Oviedo: The Complete Guide

Catedral De Oviedo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Simon Burchell

Nestled between the north Spanish coast and the often snow-dusted peaks of the Cordillera Cantábrica, Oviedo, the capital of beautifully green Asturias, is a lively and elegant city. The former Ovetum, closely linked to the Asturian monarchy since its foundation in the 8th century and once the capital of the Kingdom, retains a distinct medieval charm in its historic quarter. In modern times, the city has been thoughtfully designed for easy navigation.

Oviedo is an exceptional starting point to explore unique pre-Romanesque art, recognized as a World Heritage site, and to enjoy the beautiful Costa Verde coastline and incredible natural landscapes perfect for various sports. The city boasts a thriving food-and-drink scene and a first-class gastronomic culture, featuring Asturias’s 40-odd cheeses and local cider poured traditional-style from up high. Though often overlooked by foreign visitors, Oviedo is popular with savvy Spanish travelers who come to wander around the medieval center and experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

History of Oviedo

Early History

Oviedo, located in the region of Asturias in northern Spain, has its origins in the early Middle Ages. The city was founded in 761 AD by two monks, Máximo and Fromestano, who established a monastery on a hill known as Oveto. The monastery quickly grew in importance and attracted a community of settlers.

Kingdom of Asturias

In the late 8th century, Oviedo became the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias under King Fruela I. The city’s significance increased as it became the political, religious, and cultural center of the kingdom. During this period, several important buildings were constructed, including the San Salvador Cathedral and the royal palace.

Reconquista and Medieval Period

Oviedo played a crucial role during the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rule. The city served as a refuge and a strategic base for Christian forces. Throughout the medieval period, Oviedo continued to develop, with the construction of churches, monasteries, and other religious institutions.

Renaissance and Early Modern Period

During the Renaissance, Oviedo experienced significant growth and modernization. The city expanded beyond its medieval walls, and new public buildings and infrastructure were developed. The University of Oviedo was founded in 1608, further establishing the city as a center of learning and culture.

Industrial Revolution

The 19th century brought industrialization to Oviedo, transforming it into a significant industrial and commercial hub. The development of coal mining and steel production in Asturias contributed to the city’s economic growth. Oviedo also became a key transportation center with the expansion of the railway network.

Spanish Civil War

Oviedo played a notable role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The city was besieged by Republican forces but remained under Nationalist control throughout most of the conflict. The war caused significant damage to Oviedo, and extensive reconstruction efforts were required in the post-war period.

Contemporary Oviedo

Today, Oviedo is a vibrant and modern city that retains its historical charm. It serves as the administrative capital of the Principality of Asturias and is known for its rich cultural heritage, including numerous historical landmarks, museums, and cultural events. Oviedo’s historic center, with its well-preserved medieval architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Oviedo continues to be a significant cultural and economic center in northern Spain, attracting visitors with its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Visiting Oviedo 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 Oviedo 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 Oviedo


Spring, from March to May, is one of the best times to visit Oviedo. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). This season is ideal for exploring the city’s historic sites, parks, and enjoying the blooming flowers.


Summer, from June to August, is warm and lively, with temperatures typically ranging from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F). This is the peak tourist season, making it a great time to experience Oviedo’s vibrant festivals, outdoor events, and the bustling food-and-drink scene.


Autumn, from September to November, offers cooler temperatures ranging from 12°C to 22°C (54°F to 72°F). The fall foliage adds a picturesque charm to the city. This season is perfect for exploring Oviedo’s cultural heritage and enjoying its natural landscapes.


Winter, from December to February, is mild with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). This is a quieter time to visit, ideal for those who prefer fewer tourists. Winter is perfect for experiencing the city’s cozy cafes, indoor attractions, and holiday festivities.

Average Temperatures in Oviedo

  • January 13°C 17
  • February 15°C 16
  • March 18°C 13
  • April 18°C 13
  • May 21°C 12
  • June 23°C 15
  • July 26°C 7
  • August 25°C 9
  • September 25°C 9
  • October 22°C 14
  • November 17°C 20
  • December 15°C 15

How to get to Oviedo

Oviedo, located in the Asturias region of northern Spain, is accessible through various modes of transportation:

By Air:

The nearest airport to Oviedo is Asturias Airport (OVD), which is about 47 kilometers (29 miles) from the city.

  • From Asturias Airport:
    • Bus: The Alsa bus service operates regular buses from Asturias Airport to Oviedo. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes.
    • Taxi: Taxis are available at the airport, and the ride to Oviedo takes about 30-40 minutes.
    • Car Rental: Several car rental companies operate at the airport, providing a convenient option for exploring the region.

By Train:

Oviedo has a well-connected train station, Oviedo Railway Station, served by Renfe, Spain’s national railway company.

  • From Madrid: High-speed trains (Alvia) from Madrid to Oviedo take around 5 hours.
  • From Barcelona: Trains from Barcelona to Oviedo take about 9 hours, with connections available in larger cities like Zaragoza or León.
  • From Bilbao: Trains from Bilbao to Oviedo take approximately 4-5 hours.

By Bus:

Several bus companies operate routes to Oviedo from various cities in Spain.

  • From Madrid: Buses from Madrid to Oviedo take around 5-6 hours.
  • From Barcelona: Buses from Barcelona to Oviedo take about 10-11 hours.
  • From Bilbao: Buses from Bilbao to Oviedo take approximately 4-5 hours.

By Car:

Driving to Oviedo is a convenient option, especially for those exploring the surrounding areas.

  • From Madrid: The drive from Madrid to Oviedo takes about 4-5 hours via the A-6 and A-66 highways.
  • From Barcelona: The drive from Barcelona to Oviedo takes about 8-9 hours via the AP-2 and A-2 highways.
  • From Bilbao: The drive from Bilbao to Oviedo takes about 2.5-3 hours via the A-8 highway.

Local Transportation:

  • Walking and Biking: Oviedo is a walkable city with many attractions located close to each other. Biking is also a popular way to get around.
  • Public Buses: The local bus network operated by TUA (Transportes Unidos de Asturias) provides convenient transportation within the city.
  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available for getting around Oviedo.

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