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Slow Train through Asturias

By rail through España Verde
Holiday information
Nights: 7
Accommodation: one 3-star hotel; one 4-star hotel; one 5-star hotel
Meals: 7 breakfasts
Included extras: rail pass for up to 10 single journeys
Extend your stay
For a real contrast, we recommend adding a 3-night stay at the Hotel Picos de Europa so you can access some of Spain's best mountain trails within one of Europe's most stunning National Parks.
Starting point:

Your holiday begins in Cudillero, with three nights at the Casona de la Paca, one of the region’s striking casas de Indianos  – grandiose, almost palatial, homes which were built by those who emigrated to the Americas in the 18th and 19th centuries to make their fortunes.

Days 1 & 2

There’s lots to do during your first two days, with and without using the train:

• Enjoy Cudillero
Take a short walk along quiet lanes down into Cudillero to explore the cobbled streets and stepped alleyways. The village fills a natural amphitheatre facing the sea, with colourful houses tumbling down towards a small cove. Almost half the population still earns its living from the sea; don’t miss the return of the boats to harbour with their catch during the early evening.

• Aguilar Beach & coastal walk
A 5-minute taxi ride brings you to Aguilar Beach, whose inviting golden sands stretch beneath dramatic cliffs. From here, follow a 7-kilometre coastal path to pretty San Esteban, where deep blue waters fill its harbour and the wide mouth of the River Nalón, before catching the FEVE train back again.

• Visit Luarca
From Cudillero, catch the FEVE west to Luarca, where you have time to wander the narrow streets and take in the attractive harbour before enjoying lunch and catching the early afternoon train back to Cudillero.

• Historic Avilés
Avilés lies in the other direction, about an hour’s ‘Slow Train’ journey to the east. Often overlooked due to its former industrial associations, this is a gem of a place to explore. The historic centre, with its elegant, colonnaded streets and central Plaza de España, fronted by two fine 17th-century buildings, makes a fine place to wander; and there are some good, authentic Asturian restaurants to enjoy. You can also visit the striking Cultural Centre designed by Oscar Niemeyer, one of the world’s most influential modern architects.

Day 3

Next stop – reached by train – is Oviedo, Asturias’ cultured capital. You stay one night at the Barceló Oviedo Cervantes Hotel, handily placed for our self-guided tour of this elegant – and very walkable – city. Its university lends it a cool, contemporary vibe, but its history stretches back for centuries. Admire the cathedral of San Salvador, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the characterful casco antiguo  (old town). As dusk approaches, wander down the lively Bulevar de la Sidra (‘cider boulevard’), a street brimming with traditional Asturian sidrerías  (cider bars), and marvel at how the escanciadores  decant the fizzing local brews at arm’s length without spilling a drop.

Day 4

Leaving Oviedo, you continue by train to Ribadesella and the Villa Rosario, a flamboyant casa de Indiano  right on the seafront. Ribadesella’s pretty plazas and narrow streets offer up a tempting variety of places to eat and drink, from traditional sidrerías  to the Michelin-starred Arbidel (advanced booking essential).

Days 5 & 6

Again, there’s plenty of choice for your two days here:

• Explore Ribadesella
Both a low-key fishing town and a jewel of Spain’s Atlantic Coast, Ribadesella – as its name suggests – is carved in two by the mouth of the Sella River. As well as exploring the charming streets of the Old Town east of the river, take time to enjoy the graceful curve of Playa de Santa Marina to the west, where golden sands and gently lapping waves are backed by a popular pedestrian promenade. You can also wander up to the picturesque Hermitage de la Virgen de la Guia, where there are marvellous views.

• Tito Bustillo Cave
Just a 10-minute stroll from the waterfront is Ribadesella’s most curious attraction: the outstanding, UNESCO-protected Tito Bustillo Cave. The eerie interior is lined with prehistoric depictions dating back as far as 35,000 years – considered to be some of the most important examples of Paleolithic Art in Europe. To be sure of not missing out, we highly recommend booking in advance at centrotitobustillo.com (the caves are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, public holidays and the last few days of October).

• Medieval Llanes
Catch the train east to Llanes, where you will find another lovely coastal village, but with a very different feel – there is a walled medieval heart to explore, as well as a wide choice of bars, cafés, shops and restaurants.

• Head to the beach
Jump back on the ‘Slow Train’ to take your pick from a string of pristine beaches along this stunning stretch of coastline, many of which are easily accessible on foot from the various FEVE calling-points. You can even make up your own coastal walks, getting off the train at one stop in order to follow the footpath to reach another, perhaps stopping off at a quiet cove for a dip along the way.


Optional extension in the Picos de Europa:

Day 7

An hour’s taxi journey brings you to Arenas de Cabrales, where you spend three nights at the Hotel Picos de Europa, which lies at the gateway to one of Europe’s most magnificent National Parks.

Days 8 & 9

Up here, in the rarified mountain air, keen walkers are in for a real treat, and a complete contrast to the rest of this holiday. With access to some of Spain’s best mountain trails, it’s a great way to complete your varied Asturian experience. Highlights include the spectacular Cares Gorge (we include a return taxi to Poncebos, where you can pick up the remarkably engineered trail that leads through this immense chasm, for views of towering peaks); a trip on the funicular up to Bulnes for the walk back down (or vice versa if you’re feeling energetic!); or even a hike up to the Pandebano Pass from Bulnes for a really challenging day. Back at base in Arenas, cheese lovers should definitely pay a visit to the cave where the pungent Cabrales blue is produced.

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Local Map
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