The big draw to Ribadesella for most are the beaches. However, I arrived on a moody day in June, and beaches were not on the agenda; something much better was–eating, drinking and exploring prehistoric caves. Yes, please!
Lunch at Quince Nudos
We stopped by local favorite, Quince Nudos for an early lunch before we set off to see the caves. While it’s no secret that I love Spanish food, I do find a lot of restaurants in Spain to be lacking in aesthetic. Quince Nudos most certainly was not–the restaurant space was light and airy, the decor neutral and tasteful. Part of a great dining experience for me is eating in a place that lives up to the food…except for the odd hole-in-the-wall place, full of Spanish grandpas, which I’ll always make an exception for!
Since we arrived early, we were the only people in the restaurant. We were greeted by the chef/owner and whisked away to a table. The chef helped us pick a well-rounded selection of his menu: creamy, piping-hot croquetas, fresh, garlicky mussels, a seafood rice dish, and my personal favorite, an Asturian cheese plate. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Asturias is well-known for their cheese throughout Spain (Cabrales, anyone?)–they even call their region “The Land of Cheese”! Cheese-making here is taken very seriously; Asturians have been making it for centuries in the caves scattered throughout the land, passing on their secrets from generation to generation.
We washed everything down with a bottle of Poma Áurea, a sparkling hard cider that I enjoyed so much, that I bought a bottle off of the chef…along with some of that Asturian cheese! What can I say, the best souvenirs are always food.
Dessert was this pretty creation: chestnut ice-cream deep-fried in tempura with a chocolate base and a fine, churro topping.
Obviously, if you’re the only person in the restaurant, you’d expect great service, but at Quince Nudos they went beyond that by patiently answering all of my questions about the food, offering excellent recommendations, and timing everything perfectly. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend lunch here. Starters are from €10-15, rice dishes and meat are around €20 and desserts are €5 apiece.
C/ Avelina Cerra 6, 33560 Ribadesella, Principado de Asturias.
Tito Bustillo Caves
As much as I would’ve loved to leisurely finish my meal, we were about to be late for our tour of the Tito Bustillo Caves. These caves are named after the guy who discovered them with a group of his friends in 1968. Days after their discovery, Tito died in an mountain-climbing accident, and his friends named the caves after him in his honor.
Well, Tito and friends made a pretty huge discovery. They stumbled upon what is quite literally a treasure trove of history, dating back a mind-boggling amount of years and including some of the best-preserved Paleolithic cave paintings in Europe. Inside, the cave is BIG, and stretches back surprisingly far. I don’t know the exact distance, but we walked with our group for a good 10 minutes before arriving to the area where the cave paintings are.
I wish I could show you the paintings, but cameras aren’t allowed, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining them, anyway! They’re something that you just must, MUST see while in Asturias. It’s moving to think about how many years ago that humans were inhabiting these very caves.
Tips for Visiting the Caves
- Use the booking system and reserve your visit in advance. They limit the amount of visitors per day in order to preserve the paintings, so it pays to plan ahead!
- Visit the museum beforehand (buy a combined pass for the caves and museum!), so if you get stuck with a guide who doesn’t speak English, you’ll still have an understanding of the paintings and the history. Tours are given in Spanish only, and audio guides are not currently offered.
- You can bring your camera, but inside the caves, photos are strictly prohibited. It is allowed in the museum, however.
- Wear practical shoes and bring a jacket. The floors can be muddy and it’s chilly inside!