With a history that spans back to the 8th century, Oviedo is certainly a city with a lot of history. There are many interesting things to do in Oviedo, both in regards to classic sights and modern attractions. Here you will find a guide to the absolute best attractions in Oviedo.
Even though Oviedo is not among the largest cities in Spain, it still has a lot to offer. Especially if you are interested in things such as architecture, history and art. The city has a very unique vibe – it’s a university city with a lot of students, yet it feels very classic and ancient at the same time.
Some visitors like to compare Oviedo’s historic centre to that of Santiago de Compostela. The streets appear similar in many ways, both cities have famous cathedrals, and they both have that distinct northern Spanish style.
Most of the main attractions are found in the old part of Oviedo, which also happens to be the central part. But between the 17th century and the 20th century, the city expanded rapidly and grew outwards, thus also creating more modern parts. These parts also offer some nice things to do, and that’s also one of the reasons that so many different people like to visit Oviedo. You will literally find interesting sights across all categories.
Generally speaking, you can briefly see most Oviedo attractions in one day, but yet we recommend staying there for a couple of days. That gives you the chance to enjoy everything properly, and to discover some hidden gems as well!
Oviedo’s cathedral, picture here and also in the initial photo in this article, is the city’s main attraction. The original name in Spanish is Catedral de San Salvador and it is located in the historic part of Oviedo.
This majestic cathedral was built in the 14th and 15th century. That actually makes it a lot newer than most of the smaller churches in Oviedo, but keep in mind that the cathedral was basically a re-built of an 8th century church, located at the exact same place.
It’s a sight that you can’t miss. The gothic style is unmistakable and the sheer height of the tower reaches above most other buildings and structures in the area. The tower is 82 meters high and it is considered to be one of the best sights in all of Spain.
Oviedo is included in some routes of Camino de Santiago. Usually, a lot of pilgrims consider this cathedral to be one of the most important destinations along that way. We certainly understand why – not only is it a beautiful cathedral, but it also carries a lot of historic significance. Imagine all the events that have taken place here. The interior of the cathedral should definitely be seen as well. Cámara Santa is the most important part. It is the Holy Chest, and it was brought to Oviedo from Toledo after the Moors had taken the city.
You will also see several art works from previous centuries inside the cathedral. Unfortunately, it is not free to get in, as you have to pay an entrance fee. However, it is only a small amount (usually between 5-8 euros), and students and senior citizens can get a discount.
Sculptures and statues in Oviedo
Oviedo is full of statues and sculptures. You will find them all over. It’s a really interesting thing about the city.
And in fact, it is a perfect mix of old and new artworks. The Mafalda sculpture, sitting on a bench in the San Francisco park, is usually considered to be the main one. Other important sculptures and statues around Oviedo are The Traveller, La Regenta, Maternidad, La Bailarina and, strangely, a statue of film director Woody Allen.
Other statues show more surreal art that is open to interpretation. Be sure to look in the modern parts of the city for these.
It can be very fun to walk around Oviedo and spot all the artworks. You never really know what you will run into when it is your first time in the city. This is a very cute and interesting thing about Oviedo, and it is something that is very unlike the typical northern Spanish cities.
Campo de San Francisco
The main park of Oviedo has a very central location. It is called Campo de San Francisco: The San Francisco park. Going there is very enjoyable, as it is a green place full of trees, meadows, fountains and even a lake with ducks and turtles. The university helps in maintaining everything, and they are doing a great job. Campo de San Francisco always appears very clean and delightful!
In the past, the park was a garden and an orchard, owned by the San Francisco Convent. Then it simply became a public park, to the joy of most citizens of Oviedo and to all of the travelers stopping by.
Due to its central location, it’s a place you can’t miss out on. Go there for a picnic if you need a break from the exhaustive sightseeing. You can buy some snacks at the unique central Mercadona in Oviedo’s historic centre and then walk to the park in less than 10 minutes.
Of course, the park itself contains some nice sights, such as the Mafalda statue that we mentioned further above.
San Juan el Real
An underrated church that rarely gets mentioned when people talk about attractions in Oviedo. It is however one of the best sights in the city. And if you’re arriving in Oviedo train station and headed to the historic part of the city, you will pass it on your way there.
This church is fairly new, as it was constructed between 1912 and 1915. That makes it as much as a thousand years newer than many of the classic churches in Oviedo. Yet, this should be visited as one of the first. It’s easy to get there because San Juan el Real is right in the centre of modern Oviedo. Entrance is free, so you can simply walk in whenever it is open. The interior of the church is incredibly beautiful, and that is exactly why we recommend seeing it in person.
In 2014, the Pope changed the status of Iglesia de San Juan el Real from a church to a minor basilica. Some important historic events have taken place here, such as the wedding of Francisco Franco in 1923.
University of Oviedo
The University of Oviedo is also one of the main attractions of the city. It was established in 1574 and is therefore one of the oldest universities in Spain.
Another interesting fact is that it is the only university in Asturias. Because of this, Oviedo attracts a lot of students, and around 10% of the city population is studying in the university. The establishment of the university was the main reason for Oviedo’s expansion between the 17th and 19th centuries.
Historically, the university had just three faculties. The main one was the Faculty of Arts – all students had to graduate here to continue in one of the other. The other ones were Faculties of Law and Theology. Today, Oviedo’s university has 31 faculties and over 150 fields of study. It continues to have big influence in the Asturian community.
We highly recommend stopping by to see it. The original university building is particularly interesting to see.
Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias
Finally we get to a museum. All art lovers will probably enjoy the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias. It is full of important Spanish artworks. In the exhibitions, you will find paintings from artists such as El Greco, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Sorolla and several others. It spans across several eras and it is overall a fantastic experience to get in.
The museum is conveniently located in the centre of the city, inside Palacio de Velarde. Very close to the Cathedral, so it should be easy to find. You can read more information on their website, particularly to see the opening hours.
Entry is completely free of charge, which is incredible. We highly recommend it – the Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best attractions in Oviedo!
Archeological Museum of Asturias
As long as we are talking about museums, we should also include this one.
The Archeological Museum of Asturias is certainly also worth a visit. This time, the focus is obviously not on art, but rather on archeology. It shows a lot of the artefacts and items discovered in Asturias throughout the years. You will find items from prehistoric times and all the way up to the modern age.
And it’s not just a museum with a focus on past technologies and such: Be sure to see the 3D projections and other visual models!
Just like the art museum, this one is also completely free of charge. Get more information on opening hours at the Turismo Asturias portal.
Palacio del Conde de Toreno
In the historic part of Oviedo, you will also be able to spot this attraction. An important palace that used to belong to the count of Toreno.
It’s a building in the Baroque style, and it is certainly very unique. It was built in 1675 and has wonderful courtyards and a beautiful facade. While a residence in the past, it is now being used by an organization trying to promote the history and culture of Asturias. Another great place to visit in Oviedo if you are interested in the local culture!
Palacio de Camposagrado
A palace that is newer and slightly larger. Palacio de Camposagrado was constructed in the 18th century, but it also has a Baroque style, just like the previous recommendation.
Unfortunately it is not possible to get inside, but even from the outside, it is a remarkable attraction. The facade is impressive and with a large plaza in front, it is easy to stop by and see it. Palacio de Camposagrado is located right by Plaza de Porlier.
Mercado El Fontán
Spain is famous for its large and open markets. This is a prime example of one, as Mercado El Fontán is the main market of Oviedo!
While the current building was constructed in the 1880s, there has been a market here since the 1200s. It has always been an important place for trading goods. The market is very central, so you should absolutely check it out if you are already doing some sightseeing in Oviedo. You can buy great foods here – they sell a bit of everything. We mostly recommend trying the local cider, or perhaps some classic Asturian cheese.
Santa Maria del Naranco
If we go a bit outside of the city centre (around 3 kilometers), it is possible to find even more interesting attractions. One of them is Iglesia de Santa Maria del Naranco, one of the most unique and famous constructions in Oviedo.
Santa Maria del Naranco used to be a palace. It was built by King Ramiro I and dates all the way back to the year of 848. Later on, it became a church, and it is very interesting to see as it has old inscriptions from the 9th century. You might not have expected it, but Iglesia de Santa Maria del Naranco is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We highly recommend going there, since it is such a rare attraction. The history behind it is really unique, and so is the architecture. The style is pre-Romanesque. Among other things, you will notice Corinthian capitals, twisted columns, large open windows, and – as mentioned earlier – several inscriptions from the past.
San Miguel de Lillo
If you continue a bit up the hill from Santa Maria del Naranco, you will also see this church: Iglesia de San Miguel de Lillo.
This church also has a unique look, and it also dates back to the 9th century. The style of architecture is once again pre-Romanesque. It is worth knowing that the church has been modified a couple of times throughout its history. Experts estimate that around a third of the church still dates back to the 9th century where it was constructed.
There are beautiful motives on the inside, so even aside from the outside architecture, it’s an interesting place. San Miguel de Lillo is one of the five churches that are highly worth visiting when you are in Oviedo.
San Julián de los Prados
Just around a kilometer northeast of the historic centre, Iglesia de San Julián de los Prados is located. Yet another great church in Oviedo that we recommend checking out. It is UNESCO listed, mostly because of its interesting and classical Asturian look.
The church dates back to the 9th century. It was built as a tribute to the couple Julián and Basilisa, they were Christian martyrs. Up until the 11th century, it was the largest Christian building in Spain, as most of the country was Muslim-controlled during that time. To this day it remains the largest pre-Romanesque building in Spain – a great reason why it is so important.
While the surroundings are not very impressive, the church itself is a great sight, and we definitely recommend it as one of the things to see in Oviedo.
Why not grab a bite to eat at Oviedo’s best-rated restaurant?
Gloria has two Michelin stars and is an absolute highlight of the city. Meals are expensive, as you would expect, but they are of the highest quality. The main chef is Nacho Manzano, and the main dishes being served are related to the northern Spanish cuisine. Visit their website to see the full menu of meals and drinks.
Fernando Alonso Museum
World-class racing driver Fernando Alonso is from Oviedo. After achieving great success in Formula 1, he created a museum in the outskirts of the city. Not only is it a museum – it also has a large racing track, designed by the man himself.
Alonso, who won two World Championships in Formula 1, has made a collection of his own items and put them in exhibition here. You will find a lot of trophy and original merchandise. Also, several Formula 1 teams have donated or borrowed cars to the museum. For example, you can see the championship winning Renaults, the 2007 McLaren, Ferraris from the early 2010s, along with the Le Mans winning Toyota of 2018.
Throughout his career, Alonso was famous for trading helmets with the other drivers on the grid. The museum contains many of these, so not only is it a Fernando Alonso museum – it is a racing museum as a whole. You will also find equipment from drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber.
Entry fee is 15 euros to the museum, but there are discount for larger groups. It costs a bit extra to rent a gokart and use the racing track, but it is highly worth it if you are looking for some new and fun things to do in Oviedo! Visit the website of the museum for more information.
We hope that you enjoyed this guide to all the sights and attractions in Oviedo! At the very least, you have a list of 15 potential things to do in the city, so that’s a great start. Be sure to read our guide to sights in Gijón if you plan on visiting it – most travelers visit both Gijón and Oviedo when being in Asturias.
Aside from that, thank you for reading, and we wish you a great trip to Oviedo!