There is no better way to describe Asturias than its slogan, “Asturias, paraíso natural” (Asturias, natural paradise), which is perfect summary of this magical place.
I believe it is one of the most unknown parts of Spain, literally “Spain’s best kept secret.” Most of the tourists I came across in Asturias were actually Spanish, and the non-Spanish ones were here for the Camino de Santiago which passes through Asturias.
This region has everything: tall beautiful mountains, many natural parks, breathtaking coast, and magical small villages. It is completely green in a way I have only seen in movies and there are countless animals such as cows, goats, and horses in every corner, including along the highway!!
Asturias (in Asturian: Asturies), officially the Principality of Asturias, is an autonomous community in north-west Spain. The most important cities are the communal capital, Oviedo, the seaport and largest city Gijón, and the industrial town of Avilés.
The key features of Asturian geography are its rugged coastal cliffs and the mountainous interior. In the eastern range, the Picos de Europa National Park contains the highest and arguably most spectacular mountains, rising to 2,648 meters (8,688 ft). Other notable features of this predominantly limestone range are the Parque Natural de Redes in the central east, the central Ubiñas south of Oviedo, and the Parque Natural de Somiedo in the west. The Asturian coastline is extensive, with hundreds of beaches, coves and natural sea caves.
Asturias is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by Castile and León to the south, by Galicia to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay to the north.
How To Get to Asturias
Direct flight to Asturias: you can arrive to the Asturias airport, OVD, located around Avilés. According the the OVD Airport site, the airlines that fly through the airport are: Air Europa, Air Nostrum, Evelop, Iberia, Volotea, and Vueling.
Note: There are not many flights that pass through this airport, which is why it is sometime cheaper to fly to another airport in Spain.
Flight to nearby airport – Santander: the Santander Airport, SDR, is a great option, located less than 2 hours from Oviedo and Gijón. You can usually find cheaper flight flying to or from this airport. From there you can get to Asturias with BlaBlaCar (ridesharing app), direct bus, a bus to the main bus station of Santander and then another bus to Asturias (both bus options are with ALSA), or with a rented car.
Flight to central airport – Madrid: the Madrid airport, MAD, is huge and therefore has more frequent and sometimes cheaper flight options. From there you can get to Asturias with a rented car or BlaBlaCar (ridesharing app) which will take about 4.5 hours WITH tolls. If you want to avoid the toll payment make sure you set your GPS to skip those. You can also arrive to Asturias with a bus (ALSA) which will take you about 6 hours, depending on how many stops it makes.
Additional ways to arrive to Asturias include bus with the company ALSA, train with the company RENFE, or by car!
What to See
There is so much to see in Asturias that sometimes it can be difficult to decide. I think every visitor should combine visiting the coast, the mountains (highly recommend the Picos de Europa), and some of the small towns or “big” cities.
Here are a few posts that can help you plan your trip to Asturias:
12 Places You Must Visit in Asturias
Itinerary: 7 Days in Asturias
Itinerary: 5 Days in Asturias
Itinerary: 3 Days in Asturias
4 Asturias One-Day Hikes Accessible with Public Transportation
Or you can browse all the Hiking Posts in the blog
Public transportation in Asturias exists, yet it is not the best, which is why I have a many posts on things you can do in Asturias using public transportation. The bus company is Alsa and the train companies are Feve for within the area and Renfe for traveling between regions. Gladly, There are many things you can see with public transportation, so stay positive! The 3 main cities are well-connected with Alsa buses every 30 minutes throughout the day. I even wrote about 4 Asturias One-Day Hikes Accessible with Public Transportation.
Renting a car is fairly easy and prices can get as low as 10-15 Euros per day. You can do so in the Asturias Airport (OVD) or in one of the main cities: Oviedo, Gijón, or Avilés.
Weather is definitely the main issue when traveling to Asturias. The beautiful green hills come with a price, and it is the rain. However, the sunny summer days are absolutely perfect which is what makes Asturias the perfect Summer escape for locals who live in the hotter areas of Spain such as Madrid and Andalucia.
You should definitely check the weather forecast before making any plans. Keep in mind that summers are mild and, on the coast, winters also have relatively benign temperatures, rarely including frost. The cold is especially felt in the mountains, where snow is present from October to May. Both rain and snow are regular weather features of Asturian winters. In coastal or near-coastal areas, daytime high temperatures generally average around 12 °C (54 °F) – 13 °C (55 °F) during winter and 22 °C (72 °F) – 23 °C (73 °F) in summer.
The Asturian Sidra
Sidra is an important part of the Asturian culture and it is definitely something you should know about! Asturian people love drinking sidra in any occasion, whether it is with dinner or just as a casual sit-down with something to snack. It is light, refreshing, and fairly cheap (normally less than 3 euros per bottle).
Sidra is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. In Asturias sidra is considered not only a beverage but an intrinsic part of the culture and folklore; it is poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass and is done to get air bubbles into the drink (as you can see in the picture). But don’t worry, you don’t need to pour it like that. The waiter at the bar/restaurant will pour you sidra in the glass whenever you request. Some restaurant even have a device that pours sidra for you! BUT, you have to drink all the sidra in the glass in one time, or people will look at you like you’re crazy ad might even make a comment.
I absolutely adore the food here! So many options and so much variety!!
In Asturias, you can find delicious cheese, meat, seafood, bread, and much more. Some highlights of the region (there are many more) are the Cabrales cheese which is a type of blue cheese, the cachopo which is a layered meat, cheese, and sometimes vegetables that is deep-fried, and the fabada that is a soup with local huge beans and meat.
The best part – the food is fairly cheap and the portions are gigantic!
- The weather changes pretty fast, in the same day you can be at the beach in your bathing suit and later on freezing in the rain under your umbrella. Make sure you pack properly for every climate possibility!
- People in Asturias are very nice so feel free to ask for help or just talk about the weather (very common conversation). Locals also know the best secret places to visit so asking for a travel recommendation usually turns out great!
- When it comes to food take advantage of the Menu del Dia which usually offers you a 3 course meal for 10-15 Euros. It s usually a pretty good deal and in Asturias you will get great portions, so always ask if there is a Menu and what it offers. The menu is during lunchtime Monday-Friday and most of the time includes an appetizer, main course, dessert, drinks, and bread.
- On Sundays and Mondays some of the restaurants and local businesses are closed, make sure you take that into account when making plans!
- You can also find ALL the events in Asturias such as gastronomic events, concerts, or any big gathering in this website: https://queverdeasturias.com
- Summertime means local parties, and many! Check out this website so you don’t miss any of the local music and traditions: http://www.asturiasdefiesta.es