This is going to be my Asturias week. I’ve already started with my first post on Oviedo, the capital on Asturias, and now would like to take a step back and cover what I managed to see and experience these our four-day-visit. I didn’t travel alone as I had all our three children with me, but I did most of the exploring solo as the children stayed with the grandmother in Mieres for all but the first day, when we all took a train and explored the capital of the Principality of Asturias, Oviedo.
The map below shows the places I visited during my trip. I rented a car but one could have easily survived using public trains and buses, which are frequent, very cheap and clean. One way ticket from Mieres to Oviedo using the fast train was only 1.90 Euros!
My main aim with the driving was not getting from point A to B as fast as possible, but using the most scenic route I could find and stopping any time I thought it was worth doing so. In the end I might have seen less than I originally planned, but I took the time to admire the views, smell the flowers, savour the local ciders and delicatessen and to take a lot of pictures. I felt very relaxed at the end of the day – although slightly tired from all the driving and walking around.
So here’s a map of the Asturias I covered during the visit. The first day on arrival (Asturias airport is located in Oviedo) was spent walking around Mieres, enjoying the food and hiking a bit in surrounding hills. The second day we all took a train to Oviedo and also visited a circus in the evening (small, but still a lot of fun for Miss A., who was delighted to see in the grand finale that the Spiderman was carrying the Finnish flag. It’s a small world for sure)…
On the third day I headed to the coastal area and towards the east. Sadly the weather was in times rainy, rather cold and windy so I couldn’t fully enjoy the beaches of Ribadesella. However I was really lucky to get a ticket to visit the Tito Bustillo caves (with its prehistoric drawings from 22000 to 10000 c) as there was one cancellation. This cave is part of a cave group included in the Unesco World heritage list. As the daily quota for this cave is only 150 visitors and it’s not open all year round one really should book tickets in advance!
From the caves I chose to take the (American Samoa) AS-341, a little and very steep and windy road that cuts over the mountains. The views were breathtaking both to the sea and from the top to surrounding valleys. There is a great network of hiking trails also passing through the viewing point on top. Going down the other side of the peak I headed towards Cangas de Onis and Covadonga, a national park with the monument dedicated to the Virgin of Covadonga (the most visited place in Asturias) and Lakes of Covadonga.
The last day I also headed towards the coast: this time to the west. First it was time to stop in the city of Aviles, where old meets modern in the form of Centro Niemayer (see my post here). Then I headed to the idyllic fishing village Cudillero and explored their beaches and lighthouses and finished eventually in Playa del Silenzio. The beach on a nice day is such a relaxing element, even though this one seemed to be inhabited by a herd of mountain goats too!
As a summary, I can only say that Asturias was so much more than in expected, and it was all positive. This is a place that I’d like to explore more, especially the amazing hiking trails in the mountains. And to go with the map earlier in this story here’s the list of key stops I made during my visit – a mix of culture, history, nature and hiking accompanied by local cider and pastry tasting, tapas and wine on the seaside:
- A. Mieres – small old mining town in a valley between mountains, short train ride to
- B. Oviedo, capital of the Principality of Asturias
- C. Ribadesella – Take smaller roads and stop in villages and at seaside. Nice beach here and Cave Tito Bustillo. Took AS-341 over the mountains and stopped on top in the viewing platform on the way to
- D. Cangas de Onis – known for its bridge
- E. Covadonga – National Park, sanctuary and Covadonga Lakes (couldn’t quite reach the top due to dense fog, but tried…)
- F. Aviles – beautiful old town and the modern masterpiece Centro Niemayer
- G. Cudillero – idyllic fishing town. Continue on the small coastal road to visit beaches and lighthouses. I stopped in few places
- H. Last stop – Playa del Silencio
- What I missed out on this tour was Gijon and just taking couple of longer hikes in the mountains as I didn’t want to hike alone for safety reasons