Picos de Europa, Cantabria, Spain


The Picos de Europa are one of Western Europe’s most iconic mountain ranges and were long the first sight of Europe for American sailors. A drive into the Picos is a white-knuckle affair (especially if your manual transmission skills are rusty), with endless vistas begging for attention at every switchback and hairpin turn, though delaying too long on the road will deny you time in the high country, where the Lakes of Covadonga await. Follow shepherds and their flock around Lake Ercina (a five kilometre loop), picnic on the pinnacle mirador above Lake Enol, or slip into your hiking boots for a multi-day trek into Spain’s untrammeled wilderness. The Picos feature some of the deepest caves in the world – Torca del Cerro is a staggering 1,589 metres deep – abandoned mines worthy of exploring, and dozens of hiking trails that can take you on journeys one to 100 kilometres away from your point of origin.

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