The star attractions are the landscape and nature of the Picos de Europa themselves, but the human culture that has evolved with them also gives plenty of reasons to visit the area.
Cangas de Onís. This town lies to the northwest of the Picos de Europa. For fifty years following the battle of Covadonga it was the capital of the kingdom of Asturias, and therefore of Christian Spain. A Roman bridge crosses the River Sella on the edge of town, and nearby is the 8th century chapel of Santa Cruz constructed around an even older dolmen. Cangas de Onís has a wide variety of shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels, and holds a busy Sunday market.
Covadonga. 12km south-east of Cangas de Onís, Covadonga is the historic site of the battle that shaped Spain's destiny, and a major pilgrimage destination. The cathedral is stunningly situated in a deep green forested valley, next to the sacred cave and waterfall. Covadonga has bars, restaurants, and hotels, and is a gateway to the national park.
Lakes Ercina and Enol. These beautiful mountain lakes are almost 1000m above Covadonga, reached by 12km of steep winding road. There are various viewpoints and car-parks, some bar-restaurants, and many walking options, as well as the national park visitor's centre and the adjacent mines of Buferrera.
Karst Museum. At Santiyan, south of Cangas de Onís, this installation focuses on the cave systems of the area.
Arenas de Cabrales. Another gateway to the national park, just to the north of the mountains, this town has shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and walking routes. The area of Cabrales is famous for its strong blue cheese. On the edge of town towards the national park is a cheese museum set inside a cave, whilst a short drive away in Asiegu is the "route of cheese and cider" (www.rutalquesuylasidra.com). A few kilometres west of town is a viewpoint of Picu Uriellu, the Naranjo de Bulnes.
Bulnes. This small mountain village nestles in a deep valley of the central massif, and can be reached by funicular railway from Poncebos, 6km south of Arenas de Cabrales. Bulnes has a small selection of cafes, bars, and places to stay. Short walks from Bulnes lead to the village of Upper Bulnes, and a viewpoint of Picu Uriellu.
Sotres. At 1000m in the eastern massif, this village commands fine views of the mountains. Sotres has bars, restaurants, hotels, and a shop. Various walking routes begin in the village or nearby. The road south from Arenas de Cabrales passes through Poncebos then climbs to Sotres, before coming to an end in the village of Tresviso.
Caín. On the southern (León) side of the Picos de Europa, at the southern end of the Cares Gorge walk, this pretty riverside village is dwarfed by soaring peaks of the western and central massifs. Caín has shops, bars, restaurants, and places to stay. A short walk leads to the hamlet of Upper Caín.
Santa Maria de Lebeña Church. In the valley of Liébana east of the eastern massif, 7km north of Potes, sits this little gem of a "mozarabic" church, built sometime before 925 AD, during Moorish rule.
Potes. The main town on the eastern (Cantabrian) side of the Picos de Europa, Potes is a gateway to the national park, and a pretty destination in its own right. Potes has a variety of shops, hotels, bars, and restaurants. Monday is market day. Just outside town is the historic Monastery of Santo Toríbio de Liébana, with good views of the eastern massif.
Fuente De. At 1000m on the southern side of the central massif, and 23km west of Potes, Fuente De's main attraction is the cable-car, which whisks you up to 1800m. The top station is the starting-point for many walks, as well as having exceptional views and a bar-restaurant. There are also places to eat and stay down in the valley.