If you’ve ever heard of Asturias, then you’re way ahead of the curve.
This hidden corner of Spain is little-known to outsiders but it’s somewhere that’s worth getting to know. The city of Oviedo is the regional capital and the cultural heart, a great place to explore on a budget if you’re looking for a true taste of Spain.
Otherwise you can fly into Madrid and then take a coach or train north. It’s a bit of a journey, but worth it for the views along the way.
Where to Stay
Oviedo offers some lovely individual hotels at very decent prices; try Hotel Vetusta or try City Express Covadonga for budget accommodation in the heart of the city (from £35 per night) or for a bit more luxury, try the Nap hotel a 15-minute walk from the centre (from £40 per night).
Exploring the city
When you first arrive, Oviedo can seem like a very genteel, civilised place, but you will soon see that there is a whole lot of craziness beneath the surface. You could spend an entire day finding all the statues dotted around, from the obese Madonna and child occupying the central square, to Woody Allen outside a sweet shop. They certainly come in handy for navigating you way around!
Exploring the Old Town is a must, and at night it really comes to life.
Calle Gascona is the best street to sample the local cider and the very particular customs involved! It’s always bustling and rowdy, but great fun. For the best local food, head for Tierra Astur at the top of the street; it’s a little more expensive than the other sidrerias, expect to pay about 20 euros for a meal there, but it’s well worth it. In the others, expect to pay about 15 euros for a full meal, or you can get tapas for about 3 euros per dish.
Look out of the menu del dia in the daytime; this is a set menu at a low price, usually around 8 or 9 euros. A bottle of cider will only set you back 1 or 2 euros, so expect to get through a lot!
Great experiences, low cost
If you can time your visit with one of the national festivals, such as Mardi Gras in March or San Juan in June. They have to be the best free events; you’ll get to experience Oviedo’s very own Celtic celebrations, complete with bagpipe players! If not, there are often various smaller events taking place all year round, usually in the cathedral square in the Old Town, so just go there during a weekend to see what’s going on.
Finally, if you’re up for a physical challenge, why not visit Oviedo’s own Christ the Redeemer? From the city, he looks tiny, but it’s a pretty impressive structure up close. It does mean a fair old trek up the mountain, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across Spain’s ‘natural paradise’ and the sense that you have discovered something special.