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Green Spain: why squeeze onto a beach on the ‘costas’ when you can spread out on the Cantabrian Coast?

Do you ever search the budget airlines’ web sites for less mainstream destinations to see if there’s anywhere that takes your fancy? Well, if you need a little help, allow us to point you in the right direction.

Easy Jet has been flying to Asturias in northern Spain from London Stansted for over five years, and tourism to the area has increased considerably. Apart from British tourists in search of ‘green Spain’, it’s popular with Madridleños who like to escape the heat of the capital in summer and with Dutch and French camper van travellers. Asturias was put on the international map when it featured in Woody Allen’s film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Yet the influx of visitors in the summer months is nothing like the costas, so if you’re looking for a beautiful part of Spain that still hasn’t been fully discovered, this is the place for you. It’s a region that has it all: pretty fishing villages perched on the cliffs of a rugged coast, rolling hills, and the Picos de Europa, a spectacular mountain range which is well known as a hikers’ paradise. The most famous walk is through the Cares Gorge, an immense chasm, which will take you a day.

If you prefer something more laidback, visit the elegant seaside town of Llanes where the water may be a little chilly but you’ll find some great restaurants and spectacular views. Or head for one of the regions' three main cities. Oviedo, the region’s capital, has an atmospheric old quarter centred around the Gothic Cathedral of San Salvador, with cobbled streets and charming ‘plazas’ and Gijón is a coastal town with a sweeping beach, an attractive marina and a vibrant night life.

The region’s third city, Avilés, has an impressive old quarter and has recently seen the inauguration of its new Óscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre. Set on the estuary, the exhibition centre, concert hall and restaurant form an important part of the regeneration of the town.

Fly to Asturias in September from £69 return including taxes. It’s also an easy drive from Santander, for those arriving by ferry or by plane.

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