Slowing Down in Gijón, Spain

Gijón, Spain is a place that insists you loosen your tie, forget yesterday’s worries, and let yourself unwind. It presses gently downward, whether with humidity or with a siren´s call, and seats you at a terrace or a bench with seaside views. Before you know it, there’s a cider in hand and you’re channeling the Asturian roots you never knew you had.

Squeezed as it was between a night in León and a wedding in the countryside, our time in Gijón still managed to ooze relaxation. We started our walk at San Lorenzo beach, where we watched couples strolling the boardwalk, musicians lazily strumming, and children playing in the Cantabrian Sea. We continued west, following a sharp ascent. The views that met us at the top were gorgeous ones that we documented with our cameras but knew could never truly capture the moment. Green grass softened our path, seagulls circled the bay, and the cool sea breeze whipped over us. We stood for a few seconds, saying nothing and simply letting the sun warm our shoulders.

Mealtime was no rushed affair, either; the food arrived when the waiter deemed fit. We sampled chipirones spritzed with lemon, local cheeses melted over potatoes, crusty bread, and plump sausages cooked in cider. Meals were washed down with shockingly cheap natural cider. Each bottle cost the same as one drink in Madrid, reminding us of how far we were from the capital–and by extension, the stresses of big-city life.

First views of the beach

Playa de San Lorenzo

The water was cold, but there were plenty of sunbathers

Looking out over the Puerto de Gijón

Elogio del Horizonte, a sculpture by Eduardo Chillida 

A military fortress sat under the sculpture! Signs clearly outlined a route to explore it

Quaint plaza near Parque Begoña

Cider was had (of course!)

Feria in Gijón’s Plaza Mayor

As our bus vroomed away from the seaside town of Gijón, I grinned when I thought about my original almost-trip to see the city. In 2007, I was studying abroad in León, a city only 2 hours south of this coastal town. A friend of mine had invited me check the city out with her and her roommate. I gently declined; the roommate had become more of a boyfriend, and I didn’t see how I would fit into the romantic-stroll-on-the-beach equation.

Seven years ago it was a couple that stopped me from checking out Gijón, but in one of life’s funny twists, another couple became the very reason I went back to the city. A college friend and her Asturian fiancé got married just outside of Gijón this weekend, and we were there for the celebration. It was a beautiful event, made all the more memorable with the intensely green mountains and valleys of the Asturian countryside.

24 hours was not enough time. If you get the chance to go to Gijón, Spain, go for two days or more. Take a book, some sunblock, and a sense of adventure. Above all, prepare to slow down and fall in step with this city’s languid pace.

Have you been to Gijón before? What was your most memorable part of the city?

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9 Comments

  1. Ooooh girl. You captured it. I feel relaxed just reading this!

    • Cassandra

      I did my job, then! Have you been to Asturias?

      • Yeah! I spent a long weekend in Oviedo with just a day trip to Gijón and I totally agree that it wasn’t enough time. I loved it up there.

  2. Gijón is so, so lovely. Hiking Asturias is a real treat, too!

    • Cassandra

      Definitely! I hope we can go back and check out some tiny pueblos.

  3. I’m sold! Cider and the slow life sounds amazing!

    • Cassandra

      It was! Now that we’re back in the city, I miss it even more.

  4. Lizzy Waldorf

    Loved this review! Thank you for putting Gijon out in the map 🙂 And I am even more impressed of the warm feelings of the replies. It frustrates me when abroad, people associate me from a a very different type of Spain (the typical topical one) and I have to insist on the sea, the green, beautiful landscapes and amazing cuisine! (like I could be the asturian ambassador haha)

    ps: please do come back and stay longer! we might cross our paths there if I get back 🙂

    • Cassandra

      Thanks, Lizzy! I think you must be a great ambassador for Asturias. You summed up Northern Spain perfectly-“the sea, the green, beautiful landscapes and amazing cuisine!”

      If I do find myself back in Asturias I will get in touch 🙂

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