An excursion and then a feast? Or maybe the other way round? In Asturias you'll find scenic hiking trails and mouth-watering dishes.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Asturias, but if it's a little hiking and some great food you're looking for, this destination was made for you. Undulating trails, forests, rivers, majestic mountains, fairytale paths that hug the coast, and picture-postcard villages. And afterwards, a long cool cider poured from on high and some delicious cachopos, fabadas, cheese, cold cuts, fish, seafood and stews that go down like a dream whatever the time of year. Here are a few combinations for inspiration, but there are literally hundreds more!
1. Picos de Europa + Cabrales Cheese
Few landscapes in Spain (in the whole world?) can beat the Picos de Europa. Just gazing at the beautiful scenery makes you want to walk every inch of it. Well, you're in luck! You have numerous routes to explore on foot, whether high up in the mountains or a gentle path with the family. And afterwards, nothing better than heading to the nearby town of Cabrales to try some luxury cheeses that you absolutely must wash down with a delicious cider poured from on high.
2. Oviedo + Cachopo
Whether you're an urbanite and want to explore Oviedo (the fictitious Vetusta in Leopoldo Alas "Clarín"'s novel La Regenta) or it's nature you're into, you'll find what you're looking for in the capital of Asturias. You can start your tour of this ultra-green city at the Purificación Tomás Park, the Bosque de La Zoreda forest, the Parque Fluvial del Ñora beside the river, or the "Winter Park". And when you've finished exploring, nothing better than tucking into a fine cachopo in the city where this typical example of Asturian cuisine became fashionable, so they say, back in the 1950s.
3. Gijón + Fabada
Gijón, buzzing, warm, animated and cosmopolitan, is an absolute must. Plus, you'll find a variety of trails just outside the city so you'll have plenty of reasons to don your hiking boots. One of them is the Ñora river path, which winds its way through nearly 5 km of lovely scenery. And to end, a hearty Asturian stew in the city that invented this dish: Gijón. Legend has it that the word 'fabada' was first used in a classified ad in the Asturian newspaper El Comercio, as far back as 1884. It seems you could sit down to a dish of it for 2.50 pesetas (that's €0.015 today) at a tavern called Justa La Bartola, in Granda.
4. Bufones de Pría Blowholes + Seafood
Is the sound of the sea music to your ears? Then you'll love the natural monument known as the Bufones de Pría blowholes. The "bufones" are the Asturian version of geysers: the water forces its way through the shafts and cracks formed in the rock and then gushes out of the mouth at high pressure, rising to nearly 20 metres. The sound will blow you away. What to do next? Head to Llanes, a little fishing village barely 20 minutes away, take a walk by the sea and book a table at any restaurant to treat yourself to some delicious local seafood.
5. Ponga Nature Park + Kid
With its spectacular fauna and flora, the Ponga Nature Park is ideal for hiking enthusiasts as well as birdwatchers and botany lovers. Take a walk beside the Sella and Ponga rivers as they wind their way through deep green forests, rocky mountains and picture-postcard villages. Casielles, Sobrefoz, San Juan de Beleño and Puente Vidosa (this latter village has lodgings if you want to stay overnight) are just some of the charming places along the way where you can pause for a plate of the local delicacy, stewed kid. To whet your appetite while your kid is being prepared to perfection, try one of the other local products: the exquisite Los Beyos cheese.
6. El Silencio Beach + Curadillo
Whether in winter or summer, and whether you plan on swimming in the sea or just admiring it from a distance. Playa del Silencio is one of the most beautiful beaches in Asturias, in Spain and probably in the whole world. Be sure to arrive on foot by walking down the cliff to the sand - it's an unforgettable experience. After your adventure, nothing better than heading to Cudillero, one of the prettiest villages in the region, and sitting down to a delicious "curadillo". This is a local dish that consists of fish (usually, little sharks like catshark and dogfish or another variety) left to dry in the sun and air without any salting or other seasoning. A true delight!
7. Las Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Park + Chorizo in Cider
If you're an experienced hiker, be sure to walk the 59 kilometres of the famous Senda del Oso or "Bear Path". This trail is perfect for splitting into several sections so you can enjoy the pleasures of the walk and some fantastic food along the way. It crosses four districts - Quirós, Santo Adriano, Proaza and Teverga - which make up the "Bear Valleys", home to one of the last populations of Cantabrian brown bears. Stop whenever the fancy takes you and try a local dish like the iconic chorizo in cider - you can't beat it!
8. Cape Peñas + Hake
One of the most surprising things about Asturias is that one minute you can be high in the majestic mountains and the next on a beautiful rugged beach fringed by cliffs. This is exactly what you'll find at Cabo de Peñas, the northernmost cape in the region with sheer cliffs rising to over 100 metres. Be sure to pause along the way at the Cape Peñas Lighthouse, built in 1852 and a local landmark. Between the cape and the town of Avilés barely 30 minutes away, you'll find numerous villages and charming spots to pause your journey and try another of the local dishes: Avilés-style hake, served with pickled mussels and salty cream. Yummy!
Tasting the fabada already? Mountain gear all packed? Set a few days aside and come and savour Asturias!