Gijón: The Complete Guide

Gijón

Located along the Cantabrian Sea, Gijón presents a captivating blend of maritime tradition, historic landmarks, and contemporary urban design right at the water’s edge. Its harbor serves as a testament to its deep-rooted connection to the sea over the centuries. Gijón was honored with a nomination in the European Commission’s EDEN program (European Destinations of Excellence), underscoring its commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives.

History of Gijón

Ancient Times

Gijón’s history dates back to ancient times when it was settled by Celtic tribes known as the Astures. The area later came under Roman rule during the 1st century BC when it was known as Gigia. The Romans established it as a thriving port and trade center due to its strategic location along the Cantabrian Sea. Numerous Roman artifacts and structures, including baths and villas, attest to Gijón’s importance during this period.

Middle Ages

During the early Middle Ages, Gijón, then known as Xixón in Asturian language, became part of the Kingdom of Asturias. It served as a defensive stronghold against Moorish invasions and played a role in the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The city’s strategic position on the coast ensured its continued importance throughout the medieval period.

Renaissance and Early Modern Period

In the 16th century, Gijón experienced growth and development as a maritime and commercial center. The city expanded its port facilities and shipbuilding industry, becoming a hub for trade with the Americas. However, like much of Spain, Gijón also faced challenges such as pirate attacks and economic fluctuations.

Industrialization and Modern Era

The 19th century brought significant changes to Gijón with the onset of industrialization. The city’s economy diversified with the establishment of ironworks, steel mills, and other industries. This period of industrial growth transformed Gijón into one of Spain’s key industrial centers, attracting workers from across the region.

Contemporary Gijón

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Gijón has continued to evolve as a modern city while preserving its historical and cultural heritage. The city is renowned for its cultural scene, including music festivals, art galleries, and museums. Gijón’s beaches, parks, and coastal landscapes also make it a popular destination for tourism and recreation.

Today, Gijón is celebrated for its blend of ancient history, industrial heritage, and vibrant contemporary culture, making it a dynamic city with much to offer visitors interested in exploring the diverse facets of Asturian history and lifestyle.

Visiting Gijón for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Gijón on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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Best Time to Visit Gijón

Spring

Spring is an excellent time to visit Gijón when the city begins to bloom with vibrant colors. The weather is mild and pleasant, perfect for exploring outdoor attractions such as the beaches, parks, and historical landmarks. Cultural events and festivals also start to unfold, offering visitors a chance to experience local traditions and festivities.

Summer

Summer is the peak season in Gijón, attracting visitors with its warm temperatures and lively atmosphere. The city’s beaches, such as San Lorenzo Beach, become popular spots for sunbathing and water sports. The marina and waterfront promenades buzz with activity, and outdoor cafes and restaurants offer a taste of Asturian cuisine. Summer evenings are ideal for enjoying cultural events, concerts, and festivals under the clear skies.

Autumn

Autumn in Gijón brings cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, making it a quieter time to explore the city’s cultural and historical treasures. The parks and gardens display beautiful autumn foliage, creating picturesque settings for leisurely walks. It’s an ideal season for visiting museums, art galleries, and attending cultural events that continue to enrich the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Winter

Winter in Gijón is mild compared to many other European cities, offering a tranquil atmosphere for exploring indoor attractions. The city’s museums, including the Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura and the Railway Museum of Asturias, provide fascinating insights into local history and culture. Winter also offers opportunities to enjoy traditional Asturian cuisine in cozy restaurants and cafes, making it a pleasant time for a relaxed getaway.

Average Temperatures in Gijón

  • January 13°C 17
  • February 15°C 17
  • March 17°C 13
  • April 18°C 13
  • May 20°C 11
  • June 23°C 14
  • July 25°C 7
  • August 25°C 8
  • September 24°C 9
  • October 22°C 14
  • November 17°C 21
  • December 16°C 15

How to get to Gijón

Traveling to Gijón, Spain, is convenient and offers several transportation options depending on your starting point:

By Air

The nearest major airport to Gijón is Asturias Airport (OVD), located approximately 40 kilometers northwest of the city. From Asturias Airport, you can reach Gijón by:

  • Rental Car: Renting a car at the airport is a convenient option for traveling to Gijón. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes via the A-8 highway.
  • Taxi or Airport Shuttle: Taxis and airport shuttle services are available at Asturias Airport. It’s advisable to arrange transportation in advance or upon arrival at the airport.

By Train

Gijón is well-connected by train services operated by RENFE (Spanish National Railway Company). The city has two main train stations:

  • Gijón Railway Station (Estación de Gijón Sanz Crespo): Located in the city center, this station serves high-speed AVE trains from major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, as well as regional and local trains within Asturias.
  • Gijón Cercanías Station: This station serves Cercanías (commuter) trains connecting Gijón with nearby towns and cities within the region.

By Car

Driving to Gijón is possible via several major highways:

  • From Madrid: Take the A-6 and then the A-66 towards Gijón. The journey takes approximately 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
  • From Bilbao: Take the A-8 highway towards Gijón. The journey takes around 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • From Santiago de Compostela: Take the AP-9 and then the A-8 towards Gijón. The journey takes approximately 4.5 to 5 hours.

By Bus

Several bus companies operate routes to Gijón from major cities across Spain. The main bus station in Gijón is Estación de Autobuses de Gijón, located near the city center. Buses provide regular services to and from cities like Madrid, Bilbao, Santander, and Oviedo.

Local Transport

Once in Gijón, the city is compact and can be explored on foot or by local buses operated by Empresa Municipal de Transportes Urbanos de Gijón (EMTUSA). Taxis are also available for shorter journeys or convenience.

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