The Camino del Norte, also known as the Coastal Camino, winds its way along the northern coast of Spain through the regions of Basque Country, Cantabria, and Asturias before heading south to Santiago in Galicia. From Oviedo it becomes the Original Way, or Camino Primitivo. It is a slightly more challenging route than the popular Camino Frances, but it is well worth the extra exersion. The section of Saint James Way that runs through Asturias is especially worth a visit.
Asturias boasts a brilliant diversity of landscapes, attractions, beautiful towns, delicious food and drink, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. In fact, as of 2015, the whole of the Camino del Norte has been recognised as a UNESCO Heritage area! Here are some of the highlights that you will find along the Camino de la Costa in Asturias.
The Historical Town of Colombres
Colombres boasts a wonderful historical town centre full of “indianos” architecture. The name “Indianos” refers to the people who emigrated to the Americas in the late XIX and first XX. Some returned to Spain after making their fortunes and showed off their new wealth by building large summer houses. The unique style and special architecture that they used is especially notable in this town. Make sure to visit the Archivo de Indianos Museum to learn more about these fascinating people.
Stunning Asturian Beaches All Along the Camino del Norte
One of the benefits of walking along the coast is that you regularly have easy access to excellent beaches. A decent amount of the Camino del Norte runs along the edge of the sea, over hills and sea cliffs, especially in Asturias. Bring your swimming clothes and take one of the many paths from the main Way. Even if you aren’t in the mood for a full swim, it is delightful to dip your tired feet in the cold waves when you stop for a break!
Some of the best ones to visit include San Martin beach, Niembro inlet, and Arenal de Morís beach.
The Explosive Waters of Bufones de Arenillas
Make sure that one of your beach-front stops is at the Bufones de Arenilla! It is a spectacular natural rock feature that funnels the waves through blowholes into seawater eruptions up to 20 m high. The result looks similar to a geyser. When the sea is calm, you can still hear the sound of the water and the sea splashing below.
Shortly after this and on the way to Ribadesella, you will pass the ruined Monasterio de San Antolin. There is a delightful beach of the same name close by.
The Coast Between Poo and Celorio
The whole of Asturias’s Camino del Norte is a highlight in itself, with stunning stretches of walkway along the coast. There are also loads of short tracks that lead off the main route that is recognised as St James’s Way, either to rejoin later or as one-way stops. The coastal track between Poo (yes, that really is its name) and Celorio in Llanes is a small detour that is absolutely worth the extra steps.
Just look at these amazing beaches and cliffs!
Stroll Back in History Through Ribadesella
Viewed by some as one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Spain, Ribadesella is full of things to see. Visit the historic centre and make some time to see the old fish market. The church, named in honour of Saint Mary Magdalene, contains excellent frescos of the 1930s civil war.
Also in the area is the incredible Tito Bustillo cave. The rock paintings found in the cave are from the Palaeolithic era – around 10,000 years ago! It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Finally, you cannot miss a trip through the Cuevona of Cuevas del Agua. This second cave system provides access to the small town of the same name! It can be traversed on foot or by car.
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Asturias’ Quaint Fishing Villages on the Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte, and Asturias in general, have no shortage of fantastic fishing villages to explore. Most of the walk runs along, or at least close to the sea, so you absolutely need to try the seafood while you are there. Some of the most idylic fishing villages to explore are Lastres, Gijón, Cudillero, Luarca and Castropol.
Another highlight of Asturias that you will find in the coastal city of Gijón is Gijonesa, a toasted almond nougat cake! Pick one up to nibble as you take a stroll along the promenade.
Taste Apple Cider in Villaviciosa
Villaviciosa is sometimes referred to as the ‘apple capital’ of Spain due to its excellent quality apple cider. Pilgrims can visit apple orchards and cellars to sample this wonderful drink. Watch the locals pour this tangy drink from wild heights and take a sip of this iconic local beverage.
This isn’t all this charming town has to offer however, here you will find the beautiful 13th Century Church of Sanra Maria de la Olivia, wanders its historic centre and discover other buildings of interest like the town hall and palaces from the 17th and 18th century.
The Church of San Salvador de Valdedios
The church of San Salvador de Valdedios is the religious centre of Asturias and a definite highlight of the Camino del Norte. Be sure to visit the small Oratory of San Salvador and the Cisterian monastery built around the Basilica of Santa Maria. The church is one of the finest examples of Asturian Pre-Romanesque Art and is popularly known as ‘El Conventín’.
The Church of Santa María
The Church of Santa María in Soto de Luiña was built in the 18th century in the shape of a Latin cross. It is a Baroque style building with lovely artwork inside. The church is another of Asturias’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Taste Venera in Navia
Navia is a wonderful place to visit, but the start of the show might just be their delicious local baked speciality – “venera” cookies! From simple rounds to elaborate patterns, these sweet treats are absolutely fantastic.
While you are tasting sweet treats, look out for rice puddings, casadielles (made with locally grown nuts!), picatostes, borrachinos and formigos.
The capital city of Asturias and the end of the Camino del Norte, Oviedo has so many chapels and squares to wonder as well as the beautiful Campo de San Francisco park. Throughout the year there are many different festivals in Oviedo all with their own charm and allure.
Whereas most of Spain is known for its wine, Oviedo is also known for its delicious local apple cider.
As you can see, Asturias is an incredible region to visit and the Camino del Norte is packed full of wonderful things to see and do. You can learn even more about it from the Tourismo Asturias website. Start planning your next Camino in the north of Spain by getting in touch with us with all your questions! We are happy to help you to plan your next walking holiday.
See you soon in Asturias!
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Originally published on 2nd June 2021