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The Celtic coast of Spain.
With hordes of tourists heading for high-rise hotels on the Spanish ‘costas’ looking for sun, sangria and frantic partying, it’s hard to imagine a land of lush verdant valleys and spectacular seascapes with unspoilt coves and rugged cliffs.
Yet Spain’s little-known province of Asturias, bordering the Bay of Biscay and on the pilgrims trail to Santiago de Compostela, is just that. It’s a region with a temperate climate, bracing costal walks and close Celtic links, where the bagpipe, not the Spanish guitar, features in local ‘fiestas’ and the local tipple is cider.
As yet untouched by mass tourism, accommodation tends to be in small-town hotels or ‘casas rurales’ (country houses) in picturesque hamlets. The local cuisine is superb and boasts a number of ritzy, Michelin-starred restaurants in out-of-the-way locations, serving the very best of surf and turf. In some of the coastal villages such as Lastres, bars and restaurants cling to the steep cliffs along with the fishermen’s houses.
Escape the hubbub in remote, idyllic, unspoilt areas such as the ‘Oscos’ in the west, where there’s rarely a tourist in sight, or visit the elegant coastal resorts of Llanes and Ribadesella to the east. Their harbours are peppered with restaurants specialising in mouth-watering fresh fish and seafood.
Surfing, snorkelling and kayaking will keep you busy and an hour’s drive inland takes you to the foothills of the Picos de Europa, a veritable walker’s paradise. The most famous hike is the day-long trek along the spectacular Cares Gorge.