I stepped off the train at Cudillero, Spain’s fabled fishing town that’s reputedly as pretty as a picture. A picture with streets that swirl towards the sea, round and round, down and down. Past pokey churches and houses linked by steep mossy paths. Past pink hydrangeas and fish hanging from walls, in zig-zagging alleys with ocean blue doors.
Leaving the station, which was all but deserted, I found myself on a lonely country road with no signs pointing the way. It was an interesting 30 minute walk into town through beautiful countryside, just the way I like things.
Located on the north coast of Spain in Asturias, Cudillero is a fishing village that today profits from tourism. Legend says it was founded by the Vikings in the 16th-century and as I experienced, it’s a top spot to explore, soak up the atmosphere and taste the fresh seafood. Seeing as I’d arrived at lunch time, I decided to try the latter in a place called Restaurante Paloma.
Prior to my visit, an expat living in nearby Oviedo told me that a block from the sea the seafood is much cheaper. I ignored this and went to one of the most touristy seaside restaurants. The prices weren’t too bad and staff let me charge up my camera and phone while I sipped on a wine and waited for my chipirones a la plancha (grilled baby squid), which were excellent. I then set off to explore town.
The church of San Pedro
Entering an old wooden door I walked down the aisle of the 16th-century Parish church of San Pedro. No one was about and I enjoyed the musty, austere ambience, which was a little creepy. Spying some candles below a staircase, I walked towards the back of the church and took in the arched ceilings while thinking about the folk that had done the same, hundreds of years past.
Today was a Sunday and I felt lucky to have the church alone. San Pedro Church is worth visiting, even for just a moment.
The walk to Mirador de la Garita-Atalaya
The Mirador de la Garita-Atalaya is an old lookout reached by a winding stairwell at the top of town. Although getting there, which might take it out of you, is perhaps the best part. I’m a bit of a nosy parker and I enjoyed exploring the labyrinth of lanes up the hillside, where cats sat in numbers, fish hung from balconies and passageways beckoned like a secret beneath kitchen windows.
Reaching the Mirador de la Garita-Atalaya, I was rewarded with a fine view over town, where I got to see Cudillero live up to its reputation as arguably Spain’s prettiest fishing village. I could see the ocean and across the hillside of houses which appeared to tumble down upon one another. Unfortunately, the winding stairwell to the Mirador de la Garita-Atalaya was closed, as it was aged and in much need of repair.
Walking back through town, I approached the sea and sat and watched moored boats bob by the esplanade. Cudillero is a very pleasant place, a little touristy but not overly so and I can see why. Word has gotten out about this seaside town, where fisherman once plied their trade in the bay beneath these sweet hills in relative solitude. While I got to experience Cudillero towards the end of autumn, at the height of summer it’s apparently hard to find a bed here.
Walking further away from town, I spied a subterranean passage with a channel flowing down the middle of it. Intrigued, I followed this tunnel for about 300 metres in near darkness, passing the odd folk, who, upon closer inspection, looked slightly perturbed that a lanky silhouette was approaching them. I found the walk exciting even though it was merely a shortcut to the other side of town.
Finding daylight again, I walked back up the hill and stopped briefly at Cudillero’s oldest building – the curious 13th-century chapel of El Humilladero – before heading home.