Spain’s Asturias region has close to 250 varieties of apple. Small wonder, then, that the inhabitants of this northern area have a tradition of making cider – even though cider might not be the first thing that crosses the mind of a traveller thinking about Spain.
Wine might be what most people associate with the Iberian Peninsula. Grapes are scarce here, though: the Asturias region is not really winemaking country. It’s too far north, and too close to the Atlantic coast – and the notorious Bay of Biscay. That’s okay. Wine has its place. Cider, or sidra, is one of the things that give this area a distinct flavor of its own.
The second-largest city in the Asturias region, Gijón no doubt adds its own taste to the area. Apples, of course, but also saltiness. This is a busy fishing port where you will find seafood that is second to none. Sea urchins, for example, are considered to be one of the most exquisite gastronomic specialties here. Washed down with a couple of glasses of sidra, of course.
Even though gastronomy is important here, Gijón has a lot more to offer visitors. This city of some 300,000 inhabitants offers good shopping possibilities as well as a number of beaches – one of which can be found at the heart of the city.
For the historically and culturally interested, Gijón’s Roman heritage will no doubt also spice up a visit here. The city keeps its Roman past alive with the Campa de Torres Archaeological Site, one of the main fortified settlements in the north of Spain (established before 490 B.C.).
It is said that the port of Gijón was established even before the Romans got here, but traces of their presence are tangible. Not least through the Via de la Plata. Starting (or ending) in Gijón, this communications route was once established by the Romans in order to cart precious metals and minerals south. Asturias is a region that is rich in mountains and mines. Nowadays a touristic route, the Via de la Plata leads to Seville in the south of Spain.
For those following the Via de la Plata, as well as for those who sooner or later have to depart Gijón on their cruise ship, it might be tempting to bring a bottle or two of the local cider. A word of caution, though: According to popular belief, the sidra will lose its flavor if taken outside Asturia.
It’s a good thing, then, that memories of this spicy Spanish region can be long lasting.
Cruise ships dock at the port of Gijón, which is situated some 3.7 miles from the city center. Shuttle buses are offered on arrival, as is tourist information.
Situated in a former university building just outside Gijón, the Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura is a cultural meeting place for art, theatre, design and music. In front of this special venue is the Atlantic botanical garden – unique on the northwest Spanish coast.
Gijón features a host of museums, catering to a wide range of interests. Examples include the Museo Barjola, about the local painter Juan Barjola; and the Museo del Ferrocarril de Asturias, a railroad museum situated close to the Poniente Beach. Gijón also features two museums for fine arts: the Museo Nicanor Piñole and the Museo Casa Natal de Jovellanos.
If you prefer staying outdoors, it might be worth knowing that Gijón features more than 13 miles/21 kilometers of bike lanes. Rent a bike and get to know the city from the saddle.
If you need a goal when pedaling along, spotting the many open-air monuments throughout Gijón might be one possibility.
Gastronomy is important here. Why not sample the local gourmet restaurants during a ”Gijón Gourmet” tour? There are nine official restaurants to choose from. Or find your own favorite among the city’s many eating-places.
A number of shore excursions in and around Gijón can be on offer. Examples include:
- One of the most important towns in the Asturias region, Avilés is guarded by the Castle of Gauzón. You will find several other prominent buildings in Avilés, which also features the most important fish market in the Asturias region. The drive from Gijón takes about half an hour.
- Farther away (a bit more than one hour’s drive) is the Santuario de Covadonga. This destination played an important role in the reconquest of Spain, when the Moors were driven out of the country.
- Tours of Gijón and its surroundings can be on offer, many of which include visits to regional cider houses.
- Oviedo, the regional capital, can be the goal of some shore excursions. Situated farther inland than Gijón, Oviedo is considered the most culturally significant city of the region. The drive to one of Woody Allen’s favorite cities takes approximately half an hour.
Madrid, Spain’s capital, is some 292 miles/470 kilometers away. Seville, the final stop on the Via de la Plata, is farther away: 515 miles/830 kilometers.
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Gijón.
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