A trip to Asturias is not complete if you do not enjoy the nature of the mountain on a visit to the Covadonga Lakes, or simply “the lakes” for Asturians. However, you should know that access to the Covadonga Lakes is restricted and variable depending on the time of year.
This restriction of access to the Covadonga Lakes has an important raison d’être, and that is that the Covadonga Lakes (the Enol, the Ercina and a third lake, Bricial, which only appears during the thaw) are part of the Asturian territory in the Picos de Europa National Park (created in 1918), which is a Biosphere Reserve since 2003.
Although the views from various viewpoints and the landscapes we find when we hike around the Covadonga Lakes, at more than 1000 m altitude, are memorable at any time of year, we can not forget that they are a peculiar and fragile ecosystem.
For this reason, a balance is attempted between the visitor’s magnet of the Lakes of Covadonga, the traditional ways of life within its limits (grazing and artisan cheese production), and the interest it arouses as one of the most visited tourist destinations in Asturias.
Let us not forget that Cangas de Onís is the gateway to the Picos de Europa and the Basilica of Covadonga is a monument of historical and religious importance, along with the Santina de Covadonga, at the beginning of the road up to the lakes.
As a result of this balance in an area that receives a large number of visitors, access to the Covadonga Lakes is restricted for private vehicles for part of the year.
Whether you travel by public transport to Cangas de Onis or by private transport, here are the dates and times of access by public transport to the Lakes of Covadonga, parking fees and bus fares.
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1.- Dates of access by public transport to the Lakes of Covadonga
During the year 2019, these are the dates when access to the Covadonga Lakes is only possible by public transport.
April 13 to May 5, inclusive
li1 June to 16 October inclusive
8 June, special regulation for cyclists
July 25th, special regulation “Fiesta del Pastor”.
8 September, special regulation “Asturias Day
1-3 November inclusive
December 6 to 9, inclusive
2.- Timetable for public transport access to the Covadonga Lakes
From April to October, within the days of operation of the regulated access system, the access road to the Covadonga Lakes from Covadonga is closed to traffic between 08:30 and 21:00.
In the months of November and December, the road is closed to traffic between 08:30 and 19:00.
The first bus ride to the lakes will be at 09:00 and the last one at 19:30. In November and December, the last ascent to the Covadonga Lakes will be at 17:30.
The last bus ride from the lakes will be at 20:30. In November and December, the last descent of the Covadonga Lakes will be at 18:30.
Accommodation and food near the Covadonga Lakes
If we are going to spend the day in the Lakes of Covadonga, the most logical thing would be to make night in the surroundings, for example in Cangas de Onís where before leaving we can visit the famous Roman Bridge.
Among the many options to sleep in Cangas de Onis we highlight the excellent and central Hotel Los Lagos Nature, the complete apartment Les Cotolles Centro, the rural house but central and up to 7 people Casa Cerezal or the modest but well recommended Pensión Principado.
At lunch time in Cangas de Onís or have a cider with views, those of Mesón Puente Romano are unbeatable, and the breakfasts of Bar Tienda Enol (especially the size of the tortilla kebab) are delicious.
The same Bar Shop Enol serves as a starting point to have drinks at dusk, which are prolonged in the gastropub forty degrees.
3.- Parking and bus fares to the Lakes of Covadonga
Parking of vehicles in the enabled car parks: 2 € (fixed price for the whole day)
Bus ticket to Covadonga Lakes (adult): 9 €.
Bus ticket to the Covadonga Lakes (under 12 years old): 3.50 €.
Bus ticket to Covadonga Lakes (under 3 years old): free of charge
Bus ticket Cangas de Onís – Covadonga (one way): 1,55 €.
Bus tickets to the Covadonga Lakes are not linked to a specific timetable and can be used at any time of day.
Tickets can be purchased at the Cangas de Onís Bus Station, at the Muñigo Car Park (open from 13 to 21 April, summer and long weekends), El Bosque Car Park (only open from 13 to 21 April, July and August), El Repelao Car Park and Covadonga Crossing.
For private vehicles, there are four car parks with more than 1,600 spaces: Cangas Centro P1, El Bosque P2, Muñigo P3 and El Repelao P4.
Access by local taxi to the Lakes of Covadonga
If you want to access the Covadonga Lakes in a more personalized way, there is a local taxi service.
The transport is done by Taxitur, Cooperativa de Taxis de Cangas de Onís, and has a cost of a few euros more than the bus (at the time I write these lines, the Taxitur website presented a php error in the “fares” section), which puts the price per person between 10 and 12 euros (I have seen the two figures on different pages) per round trip.
5.- Access by private transport to the Lakes of Covadonga
Apart from the dates on which access to the Covadonga Lakes is permitted only by public transport, access is free for private vehicles.
Having said that, operational reasons, saturation of car parks, influx of visitors, etc. may cause the authorities to decide to restrict access to the Covadonga Lakes by private vehicle.
6.- More information and map
You can find more information on the website of the bus company ALSA and on the website of the Consorcio de Transportes de Asturias (the public entity that manages the public transport service in Asturias).
If you travel to Cangas de Onís by public transport, which I only recommend when you have plenty of time and don’t want to rent a car, you can do so by bus from the main cities of Asturias, to which you can also link from Asturias Airport.
Centered in the Basilica of Covadonga, here you have in Google Maps the area that goes from Cangas de Onis to the Lakes of Covadonga:
This information is valid for 2019, as of the date of publication of this article, and may serve as a guide for the year 2020.
By the way, although there is no official confirmation that it will be done soon, the idea is on the table that access to the Covadonga Lakes will be permanently restricted to private vehicles.