If you’ve never heard of the lush region of Asturias in northern Spain, then I’ll let you in on a little secret… Some claim Asturias is the ‘real’ Spain. Unspoiled and blessed with a multitude of differing landscapes, you’ll find gorgeous mountain ranges and deep valleys, over 200 beaches, as well as pretty, colourful fishing ports and rustic villages.
Why a holiday to Asturias?
A third of the region has protected natural spaces and UNESCO has designated four biosphere reserves including the Somiedo Natural Park, which combines thick woodlands, rocky mountains and high pastures. You may also catch a bear or two… Meanwhile, If you want more of a buzz, then Asturias’ handsome and historic capital, Oviedo, offers up a contemporary charm in what is routinely voted one of the cleanest cities in Europe.
Then there’s the food. Local delicacies include fabada Asturiana – a rich stew made with the Asturian large white beans, alongside smoked meats and sausages. Meanwhile, the seafood is fresh, and landed along the many ports in the region from Gijón, Lastres and Avilés and caught from rivers such as Sella. Cheese is also a big deal in Asturias, such as the intense and punchy Cabrales, which is served up all over Spain.
If this hasn’t whet your appetite, then perhaps the cider will. Asturias has over 250 different varieties of apples, and cider is the usual choice of beverage to accompany a meal. Unlike English cider, Asturian cider is very dry, but there are also dessert varieties, sparkling ciders and cider brandies. Now, while Asturias cider is pretty special to drink, it also has to be poured in a specific way. Cider in Asturias is always served by an escanciador, which means the cider is poured into the glass from a great height, allowing the drink to be oxygenated on the way down and giving the cider a kick of freshness and releasing its fragrant aromas. Only a little is poured at a time, because it must be drunk immediately. Any cider left in the glass is thrown onto the floor!
Things to do in Asturias
There’s so much to discover in Asturias that it would be impossible to get a taste of the entire region in a short trip, however, perhaps a ‘slow’ holiday is more your thing. Making use of the railways, you can enjoy all the spectacular landscapes and scenery at a gentler pace, and do it at your own leisure. I quite like the idea of slow train holiday through Asturias where, over seven nights, you can go on a self-guided journey through coastal villages, beaches and sample the best of Asturian food and cider.
* This post was written in collaboration with Inntravel