This unique walking tour will take you from the Green Coast of Spain to the mountain area of Picos de Europa. Going past fishing villages, historical monuments, churches and ancient hamlets, you will follow the Camino Lebaniego. The trail follows a pilgrimage route that started in the 8th century to worship the Lignum Crucis (“True Cross”), located in the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, the final destination of this tour.
- Beautiful coastal and mountainous landscapes
- A mixture of pilgrimage route and mountain trek following a branch of the Camino de Santiago
- The Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana from 12th c.
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival in San Vicente de la Barquera
After arrival at Santander or Bilbao airport, you take the bus to the city centre of Santander and from there a direct bus to San Vicente (3 to 4 buses a day, in July and August up to 9; duration is 75 min). If you have time after arrival, you can stroll in the old town and the port of this beautiful historic fishing town.
- Accommodation: in San Vicente de la Barquera (Hotel Faro de San Vicente or similar). In high season (August), a total of min. 3 nights are required!
Day 2: San Vicente de la Barquera to Puente Arrudo | 13-17.5km
To avoid a steep and uninteresting section, a transfer will take you up to the village of Serdio. Here you will see for the first time the route signs for the Camino Lebaniego, the branch from the Camino de Santiago to the pre-Romanesque monastery of Santo Toribio, which was quite popular among pilgrims in medieval times because of a Lignum Crucis relic. Next, your route today takes you down to the river Nansa, then southward along its shore.
- Walking for the day: 13-17.5km, 4-5.5h, ↑300m ↓285m
- Accommodation: in Herrerias (Hotel Casona del Nansa or similar)
Day 3: Puente Nansa to Lebeña | 13-17.5km
Taxi transfer in the morning will take you to the small remote hamlet La Fuente. Then, a steep surfaced tractor road takes you uphill to the pass Collada de la Hoz (at 665m), from where you look down upon the Cicera valley and the limestone wall of the Picos de Europa at the back. The rest of the walk is a step back into history as you traverse the rural hinterland, first down to the village of Cicera (465m; the only bar on the entire route), then up again to the Arceón pass (845m) and down again to Lebeña. You will have time to visit the unique Mozarabic church Santa Maria de la Lebeña and admire the Gothic statue of Mother Mary before a taxi drives you to your cosy and comfortable rural hotel.
- Walking for the day: 13km, 5.5h, ↑750m ↓800m; longer option extension from Lebeña to Castro Cillórigo: +4.5km, +2h, +↑250m ↓200m
- Accommodation: in Tama (Hotel El Corcal de Liébana or similar)
Day 4: Allende to Santo Toribio | 12-15km
After a 10min transfer to Allende, you rejoin the Camino Lebaniego on its last section. First, 340m uphill to Cabañes – a small hamlet with beautiful views of the valley – then through an old chestnut wood via Pendes and back to Tama. From here, you continue to the nearby medieval town of Potes. Here, you take some time to prepare for the spiritual climax of the pilgrim´s route: the last 3km along the sidewalk of the main road and then up and down to the monastery of Santo Toribio. At the end of the day, there will be a transfer back to the hotel.
- Walking for the day: 12km, 5h, ↑530m ↓450m; 1h extra to go to the monastery (3km, ↑225m ↓225m)
- Accommodation: in Tama (Hotel El Corcal de Liébana or similar)
Day 5: Departure or Extension Picos de Europa
The tour ends after breakfast. You take a bus back to Santander or Bilbao. An extra night in Tama is highly recommended and mandatory in July and August, as the accommodations require a minimum stay of three nights. You might want to spend this day in the high part of the Picos de Europa, taking the cable car at Fuente Dé and starting at the upper cable car station (1,835m), walking down to Espinama via the high pastures of Aliva. There are public buses that can take you there and back.
- Walking for the day (optional): 10km, 5h, ↑500m ↓500m
- No overnight included; it can be booked on request. In high season (August), an extra night in El Corcal de Liebana is compulsory
What to expect
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way. Please, note that the hotels in San Vicente and Tama require a min. of 3 nights to be booked in August and Easter.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel Faro de San Vicente (San Vicente)
- Hotel Casona del Nansa (Herrerias)
- El Corcal de Liébana (Tama)
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days, as well as the dinners in Tama. When no restaurant is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunches can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty menus – you can get a 3-course dinner including wine and water for GBP 10-15.
Difficulty and terrain
This itinerary includes moderate walks of 4-6h per day on average (read more about difficulty grades) and long, but technically easy, routes at the beginning of the week and then more mountainous and off-the-beaten-track as you get closer to the Picos de Europa. You will follow a mixture of countryside roads, footpaths through the rural hinterland, minor roads and some busier roads close to bigger towns and cities. The routes are waymarked, and the itinerary is easy to follow. The route is marked with yellow painted arrows. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from mid-April until mid-October. July and August are considered high season and the best time for hiking. The flexibility of self-guided walking holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
Arrival in San Vicente de la Barquera: From Santander or Bilbao airport, you take the bus to the city centre of Santander and from there a direct bus to San Vicente. There are 3 – 4 buses a day, in July and August up to 9; duration is 75min; time schedules at: www.lacantabrica.net
Departure from Tama: You will need to take a taxi to Potes bus station. From here there are buses to Santander airport run by Palomera. From Santander airport, you can take a bus to Bilbao, time schedules at www.alsa.es
- 4 nights in hotels and country inns in private en-suite rooms
- 4 breakfasts and 2 dinners on days 3 & 4
- Detailed digital holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure, and no printed documents are mailed or provided on-site.
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc per person up to 20kg per person)
- Private transfers according to the programme – days 2, 3 and 4 – in the morning; days 3 and 4 – in the afternoon
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches and 2 dinners, drinks and snacks
- The obligatory extra nights in summer
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on the spot)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- The obligatory extra nights in San Vicente and Tama in August
- Extra nights
- Airport transfers