Gijón (Xixón), located on the Bay of Biscay, is the largest city in the autonomous community of Asturias in Spain. Separated from the rest of Spain by high mountains, this part of the country definitely feels different to what you’ll find in Mediterranean areas, and attractions in the working city of Gijón will inform you about the industrial age in Northern Spain and the close relationship people have with the ocean here. From museums, Roman ruins and remains, passing by impressive woodlands until the coast with its wide beaches and rocky headlands, the area has a lot of sights of interests not to be missed. In this article, we’ll look at 10 of these top things to do over the area to make the most out of your vacation here.
1. Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura
This austere gargantuan Franco-era university campus, built in the 50s, 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away from the city, was falling into ruins by the 1990s and has become a dynamic art and education center housing part of Oviedo University in an effort to preserve the edifice. Here you’ll be able to discover the 1,500-seater theater, visit the impressive main courtyard and wander through the gardens or head up the 130 meters (426 feet) Seville’s Giralda inspired tower, the tallest building in Asturias with the best views of Gijón from the top. This is a great place that will please and entertain many visitors.
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura
Address: Calle Luis Moya Blanco, 261, 33203 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
2. Jardín Botánico Atlántico
Neighboring the Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura, the only botanical garden in Asturias is a modern (opened in 2003) 10-hectare (25-acre) garden showcasing plants from Spain’s north coast & Atlantic regions. Split into four different zones, each with a very different environment, you’ll appreciate strolling through the “Bay of Biscay area” featuring hardwood trees and flora of this temperate region (beech, birch, cork and oak).
You’ll see many other things in the other parts of the garden such as vines and olive trees in the orchard area, camellias and banana trees in the older part and finally, coniferous forest and other Atlantic and Mediterranean flora in the last section. Well, featuring a vast range of plants, trees and collections of high-interest spaces, this magnificent garden is a great place to have a leisurely walk or a family picnic in a peaceful atmosphere and offers a lovely break from the chaotic city center.
Jardín Botánico Atlántico
Address: Av. del Jardín Botánico, 2230, 33203 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
3. Roman Baths
Facing the ocean in the Cimadevilla district and next to the Church of San Pedro Apóstol, this archaeological site of the Roman Baths (built around AD 100) is a “must see” location for all the history lovers. Here, you’ll learn about the role that thermal baths played in Roman society (the difference between the various rooms, how they were heated, etc). You’ll gaze at the remains of the hypocaust, ovens, bathing areas and intriguing artifacts.
Termas Romanas De Campo Valdés
Address: Campo Valdés s/n, 1, 33201 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
4. Barrio de Cimadevilla
Cimadevilla neighborhood is surely one of the most charismatic in Gijón, a beautiful, old, but well-preserved district that has proudly made its way from Roman times, medieval conflicts, the creation of the port, the beginnings of industrialization, all the way to today. You’ll enjoy strolling the streets, and reading the signs of people and times visible in the facades loaded with stories. An atmospheric walk and a beautiful dive into one of the most beautiful parts of the town.
5. Gijón Aquarium
Right on Poniente Beach, this amazing sea life center has about 5,000 animals (400 different marine species) that make it the only aquarium in Spain that holds all five kinds of vertebrates: fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. More than simply going to see and to get close to animals such as otters, clown fish, sea horses, octopuses and sharks, you’ll also enjoy getting in-depth info about their habitats, methods of survival and diet, which is an appreciated educational touch that most of the visitors (kids and adults alike) will be pleased with. The top family attraction of the area!
Address: Playa de Poniente, s/n, 33212 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Website: Gijón Aquarium (in Spanish)
6. Museum of the Asturian People
2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) east from the Plaza Mayor, this interesting museum is devoted to traditional Asturian culture. Here you’ll enjoy discovering exhibits on bagpipes, cooking, carriages, and 19th-century silk dance-party dresses, but also learn about the day-to-day life in Asturias down the ages, with the indoor and outdoor exhibitions of various typical buildings, including grain stores and quirky shepherds’ shelters. Well, full of interests, this place will teach travelers a lot of things about the region in a fun way.
Museum of the Asturian People
Address: Paseo del Dr Fleming 877, Gijón, Spain
Website: Museum of the Asturian People
7. Cerro de Santa Catalina
The park Cerro de Santa Catalina is a charming area where you’ll enjoy taking a leisurely walk or having a friend or family picnic in a peaceful atmosphere. Here you’ll also contemplate the two most emblematic points of the hilly park: the sculptures “Praise of the Horizon” on the edge of the Asturian peninsula and the much smaller but no less impressive sculpture “Northeast.” This is a restful and beautiful place for a walk over the area.
Cerro de Santa Catalina
Address: Cimadevilla, Gijón, Spain
8. Gijón Railway Musem
Set in the city’s former Estación del Norte, another museum here is Gijón Railway Museum (opened in 1998) that displays machinery from Northwest Spain’s lines and explores the important multi faceted roles of trains in Asturian history. Having a great coal mining history, you’ll get to see several engines involved in this industry in the museum but also a large set (more than 50) of vintage steam locomotives, tramways and historic rolling stock. Furthermore, you’ll learn in the old station hall how the railways went hand-in-hand with Asturias’ economic development in the 19th-century. This is an excellent place for another dive into the regional culture and history.
Gijón Railway Museum
Address: Plaza Estación del Nte., s/n, 33212 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Website: Gijón Railway Museum
9. Playa de San Lorenzo (and other city beaches)
Powerfully influencing the climate in Gijón, the ocean is a crucial component of the regional tradition and history. What is better than encountering this vital Asturian element by a face to face at the beach? Even if it’s not for swimming, visiting the Playa de Poniente is a great and peaceful experience, specifically for San Juan in June, when it feels like the whole city is out for the big bonfires and fireworks displays. On the other hand, the Playa de San Lorenzo (on the other side of the Cimavilla) is a long, sweeping beach with a promenade that’ll please any walkers. Well, a day out on the region’s many beaches (such as La Ecalerona) is a good way to enjoy what nature has to bring here.
Playa de San Lorenzo
Address: Gijon, Spain
Website: Playa de San Lorenzo
10. The Barjola Museum of Painting
Based in the former Trinidad Complex, a fantastic example of 17th-century Gijón Baroque architecture, the Barjola Museum mainly displays the works of the artist Juan Barjola (104 works from 1950-1988 which have been donated to the museum). Furthermore, besides enjoying the beautiful paintings exhibited here, you’ll also gaze at art sculptures and even festival and events take place here.
Juan Barjola Museum of Painting
Address: Calle Trinidad, 17, 33201 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Explore Gijón and beyond!
With these 10 great things to do in Gijón, you’ll discover a great Spanish city, full of sights of interests for a great vacation and mesmerizing memories!
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