Our opinion of Oviedo
Although many tourists heading for the Picos de Europa will bypass Oviedo because of its reputation as an industrial and built up metropolis, they will have missed an opportunity to explore one of northern Spain's great cities.
A summary of good things about Oviedo
The initial image of Oviedo as a bleak and industrial town is quickly dismissed as you enter this wealthy and prosperous principality and discover its beautifully intact medieval old town.
Along with Aviles, Oviedo combines a contemporary outlook with plenty of history and an old district that contains all the atmosphere, architecture and activity that every culture vacationer would hope to find. The original medieval town is beautiful and only those with exceptionally high expectations will be disappointed by it.
Naturally the high points of Oviedo include the medieval quarter with it magnificent cathedral, civic buildings and open plazas, but the ease with which you can find your way around this city and the extra bonuses like the street full of sidrerias make Oviedo something special.
Away from the old town Oviedo offers a clean smart twenty first century city with most areas being pedestrian only.
There are a near limitless numberof bars and places to eat and the shopping is excellent. Oviedo successfully bridges the gap between protecting its heritage whilst offering all the facilities expected of a modern capital city.
Oviedo has an active nightlife, especially in the historic quarter, and it has numerous galleries and museums for those wishing to concentrate on the arts or culture. It is a city where one can spend a few hours, or three or four days and it also has easy access to Aviles and Gijon, just a few kilometers away.
Road access is also good (and with a new motorway getting better) to neighbouring regions like the Basque Country and Galicia.
Oviedo's only failings are superficial. As you approach the city the plumes of smoke from the factories and collieries close by are less than appealing, but they are in reality some distance away from the actual city. Oviedo is clean and smart and does not smell like some industrial centres do.
Hotel accommodation in Oviedo is limited, not by numbers, but by standards. Most of the city's hotels fall into the typical characterless “business” category. This means that they are fairly expensive, furnished in an uncreative and bland way, and that they inspire you to leave them as soon as possible. That said this should help any visitor to maximize the time spent in this very tourist worthy city.
If you visit Asturias and you can include Oviedo in your itinerary, do so. You are unlikely to be disappointed by what you find.
Oviedo is a city with a lot of history and this is well represented in its buildings, atmosphere and city culture.
It is clean, well populated with attractive squares and certainly worth a visit if you are driving across Asturias and towards the more scenic areas around Cangas de Onis and Covadonga.
Oviedo also offers architecture that, whilst not as colorful, is more imposing and grand than that ofthe very attractive city of Aviles.
Finally, if you are stuck between visting Gijon or Oviedo, then Oviedo should definately be your first and best choice (no offence intended to Gijon).
Oviedo may lack the port and marina of Gijon, but it still has more to see and frankly it is a prettier city.