- Introduction to Oviedo
- Brief history of Oviedo
- Geographic location and climate
- Culture and lifestyle
- Best time to visit
- Top Tourist Attractions
- The Oviedo Cathedral (Catedral de San Salvador)
- Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias
- Pre-Romanesque Monuments (Santa Maria del Naranco, San Miguel de Lillo)
- Fontán Square and Market
- University of Oviedo
- Exploring local cuisine
- Best traditional dishes to try
- Top-rated traditional restaurants
- Local markets for food lovers
- Local drink specialities
- Outdoor Activities in Oviedo
- Walking through the San Francisco Park
- Exploring the old town on foot
- Hiking trails near Oviedo
- Festivals and events to experience
- Attending a football match at Nuevo Carlos Tartiere Stadium
- Accommodation and Transportation
- Overview of accommodation options from budget to luxury
- Public transportation in Oviedo
- Car rentals and local taxis
- Accessibility for disabled visitors
- Tips for safe and convenient travel within Oviedo
Introduction to Oviedo
Brief history of Oviedo
Oviedo, the capital city of the Principality of Asturias, was founded in the 8th century by two monks, Maximo and Fromestano. It wasn’t until King Alfonso II made it his royal court in the 9th century that the city gained prominence. Known for its pre-Romanesque architecture, the city flourished during the Middle Ages. It underwent modernization in the 19th and 20th centuries, but much of Oviedo’s historical architecture remains intact. Oviedo is a blend of the medieval and the modern, the deep rooted traditions and contemporary vibes.
Geographic location and climate
Nestled in the heart of the Asturias region, Oviedo sits in the northern part of Spain, surrounded by verdant mountains and crystal-clear rivers. Its central location provides an easy access to the beautiful Asturian coast, just 30 kilometers away. Deemed as having a maritime climate, Oviedo experiences mild, wet winters and comfortably warm summers. A touch of rainfall adds a serene vibe throughout the year. This harmonious combination makes the city an attractive destination anytime, offering a bounty of natural and architectural beauty.
Culture and lifestyle
Oviedo's culture is richly tinted with remnants of its Roman and medieval past. Cathedral of San Salvador, historic old town, and numerous museums exhibit this cultural heritage. Renowned University of Oviedo attracts intellects, lending a vibrant youthful exuberance to the city. The lifestyle here is quintessentially Spanish with an Asturian twist. Slow pace of life, time-honored traditions and delicious Asturian cuisine mark Oviedo’s lifestyle. Be sure to enjoy local cider, fabada (a hearty bean stew), and quesos (cheese) for an authentic taste of Oviedo.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Oviedo is between June and September when the temperatures are warm and comfortable. During these months, you can fully enjoy outdoor attractions and local events. However, consider coming during the San Mateo Festival in September for a cultural treat. This features dance, music, cuisine, and vibrant markets. Just remember, summer can also be peak tourist season. Hence, expect larger crowds and slightly higher prices. For quieter exploration, consider spring or fall.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Oviedo Cathedral (Catedral de San Salvador)
Located in the heart of Oviedo, the Oviedo Cathedral, also known as Catedral de San Salvador, is an iconic symbol of Gothic architecture. This magnificent cathedral showcases intricate designs, a historical tapestry collection, and breathtaking stained-glass windows. Its soaring towers, stunning altarpiece, and an unparalleled collection of religious artefacts make this cathedral a must-visit destination. Undeniably, visit to the Camara Santa, a UNESCO World Heritage site within the cathedral, known for its beautiful jewellery and religious relics, is truly mesmerizing.
Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias
The Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias, housed in three historic buildings, is the city's cultural gem. This extensive museum showcases over 10,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and glass objects spanning several centuries. Their encyclopedic collection features pieces from iconic artists like El Greco and Goya, along with local talent from Asturias. A must-visit spot for art lovers, its engaging exhibitions expertly merge ancient art with contemporary creativity.
Pre-Romanesque Monuments (Santa Maria del Naranco, San Miguel de Lillo)
Oviedo is rich in Pre-Romanesque architecture, most notably Santa Maria del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo. Santa Maria del Naranco, originally a palace, astonishes visitors with its detailed stonework and structural sophistication reflecting a style unique to the region. Just a short walk away, San Miguel de Lillo, once part of a larger complex, now stands as a charmingly small, but impressively crafted church. Both monuments, dating back to the 9th century, encapsulate the history and are must-visits for architecture enthusiasts touring Oviedo.
Fontán Square and Market
Vibrant and historical, Fontán Square is the epicenter of Oviedo's urban life. Here, you'll find not only stunning architecture, but also numerous cafes and eateries showcasing Asturian cuisine. Just adjacent to the square is the bustling Fontán Market. Packed with stalls that sell locally sourced products, from fresh seafood to artisan cheese, it offers a unique opportunity to experience the region's culinary richness. Include a visit on a Thursday or Sunday to catch the traditional market day, a tradition dating back to the 18th century.
University of Oviedo
The grandiose University of Oviedo is a must-visit site rooted in deep historical significance. Founded in the 16th century, the university blends traditional architecture with modern academia, offering an enchanting setting that invites exploration. You can engage in a self-guided tour around its majestic cloisters, throughout the classical buildings, and among the bustling local students. Don't miss the University's old library, a hidden gem rich in antique scripts and books. The University of Oviedo offers a rare glimpse into Spain's educational heritage.
Exploring local cuisine
Best traditional dishes to try
On your culinary journey in Oviedo, the "Fabada Asturiana" is a must-try. This hearty white bean stew simmered with pork, sausage and saffron will hook you with its robust flavors. Pair this with "Sidra", the local apple cider, to complete the traditional Asturian dining experience. The city is also famous for its seafood dishes. "Caldereta de Pescado", a fish stew loaded with crayfish, crabs and clams, is worth savouring. For dessert, indulge in "Arroz con Leche", a deliciously creamy rice pudding. Don't leave Oviedo without savoring these regional specialties!
Top-rated traditional restaurants
El Fontán is an iconic eatery in Oviedo, famous for its Asturian cuisine including fabada - a rich hearty bean stew. Tucked into the old town, its old-style decor and friendly service add to the charm. Casa Ramón serves local dishes in an upscale setting, showcasing Asturian gastronomy at its best. The seafood and cheese platter are must-tries. Asador del Arco is another top pick for those wanting to delve into the local cuisine. Known for its tasty meat dishes, this spot adds modern twists to traditional recipes.
Local markets for food lovers
Oviedo's food markets are a treat for food enthusiasts. The Mercado del Fontán is a must-visit, where locals purchase fresh produce, cheeses, and Asturian delicacies. Wander through a maze of tapas bars, bakeries and fish stalls for a sensory overload. The Mercado de Abastos also deserves a visit, famous for a range of indigenous foods. Watch the town come alive during the weekly outdoor market on Thursdays, offering local fruits, vegetables, and Regional specialties. These markets represent local cuisine at its finest.
Local drink specialities
Oviedo’s drink scene is authentic and compelling. Well known for its cider, or 'sidra', this region of Spain serves it in a unique style; the bottle is held high in the air, pouring the drink into a glass held below the waist to aerate it. Try the Asturian cider in any of the ‘sidrerías’ in Gascona Street, locally known as 'The Cider Boulevard'. For wine lovers, enjoy the local wine, Vino de Cangas, made from grapes grown in the nearby region of Cangas del Narcea. A local specialty not to miss is Aguardiente de Orujo, a strong digestive spirit that is sometimes flavored with coffee or honey.
Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is renowned for its local cuisine. Sidra Asturiana, a traditional apple cider, is widely enjoyed alongside hearty dishes like fabada Asturiana, an indulgent bean stew laced with chorizo and blood sausage. Seafood is plentiful in Oviedo, given its proximity to the coast. Sample delightful calamares a la Asturiana (Asturian squid) or Navajas al natural (Razor clams). Remember to end your meal on a sweet note with Carbayones, local almond pastries with a luscious glaze. The culinary scene in Oviedo encapsulates the living traditions of Spanish cuisine, making it a dream destination for food aficionados.
Outdoor Activities in Oviedo
Walking through the San Francisco Park
Take a relaxing stroll through the sprawling greenery of San Francisco Park, one of Oviedo's most beautiful urban landscapes. This charming park offers an array of serene walking routes, bursting with exotic plants and flowers, as well as a charming duck pond. Additionally, the park is rich in historical significance, home to monuments from the medieval times. You'll find the sculpture of La Gorda, Oviedo’s most beloved sculpture at this park. Unwind and admire the fusion of natural beauty and historical charm that San Francisco Park has in abundance.
Exploring the old town on foot
Start your journey in the bustling Plaza de la Constitución, home to the city's Town Hall. Walk through the narrow, picturesque streets lined with traditional Asturian architecture. Notice the street signs are in both Spanish and Asturian, reflecting the city's cultural heritage. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Cámara Santa de Oviedo, a part of the stunning Oviedo Cathedral complex. There, you will find ancient artifacts and religious treasures. End your tour at Fontán Market for local culinary delights. Strolling around Oviedo's old town on foot is the best way to immerse yourself in its history and everyday life.
Hiking trails near Oviedo
Oviedo offers multitude hiking options with its picturesque mountains and verdant landscapes. The Naranco Mountain shelters trails for all levels with captivating sights of city panoramas and ancient monuments. For the seasoned hiker, the challenging 21.6 km "Ruta las Xanas" awaits. This route reveals breathtaking mountain scenery and verdant forests. Shorter trails, like "El Camino Real," are also worth exploring. Whichever trail you choose, hiking near Oviedo promises stunning views and unforgettable experiences. Pack your walking boots and get ready for adventurous exploration!
Festivals and events to experience
Enjoy Oviedo's bustling cultural life at the city's annual festivals and events. The most significant is San Mateo Fiesta, a week-long celebration in September filled with music, dance, bullfights and cidra, a popular local cider. Christmas time transforms the city into a twinkling wonderland, while 'Night of the Sábana' in August provides a unique canvas painting extravaganza. No visit to Oviedo is complete without immersing yourself in these colorful occasions.
Attending a football match at Nuevo Carlos Tartiere Stadium
Experience a football match at Nuevo Carlos Tartiere Stadium, home to the Oviedo Football Club. This electric atmosphere attracts a passionate crowd, offering tourists an authentic taste of Spain's soccer culture. The stadium seats up to 30,000 spectators and its facilities offer a comfortable viewing experience. Depending on the season, you might even catch a match between Oviedo and one of Spain's top football clubs. This enriching cultural experience is a must-do when visiting Oviedo.
Accommodation and Transportation
Overview of accommodation options from budget to luxury
Oviedo offers a broad spectrum of accommodations catering to different budgets. Backpackers and price-conscious travelers can find inexpensive lodgings in hostels or budget hotels located near the city centre or university district. Mid-range travelers can opt for boutique accommodations offering a balance of comfort and tradition; some reside in restored historic buildings. Those seeking luxury have a choice of 4-star and 5-star hotels, often housed in stately mansions or modern structures with high-end amenities.
Public transportation in Oviedo
Oviedo offers a robust system of public transport with buses, trains, and taxis. Municipal Bus Services run across the city and nearby towns, while trains (FEVE, Renfe) are great for longer trips. Taxis are another convenient option but can be expensive. For more flexibility, consider renting a bike from numerous spots around the city. Ensure to grab a transport map from any tourist office.
Car rentals and local taxis
Oviedo has multiple car rental services like Avis, Europcar, and Hertz, available near the airport and the city center. They offer a diverse fleet of cars to suit various budget and taste. It's a practical option for exploring distant attractions. Local taxis are prevalent and can be easily hailed off the street or booked online. Tariffs are meter-based but higher at night and on public holidays. Make sure to keep small change handy for a seamless experience. Whether you rent a car or take a taxi, both ways are convenient for experiencing Oviedo's charms.
Accessibility for disabled visitors
Oviedo is moderately wheelchair friendly, with ramps and slopes complimenting most public areas. Many city sights, hotels, and restaurants have been adapted for physical disabilities, with low counters and wide entranceways. Public transportation like buses are equipped with platforms for wheelchair users. Though, it's recommended to double-check with taxi services for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Notably, the pedestrianised city centre is hassle-free for disabled visitors. Despite these amenities, some of the older parts of the city, with cobbled streets and narrow lanes, may prove challenging to navigate. So, it is advised to plan wisely.
Tips for safe and convenient travel within Oviedo
Oviedo offers efficient public transportation, including buses and taxis. Make sure to have some loose change on hand for bus fares. Taxis are considered safe but ensure the meter is used to avoid overcharging. Walking is also a common mode of transport owing to the city's compact layout. However, always maintain caution at night and stick to well-lit areas. Likewise, bike rentals are popular and easily accessible, offering a healthy and cost-effective means to explore the city. Remember to carry a map or GPS, Spain's streets can be confusing for newcomers.
Have a good trip!