Gijón is a beautiful city in northern Spain. Located right by the Bay of Biscay, it is the largest city of Asturias, and it offers plenty of activities to everyone stopping by. Gijón is particularly famous for its great seafood restaurants and for its old history, dating back to pre-Roman times.
However, Gijón receives far fewer tourists than most other coastal cities in Spain. This is not a surprise, due to the lack of international airlines flying to and from Gijón, along with the mountainous terrain that separates Asturias from the bordering regions. But in fact, this is seen as a positive thing by many. Gijón remains a city with a unique vibe, untouched by most international trends. The city is uniquely Asturian and gives a taste of what other Spanish cities would be like, if not for mass-tourism.
Facts about Gijón
Here are some cool and interesting facts about Gijón:
- Founded in the 5th century BC
- Largest city in Asturias
- Home to 271,000 people
- Famous for its great seafood and bars
- Plenty of great beaches, and dramatic cliffs with nice views
The most interesting part of the city is undoubtably Cimadevilla, the north-central part of the city, basically a small peninsula. Here you will find everything from classic attractions, such as the San Pedro church, along with the Cerro Park and plenty of small plazas. Cimadevilla also has many of the best bars and restaurants in the city.
History of Gijón
The earliest signs of settlement in Gijón are from the 5th century BC. In other words, the city is around 2,500 years old. This settlement was called Noega and lasted for a few hundred years until the Romans came to what is now Gijón. They predictably built a wall around the city, calling it Gegionem, a predecessor for the current name, Gijón.
Up until the 7th century, Gijón was a minor town, just before the 8th century where it became the capital of the Muslim territories in the region. This period was short-lived however, as the Asturias took the city back after just nine years of Muslim control. This was one of the earliest parts of the Reconquista in Spain.
Then Asturias became a kingdom, and while Gijón did not have any major role initially, it did have the status of being a puebla. It was almost completely destroyed during a war in the 14th century, but somehow it remerged in the following centuries as the port was built. Gijón became a centre for fishing, and commercially it was a very important town by the 17th century. After that, it expanded rapidly and grew into the largest city in Asturias, surpassing Oviedo.
In the most recent century, Gijón has played a minor role in Spanish history. The city supported the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Gijón is neither a poor or a rich city – it has always been something in between. Nowadays, there is a very artistic vibe in the city, although still very traditional as well. The economy is mostly based on the metal industry, commercial business, fishing and tourism (mostly national tourism, directed at Spaniards from other regions).
What to do in Gijón
There are several things you can do in Gijón. Go on a bit of sightseeing and see some of the classic attractions. We have a guide to the best things to do in Gijón right here!
But to give a bit of quick tips here, we also recommend you to:
- Visit the San Lorenzo beach
- Go shopping in the central area of the city
- Visit the aquarium
- See the University Laboral
- Catch a local football match with Sporting Gijón
How to get to Gijón
It’s not easy to get to Gijón – at least not compared to other destinations in Spain. There are fewer connections, so you need to figure out what is the best way to get there. Here are the best options:
There is only one international airport in all of Asturias. It is located approximately 40 km away from Gijón, although only 15 km away from Avilés. Most flights are connected with other Spanish cities, and you will find very few international connections. However, for most of the year, it is possible to fly between Gijón and cities such as Lisbon and London.
The airport handles around 1,4 million passengers per year. There are no trains connecting the airport to Gijón, but you can take one of the ALSA buses, which is not expensive – or simply a taxi.
Here’s the official website of the Asturias Airport, so you can look up more information if you are planning a trip.
A popular train route runs between Madrid-Chamartín and Gijón. It takes around 4-5 hours. A round-trip can be bought for around 60-70 euros for most parts of the year, so it is hardly expensive. This line has stops in Valladolid, Palencia, León and Oviedo. Between Madrid and León, the train runs at a high-speed, but it slows significantly down when passing the mountains in northern Castilla y León and most of Asturias.
FEVE trains run between Gijón and several other cities in bordering regions. For example, you can go all the way to Ferrol in Galicia, or to Santander in Cantabria. These trains are slow, so be prepared for a long journey.
If you want to visit Oviedo while being in Gijón (we highly recommend it), then take the Renfe Cercanías to get there. A ticket that covers both ways will cost you 6,80 euros, and it takes around 30 minutes.
Gijón is located in the north of Asturias. Several roads are going there, and you can easily drive. Depending on your destination of origin, it might take a while, but you get to see a lot of beautiful sights on the way. Asturias is a very green region with beautiful mountains and beaches.
Gijón has a port. That means you can actually sail in, if you have a boat and are willing to do so. Some ferries also arrive there, with occasional cruises as well.
Read more about Gijón
Gijón is one of our favorite cities in Spain. For that reason, you will find plenty of other articles about the city as well.