Spain is a popular destination for travelers seeking cities with history, character and beauty, yet so often Gijón is overlooked. I’m not quite sure why, though, since this city is located on the picturesque Cantabrian Sea and is over 5,000 years old. Gijón is home to ancient Roman ruins and beautiful Baroque buildings, and the history of this old coastal town is so rich and extensive that I was barely able to brush the surface of Gijón’s heritage during my stay. And, of course, if beaches are your thing, Gijón has plenty of pretty beaches to entice you. So no matter what you’re looking for in a vacation spot, Gijón has it.
While working in Madrid for a few months in the summer, I had a sudden craving to escape the landlocked city and head to the coast. A few locals recommended that I visit Gijón, so without hesitating, I bought a train ticket out of Madrid and opened HotelTonight’s app to book a last-minute hotel in Gijón. Within a few minutes, I had booked a charming hotel in Gijón’s city center, and I was ready to embrace the easygoing lifestyle of the Cantabrian coast.
As the location of the old Roman settlement, Cimadevilla (or Cimavilla) is the oldest part of Gijón. If you want to learn about the city’s long, storied past, this is the place to start your tour. One of my favorite parts of exploring Gijón was visiting the ruins of the old Roman Baths, which are still in quite impressive condition. The city of Gijón didn’t just disappear after the Roman Empire fell, though, and it played important roles in European trade in later centuries. In the 16th century, Gijón became a successful commercial port, and today’s the city’s old town is a beautiful, historic center where you can find incredible architecture, stunning views of the marina and quaint shops and restaurants.
There are many reasons why people visit Gijón, such as the food, the sunshine and the history. But one of the most common reasons why people flock to Gijón is for the beach. This coastal town in Asturias boasts some of the prettiest beaches in this area of Spain, so it’s no wonder why Gijón becomes a vacation hot spot during the summer months. Even though I was only in Gijón for a long weekend, I still had plenty of time to explore the region’s beaches. One of the most popular beaches in the region, and all of Spain, actually, is Playa de San Lorenzo, which boasts a wide, sandy beach and bright blue water. I also loved Poniente Beach, which is a bit calmer and less crowded than St. Lorenzo, so it’s a good option if you just want to relax and unwind on a pretty Spanish beach.
Gijón is a port town, and it’s rapidly becoming one of the busiest ports in Western Europe. While the port is not necessarily a sight you should run out to see, I would recommend exploring the marina, where you’ll find everything from modest sailboats to fancy yachts. The marina is particularly beautiful at night, when the lights from the city sparkle on the water and the boats bob peacefully at their docks. The marina is the perfect area for a nighttime stroll (or a stroll at anytime of the day, really), and it’s just further proof that Gijón is one of Spain’s most charming towns.
Camino de Santiago, the long pilgrimage route that stretches across Europe, passes through Gijón, which is why this Asturias town is a great destination if you’re interested in walking some of this ancient trail. On my last morning in Gijón, I laced up my walking shoes, slathered on some sunscreen, and headed out to Camino de Santiago. Even though I only walked about three miles on the trail, this walk was one of the most memorable moments of my stay in Gijón, as it made me feel connected to the millions of other people who have traveled this route before me.
If you’re looking for rugged coastal beauty, look no further than Cabo de Peñas. This rocky strip of land juts out into the Cantabrian Sea, and it’s the northernmost point on the Iberian Peninsula. This cape features dramatic cliffs, beautiful beaches and several nearby fishing villages. As I hiked around Peñas Cape, I reminisced on my whirlwind weekend, and I decided right then and there that I would one day return to Gijón.
The coastal town of Gijón may not be most travelers’ first stop in Spain, but I definitely believe it should be on travelers’ lists. I loved every moment of my time in this Asturias town, and I was so glad I was able to make my impromptu weekend getaway possible. I have HotelTonight to thank for making it so easy for me to book a great last-minute in Gijón, because otherwise this unforgettable trip may have never happened.