Looking for things to do in Asturias, Spain? This is the article for you!
Asturias is many things.
It is fantastically rugged coastlines, beautiful sandy beaches, true wilderness where wild boar and wolves still roam, pretty little towns and fantastic architecture - it's also home to some of the best cider I've tasted outside of Herefordshire!
Surprisingly however, it's also a region that remains pretty much undiscovered by international tourists. Nestled in the northwest of the country, it's a delightfully wonderful place hidden between the rocky mountains of Cantabria and the wild Bay of Biscay - somewhere to get lost for a few days and discover a new perspective on Spain.
Here are nine places in Asturias you simply can't miss!
Enjoy some proper Spanish Cider - at a proper cideria
Coming from English cider country, it takes an awful lot to impress me. And whilst a couple of dodgy encounters with a bottle of scrumpy may have put me off in my teens, there's few alcoholic drinks I'd rather be supping!
Unfortunately, in a world of sickly-sweet flavoured concoctions (the Swedes have a lot to answer to), I've come to be a little sceptical of international offerings. One swift drink of Asturias' favourite tipple however, and it became clear that Hereford has some stiff competition.
Whilst the cider itself tastes pretty similar, the serving method is anything but! To solve the lack-of-bubbles issue encountered by this particular cider, the servers in Asturia have got a little trick: it's poured from high up above the server's head, straight into the glass waiting about three feet below - and then you have to drink it, all in one gulp. After all, the next person is thirsty too (cider drinking here is a very sociable affair, and traditionally you share the same glass).
Ciderias are all over the region, so tracking down a cheeky taste or two isn't difficult, however if you're looking for a little more insight into the brewing process, then a tour is the best idea. We can thoroughly recommend Sidra Crespo, a traditional cider house that sticks with old and true methods and produces some excellent appley goodness.
The Tourist Hotspot of Llanes
Venture outside of the popular package holiday resorts on the southern coast, and you'll discover that it's not just the Brits that are partial to a sunny Spanish holiday - the Spanish themselves frequently vacation within their own borders.
Keen to escape the sweltering temperatures reached in cities such as Madrid and Seville, they however, choose to head north, to enjoy the beautiful coastline and pretty towns in Asturias - and few are more popular than this one.
Llanes. A magical medieval city, still housed within crumbling walls, with an active harbour set along beautiful waterways, fantastic beaches and top notch views from the small hill which overlooks it all.
Unlike many urban beaches, the sandy coves in the centre of Llanes are actually rather pretty, incredibly clean and perfect for an afternoon or morning in the sun. Spend a few hours relaxing at Playa del Sablon, and then take a walk along Paseo de San Pedro, a pathway that takes you high above the city for dramatic coastal scenery and spectacular views of the Bay of Biscay.
Art lovers shouldn't miss the interesting Los Cubos de Memoria. Designed and painted by famous Basque artist Augustin Ibarrola, what should be a simple breakwater to protect the harbour has been transformed into a colourful work of art.
Where to stay | Hotel La Palma de Llanes is located around a 15 minute walk away from the beaches of Llanes but this is more that made up for by its stunning location with views of the mountains, a lovely outdoor pool and modern amenities. Helps that they have doubles starting at 50 Euro a night as well! Find out more here.
The Colourful Town of Ribadesella
It is said that many of Spain's most beautiful beaches are actually found along the rugged coastline of the north, not the popular south. After seeing the wonderful stretch of sand that hugs the colourful town of Ribadesella, we can't help but agree that there's some truth in the statement.
Bring a parasol and place yourself at the water's edge to while away a sunny summer's day, take a sailing class or head into town for a plate of the freshest seafood - all washed down by perfect local cider of course.
For those that enjoy a little history alongside their tan lines, take the 10 minute stroll inland from Santa Marina Beach to the Unesco World Heritage site of Cueva de Tito Bustillo to discover a veritable feast of prehistoric drawings dating back 35,000 years.
Our pick on where to stay | Old fashioned grandeur, a stunning buildings, beachside location, helpful staff and great rooms. Oh, and it won’t break the bank either. There’s a reason Hotel Villa Rosario is super popular! To find out more, click here.
Cudillero, The Prettiest Town in Asturias
The north of Spain, and Asturias in particular, boasts a number of wonderful little towns.
In our eyes however, it's little Cudillero that wins the title of the most beautiful.
Built around a small harbour, this a place of hills, where colourful houses cascade towards the water's edge and finish with a perfect cove of picturesque seafood restaurants. It is a spot made for a leisurely lunch, for a slow meander along narrow streets towards the spectacular view from above.
Don't miss the charming fishing harbour where you can watch boats return with the day's catch and wind-worn fishermen repairing their nets or drying their fish in the sun.
Our pick on where to stay | Cute, quaint and a delightfully old fashioned (in the best possible way) La Casona de Pío is a fine choice for a night or two. Family owned and run, it is full of local charm. Follow this link for more information.
Enjoy the new and old in Gijón
Delightfully combining the old and the new, Gijón is a harbour town with plenty to keep a visitor entertained - and a picture-perfect location to boot.
Enjoy a brisk early morning walk along the coast and head up to Parque del Cerro de Santa Catalina for spectacular views over the ocean and a chance to admire the bold sculpture 'Elogio del Horizonte', before making your way back into the city to explore Plaza Mayor (one of the prettiest plazas in Spain some say) and the surrounding streets.
If you happen to be here on a sunny day, be sure to check out one of the most visited beaches in Asturias - San Lorenzo. For those of you that enjoy a more off-the-beaten-track experience, check out Estaño, La Ñora, Peñarrubia, and Serín beaches.
Our pick on where to stay | Fantastically located, excellent value for money, quirky and fun design, large rooms and helpful staff - Hotel San Miguel is definitely our pick of the bunch. Click here to check availability and prices.
Oviedo and its Markets
Only in Oviedo for a flying visit, we're not sure we can attest to all of Woody Allen's adjectives, but it certainly ticked a few boxes!
You see, if there's two things we love to discover more than anything when exploring new towns, it's an abundance of street photography opportunities and wonderful little markets.
And here, in the capital of Asturias, we found both by the bucket load.
For the prettiest part of the city, make a beeline for the old town. Colour-washed buildings rise high above cobble-stoned calles and beautiful little courtyards; locals and tourists alike roam the streets to shop or sit outside small cafes drinking strong coffee. It's a wonderful place to explore.
And that's before you even enter Mercado El Fontan where fresh fish, cured meats, local produce and charming stall owners are ready to greet you and your camera. True market lovers should make sure to time their visit to Oviedo with the large outdoor market in the centre of the town, which takes place every Tuesday.
Our pick on where to stay | The Gran Hotel is not the sort of hotel that we’d normally recommend - it’s simply too, well, grand. And that usually means expensive. Amazingly, a double here can be had for less than 5o Euro night, which means we’d be hard pressed to recommend anywhere else! Click here to check availability and find out more.
The Towering Cliffs of Cabo Vidio, Oviñana
Located just outside the town of Oviñana, Cabo Vidio is an unmissable site for any trip through Asturias.
Guarded by a troupe of curious goats, these towering cliffs provide breath-taking views over the wild Bay of Biscay and offer the beginnings of numerous hiking trails from which to explore the coast.
Colombres and its Indianos Archive
Spending so long in Latin America, we are well aware of the impact (the good and the bad) that Spanish immigrants made on culture, from Mexico to Argentina. What was so interesting in Colombres however, was discovering the impact that this made on lives right here in Asturias.
Housed in a beautiful building that wouldn't look out of place in Cartagena (that's Colombia, not Spain), this museum sensitively archives everything from the dangerous crossings made by men, women and children in their quest for a better life to the success stories of those that never returned and how they continue to maintain links to their homeland.
Luarca and its Lighthouse
If it hasn't become clear yet, Asturias is a region full of charming coastal towns; a wonderful paint by numbers ocean-hugging route that leads you from one stunning location to the next.
It makes sense then to end this guide with one more: Luarca, the white town on the green coast.
Whether viewed from above whilst exploring the beautiful cemetery, lighthouse or small chapel, or taking the short loop from the harbour to the edge of town (not missing the spectacular stone bridge along which passes Spain's most luxurious of tourist trains), Luarca is a wonderful place to lose an hour at the end of the day - and a must-do for those that love experiencing a fishing village that despite the passing years, retains all of its charm.
Our pick on where to stay | Traditional but beautifully quaint boutique hotel in the heart of the village, just 300m from the beach. Stunning rooms and lovely outside area make Hotel Villa de Luarca our top choice by far! To check availability and find out more, see this link.