After living in Gijón for a year, we have done as much exploring as possible, using our feet, buses, trains, and occasionally a car to explore as much of the city and surrounding areas of Asturias as we can. Mostly we took the city bus and the ALSA bus line and the Renfe or Feve trains, so (almost) everywhere on this list is accessible by train or bus. Also, we have found that we return to our favorite cafes and restaurants, as well as museums and walks, towns and beaches.
A quick note; the ALSA regional bus runs out of the bus station near the city center; the Renfe and Feve trains out of the main train station a bit farther away, but still easily within walking distance from city center. The local bus system has an excellent phone app that has schedules and times that are updated in real time.
We were talking to a friend the other day about Nick Hornsby’s excellent book, High Fidelity, and figured making a top five list of our favorite things to do and places to visit would be a fun idea. These are by no means everything to do and everywhere to eat in Gijón, but they are some good recommendations that we hope will help future travelers when visiting Gijón. I have included links to posts Jesse or I have made about each place (if we wrote one).
Top 5 Playas (Beaches):
- Playa de San Lorenzo: San Lorenzo Beach (above) is the largest and most popular beach in Gijon, and during the summer months you will see it packed with sunbathers and families; and in the winter you will see dog walkers (as dogs are allowed on San Lorenzo in winter months) and others walking on the beach, enjoying the blue/green waters on sunny days. Popular amongst surfers as well.
- Playa de Poniente: the other beach near the center of town, is more suited for sunbathing, as the swimming can be rocky; if San Lorenzo is packed, this is a good alternative.
- Playa del Arbeyal: on the west side of town in the Natahoyo neighborhood, this beach is smaller than the other two, and the views of the port are not the prettiest, but good for families and if you are staying nearby.
- Playa de Peñarrubia: A nude beach, which takes a car (or bus and short walk) to reach; it is nice because it is secluded and the lack of children/families.
- Playa de los Mayanes: The Dog beach, not usually a lot of sand, but great to take your dog and let him splash around in the water and play with other dogs.
Top 5 Walks around town:
Gijon is best enjoyed walking the streets and through the many Plazas y parques y el paseo maritimo.
- Cimavilla: The old town of Gijón, get lost in the narrow streets; after visit the Eligio del Horizonte at the edge of the Parque del Cerro de Santa Catalina. Stand directly underneath the statue to hear ocean sounds like a conch shell.
- San Lorenzo Paseo Maritimo: The place to see and be seen. All times of year the walk next to the beach is usually populated with people; if you want to walk it with less people, the best times are when it is raining, or during siesta time, between 2pm and 5pm.
- Parque de Isabel de Católica(Link): The largest city park; it is located at the eastern end of the San Lorenzo Paseo Maritimo; take pictures of the statue of the great queen Isabel, surrounded by a rainbow of different flowers, then visit the outdoor bird sanctuary, with peacocks and emus, and see the other variety of birds on the opposite side. Grab a coffee at the Parador Hotel if you have time, it is excellent.
- Campa Torres(Link): The ancient Roman site, the walk to Campa Torres can take an hour and a half from city center, but there is a bus that runs near to there, and then it is only 45 minutes or so from the La Calzada neighborhood. Stop for a coffee and make sure to grab a water at the alamentación (convenience store). Leisurely walk uphill, past the homes and small farms, to the wide open space of Campa Torres. There is a small entry museum (though entry is free) and another few room museum toward the lighthouse. Both are worth popping in, but the real reason to visit is the spectacular views of the city as well as the coastline.
- Walk from La Colina to the Playa San Lorenzo: There is a bus that will take you to the Provencia stop, near La Colina hotel and cafe; have a coffee, and take the few kilometer walk back into Gijon, mostly right along the coast, with some great places to watch the waves crash below. It’s a nice place to catch the sunrise as well, especially in the summer.
- Bonus Trip, a short bit outside of town: Take the train to the town of Candás (the end of the line is Cudillero), it is about a 15-20 minute ride. Once you’ve arrived, walk down hill toward the seashore, stop at one of the many cafes for a coffee or caña, then take the coastal route, which passes through the deserted resort town of Perlora. You will pass many benches to look out onto the sea, and even beaches that are nice to take a swim at in the summertime. Pass through the tunnel parallel to the train, to come out on nice paved paths with guardrails, and take in the beauty below. You are on the way to the train stop at the town of Xivares. The path will become narrow through the green grass; you will reach a group of many sets of steps; take these to the top, make a right at the road, and then a left at the next road. The train stop is marked by a road sign (take note of it when you take the train to Candás). All in all, can be a 2-4 hour trip, depending on if you grab a meal, or some drinks in Candás (pictures below).
Top 5 Museums:
I love Museums, and Gijón has many more than one would think. Often they are smaller, so can be seen in an hour or two, and are a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon or evening. There are so many good ones, so this list is a top 7.
- Pueblo d’Asturias(Link): Not to be missed to learn about the history of Asturias, see an actual hórreo up close, or enjoy a live event during the summer.
- Museo Evaristo Valle(Link): the grounds are serene and peaceful, the museum, housed in the artist’s residence, is memorable and unique. Get a snack and drink at one of the restaurants in the Somió neighborhood. An hour’s walk from city center, or a short bus ride.
- Museo Nicanor Piñole(Link): Another Asturian artist, Piñole’s museum has many of his paintings and artifacts as well, and is free. Grab some fruit at the Mercado del Sur nearby, enjoy it while people watching on a bench in the Plaza Europa (which sits in between the Mercado and the museum) and then enjoy the museum.
- Termas Romanas, Campa Torres, Villa Romana de Veranes(Link): The three Roman sites in and around Gijón; the Termas Romanas (or Roman Baths) needs an appointment, Campa Torres is an uphill walk about an hour and a half from the city center, but should not be missed, and Veranes is a car or an ALSA bus ride south of the city.
- Museo Casa Natal de Jovellanos: Located in Cimavilla, it is easy to miss this museum, but it would be unfortunate to do so. Named for Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, born in 1744, and generally regarded as the most important person in the development and history of the city. The museum has art by local artists including Evaristo Valle and Ignacio Suárez-Llanos Pérez, and many scenes of Asturias, in a well laid out museum. Takes an hour to see it all.
- Museo de Ferrocarril de Asturias: This train museum has so much information on the history of the railways of Asturias it can seem overwhelming, so take a break and walk along the old train lines, and peak in the train cars from yesteryear.
- Museo Acuario: The aquarium is a fun place to take children, but also enough different types of sea creatures to bring out the child in all adults. The shark and massive sea turtle that move through the tank that is in the center of the museum are unforgettable.
Top 5 Experiences:
- Jovellanos Theater (bottom): The place for concerts, plays, and other theatrical events, Jovallenos theater is located on Plaza Europa and is not to be missed, especially if there is an event you want to see there.
- Attend a Futbol (Soccer) Game: Sporting Gijón plays host to a usually full house in the Spanish La Liga 2. Tickets behind the goals were 20 Euro, right at the box office. The picture above is from my last time at the stadium. Best to take the bus with fellow supporters, instead of trying to park a car.
- Browse and shop on Calle Corrida: All day long, people walk the most famous street in Gijón, and with good reason. We were lucky to live there, where on nice weather days and nights, there would be people everywhere you looked; shopping, eating ice cream, popping in and out of all the known brand clothing and shoe stores. But during 2pm to 430pm, the shops were closed, and the street quieted down; or, on a rainy night after 9pm, were my favorite times to window shop.
- visit Laboral and the Botanical Gardens(Link): Laboral (middle pic above) and the Botanical gardens are located on the outskirts of Gijón and well worth a visit. The Laboral tower can be seen from many points in Gijón. There also are concerts held in some evenings. The Botanical Gardens are absolutely beautiful in the summer, and during the cooler months it can be a welcome respite from the city.
- Christmas Time! Christmas season in Asturias and Gijón is no joke, as there are lights, parades, and all kinds of holiday spirit! Join in the festivities, eat lots of turrón, and celebrate la noche buena (December 24th) until dia de los Tres Reyes Magos (January 6th) here as well! (Jesse wrote about our Christmas time 2021 here, let it fill you with holiday cheer – some pics below).
Top 5: Cafes
- Café Central: a classy experience, they make a great Espresso Martini
- Nani & Co: the best toast, tortilla is tasty as well; right around the corner from Jovellanos Theater
- Cafetería Santa Olaya: Near Playa del Arebeyal, they give generous tapas.
- Café Coral: Located across from Playa de San Lorenzo, they usually provide churros with a coffee, and their churros con chocolate are good as well
- Cafetón: located on Plaza San Miguel, enjoy my favorite Cappuccino
Top 5 Restaurants:
It was hard to choose a top five, as we have eaten at many a tasty spot while in Gijón. I know there are other excellent restaurants, but we could not try them all in our year living here (although we tried). Eating Fabada, Cachopo, with a bottle of sidra amongst friends and family is an experience that all should have (and prepare to be very, very full from, so bring your appetite). These restaurants we returned to more than once, as the food at all is excellent and highly recommended.
- Bar Begoña: The best chachopo in the city. Hands down. No question. Must go here on a visit to Gijón to eat authentic Asturian.
- La Gallana: for Authentic Asturian food; you must have the Fabada and the Bacalao (cod-like fish) is recommended.
- Bistro 21: For something different than typical Asturian fare, check out this cute place, where the service is always friendly, the dishes always beautifully plated and tasty, and the best pistachio tiramisu dessert ever.
- Les Cabañes: The place to go for lamb, it the only restaurant close to Campa Torres (mentioned above). Need a car to access if you want to avoid a long walk but if you do walk it, stop in before (and after) your visit to Campa Torres.
- Topolino: A classy place, right across from San Lorenzo Beach; they have authentic Asutrian food as well as modern dishes, and a nice view to boot.
Top 10: Day trips near Gijón
These cities and towns can be reached via train or bus in under two hours, so excellent choices for leaving during the early morning, and returning after dark. (If you have a car, it is even shorter). All can be accessed via bus or train (though Covadonga is tougher than the others, and a tour is recommended if one has no car). Jesse or I wrote posts about most of them, so, if you want more info, click on the names.
- Senda Costera de los Miradores(Link): Our favorite day trip; the scenery is spectacular; start in the town of Muros de Nalón, bring a picnic lunch to enjoy, and take the path along the Cantabrian Sea to the town of San Esteban de Pravia.
- Salinas(Link): A great choice for a day trip, the beach is beautiful, so you can just bring your beach gear and sit out for the day. The Paseo is a nice walk, and we visited in summer and winter, as the weather is still mild. We usually ate an Asturian menú del día at the Mesón Sideria El Carmín, which is highly recommended.
- Cudillero(Link): Jesse wrote about Cudillero, and it is a must see while in Asturias. It is fun to wander the streets of the narrow town, take some excellent pictures from above the city, and from sea level looking up. It is reminiscent of Cinque Terre in Italy; best visited on a sunny day.
- Covadonga(Link): included in a visit should be a stop at the Picos de Europa (take the shuttle if available during busy times). Also visit the town Cangas de Onis.
- Oviedo(Link): The capital of Asturias; walking the old town, Cathedral, and Fine Arts museum are highlights.
- Candás(Link): A lovely little town to grab a coffee and people watch.
- Langreo(Link): There is a lot to do in Langreo, which we did as it has a charm all its own.
- Lagos del Cielo Abierto(Link): Take the train to Tuilla and walk up to the Lakes of the Open Sky; don’t go on a rainy day, or even a few days after a rain, or you may have an adventure like we did (read this post before going, seriously).
- Mieres(Link): An important city in the history of Asturias, we were not overwhelmed but it was a nice day trip.
- Aviles: The third largest city in Asturias, Aviles has a large Plaza Mayor, a long, old, stone street, and a few parks. There are many beaches nearby as well.
And that wraps up my Gijón top fives! I hope it helps on your next visit to the wonderful city of Gijón!