From quaint fishing villages with their pastel buildings, to the blues and greys of the ocean, to the vivid green fields and the fiery autumn trees, Asturias is a spectacular blaze of colour.
We took full advantage of our hire car and, mostly following recommendations from our friend Efren, we spent several days exploring this gorgeous coastline. This is a summary of the coastal towns, rugged headlands and beaches, we visited working our way from west to east.
Playa del Silencio
First up and our favourite beach of all is Playa del Silencio, or ‘Silent Beach’. To get there we drove down along a one way track and parked near some trees at the top of a path way. We were the only car to park there but you can’t really miss it.
We followed the path and there were quite a few steep steps to climb down so not accessible to everyone. The views were incredible as we made our way down to the beach.
The beach was pebbly and full of colourful stones and boulders with rocks to clamber over and hidden caves to explore.
We had the beach to ourselves for about an hour and a half until the sun began to set at around 5 pm and we climbed back up the steps to the car.
Earlier that day we had driven to visit Cabo Vidio but as the road was closed we had to park about half a mile away. This was great as it meant we had a gorgeous cliff top walk as we made our way along the peninsular towards the cape.
Cabo Vidio is an 80 meter high cliff with a lighthouse at the top. This lighthouse was built between 1948 and 1950 and is one of the newest lighthouses in Spain.
There is a cave underneath the headland of the lighthouse which can only be entered in low tide. As it was low tide when we visited, Chris climbed down to explore… he reached ropes at the foot of the cliff and climbed down but unfortunately the rocky platform at the bottom leading to the cave was too dangerous and slippery for him to continue.
If you don’t fancy risking life and limb with a climb down to the cave, you can walk around the edge behind the lighthouse where the views along both sides of the coast were spectacular.
About 15 minutes by car from Cabo Vidio is the fishing village of Cudillero which often features in travel magazines and websites such as Conde Nast Traveller who describe it as a ‘fairy tale place’.
We got a soaking during a downpour while in Cudillero but found a coffee shop that was open. In low season, some were closed. Even in the drizzle the colours of Cudillero stood out.
Unfortunately again it was pouring with rain when I took the above photo of the sandy Aguilar Beach. This is located at the end of a picturesque twisty forest road and would be pretty stunning in the sunshine!
Next to the Playa de El Garruncho is a recommended lunchtime eaterie called the Puerto Chico Restaurante which specialises in paella and fish dishes. Unfortunately they were not serving food when we visited so we had a coffee and headed back to San Esteban for lunch.
At 153 km the Nalón River is the longest in Asturias and meets the Atlantic Ocean at San Esteban de Pravia. A couple of days previously we had seen the tiny spring which was the source of this river when we had our trip up into the mountains of the Redes National Park.
San Esteban de Pravia is an old fishing village and we had lunch in one of these restaurants which overlook the estuary.
Close to home
Above is Santa Maria beach which was the closest to our accommodation.
Playa de Arnao
A 5 minute drive around the coast (or a 45 minute walk if you prefer) is Playa de Arnao. This caters well for people during the summer as it has plenty of free parking and a kiosk which we assume would sell refreshments. This was closed in November.
Pictured on the left above is the Museo de la mina de Arnao, the Arnao Mine Museum. This is the site of the oldest coal mine on the Iberian peninsular and was the only underwater mine in Europe. We had booked to visit the museum on our last afternoon in Asturias but unfortunately we had to cancel due to a fiasco with British Airways… that is another story…
The cliffs of Arnao Beach are an important fossil site and we could see the remains of animals and plants dating back 415 million years. More information on the geology and history of the beach can be found on the museum web site. The stretch of coast between Gijon and Ribadesella is known as the Jurassic Coast as it contains many dinosaur footprints and fossils.
At the end of Salinas Beach, a short drive from Arnao is the open air Museo de anclas Philippe Cousteau. This is also known as the Anchor Museum. It is located on the La Penona peninsular and is free to enter. Philippe Cousteau was a French diver who died in an accident near Lisbon at the age of 38.
There are several anchors on display and one of them is from a ship that ran aground on rocks near Gijon in 1986.
We visited on a rather stormy and blustery day however it was exhilarating to cross the bridge to the rocks at the end and watch the huge waves at the end of the peninsular. A bronze statue of the head of Philippe Cousteau can be found looking over the sea which you can see in the photo above.
In the summer the vast stretch of sand at Salinas Beach is popular with tourists. There is a long promenade which aligns the beach and contains several restaurants and bars.
On the same rough stormy day, we drove to Cabo de Peñas, the most northerly point of Asturias. You can park near to the cape and walk along the cliff along a footpath. Even in poor conditions the views were spectacular.
On our way to the Jurassic coast we stopped for a coffee in the small pretty seaside village of Tazones and found a house decorated in shells!
We visited the Jurassic Museum to find out more about the Jurassic coastline of Asturias (and also a good call for a rainy day). You have to pre-book on the website however visits are free on Wednesdays.
Lastres is another attractive coastal village and is located a mile or so from the Jurassic museum. We stopped for a delicious lunch in the Hotel Eutimio.
Finally the most easterly place we visited along this part of the Asturias coast was Ribadesella. If you google Ribadesella images you will find fantastic photographs of stunning blue sea and white sandy beaches. Unfortunately this historic town on the Jurassic Coast of Asturias was flooded and the river was a swirling mass of debris. We would love to return and see Ribadesella in better conditions as described in this Telegraph post!