Cudillero, An Enchanting Fishing Village on the Coast of Asturias, Spain
It had been over eight years since I had been to Cudillero. Yet still impressed upon my memory was a picturesque scene of deep blue and turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean just below colorful houses cascading down in a green-cradle-like bay of Spain’s northern coastline. As we pulled into this tiny, Asturian fishing village, it seemed like it had not changed at all since I had last visited.
This time, I was staying overnight with Eric, and my dad and stepmom. It was my dad and stepmom’s first time to Spain and they wanted to experience the dramatic cliffs and charming villages of the coast of Asturias. Talk about great, first impressions – Cudillero was the best place to start our tour of this coastline. Here’s why we especially recommend it as a must-visit destination in Asturias for when visiting Spain.
What Makes Cudillero So Distinct and Beautiful
We arrived in Cudillero during the late afternoon, driving in from the back, which is one of only two entrances into the town, making it feel a little more remote. Although sunset was still an hour away, the village was already in soft shadows thanks to the tall, natural walls of the bay that encircle it. With only a few people here and there, it was peaceful and serene. After finding and checking into our hotel, we got to the business of exploring.
Right away, it’s apparent that one of the things distinct and beautiful about Cudillero, along with its accessibility, is its layout. The entire village is within a small bay that seems to appear out of nowhere in this stretch of coastline. Cozily nestled alongside each other, the tall and narrow homes hang along a semi-circle of terraced rows that come down to the small, charming plaza in the center of it all. It’s a gorgeous array of white-washed walls accented with brightly painted shutters and dark-red, Spanish-tiled roofs. They say that the color of the shutters is also that family’s color of their fishing boat.
There are very few roads in Cudillero, and at first it seems like there is only one. Parking in the town is not allowed and is only available in the port (don’t worry, it’s not far). In the busier summer months, especially August, no driving is allowed into the town (except by local residences with permits, of course). The majority of the town and its homes are accessed by walking the countless paths that weave up and along the terraced homes.
For us, these walking paths are the most charming part of experiencing Cudillero. They create a real-life wonderland of colorful flowers, intricately carved doorways and age-old stone walls. Sometimes there are stairs or sometimes a steep slope of concrete. Other times it’s narrow cobblestoned paths along the edge of a row of homes, lined with rock-hewn flowerbeds and small trees miraculously sprouting up. Of all the activities to do in Cudillero, make sure you allow plenty of time to simply walk along these paths throughout the village. We’ll touch more on that further below and let you in on another reason why you’ll want to do so.
Nothing influences a place like its history, and that is definitely the case with Cudillero. Being there feels like going back in time, and it’s evident that the village is in no hurry to catch up. Legend says that Cudillero was founded by Vikings. Being there in person, it doesn’t seem surprising. Take a look at the statues of the ancient king and hero of Asturias, King Pelayo, and I think that there’s a strong resemblance to Vikings. And a good looking one, at that.
Another attribute of what makes Cudillero so wonderfully distinct and beautiful, is the fishing industry, which after tourism is its main source of economy today. There is also the lovely natural environment of the surrounding area. It’s lush and green with pine and eucalyptus forests. But most of all, the area is sought out for its stunning cliff sides that dramatically rise up from the Atlantic Ocean. There are various beaches to visit nearby that we’ll tell you about further below.
When exploring the walking paths between the houses, we met an older, local woman, who was happy to stop and chat with us. She cheerfully told us about how she was born and raised in Cudillero and had been there all her life. We spoke with her about how it had changed some, with the increase of visitors in the summers, but that the rest of the year it was quiet and mainly the locals who remained. She told us that only 150 locals remained living in Cudillero year-round!
Such a small year-round population seemed shocking to us, yet when you’re there and see the size of the town and the nature of the weather along this northern coast, you can understand it to be true. This small population is another attribute of what makes Cudillero so distinct and beautiful. Yet even though it’s small in size, there are wonderful things to enjoy doing.
What to Do in Cudillero
If you know us, you won’t be surprised to hear that we were excited to enjoy eating in Cudillero. After all, we enjoy experiencing the local gastronomy wherever we go. In Cudillero, the local seafood is incredibly fresh, since each afternoon the fisherman bring it in from the ocean. The village has its own fish market building, called ‘Longa de Pescado’ in Spanish.
There’s also the typical Asturian gastronomy to savor, like the strong Cabrales cheese and the refreshing Sidra. The restaurant where we ate dinner, Sidrería El Remo, has a bar on the first floor where we recommend having Sidra. This is where they pour the Sidra the traditional way. If you have it in the dining room upstairs, you only get it with a dispenser, which is great too, but not as traditional as the true pouring of Sidra.
The Walking Paths
To walk off all the amazing food you’ll be eating, hit the trails that wind their way between the houses and along the terraced sides of the town. The walking paths we raved about before also have lookout points along them called miradores, for enjoying magnificent views. While there are views all along the paths, these three distinct miradores exists:
- La Garita
- La Atalaya
- El Pico
There are signs for these in different parts of town, but a good starting point for them which is more clearly designated, is down at the water’s edge near the plaza. If you’re facing the water and the port, with the plaza just behind you, the sign will be to your right, in between a couple of tall homes and up some stairs.
Another great area to enjoy walking around is the port, where you can see the colorful fishing boats and sailboats. The seawall that is closest to the town gives great, close-up views of the ocean water on the other side. From here is where I think the trail is for walking to the lighthouse, but when we were there it was closed for maintenance.
Something a little more unusual to do, is to walk through the tunnel of Cudillero. At least that’s what I call it. We did not get to do this during this visit, but I remember taking the tunnel during my first visit. It’s a kind of shortcut that is only for walking and connects the port with the far side of the village. Running down the middle of the tunnel the entire way, is a channel of flowing water, and with room on either side for walking. But beware, that it’s very wet and the walls drip with moisture, so go in with decent footwear.
The Architectural & Historical Sites
For admiring some old-world architecture, make sure to see the Gothic parish church, which dates back to the 16th century and has impressive baroque carvings. Then see the Chapel of Humilladero, which is the oldest structure in the village. The town hall (ayuntamiento in Spanish) is also nice to see, even if it’s just the outside.
El Camino de Santiago
If you’re really up for something adventurous, then consider walking some of the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James). Of the two parallel trails that go through Asturias, the Northern Way, also called the Camino de la Costa, goes right through Cudillero. There’s even a Pilgrim Heritage Hostal in the town called Albergue Peregrinos Soto de Luiña, where pilgrims of the Camino can stay.
Have an Overnight Stay in Cudillero
Of course, with all this walking, eating and exploring, one needs a good place to rest. We were fortunate to stay in a wonderful place and got the feeling that the handful of hotels in Cudillero are boutique, quality experiences. The hotel where we stayed, and highly recommend to others, is Hotel Casa Prendes.
Hotel Casa Prendes is a lovely, light blue building that has been beautifully renovated within its gorgeous stone foundations and walls. All throughout are dark wood accents, antiques, paintings and charming touches that make it feel like being in an Asturian home. There are nine distinct rooms, and in a building just behind the hotel, they also have seven fully equipped apartments. It’s also located right in the center of Cudillero, only steps from the plaza and the port.
We were very comfortable at Hotel Casa Prendes and especially appreciated the kindness of the owner who checked us in and was always available for any questions. It is definitely the kind of place where we would stay again.
What to Do in the Surrounding Area of Cudillero
While Cudillero possesses a kind of charming remoteness, it is actually a great spot for enjoying many other natural and cultural sites in the area. Within a 15-30 minute drive in any direction inland from Cudillero, are the following visits we recommend.
Capes, Beaches, and More
- Cabo (Cape) Vidio and lighthouse
- Playa de Alguilar (3 km away)
We visited both of these beaches and while both were stunningly beautiful, our favorite was the Cabo Vidio. There is a pull off scenic point that you come to first (before continuing to the lighthouse), which has a great trail that goes down to the beach. The trail is only about a 10 minute walk and well worth taking so you can explore the pebbly shore below. If you continue further down the road, you come to the lighthouse of Cabo Vidio, with more spectacular views of the coast.
In the warmer summer months, the Playa de Alguilar is great for swimming and quite popular. Also a beautiful place for a picnic, even in the off-season if it’s a sunny day.
Above Image – Down on the pebbly beach of Cabo Vidio.
Touring Palaces and Medieval Town-Centers
- Touring the Selgas Palace Estate in El Pito, a magnificent palace featuring various luxurious gardens and works of Goya and El Greco.
- The nearby medieval center of Aviles.
This time around, we did not get to visit these last two sites, but they’re definitely on our list for next time. Some years ago I did visit the medieval center of Aviles and loved strolling among its cobblestoned streets and admiring the historical architecture. It’s definitely a great place to visit and tie in lunch or dinner.
Visiting the Capital of Asturias, the Town of Oviedo
I adore Oviedo, especially since I spent two months there in the summer of 2012. The place is very special for me. While it’s a little further from Cudillero, it is also a great central point for basing one’s self to see a lot of Asturias. Its historical center is magical, along with its central park San Francisco and the majestic Monte Naranco that watches over the town. When touring Asturias, Oviedo is definitely a must-visit as well.
Getting to Cudillero
If you’re staying in town, you can pull alongside the road and put on your hazard lights while you unload your car and before you park. Then for parking, drive to the nearby parking area that is just between the port and the town.
For our trip, we rented a car from the Madrid Airport and drove north, straight to Cudillero. The drive took about 5 hours, not counting stops for rest and lunch. It was a beautiful drive of nice, easy highway with little traffic. This route is a toll road though. We passed through two tolls, one of which cost about 13€ and the other one about 11€, so a bit pricey, but well worth it for maximizing our time.
It was also very helpful and nice to have a car for once we were in Asturias, since the area is best scene with the flexibility of having a vehicle.
If you prefer to take the train, it can take a bit of time, but is a relaxing and scenic route. The most popular and main train that goes to Asturias leaves from Madrid (Chamartín Station), and is run by the Spanish train company, Renfe. In this case, you would need to get the train to Gijon, which involves a train transfer in either Leon or Vallodolid. Then once in Gijon, you would need to get the Renfe Feve train to get to Cudillero. The ride is about 1 hour and 40 minutes, cost between 3€-6€, and tickets can be bought at the train station or on the train.
Take note, that the train arrives inland from Cudillero, about a 30 minute walk from the actual village, and taxi’s can be scarce if it’s not summertime. While we haven’t taken this route ourselves, I have heard that the walk to the town is lovely.
The Best Times to Visit Cudillero
We visited Cudillero during what is considered the very beginning of the off-season. It was the first day of October, and we absolutely loved the timing. It was also a Tuesday night, so perhaps a little less open and available, but for a one-night stay it suited us.
The village was peaceful and quiet, but still had locals and some visitors around. Most of the restaurants were closed, but a good 3-4 of them were open and our breakfast at the hotel was great. There were also still wonderful shops open for gifts, delicious local pastries, and local Asturian foods like cured meats, cheeses and kits for making the famed Fabada Asturiana.
While the chances of getting rain are higher during this time of year, we really lucked out with sunny, clear blue skies. It was crisp and cool in the shade and at night, but otherwise the sun was surprisingly warm and it was perfect weather for wearing layers.
Since it gets very cold, stormy and snowy in the winter, we would say stick to fall, spring or early summer for visiting Cudillero. But if you’re not wanting to deal with crowds, then avoid the month of August, and even possibly end of July. The village is small, yet becomes overflowing with visitors during that warmer time.
What Cudillero Impressed Upon Us
Like I mentioned before, Cudillero was the perfect place for us to start our tour of Asturias. My dad and stepmom were charmed and impressed, and my dad ended up loving it even more than the second village we visited in Asturias (story coming soon).
All of us felt like Cudillero was so authentic and gave such a welcoming introduction to the culture and natural beauty of Asturias, and especially the coastal way of life along this part of Spain’s northern coast. The people there were wonderful and the labyrinth of walking paths especially gave the feeling that we were welcomed right into the heart of the town and among the locals. It is an enchanting, gem-of-a-place, not only in the region of Asturias, but throughout Spain as well. I feel certain that we will return there again.
Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego
Writer & Film Co-Producer