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30 Years of Rural Tourism in Asturias

Of course, thirty years is nothing, but that’s the time that has passed since 1986, when Asturias set up what was the first rural tourism establishment in Spain. Everything has changed since then, and for the better. The village of Taramundi, where the original La Rectoral was inaugurated, has now become an international paragon. Travellers have come from far and wide to discover it and enjoy the peace and quiet it offers, as well as to meet its people and learn its traditions. Rural tourism, which has subsequently spread across the whole of Asturias, is a leisure style with millions of adepts, some of whom have found in Asturias their coveted paradise.

La Rectoral – 30 Years of Rural Encounters in a Natural Paradise

Three decades ago, when few would have thought that tourism might become one of the region’s major economic engines, the government of the Principality of Asturias bravely decided to spearhead a project intended to transform a small spot in the Principality – Taramundi. Balancing enjoyment of and respect for the environment was the watchword of this initiative which culminated in the opening of the Hotel La Rectoral on 17 June 1986.

A Trend that Spread Like Wildfire Across the Whole of Asturias

After the inauguration of La Rectoral, new projects sprang up all over Asturias – notably in the east, west and centre of the region – in the form of small hotels, village houses and rural apartments. A whole panoply of rural accommodations which breathed new life into villages and hamlets and engendered a new concept of leisure based on authenticity and contact with nature, traditional customs and the ancestral world.

A Superb Backdrop for Rural Tourism

Preservation of the environment, which for 30 years has made us worthy of the epithet, “Asturias, a Natural Paradise”, is the perfect enticement for a sojourn in its rural areas. Asturias boasts over a third of its territory under some form of official protection, whether as a park, reserve or natural monument. Following are some of its standout areas:

In the Picos de Europa, visitors can hike through the gorges that divide this great limestone mass, delve into the activity of livestock grazing – which is still carried out within the park boundaries – or discover karst formations and glacial remains, as in the Covadonga lakes.

Another option is to visit the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias nature reserve, a territory with a marked variety of nuances which acts as a sanctuary for the Cantabrian brown bear and features the largest oak forest in Europe – the Muniellos Forests.

Something similar is in store for the traveller in Somiedo, as here, too, you can follow the tracks of the brown bear and because scattered across the whole territory you will come across pastureland punctuated by the presence of cabanas de teito,stone constructions with thatched roofs once used by vaqueiros or highland cowherds as a refuge in the summer months, the sight of which takes the onlooker back in time.

Beech forests are the prevalent type of vegetation in the Redes woodlands, while the spectacular summits of the Retriñón, Peña del Viento, Canto del Oso and Pico Torres are a treat for those seeking contact with nature.

Much of the reserve known as Oscos-Eo is also forested. However, what sets it apart is its status as one of Spain’s most active craft tradition areas. More than just the cradle of rural tourism, Taramundi is home to one of the most interesting ethnographic complexes on the Peninsula.

The latest addition to this array of idyllic settings is the Las Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Park. With an area of 451 km2, it is the site of the second largest limestone mountain system in the Cordillera Cantábrica – namely the Peña Ubiña Massif – and it also features various cultural vestiges which range in time from the Bronze Age to a present-day theme park – the Prehistoric Park.

Dreaming in Asturias

Dreaming in Asturias is a cinch, whether you are asleep or awake. With a stellar track record in the business, our accommodations are of the highest standard and beyond guaranteed. We cater to all kinds of visitors in terms of taste, objectives and options. From available feedback, it would seem that lodging in Asturias is always a gratifying experience.

As an example of rural excellence, some 50 rural hotels are managed under the quality seal known as “Casonas Asturianas”, while 56 Casas de Aldea y Apartamentos Rurales (village houses and rural apartments) come under the auspices of the “Asturias Calidad Rural” association.

Both the Casonas Asturianas hotels and the houses and apartments making up the Casas de Aldea y Apartamentos Rurales de Aldeas attest to the excellence shared by thousands of people who on countless occasions are able to recall and adopt as their own the motto that dreaming in Asturias is really easy and within anybody’s reach.

Alone, with your Partner or as a Family

All kinds of experiences can be had in Asturias, each one better than the last. You can savour urban or rural settings and bask in either mountain or seaside idylls, all at your own pace. And, you can do so any way you wish – alone, with your partner or with children and the whole family. The options are endless, determined by your interests and tastes.

And, very importantly, it is very easy to get from the villages to the city and vice versa. Everything is near and well connected.

Clearly, Asturias is a paradise any time of the year. It offers a host of leisure opportunities in terms of nature, culture, gastronomy, etc. All you need to do is come. Check out our flights here.


Text and images by Turismo de Asturias



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Asturias de cine

Asturias is a natural paradise, with a great variety of landscapes. Maybe that is the reason why many film directors chose this region to shoot the scenes of their movies.

But one of the towns with a bigger amount of film locations is Llanes, a beautiful fishing village with a medieval origin. The old quarter has being conserved perfectly and the location between the sea and the mountain makes that, in a little area, many different landscapes can be found.

At the historic quarter the Tower or the walls from the 13th century stand out, also the Basilica or many palaces and mansions, originally from the 16th to the 18th century. This area was used to film Spanish movies like "Porque te vi llorar" or "Los jinetes del alba".

Other remarkable sports in Llanes are the avenue Paseo de San Pedro, where José Luis Garci’s "Historia de un beso" was filmed in 2002, The Memory Cubes by Basque artist Agustín Ibarrola, the fortress, San Antón avenue, the lighthouse, the Aula del Mar or the beaches in Sablón, Puerto Chico and Toró.

There is also an interesting sample of Indianan architecture like the Casino or the Partarriú palace, the same mansion that Juan Antonio Bayona used to film The Orphanage that can be found as you get to Llanes.

By the east of Llanes, we get to the golf field of Andrín, where the movie "Mi nombre es sombra" (1966), by Gonzalo Suárez was filmed. In front of the field, there is a little way that leads to the Boriza viewpoint and by the cliffs where "El abuelo" was filmed. This offers a terrace above the sea, with a great panoramic view over Andrín and Cué beaches. The area has great beauty and other paths along the cliffs make this place the perfect spot for trekking. This is when you realize that following film locations is just an excuse or a reason to enjoy the beautiful landmarks in Asturias.

The film route along the west area of Llanes is equally beautiful. You’ll pass by the Pría jesters from the movie "La Señora" (1987) by Jordi Cadena. The jesters are breaches in the rocks and the sea waters goes through creating fountains that can reach several meters high.

The cemetery in Niembru, along to the Church of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, make a beautiful spot where scenes from the movies "La Señora", "Epílogo" or "El abuelo" where filmed.

In total, there are about 25 locations where 42 sequences from 18 different films, 3 TV-shows and 1 short film were shot. This is divided in three different routes around the town of Llanes, east and west. Explanatory panels in every spot explain the technical remarks of the scene and will help you to orientate.

Llanes has invested a lot of effort in this initiative, along with film meetings, screenings, Q&A with the directors or live music from movie soundtracks.

We’ll be there. If you want to come too, check out our flights here.

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Asturias – A Model Paradise

Here are some routes we have planned around these exemplary villages:

Eastern Charm – First Stopover

Our unique, Asturian cultural itinerary starts at the easternmost village, San Esteban de Cuñaba, with its high-mountain scenery, footpaths, houses and inhabitants. From here, you can also get a view of the Picos de Europa, the first national park in Spain. It is renowned for its shepherding community which has been living here for hundreds of years. They make such cheeses as Gamonéu and Cabrales, celebrated gems on the international cheese map. The village of Porrúa (Llanes), for its part, is the veritable guardian of Asturian traditions. It features an Ethnographic Museum which records much of these, as well as the Mercáu Astur, a bagpipe ensemble called El Llacín and the bucolic Llanisco village landscape facing both the sea and the Picos de Europa mountains.

From Apple Groves to Cider – Food and Shelter

Both Villaviciosa and Nava have large stretches of pomaradas or apple groves, as well as llagares – places where cider is made and gastronomic festivals called espichas are held–and chigres, typical bars or restaurants offering dishes based on the Asturian tradition. As if that isn’t enough, in Nava we also find the Museo de la Sidra (Cider Museum) where we can steep ourselves in the enthralling universe of cider. At Sariego, another award-winning village, we can taste good cider and haute cuisine. If we take the pilgrim’s walk along the road to Santiago, here we’ll be treated to the finest rural Asturian Romanesque architecture. And, if we’re out caleyando (roaming around), we might arrive at Cabranes and even Torazo, another award-winning village. The route through the Cider District will take us to within a stone’s throw of the sea, to one of the most charming seafaring towns of the north –Lastres– also an award-winner, where we can delight in its views, its atmosphere and its indispensable seafood cuisine.

Symphony of Summits in the Montaña Central and the Nalón Valley – a Break in the Journey

Amid the symphony of summits, mountains, valleys, rivers and forests of the Montaña Central, this journey will lead us to Jomezana and the Huerna Valley, in the heart of Lena. And, from here to Morcín and on to La Foz, to savour its cheeses – including its stunning “Afuega’l Pitu” – its turnips and its scenery. Pressing on through this district we come to Aller and Moreda, where every 11 November the “Fiesta de los Humanitarios” is naturally celebrated by sitting down to a typical feast of fabada bean stew. To top it off, we can stop at Bueño, to view an impressive line-up of hórreos (granaries raised on pillars). The river Nalón, the longest in Asturias, imbues the valley with life. The high note is Sobrescobio, a model neighbourhood community where you are just as likely to stumble upon a madreña – a type of footwear – as a capercaillie, all set against an idyllic rural backdrop.

Camín Real de la Mesa – the Roman Road that Connects us Along this Route

The Camín Real de la Mesa was one of the most important Roman roads connecting the Meseta to the Cordillera Cantábrica range. It was after this road that a splendid district was named, with municipal territories like Somiedo or Teverga where the Cantabrian brown bear roams freely. About ten years ago, the village of Villar de Vildas in the Somiedo municipality was also endowed with the royal award. In Teverga, which was listed as of 2013, mining and stockbreeding are still the major activities. Don’t miss a tour of their Parque de la Prehistoria (Prehistoric Park).

Enchanting Eo and the Magic of the Vaqueiros – a Western Stopover

The Eo ría (estuary) is much more than just a natural divide between Asturias and Galicia – its beauty and biodiversity vivifies an entire Biosphere Reserve. There, Castropol, another model village, faces both the sea and the hinterland; it is an ideal spot for chilling out, playing sport and indulging in its superb cuisine. Further inland, San Tirso de Abres,also a listed village, is an oasis of peace and tranquility. In contrast, Los Vaqueiros de Alzada, a livestock and transhumant village par excellence, gave its name to a district which features a number of interesting stopovers along our route –Soto de Luiña and Novellana, in Cudillero, contribute their enticing pastures and coastal villages of western Asturias. Turning inland, we come across the secluded Valle de Paredes (Valley of Walls) and the river Esva, in Valdés. And, further inland, we arrive at two villages of Tineo studded with character and history – Tuña,the land of General Riego, and Navelgas, well-known for its gold-panning tradition.

Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña, Ibias and the River Navia – the Final Stage

The district of Narcea, Degaña and Ibias has been famed for its mineral wealth since ancient times, a land of pure air and valiant people whose exploits and love of their land have made them a legend. We are approaching the last few stopovers in this unique tour of Asturias. Highly recommended is a visit to Grandas de Salime, the Principality’s ethnographic and military preserve, Boal – the latest village to be listed – and Puerto de Vega, by now on the seaboard. Don’t forget to take a last look at the Cantabrian Sea before you leave, and what better place to do so than Puerto de Vega? This has been a journey with a difference which has led us to come close to a genuine Asturias and its vital essence.

Further information at Turismoasturias

Aren’t you just itching to go there? Come on, then! Check out our prices here!

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10 Fairy tale Villages in Asturias

Asturias has numerous villages and hamlets which are the stuff of dreams. Indeed, they have long inspired fantastic tales – and continue to do so – a blend of reality, dreams and a thousand wonders. Some cling to a hillside; others are set in valleys, on a riverbank or next to a dam, looking out over both the sea and the mountains. Still others are clustered at the foot of lofty peaks, dotted with dozens of hórreos and paneras,or bathed by the intense, huge breakers of the Cantabrian Sea.

These villages make up an inspirational Asturias which beckons us to experience the honeyed, full-bodied thrill of the landscape and its inhabitants, in a land that brings out the artistic, somewhat bohemian streak in people and makes us explorers of space and time.

Tanes – the Secrets of Water

Once upon a time there was a village that adapted its appearance and lifestyle to the presence of a dam, without in any way shedding its beauty and primeval essence. There was once a village that gave its name to a dam, and the dam gave water and life to the whole central region of Asturias – a village which preserves its charm intact and which goes by the name of Tanes.

Tanes lies in the municipality of Caso, in the east central section of Asturias, and is part of the Biosphere Reserve Network. This natural habitat breathes tranquility, enhanced by the friendliness of its people.

Wildlife, indigenous flora, the power of its reservoir and the murmuring river Nalón make Tanes a storied, legendary place. And, as befits this magical enclave, the village outskirts are home to the collegiate church of Santa María la Real. As if clinging to the shores of the dam, the slender silhouette of this church towers in all its Renaissance splendour over the waters which mirror all the greenery of Tanes.

Villar de Gallegos, with Coal in its Entrails

In Asturias, stories are sometimes written in black and green, the colour of its coal and forests. Indeed, some fairy-tale villages lie in the mining heart of Asturias’ Montaña Central. One such example is Villar de Gallegos, in the municipality of Mieres.

This authentic hamlet, where rural life seems to stand still, is set against a mountain backdrop and is noteworthy for its scenic and geological value, as well as for its outlying areas, with itineraries which retrace the erstwhile activity of the coal and mercury mines.

The surrounding heights provide exceptional viewpoints over the Sierra del Aramo, Las Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Reserve, the Pajares area and the Cordal de La Carisa – part of the Nature Reserve Network – and, on clear days, the Picos de Europa National Park as well.

Bandujo – the Sleepy Hamlet

Set between mountains and valleys in central Asturias, as if by magic the Middle Ages comes out to meet you at the village of Bandujo, one of the best preserved medieval precincts in the Asturian countryside.

A lot of history and numerous passing travellers have set eyes on its walls and stones, on the Tuñón Tower and the Church of Santa María. Once a hub of intense activity for centuries, it is now suddenly silenced, gripped by an eternal hush and an all-embracing peace.

Bandujo is now seemingly asleep in an endless medieval slumber. This is the feeling that washes over you when you get to the village and observe it, whether close-up or from afar. Set within a huge green frame, unique in Asturias, it wears its historical background in total calm.

Pumares – Water, Slate and Stone

In the middle of a tract of hydraulic devices, fire and iron, the greenest footpaths and the highest waterfall in Asturias, you suddenly catch sight of it, as if snatched from some fantasy ornament – the village of Pumares, in Santa Eulalia de Oscos.

Pumares is like a dream of stone, black slate and water. It is a corner where the river gurgles sweetly and the starting point of the route to the famous, all-powerful Seimeira waterfall.

You will come to grips with the land of ferreiros (blacksmiths) and forests, of water mills, fulling mills, fulling hammers and iron craftsmen, in a hushed, multi-coloured natural setting.

Tuña – the Spirit of General Riego Lives On

Once upon a time all the gold from western Asturias passed through a village in the municipality of Tineo. It was mined by the Romans from the entrails of Asturias to sustain one of the greatest empires of ancient times.

There was once a village in Tineo which gifted history and humanity with stalwart fighters for social justice like General Riego.

The whole of Tuña is now seemingly imbued with the spirit of General Riego. You can still see the house where he was born, as well as a bust and the odd mural which honour his memory.

Tuña will take you back in time, led by its Roman bridge and palaces, its tranquility and its friendly people.

Viavélez – Gentle Sailing in a Cantabrian Harbour

Wind and brackish waters, waves and foam, a jetty and a lighthouse, a small harbour that seems to leap out of a fairy-tale. This is Viavélez, one of the most secluded and surprising spots on the west coast of Asturias, situated in the municipality of El Franco.

A safe haven for seamen and fishermen, sea lovers, writers and artists, seafood connoisseurs, merchants, travellers and pilgrims, Viavélez is a veritable gift of nature.

Whether the sea is calm or rough, the sight of Viavélez is always stunning.

Riodeporcos – Far From the Daily Grind

What a great privilege it is to arrive in Riodeporcos! There where the Navia flows into a sort of meander and its sheet of water glistens in the sun lies Riodeporcos, by way of some divine creation.

The footbridge linking this hamlet in Ibias to the rest of the world provides a sort of bygone, romantic way of accessing the hamlet which – be warned – you cannot get to by car.

Far from the daily grind and swathed in nature, a stopover in Riodeporcos will make any notion of stress smack of urban legend.

Espinaréu – Finding the Key to the Hórreo

Can you imagine a spot which is the kingdom of hórreos, those granaries built on stilts? That place is not just in your imagination, it actually exists. It lies in Asturias and is a hamlet called Espinaredo or Espinaréu, in the municipality of Piloña.

You will be amazed by the approach to Espinaréu – and not just because of the profusion of hórreos and paneras (fulling mills) – but because they look bright and shiny and still operate as they have done for centuries, intimately linked to the harvest and, therefore, to human survival.

Espinaréu is a homely village, traversed by the river of the same name, where the hórreos have a life of their own with their variegated ornamentation and wood carvings, some of them polychromed. It is like travelling to an ethnographic paradise where the mark of time is broad and intense.

Bulnes, Where the Picos de Europa Come to Embrace You

You can get to Bulnes either along a highland canal or by funicular railway. On landing at an altitude of a thousand metres, dwarfed by summits that come to embrace you, your reaction is one of amazement and you feel you have just crossed a frontier.

A frontier which thousands of mountaineers and rock climbers have crossed for over a century of exploration, adventure and effort. A frontier which hundreds of inhabitants of the Picos de Europa have traversed all their lives, in a supreme exercise of survival in raw nature.

This is Bulnes, in the heart of the Central Massif of the Picos de Europa, in the municipality of Cabrales. Here you will come across idyllic scenery, the unique Cabrales cheese, an upper quarter with panoramic views and a way of life that is dying out. Living testimony to the harshness of this lifestyle in former times is evinced in the austere – formerly roofed – cemetery at the entrance to the village.

Gobiendes – the Best Sea and Mountain Viewpoint from the pre-Romanesque

How about a vantage point looking out over the sea from a pre-Romanesque church? Gobiendes regales you with this experience in its pre-Romanesque Church of Santiago. Sited atop a cliff overlooking the sea, Gobiendes faces the Cantabrian on one side and, on the other, Mount Sueve, the first mountain which seamen catch sight of when approaching the Asturian coastline.

With its Palace and its meticulously maintained houses, Gobiendes, in the municipality of Colunga, is a peaceful backwater where you can feel the unique combination of sea breeze and mountain wind.

What’s more, you are smack in the middle of the Coastal Road To Santiago, the oldest existing approach route to the Cathedral of San Salvador!

Text and images by Turismo de Asturias

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