Photo of Ribadesella

Visit Ribadesella

Ribadesella in Asturias on the north coast of Spain is a charming seaside resort made up of two halves that have grown up on either side of the Sella River and its estuary. A bridge over the river links the two very different parts of town.

Behind the town lie the jagged peaks of the Picos d'Europa mountains.

Explore Ribadesella

On the eastern side of the Sella river is the charming old town of Ribadesella. The fishing harbour is here and behind the harbour are lovely old streets full of restaurants and tapas bars.

Watching the fishermen bring in the days catch late into the night is fascinating and of course means the restaurants are full of great fish dishes.


The old town was founded in the 13th century by King Alfonso X the Wise. The town prospered during the Middle Ages due to the trade of wood and salt along the River Sella and the fishing of salmon and whales along the coast.

Prosperity continued in the 16th and 17th century and there are quite a number of impressive mansions built during this period. The town was visited by the Emperor Charles I of Spain in the 16th Century giving an indication of its importance at the time.

Buildings to notice in particular include the Renaissance style Town Hall, the Romanesque churches of Santa Maria de Junco and of San Esteban de Leces, and the Gothic chapel of Santa Ana.

Above the town is the Hermitage of Our Lady of Guia built in the 16th century and from here you get great views over the Ribadesella, the Bay and the mountains.


On the western side of the River Sella is the newer part of town and here is a lovely sandy beach, some glorious Modernist houses and some hotels and accommodation for those holidaying in Ribadesella.

The town beach is the Playa Santa Maria and it is a lovely sandy beach and the backdrop of mountains and the lovely Modernist houses adds to its charm.

The other main attraction of Ribadesella are the nearby Tito Bustillo caves. These contain stalactites, stalagmites and some prehistoric paintings dating from around 18000 BC.

These are a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other caves containing 'Rock Art' in the area such as the Altamira caves. To protect the paintings, which include red and black paintings of stags and horses, numbers into the caves are limited and so in summer you will need to reserve.

There is also a visitor centre and museum which gives a lot more information about the caves and some prehistoric finds from the area.

Another cave is the Cuevona de Cueva which is a cave with stalactites but it also has a road running through it. A drive through to the village of Cuevas del Agua is a quite unique experience! In busy periods be careful driving or walking through the caves as the road is narrow.

Places to visit near to Ribadesella

Head east along the coast to the cliffs of Acantilados del Infierno, an area of very dramatic rocky cliffs. There is a small parking area nearby where you can park and then walk along a path that runs along the top of the cliffs.

To the east of Ribadesella is the lovely resort of Llanes whilst to the south you can visit the beautiful sanctuary of Covadonga in the mountains.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Asturias and Cantabria guide.

See also: 

Map of Ribadesella and places to visit


Ribadesella places to visit

Cangas de Onis

Cangas de Onis

Cangas de Onis has a lovely Roman bridge and fantastic mountain scenery. It is close to Covadonga said to be the starting place for the Reconquest.

Cangas de Onis guide


Covadonga village and sanctuary are set in beautiful mountain scenery. The Battle of Covadonga is considered to be the start of the Reconquest of Spain.

Covadonga guide


Llanes is an excellent seaside town on a rugged stretch of coast and with the Picos de Europa providing a backdrop.

Llanes guide


Mogrovejo is one of Spain's most beautiful villages. Mogrovejo is a mountain village in the Picos de Europa.

Mogrovejo guide


Take a step back in time as you wander around the lovely old town of Potes. An excellent base for visiting the Picos de Europa.

Potes guide


Gijon is the largest city in the region and is surrounded by industry but once in the centre the city is pleasant and has good beaches and nightlife.

Gijon guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Asturias and Cantabria