Beaches and parks in Gijon
The coastal area around Gijon has a number of beaches with the city itself having two main stretches of sand.
A natural headland projects out into the ocean and divides the sea front of Gijon in to two distinct sectors. The first has the city's marina and to the side of it is the “Sunset” beach (playa de Poniente). This is the smaller of the two city beaches and it wraps itself around the harbour. There is ample beach side parking and for those wanting a break from the sun a railway museum just a few minutes walk away.
The second of the Gijons's beaches is found to the other side of the headland and is called “la playa de San Lorenzo”. This is a very large beach that arcs its way around the far side of the city. It has a path or promenade that shadows it and features a number of useful facilities ranging from a tourist office and car parking to some ornamental gardens (Jardines de Nautico).
Both of Gijon's beaches can get busy on sunny summer days, but equally they are of a size that ensures that all bathers have some space to themselves.
Moving beyond the boundaries of the city there are numerous other beaches for tourists to enjoy. If the Asturian weather is good and the (cooler) sea temperatures can be “endured”, this is a great area for beaches.
City parks and gardens
Within the area close to the old district, the two “green” retreats that most tourists encounter are the large park above the old town called the “Cerro de Santa Catalina” and the city's more formal gardens called the “jardines de Nautico”.
The Cerro de Santa Catalina's biggest appeal is the great views it offers, firstly looking back down towards the city and secondly across the marina and out to sea. This park on a hill also has a large abstract sculpture called the “Elogio del Horizonte” and when you descend to its perimeter there are still some visible ruins of the original town wall. The route around the park can also be used as part of a more complete tour of Gijon's old district.
The formal “Nautical” gardens sit just behind the long beach of “la playa de San Lorenzo” and there are some much smaller gardens on the opposite side of the headland called “la Jardines de la Reina”.
Jardin Botanico Atlantico
Outside the main hub of the city there is the much larger “Jardin Botanico Atlantico” gardens with woodlands, ornamental features and cultivated flowers.
These gardens cover twenty five hectares and have over 30,000 different varieties of plants split across four garden zones. The oldest parts of these gardens date back to 1870 and emphasis is placed not just on the garden's beauty, but also on education.