Arenas de Cabrales, Asturias, Spain
With a permanent population of a mere 800 or so inhabitants, Arenas de Cabrales does not justify a mention in any guide based solely on its populous, but as base from which to explore the mountain range of the "Picos de Europa" it scores maximum marks.
Not surprisingly Arenas de Cabrales has a stunning inland location with the Picos de Europa mountains just 4 miles away and in full and complete view. But this is a highly seasonal town where tourism earns its keep from May through to September and when the months of July and August see the mobile population swell several times over.
You can drive to Arenas de Cabrales and there is also a bus, but this is an isolated town located at altitude between some rocky summits and it can often be hidden by low mists and cloud. The town's buildings, which are in close proximity to one another, are of granite with red, yellow or white rendered facades and a solitary road enters the town at one end and leaves it at the other. Despite this Arenas de Cabrales has its own tourist office, some pensiones (cheap hotels) and a couple of places where you can grab a drink and something to eat.
Tourism in Arenas de Cabrales
Most of Arenas de Cabrales' visitors (and there are many in summer) tend to be serious walkers and hikers, but this is also a place for sightseers and those wanting to escape the urban world and see a town that time forgot – well almost. But do be warned, like all the small towns at the foot of the "Picos", Arenas de Cabrales temporarily loses it peace and solitude when the summer rush starts.
If you really want to see this town (and the mountains) as nature intended, try visiting out of season. Ideally early spring or autumn (the fall).