There are two types of people in the world. The first one are people who prefer driving a car on an elegant paid highway, speed 130 km/h or more, put a hand outside the window and make a “wave”, go straight, not look around and not worry about signposts. The second includes the fans of secondary roads with interesting views, a bit holey, narrow, where you need to watch the map closely if order not to get lost and drive with at least half of the speed comparing to a smooth highway. We belong to the second group. Thanks to that we found an incredibly beautiful (narrow and holey, though) road number N-634. We chose it already leaving Santiago de Compostela, when instead of jumping to A-6 highway in direction of La Coruña, we drove practically parallel to it, and then “cut the corner” going north-east. The first part, going through Castilla León not yet by the coast, is rather flat, with some low hills. Driving up north begins the region of Asturias and suddenly between the small village houses you can get sight of the navy sea.
We made our first stop by the beach Playa de las Catedrales. It was chilly and windy, but sunny. Unfortunately, we got there during a high tide, so we were not able to go down to the beach. We had to view the cliffs and rocks from up. Quite interestingly, the place looks completely different during the high and low tide. During the lowest tide you can easily go down, walk between the rocks, pass under rocky “arches” and through “tunnels” and enter some caves. However, during a high tide, especially in a windy weather, the beach is totally flooded, and the view from the up on the white foam between the huge stones is a bit scary and the signs warning about landslides do not help at all.
Continuing ahead we cheated as on the map we noticed a wide estuary of the river Eo next to Ribadeo village. Going on the N-634 road would mean driving around the estuary looking like a big lake and making some extra kilometers.
We decided to enter the A-8 highway and go through a new bridge that was also the border between the region of Galicia and Asturias. We stopped by the bridge to take some photos of the estuary and the ocean.
Some kilometers ahead we went back to our N-634 and we were able to avoid the tolls.
The next town on the coast where we stopped for a while was Luarca. Charming, beautiful and calm fishing village located in a bay with houses right next to the water and gradually up the hill. And lots of colorful boats floating right next to the center. And additionally wonderful views from the top next to the cemetery. Gorgeous!
Not even 30 km ahead on the coast, this time turning to an even smaller road N-632 we encountered another fishing village Cudillero, similar to Luarca, but even more cramped. In the town itself it is forbidden to park, probably because even the main streets is so narrow, that two car can barely pass next to each other. The main bay is also gorgeous, with colorful houses springing up like mushrooms after the rain. It’s a pity though that all the restaurants were expensive and in one small coffee where we wanted to have some tapas an unpleasant service spoilt our good moods for further visiting. Probably the high season together with rich tourists spoil them and a cloudy may and backpackers do not attract them as much.
The first night after Santiago we passed in Oviedo. In the afternoon we visited the old town, and the next day in the morning we climbed the Naranco hill.
From Oviedo we left continuing again on N-634, this time not by the coast, but more inland. We drove through Cangas de Onis. Nevertheless, no parking space caused that we didn’t even leave the car. We drove through the main road and took some photos from the most recognizable place in front of the bridge, known as the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano), incorrectly, as it dates back only to 14th century.
Closeby, on the border of the national park Picos de Europa, the biggest national park in Europe, there is the village of Covadonga, known for the battle of Covadonga in 722. The battle is a symbolic beginning of the Spanish Reconquista. In the village you can find a sanctuary with a historic basilica, mythic cave, museum and a statue and tomb of the Asturian and Spanish hero of the battle of Covadonga, Pelayo. As the legend says, The Virgin Mary helped Pelayo win the Muslims sending a shower of rocks on the enemies.
The weather was again not good. It was rainy and cloudy and we were so close to Picos de Europa. We knew that this time we have to let go hiking in the mountains. We decided that we will stay in the car and go up as far as possible, hoping that in the mountains the sky will clear up. We drove around 20 km through a narrow steeps road Co-4, until we got to two small lakes, Enol and Ercina. It was still raining, and the views were covered by fog. We gave up and went back to N-634, which at this stage was marked us E70. Until Bilbao we didn’t make any stop. We had our host waiting for us, and the weather was dreadful.
Leaving Bilbao we went a little back in the direction of the Cantabric Sea to see the Vizcaya Bridge, known as Puente Colgante which literally means “hanging bridge”. Hanging because it works like a hanging gondola looking like a big wagon that transports a couple of cars and a dozen of people to the other side of Nervión river. The bridge was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Here we left N-634 again to go back to the seaside and visit a hermit of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It is situated on a small island joined with the land only by stairs, a mini Great wall of China. The weather was still bad so we didn’t go down, but I had been there a couple of years ago and I really recommend it. The views over the rocks and the waves crashing at the beach are really stunning.
We finished our tour in this fabulous road in wonderful San Sebastian. We spent only 5 days on the way and we know that we saw only a tiny part of really beautiful places. I think that 7-10 days for this road would be optimum, but there were more European countries waiting for us ahead.
For more photos from Spain click here.
Hotels in Spain here.