10 reasons to visit Asturias



Written by Caitlin

There are endless reasons to visit Asturias in the north of Spain; the land of abundant enthusiasm where every welcome is a ‘thank you’, a ‘please stay’, a ‘come back’, or a ‘don’t go’. It is a land of generosity and affection, capable of embedding thousands of reasons to visit time and again in your mind’s eye and in your heart.

On this trip, we invite you to revel in a unique way of life, discovering Pre-Romanesque art, Biosphere reserves, and dozens of trails by the sea and the mountains. Relax your senses with the rich and traditional gastronomy, with the most captivating cities, with seaside villages that you won’t want to leave, and with beaches that are simply dreams realized.

1. The Asturian Pre-Romanesque

Walking through Asturian Pre-Romanesque Art—a unique architectural style in Europe—is much more than a history lesson. It is a compelling journey into the past. On this route, you will make fascinating discoveries as well as enjoy all that the present has to offer. Explore the cities that are home to these incredible monuments and, all in the same trip, visit the natural and rural environments where others are located.

Oviedo/Uviéu was a “Regia Sedes” in the Middle Ages — the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Asturias. It is now the capital of Asturias.

The city retains not only the appearance of this historical period but also numerous Pre-Romanesque monuments of notable significance. Visit the Holy Chamber of Oviedo Cathedral, the church of San Julián de los Prados or Santuyano, and the fountain of La Foncalada. On Mount Naranco, you will find the two jewels of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo. All of them have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, together with Santa Cristina de Lena, located in the municipality of the same name.

Other places in Asturias, such as Santiago de Gobiendes, in Colunga; San Salvador de Priesca and San Salvador de Valdediós, in Villaviciosa, or San Juan de Santianes, in Pravia, make up an impressive pre-Romanesque route. The route is completed with Santa María de Bendones, in the municipality of Oviedo; San Pedro de Nora, in Las Regueras, and Santo Adriano de Tuñón, in Santo Adriano.

This Pre-Romanesque Route will lead you to unique landscapes and sensations!

2. 7 Biosphere Reserves

There is plenty for nature-lovers to see in Asturias as well with 7 Biosphere Reserves to visit. A trip through these natural spaces will create a true oasis of peace and relaxation in your life. It will also add adventure and fun, an irresistible combination!

Río Eo, Oscos and Terras de Burón, is the only Asturian Biosphere Reserve that overlooks the Cantabrian Sea. It also has the largest number of Exemplary Towns of Asturias (an award given as part of the Princess of Asturias Awards). It is also a large ethnographic area, where the work of the “ferreiros” (iron and forging craftsmen) is particularly noteworthy.

Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias is home to the largest oak forest in Europe, the emblematic forest of Munieḷḷos.

Somiedo, the first natural park in Asturias, holds brañas (summer grazing areas) and cabanas de teito (huts with thatched roofs). It also has the largest lake in Asturias: the Lago del Valle.

Ubiñas-La Mesa, which includes the municipalities of Lena, Teverga and Quirós, has as its crown jewel – the Peña Ubiña massif. This is the second-highest limestone massif in Asturias, after the Picos de Europa. A Roman road, the Camín Real de la Mesa, also runs through this territory. Beneath the ground is the largest cave in Asturias, Cueva Huerta.

The Redes Natural Park is one of the great water reserves of Asturias, the source of the Nalón River. It is comprised of Caso and Sobrescobio, home to iconic hiking routes such as the Alba, or the Arrudos, and areas of incredible beauty such as Brañagallones.

Picos de Europa was the first National Park created in Spain and it has a rich history. Visit the Royal Site of Covadonga, located in its territory. The Asturian part of this park has the most stunning peaks of the entire Cantabrian mountain range. Look for the Picu Urriellu or the Torrecerredo.

Ponga, the youngest Asturian Biosphere Reserve, makes up the natural bridge between Redes and the Picos de Europa. Explore its Peloño forest, considered one of the best-preserved beech forests on the Iberian Peninsula. Mountain passes, paths, sheepfolds, and remote villages complete this idyllic scenery.

Take a break anywhere along your Camino journey to explore the Biosphere Reserves of Asturias. There is plenty to see, with one third of the region designated as protected land!

3. Hiking by the Sea

A walk along some of the coastal paths of Asturias is a marvellous journey. Where sea and mountain, rocks and cliffs, green and blue, foam and wind, waves and sand combine in serene balance. Your gaze is constantly taking in endless beauty and tranquility.

What’s more, the coastal paths are very easy to walk. Not to mention, invigorating to body and soul…

Some of the wonderful seaside options include:

  • The Camino de Santiago de la Costa (Camino del Norte), between the beaches of Arenal de Morís and La Griega
  • Luanco to Nieva, to discover Cabu Peñes
  • From the beach of Arnao to L’Arena, contemplating the mouth of the river Nalón
  • San Esteban to the beach of Aguilar and enjoy the route of the Miradores
  • From the beach of Barayo to Navia, with a pleasant stop in Puerto de Vega.

Many of these routes are accessible from the Camino and add a wonderful chance to explore the area. Chat to us about adding an extra day or two to your itinerary! We would love to help you to explore more of Asturias.

4. The Traditional Gastronomy of the Guisanderas

Food is a reason to travel in itself! The Guisanderas de Asturias is a collective of over forty women for whom cooking is everything. Each woman carries with her a rich history of both family and foodie heritage..

They have grown up and lived in the kitchen, listening to their grandmothers and mothers, their sisters and sisters-in-law, smelling, tasting… Learning almost without knowing that they were learning. They were inheriting ancestral wisdom, whose roots are often difficult to explore, but as solid as an Asturian “carbayu” (oak).

They all feel that the status of guisandera is eternal. Wherever you are and whatever you do, you’ll never stop being a guisandera. You may retire or become less active, but you never give up your guisandera status.

The Guisanderas de Asturias make up a culinary geography of varied recipes, prepared with care. Fabadas (a traditional dish made from local beans), stews, desserts, meats, fish, seafood, seafood stews… Nothing escapes the culinary efficiency of the guisanderas, who place Asturias at the zenith of gastronomic delight.

You will certainly never go hungry while hiking the Caminos in Asturias!

5. Beautiful Oviedo/Uviéu

The Asturian capital is hospitable and dynamic. You can experience something different every day, as it has an intense cultural and social life.

In human dimensions, it is easy to walk around the city and every corner houses an unexpected treat. Visit the Fontán market and the pre-Romanesque fountain of La Foncalada. Look out for the contemporary civil architecture, and a Cathedral with one Gothic and one Romanesque tower. The historic quarter has inspired writers such as Clarín and Pérez de Ayala.

Nowadays, the city hosts a full calendar that includes the opera season and the Princess of Asturias Awards Ceremony.

Oviedo/Uviéu retains a monastic, royal and Jacobean air. It was a beacon of Christianity in the late Middle Ages, and the origin of the Camino de Santiago. It is a stop not to be missed on one of the most remarkable cultural journeys in the world. Start your Camino Primitivo with a couple of days in Oviedo!

6. Cosmopolitain and Coastal Gijón

Gijón/Xixón is an open city, with a cosmopolitan and intercultural vocation. It looks out to the sea and also to the country. With numerous walks, trails and routes, it is ideal for taking in the fresh air, strolling peacefully or practising sport. It also has three urban beaches.

In terms of cultural curiosities, it was the first Spanish city to receive an Oscar thanks to the Asturian-born filmmaker José Luis Garci. It also had the first Institute of Navigation and Mineralogy, inspired by the enlightened Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos.

Gijón/Xixón offers a unique green environment, home to the Atlantic Botanical Garden and the Laboral City of Culture. Explore its Centre for Art and Industrial Creation.

In addition, Gijón/Xixón is home to Roman and medieval archaeological remains in the Cimavilla neighbourhood and the surrounding area.

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7. Avilés, a Historic City to Discover

A city of medieval origin with a great seafaring tradition, it has a historic quarter dotted with palaces, gardens, fountains, churches, and porticoed houses. The size and proportions of its estuary, and its passage through the very heart of the city, make Avilés the only city in Asturias with a powerful river flow at the foot of its historic centre. Amazingly, it is one of the best-preserved in the whole of northern Spain.

A land of explorers, such as Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Avilés is a city teeming with innovation and an artistic vocation. Contemporary Avilés also experienced a great industrial revolution due to the steel industry. The post-industrial ‘physiognomy’ inspired the architectural genius Oscar Niemeyer to create the last of his great international works – a cultural centre that bears his name and is a symbol of the urban and sociological renovation that the city is undergoing.

8. A host of seaside villages to enjoy with all five senses

Walking through the fishing villages of Asturias is a constant discovery of tradition, local delicacies, period architecture, and lighthouses with the best views you can imagine. There are plenty of viewpoints, hiking routes, and benches to contemplate the immensity of the Cantabrian Sea in a sweet sunrise or sunset—always from an idyllic location.

Of course, it is also a spiritual pathway. One of humanity’s greatest cultural routes passes through Asturias – the Camino de Santiago.

9. A succession of dream beaches

Asturias has more than 400 kilometres of coastline with a continuous succession of beaches. From west to east and vice versa, the beaches of Asturias are idyllic places where sky, land and sea merge.

They are all different. You will be amazed by the shapes, landscapes, and its crystal-clear waters. Each beach is unique, but all enhanced by proximity to the mountains and different attractions that change with the tides.

The Asturian coastline, one of the best-preserved in Spain, offers a unique natural and cultural environment. There are many leisure possibilities: sports, walks, bathing in the sea, sun and wind, hiking, the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela, and more.

10. The paradise of slow travel

Asturias is the ideal place to travel without haste, to forget about the clock, to temporarily stop time.

Any nook, any landscape, any activity, any moment will help you to disconnect. Adapt your rhythm to the environment and the experience you are living. Appreciate the people you are meeting on your travel route to the maximum…

You are in slow travel paradise!

Embrace the wonders of Asturias on your next holiday. Contact us to find out more about our active holidays on the Camino de Santiago through this spectacular region. Whether you want to spend a few days on the Camino Primitivo or walk the full Camino del Norte – we can customise the perfect trip for you!

Dive into nature’s paradise with an Asturian Camino.

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Originally published on 6th April 2021

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