Llanes in Asturias is a beautiful coastal town with lots of beaches, stunning hiking routes and much delicious seafood!
Inhabited since prehistoric times, Llanes is an historic town whose defences were built at the beginning of the 13th century when King Alfonso IX brought the town under the rule of his kingdom. Some 300m of this pre-Romanesque wall remain standing whilst the defensive tower is now the Tourist Office.
A period of prosperity followed from the 13th to the 17th century as the town became an important seaport, however, in 1802 Napoleon's troops arrived and made the town its headquarters until 1812. Skirmishes took place between the French Army and local guerrillas, and after the French left, many of the townspeople, known as Llaniscos, left for Latin America.
Today, the town is a popular tourist destination for Spaniards and it enjoys sharing its past with visitors. The Museum of the Indianos shows the journey of those emigrating, many of whom returned with new-found wealth to build many of the mansions around the town which they use as holiday homes in the summer. There is also an ethnographic museum, and the Centro Regional de Artesanía y Artes Plásticas in nearby Poo is well worth a look to discover works by local artists and see them create their art in workshops.
There are 29 stunning beaches along the coast around Llanes with several in the town itself. Playa El Sablon is the most popular, a small beach of fine sand with calm waters, whilst Playa de Puerto Chico is a pretty beach with a lighthouse.
Slightly further east is the beautiful Playa de Toro, where rock formations pierce through the golden sand, the Playa de Antilles that connects the Isla Grande to the mainland at low ride, and the large beaches of Balotta and Andrin, which are renowned for their waves and are popular with surfers. To the west you'll find the Playa de Poo, a very calm beach that forms a narrow passage between the rocks. Follow the San Pedro walking route that extends 800m along the Llanes coast for some spectacular views of the sea and beaches.
In the town, one of Llanes most recognisable features is the Cubes of Memory, the brightly decorated cubes that form a breakwater in the harbour, which were created by Basque artist Agustín Ibarrola. With such great beaches and conditions for surfing, there are many surf schools around Llanes as well as opportunities for waterskiing, wakeboarding and snorkelling.
Inland, why not have a go at canyoning, quadbiking or caving to explore the striking gorges or go hiking or horseriding in the forest? If culture is more what you're interested in, there are many fiestas celebrated in Llanes with folk dancing and the townspeople wear their traditional costumes.
With gastronomic festivals as well as the traditional religious fiestas, Llanes is a great place to try some Asturian cuisine. The town market is on a Tuesday selling crafts, jewellery, fabrics and plants and herbs whilst at the Friday market in nearby Posada you'll find local produce, including cheese and fish, for sale. Fish and seafood forms a large part of Llanes cuisine and crab, lobster, mullet, scorpionfish, anchovies and squid are just some of the delights on the menu.
Cheese is also very popular with the soft and creamy queso de Vidiago, the smoked Ahumado de Pría, and goat's cheeses such as La Cuevona. Fabada, a cassoulet-type stew, is a well-known dish and fabes beans are used throughout Asturian cuisine. Tortos served with picadello and fried eggs is also a common dish.
Those with a sweet tooth are not left out with casiedella, an anise flavoured pastry with hazelnuts and walnuts and chocolates shaped and designed to look like the Cubes of Memory. Of course, don't forget to enjoy your meal with a glass of the local cider, sidra, poured in the traditional way from a great height.
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