I have a soft spot for Spain’s fishing villages. They’re timeless, usually have an attractive historic quarter, and of course, are always located on the coast. During my trip to Asturias with Turismo de Asturias and Paradores de España, I was sent on a tour of the coastal towns, and Luanco was my first stop.
Luanco, while still very much a fishing town (it’s considered the tuna capital of Asturias), is also a summer destination: it fills up with Spaniards from across the country with summer vacation homes there, and some foreign tourists as well. Quiet during the rest of the year, in the summer, the town comes alive as locals and visitors alike take advantage of the rare days of sunshine and surrounding beaches. I lucked out, and the morning of my visit was full of sunshine, despite raining buckets the night before.
What I particularly loved about Luanco were the colorful buildings. My wonderful guide for the trip, Elena, told me that in Eastern Asturias you’ll see lots of brightly painted buildings, because the locals want their towns to feel cheerful, despite a backdrop of perpetual gray skies (it rains a LOT in Northern Spain!) We spent the majority of our time in Luanco walking around the town, as it is truly a feast for the eyes between its architecture, beaches and port. The interesting thing about the facades of these houses is that they’re made of wood. While that’s very common in my country, wooden houses are not at all common in Spain! Aren’t they gorgeous?
Museo Marítimo de Asturias | Maritime Museum of Asturias
We later popped in to the local Maritime Museum of Asturias to learn a little more about the backbone of Luanco’s identity and economy. While this wouldn’t have been a place I’d normally be interested in going to, I’m glad it was included as part of my itinerary, as it’s such an important part of Luanco’s past, present and future. The museum includes everything from historic fishing boats, rotating exhibits (currently one on the Titanic), to an extensive permanent collection on the local marine biology–my personal favorite. Tickets for adults are just 4€ each and hours are 11:00-14:00h and 17:30-20:30 daily.
A big part of my tour was checking out the Asturian beaches–one of the more difficult jobs I’ve had in my life. In Luanco, there are a few beaches, but the best is undoubtedly Playa Luanco, located just steps away from the heart of the town. Now do you see why tourism is growing here?
Luanco’s Local Specialty: Marañuelas
Marañuelas are the town’s specialty and are typically eaten during Semana Santa (a tradition dating back over 400 years!), though they’re available in bakeries all-year. They’re made of flour, egg yolks, sugar, butter and a bit of lemon peel, and are dense, like shortbread. According to their website, brides traditionally gave them to the groom during courtship, and since they conserve well, they were commonly sent to distant relatives through the mail.
Of course, the best part of visiting anywhere are the locals. Even though my stay in Luanco was brief, the townspeople made an impression, from these friendly fisherman who were repairing their nets, to this romantic elderly couple who made my heart melt just a little.