Gijon, Spain

The scenic Spanish city of Gijon is capital of the Asturias region of northern Spain, and looks over the beautiful Bay of Biscay, with the grand Picos de Europa mountain range as its inland backdrop.

Fringed by attractive beaches, the city has its fair share of grand architecture, sculptures and museums, including one devoted solely to bagpipes from around the world.

The area has a rich, hearty cuisine based on fish and seafood, slow cooked stews, beans, cakes and rice puddings. This is also a region of cheeses, with more than 40 varieties, often served with cider which tends to take preference over wine here.

The history of the port stretches back some 3,000 years, and its ancient roots are remembered at the Campo Valdés Roman Baths, the largest and best-preserved baths in northern Spain. A short drive outside the city, the remains of the Roman Villa of Veranes occupy a hillside, while the Campa Torres Archaeological Park dates back even further, before the Romans arrived.

Venturing 12 miles or so away from the coast, you can step into the past within the Asturian capital of Oviedo. The Old Quarter is a World Heritage Site and its centerpiece is the magnificent gothic Cathedral of San Salvador. Many other gems catch the attention here though, from San Julián de los Prados, an early ninth-century church with an intricately painted interior, to the main market and tempting little pastry shops.

One of the most distinctive sights within the Old Quarter of Gijon is the imposing Palacio de Revillagigedo, with its square turreted towers. The Church of St. John the Baptist and the sculpture of the King Pelayo are among the other highlights here. You may seek the calming sanctuary of the impressive botanical gardens and a number of intriguing galleries and museums.

The old fishing village Cimadevilla is the postcard face of Gijon. This photogenic part of the city juts out into the sea on a narrow headland, filled with tall houses, painted in yellows, oranges and reds, overlooking a yacht-filled marina. Should you feel energetic here, the city’s many cycle lanes may encourage exploration on two wheels, while a hike up the Cerro de Santa Catalina will provide you with exceptional views of the outstretched coastline and hills renowned as the greenest in Spain.