Let me share the details of my first Asturias Road Trip – an ultimate 3-day itinerary to enjoy some of the best landmarks of Northern Spain.
My first trip to Asturias
This trip to Asturias was my first trip to Northern Spain after moving to the Iberian Peninsula. While living on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and visiting its islands quite often, I used to have a different impression of Spanish weather. Therefore, Asturias felt like a complete discovery with its windy and rainy days. It was my first encounter with the Spanish wild nature – the Atlantic beaches, dramatic cliffs, and otherworldy beautiful landscapes.
Looking back at this Asturias Road Trip now, I realize that it sparked my interest in Northern Spain forever. This trip was followed by other getaways to Galicia, the Basque Country, and my favorite Spanish Pyrenees. Therefore, it marked the beginning of my adventurous travels in Spain.
While three days were not enough to explore the region of Asturias fully, this road trip still became one of my most memorable experiences in Spain.
Ideally, you would need to spend at least one week in Asturias, but a weekend getaway is always a great way to make a first impression.
Landmarks in Asturias
Asturias is a Spanish autonomous community, located in the North of the Iberian Peninsula. It is one of my favorite places in the whole country and an absolute must-stop on every Northern Spain Road Trip.
The region of Asturias has an important place in the Spanish history. The famous Reconquista (when the Christians took the country back from the Moors) started here, in Covadonga. To learn more – check my list of Top Spain Documentaries. Till the present day, the heirs to the Spanish throne are given the honorable title of Prince or Princess of Asturias following this sacred 1300s tradition.
Traditional food in Asturias
The most typical dishes of Asturias are fabada (a bean stew), cachopo (was one of my 2023 favorites in Spain), the Cabrales cheese (one of the top Food Souvenirs from Spain), casadiella (typical local dessert), and tarta de frixuelos (a cake from pancakes). The most typical local drink is sidra (e.g. cider), across the region of Villaviciosa you will find lots of apple tree fields.
Landscapes&legends of Asturias
Thanks to the endless local greenery, Asturias is home to some Spanish magical forests: Robledal de Muniellos (the biggest oak groove in Spain) and Hayedo de Montegrande. The region is also known for some unique Spanish legends, full of mythological creatures, like Busgosu (the protector of the forests) and Les Xanes (the fairies, spirits of nature).
How to get to Asturias
To explore Asturias’s natural wonders, it´s best to travel by car. Another alternative is to stay in one of the main cities, Oviedo or Gijon, and book organized tours across the region. You can check the best tours in my post about Unique Things to Do in Asturias.
The closest airports with budget-friendly flights are located in Oviedo and Santander.
Where to stay in Asturias
One of the most unique things to do in Asturias is living in the serene Spanish countryside.
Here are a few examples of cozy places to stay in Asturias: Apartamentos Hacienda Llamabua, Hotel Los Caspios, Hotel El Babú, Hotel Rural Cantexos, Casona de El Castañíu, Apartamentos El Pedrayu, Casa Les Pedroses, Casas Rurales Prieto, El Prau la Iglesia I, and La Quintana de Marta.
For this Asturias Road Trip, we picked Las Helgueras in the small town of Noriega.
Asturias Road Trip: My 3-day Itinerary
First of all: on the road from Valencia to Asturias, we made a stop in Zaragoza to visit The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar (one of the top Spanish Cathedrals) and Santoña (the Spanish capital of Anchovies). You can book the Tour to The Anchovies Factory of Santoña via GetYourGuide.
On the way back home we made a stop at San Vicente de la Barquera, a small town in Cantabria, that I really enjoyed.
Asturias Road Trip – Day 1
Cangas de Anis
Our Asturias road trip started with the small town of Cangas de Onis. While these days it is a popular getaway destination, this small town used to have an important role in Spanish history.
After the famous victory of Covadonga in 722 (which marked the beginning of the Spanish Reconquista), the famous Hispano-Visigoth nobleman Pelagius named Cangas de Onis the first capital of Asturias. But since he kept conquering the new territories on the Iberian Peninsula, Cangas de Onis could be considered the first capital of Christian Spain.
Right in front of the local church Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, you will find the monument of Pelagius. While exploring Cangas de Onis, we came across horreo asturiano – an ancient local structure that was used as a granary across the whole of Northern Spain.
One of the most unique landmarks of Cangas de Onis is the famous Roman Bridge or Puenton. While it might have been used by the Romans in Spain, the current structure of the bridge could be dated back to the 13th century.
Also, Cangas de Onis is a great place to get local food souvenirs from Spain. Especially since Asturias is known for more than 30 varieties of cheese.
You can not visit Asturias and miss its most iconic landmarks – Basilica de Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga, a beautiful Neo-Romanesque Church, and Santa Cueva, the Holy Cave where the body of King Pelagius lies.
Both landmarks are hugely popular among Spaniards and pilgrims, so in the summer peak season you´ll be surrounded by numerous visitors.
Lakes of Covadonga
After visiting the Holy sites of Covadonga, we headed towards the famous Lakes of Covadonga. This decision ended up as the biggest disappointment of this Asturias road trip.
On the way to the Lakes of Covadonga, it started to rain and we got caught in heavy fog. Local cows were crossing the road out of nowhere. Yet since there was a huge line of cars behind us and no place to turn around, we were forced to drive towards our final destination anyway. After parking a car near the Tourist Info, we quickly realized we wouldn’t be able to see a thing. I mean, we tried to walk around a bit, but the weather was not getting any better. So, we were forced to return to Cangas de Onis and then headed back to our rental Las Helgueras.
Asturias Road Trip – Day 2
On the second day of our Asturias Road Trip, we built up an itinerary to explore the beautiful coastline and small towns.
Our first stop for the day was the tiny village of Ribadesella. We initially planned to walk around the city center and explore local beaches, but since it started to rain again, we only had time to visit the beach of La Atalaya.
Nevertheless, we were able to drive a few minutes to Cueves, one of a few villages in the world that can be accessed exclusively via the cave of La Cuevona.
Llanes is one of the most beautiful small towns in Asturias. It is known for its picturesque port, old city center, and the beach Playa de Sablon. We had a delicious fabada for lunch and spent a few hours walking around.
Playa de la Torimbia
Our last stop of day two was Playa de la Torimbia, one of the most stunning beaches in Northern Spain. Later on, we read somewhere that it was actually one of the top Spanish nudist beaches. However, during our afternoon visit, there was no soul around.
Our initial plan was to hike from Torimbia to the Gulpiyuri beach: it is an easy 14-km itinerary along the beautiful coastline of Asturias. Unfortunately, the weather was against us and it started to rain again, so we headed to the small town of Lastres and enjoyed some snacks with views at a local restaurant El Mirador.
Asturias Road Trip – Day 3
On the third day of our Asturias Road Trip, we were finally lucky to see the sun. It did rain a bit, but not enough to mess up our travel plans.
This charming small town was one of my favorite places on this Asturias road trip. Cudillero was founded back in the 13th century as a fisherman’s village. But in the 19th century, it had already turned into one of the most important ports in the region of Asturias.
This tiny village is full of gorgeous lookouts and picture-perfect locations. We enjoyed it so much that only inside our car did I realize this enjoyable walk felt like a complete workout (due to the endless stairs).
Playa de las Catedrales
Since we were quite close to the Spanish region of Galicia, I was excited to visit Playa de las Catedrales (also called As Catedrais Beach). It is known for some of the most unique Spanish cliffs.
It is recommended to visit As Catedrais at low tide (to be able to walk around all the arches and caves) – but we went anyway. After walking along the stunning coastline for a while, we headed for a seafood lunch at O Lar de Manolo in the small town of Ribadeo.
After lunch, we returned to Asturias to visit another one of its top charming villages – Luarca. This small town was home to Severo Ochoa, the winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Medicine.
The most unique place in Luarca is its tiny port, full of colorful boats. Another peculiar landmark in Luarca is the bridge Puente del Beso, known for one of the most romantic Spanish legends – the story of the pirate Cambaral.
Playa del Silencio
The last stop of our Asturias road trip was the beach Playa del Silencio, known for one of the most beautiful landscapes in Spain.
The locals call this beach gaviero del silencio, possibly because of the large colony of seagulls nesting on the angular cliff. It is a popular spot for fishing and diving in Asturias. However, the road to the beach was quite narrow – we felt lucky there were not so many cars around.
This picture that I have taken at Playa del Silencio has zero editing, yet it is most likely one of the most beautiful shots I have ever taken in Spain.
Have you ever visited Asturias? Which of its unique landmarks would you like to see the most?
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