Anything But Paella

Ribadesella – an Asturian coastal beauty

Ribadesella was just a random pick on the map of where to stay the night. What a great choice it turned out to be. Even at a time of year when canoeing down the river or taking a boat trip out to sea is no longer an option, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied. The Asturian coast is certainly going to be worthy of a future trip!


We stayed at the Hotel Brisas de Sella. If you are driving there, make sure you have the SatNav turned on and don’t be afraid by the narrow road with high walls on either side that it takes you down. Eventually the track leads you to the hotel where you will be treated to fabulous views out over the mouth of the river. Don’t stay there if steps are a problem though, as you’ll need to walk up and down a few as you go to and from the waterside bars and restaurants. Breakfast is served in a cafe a 10 minute walk from the hotel but it was excellent.

View from the hotel

The clifftop path, el camino a la guía, goes all the way to the end of the promontory where the 19th Century Chapel of the Virgin de la Guía stands proud. Although apparently nowhere near as grand as its original 16th Century form, it is a pretty little chapel surrounded by cannons and stunning views of the coast in all directions.

After descending the steps to the edge of the mouth of the river, make your way back along the footpath towards the town. On the way you will pass the Mingote panels, ceramic tiles which tell the story of Ribadesella through imaginative images. Antonio Mingote was a cartoonist for the ABC newspaper from 1953 until his death in 2012. There are six of them, each depicting a different era:

  • Prehistory
  • Rome and the Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance
  • The War of Independence
  • Emigration
  • Modernity

If your Spanish is up to scratch, you can also follow an audio commentary of each of the panels. The guide is slow enough for an intermediate speaker of Spanish to follow reasonably well.

We continued our walk along the water’s edge past colourful fishing boats and restaurants, to the bridges over the river. There we made our way along the shore looking at the eclectic mix of grand houses built by the landlords of yesteryear. From the harbour there it is possible to take boat trips out to sea, but out of season it’s weekends only. Nautilus Tour would be a good place to start if you fancy such a trip.

Ribadesella is also famous for its cave paintings. The Tito Bustillo centre is open from 10am daily except for Mondays and Tuesdays. For €5.45 you can learn all about the area’s prehistory and its colourful rock art. For a further €4.14 (a very odd price!) you can add on a visit to the caves themselves.

Considering this stop-over was unplanned, it was fabulous. Please take the time to look at some more photos and maybe you’ll decide to go and take a look for yourself.

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