Oviedo is a little-explored but fantastic city close to the north coast of Spain, in the region of Asturias. Famous for its cider, cheese, fabada bean stew, pre-Romanesque churches and for being a good jump-off point for getting to the Picos de Europa.
How to Get There
Not as far from the popular destinations of San Sebastian and Madrid as Galicia, Asturias offers a great taste of 'green Spain' without having to travel as far.
The nearest airport to Oviedo is Asturias airport, which is mainly served by domestic flights, though there are flights to Lisbon and London. Santander is the next nearest airport, which has a few international flights offered by Ryanair.
How to Get to Oviedo From Madrid
The bus from Madrid to Oviedo takes around five-and-a-half hours. There are a few trains a day, but they're not much quicker and cost three times as much.
There' s lots to see en route from Madrid to Oviedo, the most obvious cities being Salamanca - famous for its beautiful Plaza Mayor - and Leon, one of the top tapas destinations in Spain.
Note that there is no direct train from Salamanca, so consider going via Segovia, if you haven't already been as a day trip from Madrid.
The quickest and cheapest way to get from Leon to Oviedo is by bus. There are buses throughout the day, run by ALSA.
The journey takes around one-a-half-hours.
There are a few trains each day from Leon to Oviedo. The journey takes just over two hours. Book train tickets from Rail Europe.
The 125km journey from Leon to Oviedo takes about one-and-a-quarter hours by car. Follow the AP-66 and A-66 roads. Note that some of these roads are toll roads.
You can hire a car to get you there.
The main RENFE train network doesn't cover this route. You can take the scenic route by taking the FEVE local train service, but this takes at best 7h30 (and still requires a change in Santander).
The bus from Bilbao to Oviedo takes between 3h30 and five hours, depending on the time of day you travel.
The 300km from Bilbao to Oviedo can be covered in about three hours, driving mainly on the A-8 roads. Consider a stop in Santander to break up your journey.
From Santiago de Compostela
Buses from Santiago to Oviedo take four hours. There are no direct trains.
An interesting scenic route is to take a bus up to Ferrol and then take the narrow-gauge railway to Oviedo, perhaps stopping along the way at Playa de las Catedrales, often described as the most beautiful beach in Spain.
The bus is your only good public transport option. If you're happy driving in Spain, that would be your quickest option. They take five hours.
There are no direct trains between Salamanca and Oviedo. A good recommendation would be to visit Segovia and take the train from there.
Best Time to Visit
Oviedo's main festival is San Mateo in the third week of September, with the two most important days being Dia de America on the 19th and the Dia de San Mateo on the 21st.
Number of Days to Spend (excluding day trips)
One is enough, though the cider may give you a hangover that requires a second day to recover! But Oviedo is an ideal base for day trips to the stunningly beautiful surrounding area.
Three Things to Do in Oviedo
- The pre-Romanesque Churches of San Miguel de Lillo and Santa Maria del Naranco. Built up on the hillside, you can walk, but you might prefer to take a bus from near the train station (no 10) or get a taxi.
- Eat, drink and be merry. Asturias is sidra (cider) country, a fact that is forced down your throat on c/Gascona - which has Bulevar de Sidra (Cider Boulevar) in lights above the street. To go with it, try chorizo a la sidra or Fabada bean stew.
- The pedestrianized city center with a pleasant enough cathedral.
The twin delights of the villages of Covadonga and Cangas de Ovis are the most popular ways to get good views of the Picos de Europa mountain range, though pick any village to the east and you won't be disappointed.
Similarly, the quickest way to the stunning coastline is to go to Gijón, though a little exploration will reward you greatly.
Where to Next?
Distance to Oviedo
From Barcelona 900km - 9h20 by car, 12h by train, 13hrs by bus, 1h20 flight.
From Seville 775km - 10h by car, no direct train, 12h30 by bus, 1h30 flight
From Madrid 450km - 5h by car, 6h30 by train, 5h by bus, 1h flight.
The bus and train stations are virtually side by side - if you arriving by train, head straight out the door and walk down Oviedo's main street, c/Uria, if arriving by bus, turn right out of the station, walk to the train station and join c/Uria from there.
After walking through the main shopping area of Oviedo, c/Uria ends - take the road in front of you (c/Jesus) which takes you to the Iglesia de San Isidro in Plaza de la Constitución. Walk through the Plaza and continue down to Plaza del Sol - turn left and head up to the Cathedral. Once you've seen that, keep walking and you will arrive at c/Gascona, which is the self-titled "Bulevar de la Sidra" (Cider Boulevard).
If you plan on visiting the monuments up on Monte Naranco, you'll need to return to the train station. Near the station on c/Uria is a bus stop - the no.10 takes you right to the monuments and leaves once an hour. If you miss it, you could walk it, but it would be easier to take a taxi up and then walk down.
Before you leave, don't forget to check out the plaza on top of the train station - an interesting mix of multicolored old buildings and tetris-inspired modern ones.