Welcome to VisitAsturias.co.uk, here you will find a guide to a very special place. This Northern region of Spain which sits between Cantabria to the east and Galicia to the west combines in a relatively small space, exquisite landscape, magnificent coastline unspoilt sandy beaches, world class surfing, hidden coves and authentic fishing villages.
It is home to the spectacular Picos de Europa mountain range and much of the principality is designated UNESCO nature reserve. Asturias has three substantial and charming cities each with its own specific character and identity but all within 30 minutes drive of each other.
The overwhelming beauty of the scenery, the charm and hospitality of the people, the authentic pride in the culture, combine to make Asturias a wonderful destination at any time of year. So much so we bought a home there. With cheap flights direct from London Stansted airport into Asturias or nearby Santander it is also really easy to get to.
Principado de Asturias
The Principado de Asturias is a wonderful and surprising part Spain, situated on the Northern ‘Green’ Coast between Galicia, further west and Cantabria, and the Basque country to the east with miles of coastline along the spectacular Bay of Biscay.
Asturias has little in common with most of the rest of Spain, from the stunning mountains of the Picos de Europa, the Atlantic beaches and miles of green rolling hills, wild rivers and pristine forests, this is a very long way from the Costas’ both geographically and culturally.
Visit Asturias will introduce this spectacular and relatively undiscovered “Paraiso Natural de Espana” or Spain’s Natural Paradise.
So where is it again?
Situated in the centre of Northern Spain’s ‘Costa Verde’ between Galicia and Cantabria, Asturias has been pretty much ignored by visitors from the UK or indeed many other places outside Spain. It is hard to understand why, offering the most fantastic scenery, coastline, sports and social activities, food and hospitality.
OK, it isn’t wall to wall sunshine, that is why it is so beautiful and green. However, we have visited at least 120 times during the past few years for short and long trips and with one or two exceptions we have had lovely weather in every month from Jan to December, certainly perfect for walking and exploring.
In the Autumn and Winter the scenery is often stunning with wonderful rich golden colours, wood smoke curling from village chimneys, wild seas and snow on the mountain tops. In summer, it is generally comfortably warm but rarely becomes too hot to function properly!
Asturias sits on Spain’s Atlantic coast (Bay of Biscay)and occupies 10,000sq km or 3,900 square miles. It is part of what is known as the ‘Costa Verde’ with Cantabria and the Basque country (Santander, Bilbao) to the east. Galicia (Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra ) to the west. Asturias covers a section of the Camino de Santiago or the pilgrims route.
It is a surprisingly easy place to get too when you know how. There are direct flights from London Stansted, to Asturias airport or Santander less than 2 hours and often very cheap! There are very well appointed ferries directly to Santander and Bilbao from Portsmouth and Plymouth which will deliver you, your family and your car in around a day and a half.
Then there is the drive through France from your chosen crossing point from UK which will take you around 18 hours, but if you take it easy and stop-over it is a real pleasure!
Then there’s the food!
Then of course there is the food. Unlike anything else you will find in Spain, Asturian cooking is a wonderful experience. Of course there is gourmet dining to be had in the many top restaurants throughout the region, some of which have Michelin Stars. The great thing is you can eat fantastic, authentic, hearty, country food and excellent tapas, pretty much anywhere for very little money.
A recent example:
Menu Del Dia (Nearly all Spanish restaurants have one) in Colunga.
Primero: Potes Asturiana: A delicious warming smoky flavoured casserole made with pancetta, chorizo, morzilla, fabada beans, potatoes and cabbage.
Segundo: Braised lamb shanks with saute potatoes.
Sweet: Asturian speciality caramelised rice pudding.
Drinks: Wine, water and coffee.
Price for two? 16 Euro, that is about £8.00 each… which we think is roughly a cup of coffee and a bun in the UK these days or a pint and a packet of crisps.
Whilst wine is by no means in short supply in Asturias, being this close to the Rioja region ensures a plentiful supply of exceptionally good wine at fantastic prices. Wine is not the passion of Asturias, for this we must investigate Cider, or in Asturian, Sidra.
Sidre is so woven into the fabric of the region there are places dedicated to the sale and consumption of the stuff called Sidreria’s. This is no quaint tradition to be found only in the backwoods villages and put on for tourists, oh no, this is the real thing.
Sidra is the drink of choice everywhere, from the smartest bits of the capital city to the smallest bar anywhere in any village you will find Sidre being ‘served’ and consumed enthusiastically by people of all ages, male and female.
For practical reasons to get air into the drink and give it the vital and immediate lift it needs before immediate consumption, usually about an inch at a time. Drinking Sidra is a great way to spend an hour or two before you tuck into the food!