Back Top 10 things to see and do in Cabrales
The 10 most interesting things to see and do in Cabrales
Cabrales tastes of cheese and shepherding, of the struggle for survival. It tastes of high mountains and unique feats in the world. It is also the land that is home to the great icon of Spanish mountaineering: the Picu Urriellu or Naranjo de Bulnes.
Cabrales tastes of cheese and shepherding, of the struggle for survival. It tastes of high mountains and unique feats in the world. It tastes of a thousand stories and also of prehistory. In its lap grows the Central Massif of the Picos de Europa or the Urrieles, and in its territory rise the best viewpoints of the mythical peak par excellence of Spanish mountaineering, and of nature lovers: the Urriellu.
Cabrales is home to the best blue cheese in the world, the famous Cabrales cheese, which of course has a PDO, and is one of the hallmarks of Asturian gastronomic products. The complex and painstaking production of this cheese is the subject of much more than a culinary treatise or a documentary, and the fact is that Cabrales, due to its centuries-old tradition in an area whose orography has pushed human survival to the limit, is much more than just a cheese. In fact, it is an emblem of struggle, effort and wisdom, passed down from generation to generation.
Cabrales is located on the world map of sensations as a land of footpaths and hikers, of mountaineers and climbers. It is a land where the most common thing to do is to climb up to a village, a sheepfold, a crag, a hill or a summit, and enjoy the contemplation of the three massifs of the Picos de Europa and their most outstanding peaks with eternal simplicity.
In reality, this universally famous Asturian council is made up of fairytale villages, some perched high up, others sliding down from the heights as if they were in an eternal abseil to the base of the earth, and always as background music, the high mountains and all their adventures. For this reason, Cabrales has written its name in the most glorious and sometimes complicated pages of the great mountaineering feats, of the great conquests, both in sporting, scientific and technical terms. Its mountains are a great outdoor school and training ground. They have welcomed and continue to welcome sportsmen and scientists from all over the world who seek in the Picos de Europa their particular goal for self-improvement and great discovery. So it is not surprising that this area is one of the meccas of nature tourism in Spain.
For all these reasons, here are the top 10 things to see and do in Cabrales!
A set of dream viewpoints
Panoramic views. If there is one thing that characterises many corners and villages in Cabral, it is the beauty and power of their panoramic views, and the number of viewpoints and places from which you can enjoy excellent views multiplies exponentially.
On your trip, there are some that are a must-see, and that will provide you not only with a feeling of enormous well-being in contemplating the landscape, but also with the perfect notion that this great icon called Picu Urriellu has a thousand faces, and thousands of frames and compositions for your gaze.
One of the most emblematic is the Pozo de la Oración viewpoint (which appears in our header photo), a classic viewpoint at the foot of the road, in the vicinity of Po de Cabrales. From there, on clear days, you will have a good view of the Urriellu and other peaks of the central massif of the Picos de Europa, and all of this is very well explained on the panels located in the car park itself.
Also easily accessible by road is the Pedro Udaondo viewpoint, in the village of Asiegu, where you can also see the Urriellu and its surroundings in all their splendour, also with explanatory panels included.
Other privileged views of the Picos de Europa are those from the Tebrandi sheepfold, in the foothills of the Sierra del Cuera, a few kilometres from the village of Asiegu.
Within the Picos de Europa National Park itself, there are two villages where you have viewpoints of the Picu Urriellu with a different perspective: Camarmeña and Bulnes. Both are high mountain villages with a lot of charm and tradition, where you will discover the soul of the mountains inch by inch.
Asiegu, Exemplary Town of Asturias 2019
Cabrales is always in fashion, and this year 2019 is no exception. It turns out that one of its most emblematic villages, Asiegu, has been awarded by the Princess of Asturias Foundation with the Exemplary Village of Asturias Award 2019.
Asiegu is a peaceful place, increasingly known among travellers and outsiders for the spectacular views of the Picos de Europa that can be seen from this village, and for the friendliness of the locals.
Located between the Sierra del Cuera and the Picos de Europa, Asiegu is a true example of survival since prehistoric times, and since time immemorial it has lived from livestock and shepherding, and of course from the production of that delicacy of gods and humans called Cabrales cheese.
Asiegu and its surroundings offer some of the best humanised landscapes in the Picos de Europa region.
Carreña, a cave capital
Carreña is the capital of the council of Cabrales, and it is here that you will take the road up to Asiegu. And it is precisely on this ascent to Asiegu where you will have beautiful panoramic views of Carreña, which stretches out like a kind of necklace, framed by the lush green landscape, with the backdrop of the impressive landscape of the Picos de Europa, with the Picu Urriellu as the standard bearer of the grandeur of this part of the known world...
Carreña is a quiet and lively place at the same time, with plenty of places where you can taste good Cabrales cheese and the best gastronomy in the area. Furthermore, its status as the capital of the region means that it is the headquarters of the Cabrales Cheese Regulatory Council.
It is also the cultural epicentre of Prehistoric Art in the area, as the renovated Casa Bárcena, a traditional Asturian building, emblazoned and dating from the 17th century, has for some years now housed a replica of the panel from the Covaciella Cave - discovered 25 years ago - as well as several panels explaining Palaeolithic Cave Art. La Covaciella has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is one of the great references of international cave art.
And of course you can't visit Carreña without visiting the chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Salud and learning about its curious history. And if you can fit in the dates, don't miss the festivities in her honour, which are incredible, and are always held on the first Sunday after 8 September (which is Asturias Day).
Po de Cabrales, a beautiful village on the banks of the river Casaño
Following the course of the river Casaño until it flows into the Cares, you will find another of those villages with character and flavour that you cannot miss, such as Po.
Po is a place where you can breathe in the omnipresence of the Picu Urriellu, which can be seen from different corners of the village.
Here you will find some of the best Cabrales cheese dairies, with an impeccable product, and numerous international prizes and awards.
Furthermore, a stroll along the paths of Po will leave you with an excellent taste in your mouth, because you will come across splendid ancestral homes, and you can enjoy a pleasant river walk along the banks of the river, discovering, among other almost hidden treasures, a dam and a medieval bridge.
In short, Po is one of the villages in Cabrales where you are almost obliged to go...
Arenas, the unavoidable stop
This journey through Cabrales continues downstream to Arenas. This town is undoubtedly one of the most famous in the whole municipality, and for many decades, especially in spring-summer, it has been a constant flow of mountaineers and hikers, who stop in Arenas to regain strength, to prepare the logistics of a route, or simply for a moment of relaxation.
Shops specialising in high mountains, shops selling the best Cabrales cheese and other natural products from the land, eating houses, cider houses, restaurants, hotels and campsites make up the more urban landscape of Arenas, which is one of the key points in the approach to the Picos de Europa National Park and its most emblematic routes and villages.
On the outskirts of the village, in the direction of Poncebos, you will also find the Cabrales Cheese Cave-Exhibition, where you can learn all the secrets of the origin and production of this gastronomic jewel. You can also visit cheese dairies such as El Cabriteru ( which makes a blue cheese from the Picos de Europa) and la Vega de Tordín ( which makes Cabrales cheese).
On the other hand, Arenas is the place where the Cabrales Cheese Festival is held every last Sunday in August, a lively event where you can sample the best cheeses, and which is also a Festival of Tourist Interest.
Poncebos, the great door
It seems that in Cabrales everything is a gateway to the sky and the mountains, to incredible villages, to film villages, to dozens of routes and paths... But that is what this land is like, where every glance and every moment discovers details never seen before, rivers, waterfalls, springs, furrows and even trails in the air, which have no borders...
Poncebos, conceived in the middle of a great rocky gorge, shelters the infinitely crystalline waters of the river Cares, and it is precisely on the bridge of Poncebos, next to a hydroelectric power station that will remind you of the energetic and energising potential of this flow of eternal reflections, where you will see the sign indicating that you are on the river Cares and that you are now entering the National Park of the Picos de Europa.
Poncebos is the great gateway to the whole of this natural area, just as it is the gateway to the funicular railway or rack railway that you can take to go up to the village of Bulnes, or the start of one of the most famous hiking routes in Spain: the Cares Route, also known as the Divine Gorge.
Bulnes, the hidden treasure
Today, Bulnes continues to be that hidden treasure, the same one that for centuries and centuries was there, in the middle of the Picos, being an example of survival and humanisation of the environment. Shepherding and the production of Cabrales cheese have been its signs of identity since time immemorial, and the mark of this culture is still very present today.
For hundreds of years, the Canal del Texu was the communication route from Bulnes to the planet beyond the Picos. A 'goat path' to which the humans of the area adapted with prodigious naturalness, just as you will adapt if you do this Canal, and get into the skin of the inhabitants of the Picos de Europa.
However, another option for getting to know Bulnes is to take a rack railway or funicular railway, which will take you to this uniquely charming place in no time at all.
When you are in Bulnes, you are sure to be surprised and thrilled. When you arrive, you will feel like you are in a fairytale village, with a mountaineers' cemetery and a beautiful church. With a bridge over the river that looks like a film set, and a group of stone houses linked by cobbled paths. You are in the district of La Villa, one of the two that make up Bulnes.
But once you have toured the village and enjoyed its terraces by the river, savouring a glass of cider with some good local food, it will be time to go up to Bulnes de Arriba or El Castillo. This is another Bulnes. With splendid panoramic views over the whole valley, over the neighbourhood of La Villa, and over the Canal del Texu, which from a bird's eye view looks like a drawing drawn by the hand of a naughty child...
And to complete the journey, you must go to the Bulnes viewpoint, about fifteen minutes from the La Villa district, where you will discover one of the thousand faces of the Urriellu.
Tielve, under the 'spell' of the Duje river
Tielve is another of those villages full of mountain and livestock seduction. Another of those places in Cabrales that have made it possible for the cheese created and made with immemorial care in these lands to become a gastronomic relic of universal renown. In Tielve, Cabrales cheese continues to be, together with tourism, the epicentre of activity. So much so that it is one of the tastiest cheeses in the area, as you can see for yourself when you stop off in Tielve.
Tielve has it all: a number of farms full of life, especially in the summer season, and where the panoramic views of the Picos de Europa will leave you speechless; an incredible tranquillity to guarantee you a natural rest, and a delicious cuisine, where in addition to Cabrales, you can taste sausages, meats, stews or casseroles, all home-made and inspired by ancestral traditions.
Its stone houses, with the church of San Cristóbal reigning over a square in which there are characteristic elements such as the washing place or the bowling alley, make Tielve a village that serenely combines the present and the past.
The river Duje is another of the natural sculptors of its landscape, descending with unquestionable verve from the central massif of the Picos de Europa, and then flowing backwater as it passes through Tielve, where, channeled, it designs pools ideal for bathing. Once past Tielve, the untamed Duje rushes eagerly to embrace the lap of the Cares, very close to Poncebos.
Moreover, Tielve is a place where paths, tracks and creeks will give you an idea that this is a perfect enclave to get to know the rural life of the past, whose heritage is still evident today, and it is also an ideal starting point for many mountain routes.
Sotres, the prelude to the ascent of Picu Urriellu
If there is a village whose memory is linked to the great feats of Spanish and international mountaineering, it is Sotres.
Sotres, which you reach from Poncebos, along a winding 11-kilometre road with wonderful scenery, is the highest of the Cabrales villages, and like all the others has always lived from shepherding and the production of Cabrales cheese, given that it also has a large number of natural caves for maturing it. This is why you will find cheese dairies here that can be visited, such as the Maín cheese factory.
But to this centuries-old tradition, Sotres and its inhabitants have been able to successfully add a high level of catering, as well as artisan products and high mountain tourism, including the services of mountain guides.
Sotres, with its traditional houses, which are perched among the rocks, as if they were doing a climbing course; its coves, and its constant and lively atmosphere of mountaineers from all over the world, is really a very peculiar village.
Surrounded by mountains and "majadas", from some of these, you will have wonderful views of Sotres and its surroundings, which will give you an idea of its privileged location. So privileged that dozens of routes through the Picos de Europa start or pass through Sotres.
Some are less well known, such as the ascent to Lago de las Moñetas, but others are as popular as the ascent from the Pandébano pass to the very summit of Picu Urriellu or Naranjo de Bulnes, which fascinates thousands of adventurers every year, and makes Sotres a true king of the mountains.
A mecca for nature tourism
The spectacular landscapes, the singularity of the karst system, and a steep orography that draws dizzying slopes, make the land of Cabrales a real mecca for the practice of different nature tourism activities.
Cabrales is synonymous with hiking, trekking, climbing, snowshoeing, ski mountaineering, caving and canyoning, among other options, and in short, adventure in capital letters, with plans and challenges for all tastes and levels.
Not in vain, Cabrales has written its name more than a century ago among the lands that are a reference of great deeds and great summits, thanks to the Picu Urriellu, which was the last great European summit to be conquered, and this happened in 1904, when Pedro Pidal, the Marquis of Villaviciosa, and Gregorio Pérez "el cainejo" joined forces and courage, and crowned the summit of summits.
And here are some wonderful images of the many beauties of Cabrales!
Come to Cabrales and enjoy the best cheese and the best views of the Picos de Europa! And if you liked this post, share it on your Facebook!