Asturias is one of Spain’s lesser known provinces, often overlooked by the regular tourist. Located in northwest Spain, it runs along the coast offering numerous sandy, secluded beaches such as Ribadesella, seen below, as well as adventure packed opportunities in its mountainous interior.
If you’re adventure orientated you can ascend the Picos de Europa mountain range, with peaks reaching as high as 8,688 ft and find great facilities for skiing, mountaineering and caving, for all ages – with activities and accommodation found here.
However, what about the weather? Good question. Its climate offers an alternative to the intense sunshine and sometimes stifling heat of southern Spain, providing long summer months of comfortable warmth and humidity, as well as variety in its winter months with occasional snow and rain.
Also due to its climate, Asturias is able to nurture large apple orchards to produce their famous local cider. This is a must try when traveling within Asturias as it is one of the region’s most famous specialities. A great place to sample the drink is Oviedo where the local waiters take great pride in decanting your cider from high above their heads into your glass which is held below their waists – and don’t worry their nonchalant manner while pouring is considered exceptional service.
Once you have sampled the tangy yet bitter-sweet cider, a relaxing way to experience traditional Asturian food is by sitting down to one of the many Menu del Dias at any town in the region. This is a three course meal that offers a variety of local food, such as Fabada, a hearty stew of red kidney beans, shoulder of pork, chorizo and black sausage, served with rustic bread, cider or local red wine.
The local food and produce can be found throughout the year, however, if summer festivals are your thing then Asturias can cater for this too. In Gijon, the annual TorosGijon bullfighting festival provides the opportunity to be immersed in one of Spain’s most famous traditions. So often glamorised on television and in Hollywood films, you very rarely find out what it’s actually like inside a bullring. The festival atmosphere is generated by people travelling from miles around for the five day spectacle. Each day six matadors battle against six bulls each weighing over half a tonne. It is definitely worth a visit for the pomp and ceremony alone, without mentioning the extravagantly dressed matadors.
Overall we found Asturias to be a little Spanish gem that can provide a largely untrodden path for tourists, with a whole spectrum of holidays for the adventurous, family-focused or sun-seeking.
The Toros Gijon festival runs for one week in August – tickets can usually be purchased here for seats at the Plaza de Toros de Gijon.
Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Felix Daniel.