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Off beat destinations that are worth the trip.
Non-Spaniards tend to forget about Asturias, a beautiful part of ‘green Spain’. Yet it’s a region that has it all; pretty fishing villages perched on the cliffs of a rugged coast, rolling countryside, and the Picos de Europa, a spectacular mountain range which is well known as a walkers’ paradise.
Not to forget the cities. Oviedo, the region’s capital, has an atmospheric old quarter centred around the Gothic Cathedral of San Salvador, with cobbled streets and lovingly restored old ‘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 recently seen the inauguration of its new Óscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre, with Woody Allen and his band playing jazz at the opening ceremony (pictured). Óscar Niemeyer, the famous architect who designed Brasilia, considers it to be his most important work in Europe. Set on the estuary, the exhibition centre, concert hall and restaurant form an important part of the regeneration of the town.
Asturias was put on the international map when it featured in Woody Allen’s film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and it has been receiving more foreign visitors since Easy Jet opened a flight here from London Stansted a few years ago. It’s also an easy drive from Santander, for those arriving by ferry or by plane.