There is a corner of Northern Spain which promises a fun-filled family holiday combining action, adventure and full immersion in nature. It’s affordable, accessible and a still relatively undiscovered gem.
Travel to Asturias and stay at Hotel Las Caldas Villa Termal, located close to the region’s capital, Oviedo, a historic town located between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay. There are multiple cycle routes covering 1700km, dinosaur trails, mine visits, canoeing and wildlife spotting, including the Cantabrian and Pyrenean brown bear. There’s lots of water based fun too.
Cycling and Canoeing
Cycling has to be one of the best ways to explore a region and something that can easily be enjoyed as a family. Las Caldas is a bike friendly hotel where bikes and GPS route planners can be hired. The “Bear’s Trail” is one of the more popular family cycle route that runs along La Senda del Oso, a former railway, now a 21km ride through a landscape of green hills and steep valleys, between the villages of Entrago and Tun; a lengthy, though flat, day’s exercise. Paca and Tola, two bears rescued as cubs after their mother was illegally shot, are the highlight attractions on the route. They are now looked after by the Asturian Bear Foundation, and enjoy a large enclosure, so feeding time at around midday is the best chance to see them.
Another popular sport is canoeing. The Stella River is a gentle scenic route ideal for families. As you make your way along the river, you will find several small bars, to rest and have a drink. There are also natural pools to bathe and “river beaches”; small areas where you are able to stop and picnic.
Dinosaurs, museums and workshops
A highlight for many kids is a visit to the Asturias Jurassic Museum in Colunga. The museum is laid out in the shape of a dinosaur print, with full 20 replicas to view, dinosaur bones, foot prints and a play area. Take the adventure further and become an explorer on the Dinosaur Route (in Ribadesella, Colunga and Villaviciosa), searching for the trail of these animals.
Asturias has many more museums and workshops designed to satisfy the most curious of little minds. For history buffs, the Museum of Mining includes an underground adventure in a network of mine shafts recreated to reflect the different eras of the industry. Museo Arqueologico de Asturias will fill you in on the region’s history: from Paleolithic to Medieval times to the Roman Empire (Augustus Caesar built the roads and mined for gold here). If children love the sea, the Gijón Aquarium takes them on a journey of discovery to 12 of the world’s seas and rivers. Expect to find more than 4000 creatures, vertebrates and invertebrates of more than 400 different species.
Despite the good year round climate, there is sometimes a need for indoor fun. The Children’s Palace in Oviedo has a huge 10,000 square metres for them to enjoy: including the Nautilus, Climbing Wall and Fun Park, where there is a story-telling tree and a team of staff to organise games.
Water and Spa
Back at Hotel Las Caldas, water is a key feature. There is a big outdoor pool and the Aquaxana area has a design based on the Pantheon in Rome. This installation allows you to enjoy different hydrotherapy areas, bubble beds, active pools and a panoramic sauna, Turkish bath and contrast showers which is a unique space of water, light and sound. There are special regular “shows” where water, nature and a world of contrasts are perfectly integrated: water-fire, day-night.
There is also an excellent spa and wide range of wellness treatments, as well as a fitness area, for parents to enjoy.
With the flight being less than 90 minutes from London (and it’s only a 30 minute drive from the airport to the hotel), this little-known Spanish region is surprisingly easily accessible.
Gran Hotel***** from 190€ per night, based in a double room on BB basis. Price includes unlimited access to the Manantial, Las Caldas thermal spa and unlimited access to the more contemporary Aquaxana Leisure & Spa centre
The Enclave Hotel**** from 129€ per night, based in a double room on `BB basis.
Price includes 2.5 hours access per night to Aquaxana Leisure and Spa centre.
Children receive 50% off per person rates