If you fancy exploring beautiful mountain country that few foreigners reach, head for this 291-sq-km, Unesco-listed biosphere reserve on the northern flank of the Cordillera Cantábrica. Composed chiefly of five valleys descending from the Cordillera’s 2000m-plus heights, the park combines thick woodlands, rocky mountains and high pastures dotted with brañas (groups of now largely abandoned cabanas de teito – thatched herders’ shelters). It’s also a key stronghold of Spain’s bear population.
The main population centre is plain Pola de Somiedo (70km southwest of Oviedo), which has a bank, an ATM, a supermarket, a petrol station and the park’s Centro de Interpretación del Parque Natural de Somiedo. Valle de Lago, reached by a wonderful 8km drive southeast of Pola de Somiedo that winds and climbs to about 1300m, is another base, with good walking.