Asturias: Experience nature, wildlife and outdoor adventures in Northern Spain.

Wedged between the breathtaking mountains of Picos de Europa and a rocky and rugged coastline, Asturias is a Northern Spanish region of beautiful seaside towns, spectacular coastal drives, hundreds of routes and hiking trails, lush meadows and plenty of wild and natural beaches.

The Cares Route (Cares gorge – Picos de Europa) – Photo Turismo Asturias

Asturias is well known as to be the center of the so called Green Spain and the place where the highest mountains fall right down to the Atlantic Ocean.
More than one third of the region is environmentally protected. Around 11,000 kilometres of land, including seven Biosphere Reserves. Asturias is one of the regions with the largest number of Biosphere Reserves in the world.
No wonder why it is known by everyone in Spain as The Natural Paradise.

As an Asturian myself, I can confirm that when you are born and raised surrounded by wildlife parks, dramatic coastlines and rugged cliffs, deep valleys and countless rivers and lakes you grow up having a tireless spirit of adventure and an immeasurable love for nature and wildlife. It’s in our genes and we are passionate about all forms of active tourism and outdoor adventures.

There are so many (SOOOO MANY) outdoor activities to do in Asturias that I could not fit them all in a single article. Even I myself keep discovering new spectacular spots to hike, climb or to surf every month, and I’ve lived here for most of my life! In this article I will give you a hint of just a few of the outdoor activities that you could experience if you ever visit Asturias.

Surfing, bodyboarding, SUP surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving

San Lorenzo beach, Gijón – Photo by @mara_rguezz

With over 472 km of coastline (of which 272 km are beaches) and more than 200 beaches, the diversity in coastal offerings in Asturias is astonishing. In a region that is totally open to the Cantabrian Sea, you will be able to experience splendid coastal landscapes to be enjoyed in a sea kayak or a stand up paddle board.

Asturias is also well known for its waves that make the region one of the most sought-after surfing spots both nationally and internationally.

With so many km of coastline, it’s not a surprise to anyone that water sports are the most extended activity in the region. Asturias is home to some well known professional surfers from Spain.

There are so many beaches ideal for surfing and bodyboarding that it is hard to choose. But some of the most important surfing spots are at the following beaches: Vega, Rodiles, Playa España, Peñarrubia, San Lorenzo, Verdicio, Xagó, Salinas and Navia. Asturias also hosts some national and international surfing championships and festivals.

Other popular marine activities are SUP surfing and sailing. The areas of Llanes and Ribadesella are popular destinations for SUP surfing due to the crystal and calm waters, stone arches, sea caves and rocky cliffs, like at Cuevas del Mar beach.

Kayaking, canyoning and rafting

Canoeing River Sella – Photo Turismo Asturias

Asturias is well known for its great amount of fast-flowing rivers which are normally small but very fast and wide and are the perfect venue for aquatic adventures such as canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and canyoning.

White water sports can be practiced at numerous spots from east to west, following the flow of the streams along the steep mountainsides, by descending ravines.

Asturias is recognised worldwide as the kayaking capital of Europe, and the International Descent of river Sella River is the region’s trademark. The Kayaking Festival of river Sella was declared an International Tourism Interest in 1980 going on to form an essential international event attracting the best kayakers from around the world. 

The most popular rivers to raft down are Sella and Cares but I would also recommend trying canyoning, particularly in Picos de Europa and the surrounding areas.

If you are one of those people who love extreme sensations and adrenaline, you should definitely try caving-canyoning which involves descending a mountain river course until the water penetrates the earth, which is when caving comes into play, following its subterranean course. You can do so in areas like Proaza, Arriondas and Cangas de Onís.

Hiking trails and routes

Coastline horse trail in Llanes – Photo Turismo Asturias

If you enjoy sports in a natural setting, appreciating the surrounding environment, Asturias is the place for you. There are hundreds of long-distance, short-distance and local hiking trails that will enable you to experience nature at its purest.

The most popular hiking trails, included in every hiker’s itinerary, are the Cares Route (the most spectacular gorge of Picos de Europa), the Lakes of Saliencia Route (in the area of Somiedo) following the path of the 3 lakes and walking through extensive valleys, the Covadonga Lakes Route (a trademark of the region), and the Senda del Oso Route (Bear Trail greenway route) where you can actually spot some Asturian bears (Cantabrian brown bears).

The Long-Distance Paths are most likely to be found in Asturias interior, one of the most beautiful Natural Paths in Spain, which covers the Cantabrian Mountains in Asturias from east to west. This Natural Path of 606 km links the Picos de Europa Biosphere Reserve with that of the Oscos-Eo area, in Western Asturias.

Coastline hiking trails are a very popular and family friendly choice. You can hike along the Asturian coast and enjoy beautiful landscapes as the coastal path cuts across the region from one end to the other.

With seven Biosphere reserves and a vast amount of forests, Asturias is fundamentally green. Muniellos is the largest oak grove of Spain and one of the largest and best preserved forests in Europe. There are many other significant forests to visit like the Natural Park of Redes, Hermo or Peloño.

Of course, if you plan to hike in Asturias be prepared to spot a lot of regional species. Asturias has a very vast biodiversity and a large number of regional fauna species. Don’t be surprised to encounter wild mountain goats, Asturian breeds of cows everywhere, Asturcon ponies (a wild breed of horse that can only be seen in the Asturian mountains) and even bears, as Asturias is known to be on of the last Western European refuges for the Cantabrian brown bear.

Asturcón ponies – Photo by @mara_rguezz

Skiing, snowboarding and snow hiking

The snow season in Asturias opens the door to every kind of winter adventure. For, at least, four months every year the peaks of the Cantabrian mountain range are covered with snow and there are countless activities to enjoy the winter season. From skiing and snowboarding to cross-country skiing, snow rackets and all kinds of trails.

There are two main ski stations and ski resorts in Asturias: Valgrande-Pajares and Fuentes de Invierno with a total of 46 pistes for all levels.

So, if you are an adventurer and a nature enthusiast, Asturias is definitely the one place where you can have it all. You could be snowboarding down a hill in the Cantabrian mountains in the morning, and surfing some magnificent waves in the afternoon!

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