Asturias is one of the least known parts of Spain, a hidden gem that the Spanish cherish.
This region has everything that a real paradise needs: warm sun, huge ocean, high mountains, beautiful nature, interesting culture, great food and drinks, and friendly people.
Top things to do in Asturias go far beyond just 10, in my first version I had 20, but I tried to find the really must places to visit and would like to share them with you.
I’ve been living in Asturias for half a year, and managed to discover the whole region and live like a local surrounded by the famous Asturian culture.
To make it easier for you to have a full picture of the region, I have divided the top 10 things to do in Asturias into 3 categories: culture, cities and nature. So, let’s start with the first one.
Cultural Things to do in Asturias
Living in Asturias, I fell in love with the local culture. It is so unique and different even from the neighboring regions of Spain that you just wonder, how? How did it happen that the nearby Leon, Galicia and Basque country have such a different culture being in one country?
Actually, there were some historical events that helped Asturias to preserve its very authentic culture. If you travel here from the central Spain by car or train, you will see the beautiful snowy mountains on the way. Those mountains helped the locals to defend the land from the Moors, who conquered the whole territory of Spain by the 722 year. It was the year of the Battle of Covadonga in Asturias that started the process of Reconquista, recapture of the Iberian Peninsula.
As you know, Spain is a country having a very high number of different holidays and festivals. Asturias is not an exception. It has numerous great fests that are celebrated throughout Spain and several local events like Fiesta Del Bollo (bollo is a traditional white bun with sausage, which is, of course, accompanied with cider).
So, the first thing to do in Asturias would be to:
Learn Some Asturian Words
Not just the overall culture, but also the language in Asturias is different. Most of the locals speak Spanish, but some older people speak the Asturian dialect that they call a separate language. If you know Spanish, you will probably understand just a couple of words from the speech in Asturian, but you could try.
Here are some useful words in Asturian:
- Guaje – Child
- Espicha – Asturian parties, which are all about local cider (which deserves its own section)
- Fame – Hunger
- Ir al chigre – Go to the traditional bar with cider that mostly old men visit
- ¡Toy mayá! – I’m tired
- ¡Calla, ho! – Shut up, man
- Toy fartucu – I’m full
Try Local Food
Another great thing to do in Asturias is to try the local food. Don’t expect to see the traditional paella, but you can find jamon and pinchos.
Traditional cuisine of Asturias is not very healthy, but it is delicious. Main ingredients here are white beans, beef, potatoes, different kinds of sausages, jamon and the local cheese Cabrales.
Some of the local dishes that you definitely need to try are Fabada (Asturian bean stew) with beans, sausages and cheese, Cachopo (2 huge deep fried beef steaks with jamon iberico and cabrales cheese between them) which usually weighs about 2 kilos and served with 1 more kilo of fries, and Caldareta (goat meat stew).
After eating this delicious food, it’s time to try Asturian cider.
Pour Sidra Like a Pro
The local cider (sidra) has a very different taste from the cider you know. It is not sweet, and has no gas. It tastes like a sour apple juice with 6% of alcohol. The locals say that it is the most healthy alcoholic drink in the world.
While drinking Asturian cider from the bottle is not very tasty, the way to serve it is to pour just about 100 ml at a time from above your head holding the special sidra cup low with the other hand. This process puts gas inside the drink, and you have to drink it before the gas evaporates. There are special people working in the bar to do that, but you can also try (because of those people who try, the floor in sidrerias is always sticky 🙂 ).
Here, people not only drink cider, it is also one of the main ingredients in some Asturian dishes, and used instead of oil in the others.
They were the three main cultural things to do in Asturias, while living there for a month or more will let you feel like a local, so you will experience much more than just language, food and drinks. Time to move to the next point, beautiful cities in Asturias.
Cities to Visit in Asturias
Most of the territory of Asturias is occupied by its beautiful nature in the form of national parks, mountains and cliffs. Still, having just a couple of towns in the whole region, each of them is a must place to visit in Asturias. I was trying to squeeze all of them to the top 4 cities in Asturias. In the region, the cities are so closely connected with nature, so it was hard for me to choose the right category: city or nature.
Anyway, I cannot tell you about the top 4 without mentioning the others.
I recommend you to rent a car to visit as many cities in Asturias, as possible. All of them are beautiful, but small, so busses would be less convenient.
So, here are some of the beautiful cities in Asturias that you should visit, but that didn’t get to the list of top 10 things to do in Asturias:
I’ve already mentioned Covadonga. A historical place, which is very important for locals, as it was the place, where they pushed back the Moors and started the Reconquista. It is a very small town in the mountains surrounded by forest. Arabic horses couldn’t climb so high, and conquer the land.
Another beautiful city to visit in Asturias is Mieres, a nice small town, about 20 km to the south from Oviedo, capital of Asturias. It is located in a small and narrow valley between the mountains. It is also the place, where some major highways meet.
Aviles is another town, one of the major cities in the principality of Asturias together with Gijon and Oviedo that I will talk about later. It is an industrial city, while it has a beautiful old city center.
Cangas de Onis is the capital city of municipality of the same name. The city was the first capital of Asturias in the times of the Kingdom of Asturias. Also worth a visit.
Can you imagine that such beauty didn’t even get into the top 4 cities in Asturias to visit? Now, I present to you the cities that did!
Oviedo is a capital of Asturias. It is the city, where I spent half a year during my Erasmus student exchange in Spain and I loved it. It is one of the most conservative cities in Asturias. It seems that people live there in the way they lived hundreds of years ago. Having a closed economy, producing everything just for the city and a little bit for the region, Oviedo didn’t suffer that much from the economical crisis.
Here, you will probably not find any international brands. You will see some Spanish brands, you can even find the only McDonalds, and a parody of Dunkin Donuts called Duffin Dagels with the same design as the original. All the rest is made by locals for locals.
The life is quiet, and it seems that everybody enjoys it. Well, it is also a student city with about 50 thousand students, so the city center is pretty full at night.
Oviedo was also the place, where some part of the Woody Allen’s movie ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ was filmed. The famous filmmaker liked the town, and now you can find the sculpture of Woody allen in the center of Oviedo.
The city is also surrounded by mountains, and hiking here is a good idea. On the way to the highest mount near Oviedo called Naranco, you will see several buildings from the Roman times.
You can also relax in the city parks. Oviedo has a lot of them. Parque de Invierno has a path far to the south, so you can go running or riding a bicycle to Mieres.
Cudillero is a very small town, or rather a village. As most of the other Asturian settlements, it is surrounded by mountains. Visit it and enjoy the beautiful colorful houses, local fish dishes and cider, and climb up the mountain to enjoy the ocean view near Cudillero.
The largest city in Asturias, it is very different from the capital, Oviedo. It is more international having more banks, international companies, more foreign tourists. Here, you won’t feel like a citizen of an old Spanish town, it is rather modern, although it has an old city center.
The city is stretched along the ocean coast having a few long beaches with facilities to rent a surfboard.
One of the main attractions of Gijon apart from the ocean is its huge botanical garden.
Another coastline place with great views and small colorful houses. You don’t need to go to the beach to enjoy it. Hike to the mountain near the town and enjoy the view of the Ribadesella at night.
It was a list of the top 4 cities in Asturias to visit. As you see, all cities in the region also have natural sights like mountains, city parks and the ocean. If you like nature, Asturias is a great place to visit for you.
Nature of Asturias
Now, slowly moving to the end, I should mention some purely natural landmarks of Asturias. The south of Asturias is divided into several natural parks, which have some high mountains to go skiing or snowboarding. I’ve chosen the top 3 things to do in Asturias connected with nature.
Picos de Europa
The most popular national park in Asturias is Picos de Europa (peaks of Europe). The town of Covadonga mentioned above is located on the border of the national park, which is full of high mountains. The highest mountain, Torre de Cerredo, has a height of 2650 meters. Here, you feel like in the Lord of the Rings movie. A must place to visit in Asturias if you like hiking.
Cabo de Peñas
Now, quickly moving to the north of Asturias, to the coastline with beautiful and magnificent cliffs. The best place to enjoy the views of Asturian cliffs is Cabo de Peñas. It is the very north cape of the region. On the cliff and enjoy the grandeur of the ocean.
Try to Get Suntanned on the Beach
And, finally, the beach. Visiting Asturias, you should definitely go to the beach. Why try to get suntanned? Because, there are not so many sunny days here. It rains a lot because of the proximity to the ocean and mountains that don’t let the clouds to move to the south. But it’s never too cold in Asturias. The temperature is uniform throughout the year.
In case if you are lucky, and the weather is good, here is a list of some good places to go to the beach in Asturias:
- Cabo Busto
- Concho de Arteo Beach
- Aguilar Beach
- Las Llanas Beach
- Playon de Bayas
It was my ultimate guide with top 10 things to do in Asturias to visit. I hope, you enjoyed it and are now willing to visit this beautiful region of Spain. Read also about Valencia or 50 tips to travel the world cheap! Travel more!
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