Holidays in northern Spain: last undiscovered seaside resort, Asturias
Asturias, pearl of the Biscay Bay
Have you ever heard of Asturias, in northern Spain? Well, probably not. At least by name: maybe you've seen it in Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona", where the main characters fly a plane from Barcelona to Asturias and spend a weekend in Oviedo, Asturias' capital city. If you've ever been to Spain you know that Seville, Granada or Madrid are crowded with foreigners. In the beautiful mediterranean island of Mallorca is even easier to find a german or an englishman than a spaniard (believe me, I was there last summer!). But this is not like that in northern Spain: in summer the beaches are lively but it isn't that hard to find a spot to plant your umbrella. Spain's northernmost stripe is often compared by spaniards to Ireland, but the weather in summer is quite sunny and mild (22-28ºC maximum temperatures). And there aren't many places where you can go swimming in the sea in the morning and hike in 7000 ft high mountains in the afternoon. In a few miles you can enjoy the amenities of its three major towns (Gijón, Oviedo and Avilés), hike in unspoilt nature reserves or go to one of the hundreds of beaches which the region has. And in winter you can even ski! Though lacking icons like La Alhambra or Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Asturias offers a wide range of artistic treasures like Oviedo's cathedral. And food, especially seafood, is marvelous.
So go south if you want, take a look at Andalucia and Madrid, but spend a couple of days in some Asturian tiny hotel in the wilderness, but nevertheless only some minutes away from an awesome beach or a modern town.
Picos de Europa
1. Picos de Europa: the Cantabrian Mountains form the region's natural border to the south. This range has its arguably most spectacular landscapes in the eastern part of the region, in the so-called Picos de Europa, where it also has its highest elevations (Torrecerredo, 2648 m). Picos de Europa's limestone peaks offer opportunities for outdoor activities such as climbing, walking, skiing, caving or mountain-biking.
2. Beaches: only a stone's throw from the breathtaking alpine landscapes provided by Picos de Europa are some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. Don't miss the beaches around the picturesque little town of Llanes. Its sandy, unspoilt, cliff-surrounded little beaches would provide you and your family with a unique experience. One special recommendation: a tiny beach named Gulpiyuri, which is actually in the middle of a field and separated from the sea (yeah, you read it right) by a cliff.
3. Oviedo: Asturias proud capital city. A place Woody Allen said of that "is a delicious city, exotic, beautiful: it´s as if it didn´t belong to this world, as if it didn´t exist at all... Oviedo is a fairy tale". Not bad, uh-huh? Very nice town, indeed, boasting a pedestrianised, immaculately clean centre and many interesting buildings, such as pre-romanesque 1200 year-old churches or its beautiful gothic cathedral.
4. Cudillero: very picturesque fishermen's village, crowded with tourists (mainly spaniards) in summer. Don't miss its tiny harbour or the handful of seafood-specialized restaurants. Enjoy some asturian cider at any typical bar in Cudillero and behold how they pour it from height to get the bubbles going.
- The Alps 15 km away from the sea: Picos de Europa in...
There are not many places where you can spot the sea from a 8500 feet high mountain. Well, this is one of them! Picos de Europa (literally