Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain
Located slightly to the west of Llanes, Ribadesella is beautiful coast facing town with the Picos de Europa mountains behind it and the ocean to its front. The town is estuarial and sees the meeting of the ocean and the river Sella from which Ribadesella derives its name.
Because of its location and beautiful old quarter this town is popular with summer tourists.
For a summary of Ribadesella read on and for more details and photographs of this pretty town use the links in the menu box above and to the right.
The layout of Ribadesella
Ribadesella is the archetypal former Asturian fishing village turned cultural tourist hotspot. It has a very popular beach, "la playa de Santa Marina" on one side of its estuarial river and the original old town on the other. The two districts are linked by a bridge, the “Puente del Sella”, which is accessible by car and foot.
Ribadesella has a permanent population of over 4,500 people, but this swells considerably during the summer holiday period. The river Sella forms a natural divide across the town with the older parts of Ribadesella being found to the east of the river, whilst across the bridge to the west lay the more recent expansions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These newer sections, whilst in no way unpleasant, have no real appeal to the tourist other than to reach the beach or the marina.
The town's original harbour is at the foot of the old district and it is still operational and well worth exploring. The surrounding areas adjacent to the town also boast ancient caves (particularly the "Tito bustillo" which you need to book well in advance) with prehistoric cave paintings within it. Information about these and the town itself can be picked up from the town's tourism office which lies in a prominent position close to the old bridge.
The town of Ribadesella
Once in the old town your efforts to get there will be rewarded. Although Ribadesella initially appears somewhat bland, as soon as you enter the older district (and leave the harbour facing streets behind you) you are confronted with a clean and pretty town. You will see interesting and highly colourful buildings, little paved squares, lots of cafes and an atmosphere filled old quarter with an active market and a number of shops and stalls. Many of these shops concentrate in the local specialties of chocolates and cakes as well as Asturian cheeses for which the region is famous. Goat and lamb’s cheeses are a particular specialty.
Walking around Ribadesella, you quickly notice that the majority of buildings are of three or more storey’s in height, but unlike so many other old Spanish towns they are not crammed in to narrow streets and tiny alleyways and this, combined with their colourful facades, makes the whole town appear bright, open and cheerful.
Ribadesella has a great variety of small scale architecture and those with an interest in buildings will find plenty to admire and consider. This is a highly colourful town in appearance and nature and it bombards the senses visually and audibly.
Ribadesella really is a very attractive town, but it has one major drawback – parking. If you intend to visit Ribadesella, try to arrive in the morning, or be prepared to park some way outside the old town and take a leisurely walk in. If you do not, you will literally spend tens of fruitless minutes driving around in search of that elusive space and you almost certainly will not find it.
Taking a lazy stroll around Ribadesella, looking in a few of its shops and relaxing with a coffee can easily fill a morning or an afternoon and if you want to spend some time on the beach, a day can easily disappear here. Ribadesella is certainly one of Asturias’ best coastal towns and, with its close proximity to the Picos de Europa, it is an ideal destination to visit or even base a holiday or short break in.