In both of my previous trips to the Picos de Europa I have flown from Liverpool to Madrid (Easyjet). From Madrid I have taken either the train or the coach -about 5 hours travel either way. This time I flew Stansted to Asturias (Easyjet).
Train Travel in Spain: The national network, RENFE run a decent service with different levels of train. Express and stopping services. Their website has full (and up to date) information. http://www.renfe.es A quick look has suggested that currently a ticket is about €50 (one way) from Madrid to Oviedo. It is then €7.50 by coach to the city bus station (Airport is 50km out of town!)
Coach travel in Spain: This is a much more comfortable option than coach travel in the UK. ALSA run an excellent service both nationwide and within regions. Their coaches are clean, comfortable and air conditioned! They have several levels of service, some coaches having 3 seats to a row instead of 4, voucher for food at the rest stop on a long trip. Another quick check suggests that a one way ticket for the coach is €32 for the economy (6 hour) trip or €51 for the Supra+ (which includes WiFi) and is direct from the airport terminal. http://www.alsa.es
However you arrive in Oviedo onward travel is probably easiest by coach, again its ALSA here. Cangas de Onis, Arenas de Cabrales and Panes are all served directly (these are the three main towns at the northern edge of the Picos) Other parts of the national park can be reached by local services from these towns (Potes and Fuente De for example).
The coach to Cangas de Onis is about 1hr30 and cost €6.25
Getting into the National Park: From Cangas de Onis there is a frequent bus service to Los Lagos de Covadonga (which takes out a 20km hike with a massive ascent) running from about 9am until 7pm. €7.50 return (the only ticket sold at the bottom) Getting out again is about €3.50 from the ticket office in Buferrera car park. To my knowledge there is no bus service from Arenas de Cabrales to Poncebos. It is about 1hr30 to walk to road head at Poncebos from where it is a couple of hours walk to Bulnes (Since I last visited this part of the range the Funicular to Bulnes has opened to there may well be a bus to Poncebos to support this).
At Fuente De there is a cable car which speeds you up to the mountains. Its not cheating, its efficient! This gets you to within a short walk of Horcados Rojos.
Accommodation: Cangas and Arenas have plenty of hotels and hostels. Cangas isn’t that cheap though. Both also have camp sites (Cangas is at Soto de Cangas, about 4km away)
On the south side of the mountains Cain, Posada de Valdeon and Fuente De have Hotels, Hostels and Albergues.
Within the mountains Bulnes has a couple of places to stay also there are mountain refuges and bothies marked on the maps. The refuges are very reasonable for accommodation though eating does put the cost up considerably. For example, Refugio de Vegarredonda is €12 per night or about €35 with evening meal and breakfast too. -This is the maximum price, BMC membership or membership of the Spanish or Asturian equivalent knocks quite a lot off the price. All refuges have about the same prices.
Bothies are free but can get crowded and have no facilities beyond shelter.
Camping is only permitted above 1600m, ‘bivouac style’ which means tent up not more than 1 hour before sunset and down not more than one hour after sunrise though in practice as long as you’re not taking the mickey no one seems to mind. Refuges have a ‘no camping’ sign outside them though on the wall of one there was a document stating a law says the number of campers cannot exceed 10% of max capacity of the refuge.
A list of websites of handy places for this trip.
ALSA – coach company. Run Oviedo to Covadonga. http://www.alsa.es/portal/site/Alsa
Their prices are pretty reasonable and the service, in my experience is excellent (raise your game, National Express!)
Oxigeno -outdoor shop in Oviedo, one which has helped out on both of my previous Picos trips
*note* the website doesn’t list the Manuel Pedregal address, only a larger out-of-town shop. I shall update this blog upon my return
Deportes Centeno -outdoor shop, near to Oxigeno