15 Must-Visit Attractions in Asturias, Spain
The region of Asturias in Spain | © Neticola Sny / Flickr
The region of Asturias lies in the north of Spain, along the coast and in between Cantabria, Castilla y León and Galicia. It’s known for its spectacular mountain scenery, traditional cider and wild coastline, but it has many more attractions for visitors. Here’s our pick of the best must-visit attractions in Asturias.
Acuario de Gijón
The Gijón Aquarium is one of the best attractions in the region, especially for families. It is also the only aquarium in Spain where you can see all five groups of animals. It covers 4,000 square metres (one acre) and is home to 5,000 marine creatures across 400 different species. Your kids will be able to spot everything from otters and Magellanic penguins to sharks. It also offers good sections on local wildlife and Cantabrian rivers.
Jardín Botánico Atlántico
The Atlantic Botanic Garden is located just southeast of the city of Gijón. It is home a whopping 2,000 varieties of plant, many of which are native to northern Spain and the Atlantic coastal regions. Make sure to visit the Garden of the Island, a historical garden dating back more than 150 years, and the Natural Monument of La Carbayeda of El Tragamón, a natural forest with 400-year-old trees.
Playa de San Lorenzo
San Lorenzo is Gijón’s main city beach. It’s a long crescent of fine yellow sand, framed by a stone wall and a lovely promenade. There are many facilities here, from shops and restaurants to showers and toilets. The beach is very popular with families and sunbathers and can get quite busy in the summer, but it’s nice to walk along in the winter, too. The beach is also popular with water sports enthusiasts and has a number of surf schools.
Archaeological Museum of Asturias
The Archaeological Museum of Asturias can be found in the city of Oviedo and is housed in the 16th-century former Benedictine Monastery of San Vicente. The permanent collection displayed here showcases artefacts from archaeological discoveries across the region of Asturias. Visitors will also be able to see drawings, 3D models, maps and audiovisual projections to help them understand the fascinating history of the area.
The gothic cathedral of San Salvador, or Oviedo Cathedral, lies along the Camino del Norte and is a major stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. It was built in the late 13th century and is one of the most impressive in Asturias. Walk around its cloisters and chapterhouse, then visit the Holy House, a pre-Romanesque building dating back to the 9th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias
The Asturias Museum of Fine Arts is located in the city of Oviedo and is housed in the city’s Palacio de Velarde, near to the cathedral. It displays over 15,000 works dating from the 14th to the 21st century, and includes paintings by artists such as El Greco, Goya, Sorolla, Picasso, Dalí and Miró.
Palacio de Santa María del Naranco
Situated just outside of the city of Oviedo sits Santa María del Naranco, which was originally a palace built by King Ramiro I in 848. Later it was converted into a church, and today it’s a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jurassic Museum of Asturias
Natural History Museum
Not many people know it, but northern Spain was a prime dinosaur location during the Jurassic and Mesozoic eras. A lot of dinosaur bones and fossils have been discovered in the regions of La Rioja and Asturias, so it’s a great place for any dino-crazed little ones, or those who are simply curious and want to discover more. The Jurassic Museum of Asturias is located in the small town of Colunga and is filled with displays, from skeletons and fossils to dino footprints and interactive exhibits.
Cuevas de Tito Bustillo
The Caves of Tito Bustillo lie just outside the town of Ribadesella and are one of the most important places in Spain for ancient rock art. The caves were inhabited between 22,000 and 10,000 BC and feature pictures of horses, reindeer, as well as (unusually in ancient rock art) whales and dolphins. There are also many pictures of the female form.
Lakes of Covadonga
The Covadonga Lakes are located in the Picos de Europa National Park and are one of the most beautiful places in the area, as well as one of the best places for hiking. They are glacial lakes and comprise Lake Enol and Lake Ercina. The lakes are famous for their picturesque location and stunning views as well as their hiking trails. Look out for wild horses, cows and sheep grazing in the verdant meadows here.
Playa del Silencio
The Playa de Silencio means ‘the Beach of Silence’ and is located just outside the village of Castañeras in the region of Asturias. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the area: a stunning crescent of white and grey sand, surrounded by towering verdant green cliffs and lapped by turquoise waves. It’s a very natural beach and has no facilities, lifeguards or places to eat. Despite this, it is very popular in summer and can often get quite busy. Part of the beach is also used by naturists.
Elogio del Horizonte
The sculpture Eulogy to the Horizon is a huge piece of artwork found in the city of Gijón, on top of Santa Catalina Hill. It was created by the famous Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida and is made from cement blocks. Locals have nicknamed this sculpture ‘King Kong’s Water Closet’ because of its unique shape.
Termas Romanas De Campo Valdés
Gijón is known for its ancient Roman sites, as well as its beaches and large port. The Termas Romanas are old Roman Baths, built around AD 100. Inside, look down beneath your feet to see the various spa areas, including cold zones, warm bath areas and the hot spaces used as saunas.
Santuario de Covadonga de Covadonga
Church, Natural Feature
The Sanctuary of Covadonga sits in the Picos de Europa National Park, surrounded by misty peaks and verdant green valleys. It’s located in the village of the same name, close to the town of Cangas de Onís. Construction began on the sanctuary in 1877, but it wasn’t completed until 1901. The sanctuary includes the grand basilica, the collegiate, Prince’s Park, the Source of Seven Pipes Fountain and two grand marble lions. The main highlight is the Holy Cave of Covadonga, a small church sitting beneath the rocks of the basilica where services are still held today.
Picos de Europa National Park
The Picos de Europa National Park is one of the biggest national parks in Spain. It is situated between the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León and covers an area of 64,660 hectares (636 square miles). The park has also been designated a UNECO Biosphere Reserve. Read our guide to the best hiking trails in the Picos de Europa to find out more.