Spain’s Green Coast may not be home to party resorts kissed by the Mediterranean, but that doesn’t mean it’s got nothing to offer. In fact, the north is just as – if not more – beautiful. Asturias was the only region in Spain that wasn’t conquered by the Moors in the eighth century, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled between the rugged Cantabrian mountain range, the awe-inspiring Picos de Europa and the azure Cantabrian Sea, nature played as much a part in defending it as the Christians did. As a result, the vibrant mosques and Arab baths of the south are replaced with grand Romanesque and Gothic churches and sparkling waterfalls just waiting to be discovered.
It’s not only the lush green landscapes and secluded monasteries that feel like they belong in a fairy-tale. The cities are also magical. Oviedo, the capital, is a must for cosmopolitans and foodies. Home to a few UNESCO World Heritage sites – including the San Naranco church complex and the famous Cathedral – it is a maze of winding cobbled streets flecked with greenery. The area is also sprinkled with a good dose of epic glory reminiscent of the Reconquest days.
Here, you can find many traditional sidreria to enjoy a pint of cider – one of Asturias’s most famous exports – and some delicious northern tapas. Fancy a romantic getaway? Head further north and you’ll find the charming Medieval town of Aviles, favoured by the likes of Woody Allen.
Culture vultures are spoilt for choice, while party animals can enjoy one of the best nightlife scenes in Spain. Families will especially enjoy Gijon, a pretty coastal town home to a great selection of golden beaches where you can soak up the sun in summer.
Asturias’ capital city is a discerning urbanite and passionate foodie paradise. Its many historic landmarks – including a stunning Cathedral that blends Romanesque and Gothic tradition and the awe-inspiring churches of Santa Maria del Naranco – also make it a hotspot for culture vultures. Despite being the capital, Oviedo’s cobbled streets are all about laid-back charm. Here you won’t find the frenzy atmosphere of Madrid or London, but a cosmopolitan hub where arts, culture and delicious food are celebrated, northern style.
Gijon blends the rich history so alive in Oviedo’s Old Town with the ease of a fully equipped beach resort. The result is a charming old fishing village-turned-bustling port, perfect for families looking for a sunny getaway – without the absolutely roasting temperatures. Visiting during the low season may make it harder to swim – it gets quite cold in Spain’s northern regions – but there’s still plenty of opportunities to discover the town’s architectural feats and enjoy some family fun at the Aquarium.
This picturesque Medieval town was chosen by Woody Allen as the setting for the most romantic scene in the iconic Vicky, Cristina Barcelona. Just one fleeting visit is enough to see why Aviles captured the director’s imagination, and you’ll fall in love with it too. So much so, you’ll want to stay longer and get to know her better. The cobbled streets hide Medieval architectural delights, and the vibrant nightlife puts to shame the loud karaoke bars and all-night foam parties of Mediterranean resorts.
Soak up the sun
Asturias’s Green Coast has plenty of beautiful beaches to kick back and relax on. Staying in Gijon will mean you’re close to plenty of golden and rugged paradises. Playa de San Lorenzo is shaped like a seashell and has a bustling promenade lined with lively bars and seafood restaurants. Playa Arbeyal is great for families as children can play in the surrounding greenery as well as the calm sea. Drive a little further from Asturias’ main resorts and you’ll find scenic settings like Playa de Rodiles beach – deemed by many as the most beautiful beach in Spain.
Get your culture fix
Asturias’ history speaks through the many cultural landmarks and architectural feats. Bring your walking shoes to Oviedo and Aviles, and lose yourself in their charming Old Towns, where open squares and cobbled streets hide many museums and Gothic buildings. Santa Maria del Naranco, just 3 kilometres out of Oviedo, is a must visit during your trip to Asturias. The church complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site and dates back to the ninth century.
Nestled at the foot of the Picos de Europa mountains is the enchanting Covadonga. The village stretches over a valley and looks like something out of a fairytale, but it’s the Santa Covadonga Cave what draws travellers from all over the world. Carved into the rock on top of a waterfall, the site is worthy of one of Tolkien’s elvish dwellings – and a nature lover’s paradise.
National Park Galore
Asturias’ rich natural surroundings make for beautiful national parks bursting with varied wildlife. The Picos de Europa National Park is a must for hiking enthusiasts; the rugged mountains offer some of the best views of Spain’s Green Coast. Animal lovers won’t want to miss the Somiedo Natural Park, where bears and grouse roam free.
Spanish classics like tapas and paella are a staple of Asturias’s gastronomy, but they are given a northern twist. Food here is best washed down with a pint or two of Asturias cider – preferably at one of the traditional sidrerias. We recommend trying the goats cheese and hearty stews for a delicious experience, but no trip to Asturias is complete without a warming plate of Fabada Asturiana.
Asturias’s restaurant scene will satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. From traditional sidrerias where northern tapas are served to international eateries serving eclectic fare, there’s something to suit every palate.
Asturias is pure northern charm. A region rich in beautiful landscapes, historic landmarks and vibrant atmospheres, it will capture the imagination of every holidaymaker lucky enough to visit it.
Booking your holiday to Asturias with easyJet holidays is the best way to get to this top destination hassle-free. You’ll also get great deals when you book your flight and hotel together.
If Asturias is not for you, check out more of our Spain destinations and get set to jet off somewhere special.