give their mountain legs a stiff test they can arrive in the afternoon and tackle the adjacent Peña Cabarga, a steep climb that features regularly in the Vuelta and offers the best views of Santander and the coast (see photo).
Day 1 – We follow the valley south away from the coast, where a long false flat through the green and rural countryside leads to a long but moderate gradient climb with increasingly epic views to the Portillo de la Lunada at 1,320 meters. A short descent follows before we turn back north and a brief mountain pass leads to a long descent into the parallel valley. A final picturesque 6km hill climb is the final test before the descent to our splendid ‘palace style’ hotel in a rural setting.
Distance: 87 km (54 miles)
Elevation gain: 2,200 meters (7,200 feet)
Day 2 – Breakfast on the dairy based sweet treats sabao and quesada, for which the locality is famous, to set you up for the return to the coast. From there we follow the spectacular coast roads with views along the cliffs with pretty seaside villages in between. The undulating route eventually leads us to our hotel in a small secluded seaside village.
Distance: up to 100 km (62 miles)
Elevation gain: 1,500 meters (5,000 feet)
Day 3 – We head inland before turning east and following the route that the riders took into the Picos de Europa in the Vuelta a España in 2017. Two typically testing Cantabrian hills stand in the way before we descend into Asturias, where a long false flat leads us to our charming hotel in a mountain village. A sturdy meal is in order in the evening, where the local Cocido Montañes, a delicious mountain stew, will help recover the burnt calories.
Distance: 70 km (43 miles)
Elevation gain: 1,800 meters (5,900 feet)
Day 4 – Today is long and hard, but all the punch is in the first half. Immediately upon setting off the road climbs incessantly to 1,500 meter and the San Glorio pass, before we turn into the heart of the Picos de Europa park. Two more climbs await as the route descends to around 1,000 meters before rising again to 1,500, before a long long descent to our hotel in another charming mountain village. The route can be shortened for those that find the distance or amount of climbing excessive.
Distance: 120 km (74 miles)
Elevation gain: 2,800 meters (9,100 feet)
Day 5 – Today is flexible, but the highlight for all should be the nearby climb to the Lakes of Covadonga, a regular highlight of the Vuelta route. For those that want a longer ride there are additional options to extend the route, and for those that want to rest after a long week there is plenty to do in the village. This evening we leave you to explore the village and dine at a place of your choosing.
Distance: flexible, if only riding Lakes of Covadonga
Elevation gain: flexible, Lakes of Covadonga
Day 6 – On our final day we transfer in the morning to the vicinity of Oviedo to ride another of the final stages of the Vuelta route in 2017, namely the stage where Alberto Contador signed off his pro career with a victory on the Angliru. The route is short, but that is out of necessity with incredible gradients ahead. We start with the climb to El Cordal, which is less than 6km long but has plenty of stiff gradients above 10%, before descending and starting the climb of the mythical Angliru. The first half is manageable, but the final 6 km of the climb are as hard as anything you can find in the world, with average gradients over a kilometer ranging from 12 to 17%. Once you have reached your limit, descend back to the village where we will pack the bikes and transfer to Oviedo, from where we drop you at your hotel or where you need to be for your onward journey.
Distance: 40 km (25 miles)
Elevation gain: 1,800 meters (5,900 feet)
Please find underneath the currently scheduled accompanied tours of this route. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book a place on one of these tours.
|Start Date||End Date|
|Sat 16 Jun 2018||Sat 23 Jun 2018|
|Sat 15 Sep 2018||Sat 22 Sep 2018|
Picos de Europa 6 day medium/hard tour (shared accommodation in twin/double): € 1, 690
- 6 nights in shared accommodation (twin / double). Accomodation upon drop-off in Oviedo is not included as some people prefer to continue their onward journey directly. If you would like a hotel included in Oviedo please let us know and we will inform of the additional costs.
- Breakfast (6 days)
- Packed lunch (each riding day – 6 days)
- Evening meal (every evening except day 4, 6 and day of drop off – 4 days total )
- Support vehicle and guide (additional guide on bicycle for groups of 6 or more)
- Bike box transfer from start to end location
- Information on route and locality
- Cultural activities along the way
Single supplement: € 280
Bike hire (contact us to discuss options and pricing)