Around Galicia and Asturias with a Gespeta
The route we are showing you today encompasses two fairly large autonomous communities in the North-West of Spain, Galicia and Asturias, and the number of kilometers traveled is a bit high as a result. The itinerary we followed should be looked at as a guidance. We kept on adjusting it based on the number of days we had left and the weather, which was generally good however can be wet at times. We were keen to do a bit of rock climbing, some hiking, and obviously wanted to enjoy the beautiful beaches too!
In Galicia we focused on following its broken coast, while in Asturias we wandered mostly inland. Both regions, although different in some aspects, are wonderful, there are plenty of places to see and things to do, and could well be visited on their own if you only have a few days and/or prefer to travel at a slower pace.
It is important to note that although in Galicia we have not had any problem sleeping in the van anywhere, even close to the beach, in Asturias it is advised not to spend the night less than 500 metres from the coast, as you could be fined.
The table below gives you some facts about our little expedition and we hope they are useful for planning yours. As you can see, this area of Spain can be visited almost any time, and the trip can be inexpensive traveling in a camper van from Chilicampers.
|Total distance||3400 km approximately|
|Accommodation||Campsites and free parking spots|
|Activities||Sightseeing, gastronomy, rock climbing, mountaineering, beaches|
|Best season||Spring, summer, autumn|
|Vehicle||ChiliCamper VW T4 California|
Includes diesel, food and accommodation. Does not include rental of camper (see rates)
We had always heard wonders about Galicia and Asturias. Their geography, with a rugged coastline but also sandy beaches, green landscapes and beautiful mountains, an interesting history and culture, friendly people, and excellent food and drink. This time we decided to check firsthand whether all these rumours were true, and do it preparing only a short list of things to see and do, and letting ourselves go during three weeks around the North-West of Spain in a rental camper Volkswagen T4 California from Chilicampers.
Our plan with this adventure was to cover a wider area than what we usually cover, and this way identify places that we would come back and explore further. I can already say that we will go back, both to Galicia and Asturias, because both regions have more interesting places than we were able to visit during this trip.
Although the camper van you see in the pictures seems to be the same that drove us around Castilla, it is not. However given that it was very similar and its green colour was exactly the same, we also called this one Gespeta.
Our Gespeta was a real pleasure to drive, and it took us through the itinerary that we have tried to plot in the maps below. Please select More options to see them in more detail.
Every third of August takes place the Rapa das Bestas (shearing of the beasts) at Cuspedriños, in the municipality of Cotobade in Pontevedra. The event consists in trimming the manes and tails of wild horses which have previously lead to a circular stone enclosure called castro. Music from bagpipes and a popular lunch complete the show. Worth mentioning the excellent Ribeiro wine and the tasty Galician style octopus (polbo á feira). We couldn’t have started better our trip. The Rapa das Bestas, at least in Cuspedriños, is a fairly familiar and local event, where pretty much everyone we saw came from villages nearby. Also, we slept in our Chilicamper right in Cuspedriños, which is a very cute and small village.
The next day we headed towards the coast and drove down up to Baiona. Here, at Baiona, is where we started to follow the coastline up North. Even though the maps above do not show the route very close to the sea because Google tends to give you the fastest route, you will be surprised to see that the roads seem to have been designed to go as close to the sea as possible, almost touching the water. These are the roads we followed, roads that invite you to drive.
In Galicia we visited so many places that will only mention some. While we explored what is called the Lower Rias (Rías Baixas), we did a bit of rock climbing in the Donón area, with awesome views over the Cíes islands; we visited the lively Pontevedra, O Grove and the island of Arousa. In Padrón we had some of its famous peppers, and in Castro de Baroña, as well as visiting an impressive and well preserved Iron Age settlement, we had fun rock climbing on some cliffs right next to the sea. Whenever we saw one of those charming fishing ports we also stopped, as we did in Muros. We also went to the beach a few times, including some from where you do not see a single building, and visited a few lighthouses, like the one in Finisterre. We went around so much that at some point we bumped into a building complex called Troba, where we saw what in our opinion is the nicest hórreo out of all the hórreos we so in Galicia. Last, from this area it is worth mentioning Santiago de Compostela, aim of thousands of pilgrims who every year walk or cycle el Camino de Santiago, and UNESCO World heritage site since 1985.
Continuing up North, where the coast changes name and is called Upper Rías (Rías Altas), we visited even more delightful villages, cities and beaches. Some that are well worth a longer visit are Betanzos, Cedeira and Ortigueira, where every July takes place the International Festival of the Celtic world. We also loved the cape Prior area, with nice sandy beaches and being able to sleep in the van next to the sea, and near Ribadeo, I am sure that the Playa de las Catedrales will impress you, in particular if you wait for the low tide and walk among the fabulous rock cliffs formations and give name to this beach.
Given that we were going to visit this area of Galicia, some friends asked us for a favour. It appears that they could not find some pieces of ceramics, internationally known, crafted in the factory of a little village called Sargadelos. With this excuse we managed a pintoresc trip to Sargadelos and visited the famous factory, where beautiful collections of ceramics have been made since the beginning of the XIX century, more than 200 years ago!
When we realised that we were in the middle of our holiday, time-wise, from Sargadelos we headed to the Fragas do Eume natural park, where there are many walks through their exuberant forests, and there’s good sports climbing and traditional climbing.
From Eume, passing by Meira and A Fonsagrada, we drove East through valleys with meandering roads which took us into Asturias through its back door. The first Asturian village we set foot on was Grandas de Salime, where we spent a night and started enjoying this autonomous community.
Like Galicia, Asturias is a wet region, and this means that its countryside has an intense green colour. Also, it is mostly a mountainous and rocky region, which is why in Galicia we spent most of our time by the coast, and in Asturias we spent most days inland.
Leaving Grandas de Salime behind, our Chilicamper drove us to Teverga. This is one of the areas we had heard wonders about, and it did live up to expectations. A popular destination for rock climbers, not only national but also international, this area has hundreds of routes ranging from fourth to the ninth degree, rock of excellent quality and in a privileged setting. Also, a few kilometers away you can find the Quirós valley, where we spent a very active day climbing, this time multi-pitch routes. And to round off our stay in Teverga, one of the days we hired a couple of mountain bikes to ride the Senda del oso (Path of the bear), which is a path along the course of a former mine railway. The itinerary is flat for the most part, suitable for everyone including kids, and a pleasant way to get to know the Teverga, Quirós and Proaza valleys.
We ended up spending three days around Teverga, and would have spent more, however we were keen on seeing the Naranjo de Bulnes, the weather forecast gave a window of excellent weather, and we headed off East again!
The Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu in Asturian, is located within the national park of the Picos de Europa and is one of the most emblematic Spanish mountains. It is a tower with an impressive 500-metre West face, at the base of which there is a hut. We hiked up to the hut and from there continued surrounding the Picu up to the base of its South face, as we wanted to have a look at the most accessible routes to the top. Perhaps in a future trip we can attempt one of these!
Still impressed by the wonderful views of the Naranjo, we still had a spare day to go rock climbing to a small and quiet crag called Sames, definitely one of those little treasures one bumps into while wandering around Asturias. To mention just a few of these gems, we recommend a visit to the huts with thatched roofs in Braña de Tuiza, and if you are a cheese-lover you must visit Arenas de Cabrales. Gijón, Ribadesella and Cangas de Onís are also places where we had a fun time exploring them. The last night we slept near Playa de Cuevas del Mar, which we visited the following morning and it was there where our tour through Asturian land came to an end.
As usual, we spent the trip back home with mixed feelings, on one hand finishing a trip and, on the other, realising we had had a great time. Without a doubt, both Galicia and Asturias well deserve more expedition. With this route we have covered a vast area, and this has allowed us to identify quite a few places that we would like to explore in more depth… yup, of course, in a camper van from Chilicampers!
If you want to know more about this or any other route, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Rapa das Bestas
Ortigueira’s International festival of the Celtic world
Naturist beaches in Galicia
Senda del oso (Path of the Bear)
Bicycle rental in Entrago (Teverga)
Cerámica de Sargadelos
Motorhome service areas
Roca Verde: Sport Climbing in North-West Spain by Richie Patterson.