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10 reasons not to miss Asturias

The sea, nature, fishing villages, cities full of monuments, nightlife, valleys and mountains. There are so many reasons to visit Asturias that we have struggled to pick just ten.

It’s impossible to come to Asturias and not fall in love with this beautiful region that has something for everyone. Gourmets can discover Asturias through its food: from classic dishes such as “fabada” (bean stew), chorizo cooked in cider, “pastel de cabracho” (scorpion fish cake) and artisan cheeses, to more avant-garde options. Those who love architecture and history will be in their element in cities such as Oviedo, Gijón and Avilés. If you’re a bit of a party animal, you won’t want to leave this busy region with many deep-rooted traditions, and, of course, Asturias also caters for nature lovers, who won’t get tired of exploring the area on foot along many paths and trails, as there are no less than seven Biosphere Reserves, including the mega-famous Picos de Europa.

Then we have the sea, and many paths that run along the coast. What’s more, the locals are always welcoming and friendly. What’s not to like? Let's fly to Asturias!

1. Picos de Europa National Park

Picos de Europa is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is nature at its best: vast pastureland, forests, sheepfolds, green spaces, lakes and paths at lower altitudes, and as you climb up towards the clouds, you get steep, lofty peaks. There’s so much to see at Picos de Europa National Park that one day won’t be enough: Lakes of Covadonga; the town of Bulnes, which you reach on foot along the Canal del Texu gorge, or by funicular; Sotres, another town that’s a good example of the essence of Picos de Europa; and Picu Urriellu (also known as the “Orange Tree of Bulnes”), and the tricky path that leads to the foot of this mountain.

2. Gijón, bustling and fun

A bubbly and pleasant city, Gijón has so much to offer: you’ll want to spend hours exploring the bustling centre, in search of the perfect cider bar to savour the best Asturian cuisine, going for a walk on San Lorenzo Beach, or strolling through the fishing neighbourhood of Cimadevilla, a place where time seems to have stood still. Here’s a perfect plan to spend a relaxing afternoon: a walk through Paseo de Begoña, where you can see impressive buildings such as Jovellanos Theatre and Café Dindurra.

3. Oviedo, following in the footsteps of “La Regenta”

You can start by indulging in a delicious breakfast at Plaza del Fontán, a square that’s always full of life, and then go for a leisurely stroll around Plaza de la Catedral. The “Route of the Statues” is a great excuse to explore the streets of Oviedo (see if you can spot Woody Allen!), and, if you’re a book lover, you’re in luck as in the old town you can follow in the footsteps of Ana Ozores, the main character in the classic novel “La Regenta”, and go on a themed route (you can also book one of the guided tours on offer).

4. Ribadesella, a coastal village

Ribadesella is one of the most beautiful fishing villages in Asturias, and it has two lovely beaches: Santa Marina and La Atalaya. Situated in the mouth of the River Sella, on the Cantabrian Coast, Ribadesella’s old town is simply beautiful. There are also prehistoric remains such as Cueva de Tito Bustillo, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, with an interesting visitor centre: Rock Art Centre of Tito Bustillo. If you’re driving, you can visit the nearby villages of Tereñes, Cueves or Sebreñu, which are full of picturesque spots.

5. Luarca, in the west

This fishing village is absolutely beautiful, with white buildings on the coast, and crystal-clear, sometimes rough, water. The first thing you can do is book a table at one of the many restaurants to taste some delicious fish, and then go on to explore beaches such as Otur, Barayo and Portizuelo. There are so many reasons to visit Luarca and other nearby towns, like the lovely parish of Trevías or old whaling ports such as Cadavedo.

6. Unique cuisine

One of the best things about Asturias is that you can enjoy good food, whether you eat at a restaurant, a cider bar or a regular bar, in towns, villages or anywhere across this beautiful region. There are many traditional dishes: stews, fish and shellfish, meat, vegetables… made with the best produce and the best recipes. And you can always pair them with Asturias cider or Cangas wine to make them extra special. In any case, wherever you choose to go in Asturias, you can’t afford to miss traditional cider pouring: it’s a real art that you can watch and drink!

7. Hiking for everyone

The landscape in Asturias is so diverse that it offers options for everyone, from easier routes which you can do as a family, to trickier ones that are only suitable for expert mountaineers. Picos de Europa alone has hundreds of paths and gorges, but there are also others outside the national park in other parts of Asturias. The Senda del Oso (The Bear’s Trail) or the Pre-Romanesque Route in Monte Naranco are two of these. Or the Costa Naviega Trail, which takes you along the Cantabrian Coast. These are just a few examples of the many paths and trails that you can find in Asturias to enjoy the wonderful views on foot.

8. Llanes, a fishing port

This fishing village lies in the eastern part of Asturias and has so much more to offer than just beautiful architecture facing the sea. You can’t leave Llanes without going for a walk in Paseo de San Pedro, seeing the Palace of the Dukes of Estrada, or visiting the Basilica of Santa María del Conceyu. You should also explore the bustling harbour where you’ll find the Los Cubos de la Memoria artwork and the lighthouse.

9. Cudillero, the amphitheatre of Asturias

Cudillero is one of the most attractive and picturesque fishing villages in Asturias, with its narrow, sometimes labyrinthine, streets. You can spend endless hours exploring all its corners, discovering its staircases, passageways, terraces and balconies, where can often see fish (called “curadillos”) hanging out to dry in the sun. If you go into the “amphitheatre” (which is what they call the terraced rows where the houses are built, with Plaza de San Pedro in the centre), and follow the blue fish that are painted on the ground, you can zigzag up to the top of this village.

10. Nature galore

Nature lovers will be interested to know that Asturias boasts no less than seven Biosphere Reserves, and that each one of them has so much to offer. From Picos de Europa, where you’ll find the highest peaks in the Cantabrian Mountains, to the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Nature Reserve, where you can find Muniellos, the largest oak forest in Europe. And you also have several other nature reserves: Redes, Somiedo, Las Ubiñas-La Mesa, Ponga and Río Eo, Oscos y Terras de Burón, the latter being the only one out of all seven that’s on the coast.

So, after reading all this, do you really think you need any more reasons to visit Asturias?

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