Spain’s Picos de Europa National Park celebrates its centenary this year. Here are five reasons why you should schedule in a visit.
Why You Should Visit Picos de Europa National Park
It’s Spain, but not as you know it
If the thought of a Spanish vacation conjures up images of vast sandy beaches; art museums or whitewashed villages, this region is going to make you think a little differently. The mountains of the Picos de Europa separate “green Spain” – the wet northern coast – from the desiccated plateau of Spain’s murderously hot interior. Rain is a fact of life here. But when the sun does make an appearance, there are few places more beautiful anywhere in the country.
It’s a hiker’s paradise
The limestone scenery of the Picos de Europa National Park is characterised by craggy peaks and deep ravines interspersed with flower-strewn meadows. Hikers are spoilt for choice. Amongst the stand-outs are the beautiful Cares Gorge and the downhill walk from the Fuente De cable car. Watch out for the native wildlife too. While you’re unlikely to see a brown bear or a wolf, you might catch a glimpse of an ibex or the park’s mascot, the Pyrenean chamois.
It will delight even the pickiest foodie
Surrounding the national park is some of Spain’s most productive farmland. So it’s no surprise to learn that the food’s good. Hearty fare is to be expected. A tasty bean stew known as Fabada Asturiana is perfect for those who’ve worked up an appetite in the fresh mountain air. Cheese is something of a religion, with the famous blue cheese “queso Cabrales” top of the must-try list. Wash it down with a glass of the local cider or the local firewater known as orujo.
It’s dotted with quaint historic towns
If you’re looking for a base from which to explore the Picos de Europa, my pick is the charming town of Potes. Its old town is a maze of alleyways. Don’t miss the Torre del Infantado and the many historic mansions that litter the place. When it comes to pretty villages, Bulnes, Sotres and Caín all deliver. Covadonga, with its famous cathedral, is an easy drive, as is the town of Cangas de Onis with its Roman bridge.