Asturias is an autonomous community in Spain. It is by far one of the most interesting regions in the country. Asturias has everything from beautiful coastal cities to inland hilltop towns. It’s also full of mountains, forests and other beautiful variations of nature. Be sure to read this Asturias travel guide if you are planning (or considering) a trip there!
Facts about Asturias
It’s always nice to know some facts about a place before going. The same is the case for Asturias. In fact, it is one of the most historic regions in Spain, so there are plenty of interesting facts related to it:
- Asturias is a small region: It covers just 2.1% of the land in Spain.
- Just over one million people live in the autonomous community, ranking 13th in Spain.
- The capital city is Oviedo, but the largest city is Gijón.
- Asturias shares borders with three other regions: Galicia, Castilla y León and Cantabria.
- Officially, Asturias is called the Principality of Asturias.
- It used to be an important kingdom and was one of the only regions in Spain that never truly fell to the Moors.
- Natural surroundings are beautiful in Asturias. It has tall mountains, large green forests and gorgeous coastlines.
- One of the least visited regions in Spain, due to the remote location, and due to the lack of airports and high-speed trains.
- The climate is very temperate and having +30 degrees is very uncommon.
- Celtics, Romans, Vikings, Goths and many other historic groups have all inhabited Asturias throughout the ages.
- Famous for its cider, milk, cheese and fish.
Why Asturias is a great place to travel
Well, where do we begin? Asturias is one of the most gorgeous regions in Spain, particularly due to its nature. It literally has everything: From comfortable sandy beaches with pure and clean water, and on to large mountain ranges with green terrains and foggy air. No matter what you are into, Asturias will have it. It is called a “Green Paradise”, and we believe that title is very on point.
Aside from the nature itself, the cities are also very interesting. Gijón used to be a Roman city and it still has sights and attractions left from that era. Cudillero was founded by the Vikings according to the legend. Oviedo is the cultural capital, the place where you get to see arguably the second most famous cathedral in Northern Spain. Moving on to the Covadonga, Avilés and many other cities… there are certainly many great and interesting places to visit, even though none of them are that famous outside of Spain.
Asturias gets fewer foreign tourists than most other autonomous communities in Spain. However, that can be a very good thing – it is not in any way like the overcrowded tourist cities, such as Barcelona and Málaga. Instead, the Asturian cities have their original vibe, and when you are walking the streets, even in the peak tourist season of July-August, most of the people you see will be locals. Due to the somewhat low amount of tourists from other countries, Asturias is one of the few parts of Spain that truly feels original and legitimate. There’s very little international influence, and almost everything run by local standards.
Weather-wise, Asturias will not serve everybody’s taste, but it does have some upsides: It never gets too hot, so when the rest of the Spain is booming with temperatures around 40 degrees in July, a trip to cool 25-degreed Asturias doesn’t sound so bad! It rains a lot, but it feels fresh, and it has one of the purest coastal climates in Spain.
Best cities to visit in Asturias
Asturias is a relatively small autonomous community, and it doesn’t really have a large population. Yet you will still find an abundance of great cities, towns and villages. Here are the best cities to visit in Asturias:
The largest city is located by the northern coast and offers plenty of nice attractions. Gijón is a laid-back city with a great coastal vibe. You can enjoy a day at the super central San Lorenzo beach, or go on sightseeing and experience ancient Roman baths, beautiful churches and Spain’s oldest professional football stadium still in use.
For more information about Gijón, read our guide to the city’s best sights and attractions and our recommendations for hotels in Gijón.
While Gijón is the largest city, Oviedo is the capital of Asturias. It was founded in the 8th century and it still has plenty of architecture dating back to the initial years. Oviedo is a very charming city where you have a lot of sightseeing options. It’s also a vibrant student city with great entertainment options all year around.
Just like with Gijón, we have covered Oviedo extensively as well. Read this in-depth guide to Oviedo’s main attractions or prepare for your trip by booking one of our recommended hotels.
A much smaller town, in fact just a village. Cudillero has about 5,000 inhabitants, yet it receives a lot of attention. The reason is that Cudillero is one of the prettiest places in Spain and that being there feels like being in a fairytale. Cudillero can be reached by train from either Gijón or Cudillero. It is located by the coast and has great natural surroundings.
Read our full Cudillero travel guide to prepare for a trip there.
Other great options
You can also take a look at Avilés, the third largest city in Asturias. Mostly an industrial city, but still with charming houses in the old part and with a couple of nice sights.
Covadonga is a historic town where the Christian warriors from Asturias defeated the Moors and started the Spanish Reconquista and unification of Spain. The Holy Cave of Covadonga is a beautiful place, arguably one of the main attractions in the region.
Then there is Picos de Europa: The oldest national park in Spain. A great place to visit if you like mountains. It’s difficult getting there if you don’t have a car, but either way, it’s a must-visit place.
Playa del Silencio, one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, is also located in Asturias. You should go there on the same day as you go to Cudillero (if you’re going there). They are only separated with a few kilometers.
Luarca is a small and pretty town that can also be worth a visit, even if just for one day.
Walking along the coast is a great experience. While Camino de Santiago has many different routes, El Camino de la Costa is one of the most popular, and it passes through all of the Asturian coast. Lots of great sights on the way.
Getting to and from Asturias
Asturias only has one airport. Most connections are linked to other Spanish cities, such as Madrid, Alicante and Valencia. Occasionally you will find a few international connections – the most notable one being London. But generally speaking, it is not always easy to find tickets to this airport. If you do choose to fly to Asturias, you will land approximately 15 kilometers from Avilés, 40 kilometers from Gijón, and 47 kilometers from Oviedo. There are no direct trains or metro lines, but you can walk to the station Santiago del Monte, located close by. Otherwise, ALSA buses or taxis are some decent options.
The most popular way to get in to Asturias is by car. Most travelers simply drive in – either with their own car or with a rented car. It gives a lot of freedom, and it makes the trip possible, regardless of where your starting point is.
You can also take a train to Asturias. The route between Madrid and Oviedo/Gijón is fairly popular and runs several times each day with a time frame of around 5 hours. RENFE Alvia is the name of this service. Trains also run between Gijón/Oviedo and cities such as León and Valladolid. Furthermore, you can catch the northern Spanish FEVE trains to Galicia or Cantabria, but you should know that they are very slow and have lots of stops on every route.
Visit the neighboring regions too
While the FEVE trains are slow, we still advice you to visit the neighboring regions somehow. Maybe you can take a faster inter-regional train instead, or use a car and drive. ALSA buses also drive between Asturias and most other regions of Spain.
We highly recommend visiting Galicia, the autonomous community directly west of Asturias. It has great cities such as A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela and Vigo. Beautiful nature, great food, friendly people – what’s not to like!
Cantabria and Castilla y León are also worth visiting. While Cantabria has a culture that is very similar to that of Asturias, Castilla y León is a bit more different. But both are recommended, and they are not far from Asturias, even though you’ll most likely have to pass the mountains!