I highly recommend a weekend in Oviedo: we spent 3 nights in Oviedo during our week-long trip to Asturias, an autonomous community in the north of Spain, in late August of 2020. We used Oviedo as a base for day trips, including a visit to Covadonga and a quesería on our way to have lunch in Lastres. We then set off to the picturesque towns of Cudillero and Luarca on our way to our next stay in Gijón. We got great weather in our trip, although Asturias and the north of Spain are generally known for the rainy weather. However, summer temperatures are mild even on sunny days, so Asturias is a nice summer spot if you don’t want to be sweating all day! 😝
What To Do on a Weekend in Oviedo
#1. Eat Typical Asturian Dishes: Cachopo, Fabada Asturiana, and Sidra!
Cachopo is a well-known dish that is the pride of many asturianos. It basically consists of two filets of beef, filled with cheese and typical Spanish jamón serrano, then breaded and fried. The resulting beauty is crunchy on the outside and juicy, cheesy, and tender on the inside. YUM. 😋 These bad boys are usually served quite big – see below – so I recommend splitting between two people, especially if you want to try other dishes.
We had our first cachopo and sidra of the trip at Tierra Astur, a popular sidrería chain with a location right in the heart of town on Calle Gascona, also known as El Bulevar de La Sidra (Cider Boulevard – see pic below).
Another typical Asturian dish is fabada asturiana. Fabada is made with large white beans accompanied by yummy extras including morcilla (a typical Spanish blood sausage), chorizo, and tocino (essentially delicious pork fat 😄) .
Sidra is straight up one of the best reasons to spend a weekend in Oviedo – or any time in Asturias, for that matter. The best place to start your cider route in Oviedo is at El Bulevar de La Sidra of course! Sidra is traditionally poured in a very specific way – se escancia. To escanciar usually entails holding the cider bottle at arm’s length above your head and then pouring the cider into a glass, held at about a 45 degree tilt, usually fairly low – like below the waist. Yeah, it’s hard, lol. See the vid below for an example. The main goal is for the cider to hit the side of the glass so as to get it oxygenated and a lil fizzy. Cider is traditionally served and drunk in the form of a culín – basically a cider shot, lol. It would be a major faux pas to fill your glass up with cider – this ain’t beer, peeps. As our asturiano friends explained to us, the culín is actually intended to be drunk quickly, in one or two sips, like a shot. The idea is not to lose the fizziness created from escanciando. In fact – pre-pandemic – it was common to share glasses among friends as everyone took turns shooting back their culín.
When servers don’t escanciar for you at the table, you are often given these exquisite little machines for self-serving. Sometimes servers cannot escanciar if it is really windy, for example – the cider will literally miss the glass – so these machines can come in handy. Plus, you can just serve yourself and don’t have to wait for your waiter to serve you the “proper” way, haha. (Or sometimes you just gotta take things into your own hands and escanciar the cider yourself 😉).
#2. Pasear – of course!
Oviedo is wonderful to walk around. Not much else to say here!
#3. See the masterpieces at the Fine Arts Museum of Asturias
El Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias, housed in a former palace in the town center, is a little gem that was a highlight of our weekend in Oviedo. The museum has works from greats like Picasso, Miró, Sorolla, Goya, Zurbarán, Murillo, and El Greco. Totally worth a visit!
Below is the Campesinos de Gandia by Hermen Anglada-Camarasa – one of my favorite paintings ever 😍!! The campesinos, or peasants, are wearing typical Valencian dress (Gandia is a province in the autonomous community of Valencia).
Here are some of my other favorite paintings from the museum!
#4. Visit the Eye-Catching Cathedral
La Catedral de San Salvador is one of the most characteristic images of Oviedo, located right in the heart of the city. The mixed architectural styles of the cathedral – ranging from Gothic to Baroque to Romanesque – make it particularly unique. The central altarpiece inside is also quite stunning!
#5. Visit the homie Mafalda!
Mafala is a beloved cartoon character across the Spanish-speaking world, known for her philosophical charm in humorous comics. Like I did, you may be wondering, What does Mafalda have to do with Oviedo? The answer is that Quino, Mafalda’s Argentinian creator of Spanish descent, received a prize for his contributions to the arts from the Princess of Asturias, Leonor, the daughter and heir to the throne of King Felipe VI, in 2015. So, Oviedo thus pays homage to Quino and his quirky creation. Mafalda is located in the Campo de San Francisco, in easy walking distance from the city center.
Fun Fact #1: The heir to the Spanish throne is given the title of Prince or Princess of Asturias, similar to how the heir to the British throne is given the title of Prince or Princess of Whales.
Fun Fact #2: As evidenced by the fact that the heir to the Spanish throne gets to be the Prince or Princess of Asturias, this place is pretty important in Spanish culture. In fact, Asturias is well-known as the only part of Spain that was NOT conquered by the Muslims during their rule on the Iberian peninsula. As a result, some proud asturianos may claim that Asturias is the “real Spain,” while the rest of the country is simply tierra de reconquista (reconquered land) 😂. As the great-great granddaughter of asturianos born in Llanes, I’ll end with this quote: “Ser español es un orgullo; ser asturiano es un título” (“To be Spanish is a source of pride, but to be Asturian is a noble title.”) 😜👏🏼
Enjoy your weekend in Oviedo!