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Asturias, Spain | ©Daniel79 / Pixabay
Asturias, Spain | ©Daniel79 / Pixabay

12 Reasons We Have to Share Spain's Best-Kept Secret, Asturias

Picture of Esme Fox
Updated: 26 September 2017
Asturias is one of Spain‘s least known regions, however there are many reasons to visit. Located on the northern coast of the country, it’s flanked by Cantabria to one side and Galicia on the other. From the incredible scenery to its UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the delicious cheeses and stunning coastline, here are 12 reasons why we have to share Spain’s best-kept secret.

The incredible scenery

Sitting on Spain’s north coast, Asturias is surrounded by the Bay of Biscay on one side and vast soaring mountains to the other. It’s filled with Natural Parks and offers stunning landscapes everywhere you look. Part of ‘Green Spain’ in the north east of the country, here it’s always verdant, unlike some of the more desert-like landscapes of Andalusia.

The tasty dairy products

Asturias is known throughout Spain for its delicious dairy products, particularly milk, cheeses and yoghurts. Asturias has even earned the nickname of Pais de Quesos – Land of Cheeses. One of the most famous cheeses here is cabrales – a cheese with blue veins, which is made from a mixture of cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. There is even a cheese route you can follow to visit dairy farms, see how it’s made and how it’s aged in ancient cheese caves.

The traditional cider

Asturias is the Spanish cider capital, producing some of the best in the country. Spanish cider is different to the cider you may be used to, it’s cloudy and flat, rather than clear and sparkling and is not overly sweet – more tart and crisp. Look out for the sidrerias or cider houses, where you can taste it straight from the barrel, and watch it being served in the traditional way – poured from a great height. Take a look at our article on ‘Everything you need to know about Spanish cider‘ to learn more.

The charming city of Oviedo

One of the main cities in Asturias is the delightful city of Oviedo, with its many historic monuments, churches and charming medieval historic quarter. It’s both lively and elegant, with lots of restaurants and places for shopping, as well as a few museums and palaces to tour.

The excellent hiking opportunities

Given its spectacular scenery and Natural Parks, Asturias is great region for hiking. One of the best places for this is the Picos de Europa National Park, located between Asturias, Castilla y León and Cantabria. It comprises deep valleys and vast gorges, rivers and soaring limestone mountains.

The lively city of Gijón

The city of Gijón is Austurias’ biggest city. It may not have all the charm of its small hilltop or coastal villages, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Filled with seafront promenades, beaches, pedestrian streets, and squares packed with restaurants, it also has many cultural attractions such as museums and an old Roman wall.

The picturesque coastline

Sitting on the Bay of Biscay, Asturias has a picturesque coastline, filled with quaint fishing villages and beautiful beaches. In fact, two of ‘Northern Spain’s Best Seaside Towns to Visit‘ are located in Asturias – Lastres and Cudillero. If you’re here in summer, some of the best beaches to visit are Playa Rodiles near Villaviciosa, Playa de la Griega in Lastres and Playa de Santa Marina in Ribadesella.

The UNESCO World Heritage and Biosphere sites

The monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of Asturias are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the principality is also home to a whopping six UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Some of the Biosphere Reserves include the Redes Natural Park, Oscos-Eo, the Picos de Europa and the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Nature Park, which are rich in wildlife.

The varied and delicious cuisine

Like most of the different regions in Spain, Asturias has a unique cuisine. It’s characterised by hearty stews, seafood and dairy products. One of the most typical dishes is the Fabada Asturiana, a thick stew made from white beans, Asturian sausage, black pudding, pork and bacon, and is flavoured with saffron. Fish stew and rice pudding (arroz con leche) are also popular dishes here.

The ancient cave art

Asturias is one of the few places in Spain, which is home to ancient rock and cave art. There are five such caves in the Comarca de Oriente area – the Tito Bustillo Cave in Ribadesella, the Cave of Candamo in Candamu, the Cave of La Covaciella in Cabrales, Cave of Llonín in Peñamellera Alta and the Cave del Pindal in Ribadedeva. Most of the Palaeolithic rock art here dates back to between 35,000 and 11,000 B.C.

The Dinosaur Coast

The coastline between the towns of Gijón and Ribadesella is known as the Dinosaur Coast, due to the number of fossilised dinosaur footprints and bones, found here, which date back around 150 million years. To find out more about the dinosaurs here, visit the Museo del Jurásico de Asturias in the village of Colunga, one of the best dinosaur museums in Europe.

The old churches of Villaviciosa

If you’re a fan of old churches and charming architecture, then head for the town of Villaviciosa. The main church in the town is the Iglesia de Santa María de la Oliva, but travel around the area and you’ll find many more such as the Parroquia de San Juan de Amandi and the Capilla de la Concepción de la Torre.

The fascinating museums

You may think that Asturias is only for outdoor pursuits, but it has plenty of excellent museums too. Some of these include the Museo del Jurásico de Asturias, the Fine Arts Museum of Asturias, and the Archaeological Museum of Asturias.