Bigger, grittier and gutsier than Oviedo, seaside Gijón (khi-hon) – Asturias’ largest city – produces iron, steel and chemicals, and is the main loading terminal for Asturian coal. But Gijón has emerged like a phoenix from its industrial roots, having given itself a thorough face-lift with pedestrianised streets, parks, seafront walks, cultural attractions and lively eating, drinking and shopping scenes. It’s a surprisingly engaging city, and a party and beach hot spot too, with endless summer entertainment. Though it’s no quaint Asturian fishing port, Gijón sure knows how to live.
Gijón’s ancient core is concentrated on the headland known as Cimadevilla, the old fishermen’s quarter. The harmonious, porticoed Plaza Mayor marks the southern end of this promontory. To the west stretch the Puerto Deportivo (marina) and the broad golden Playa de Poniente. South lies the busy, 19th- to 20th-century city centre, bounded on its eastern side by Playa de San Lorenzo.