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Oviedo in north west Spain combines a pedestrianised old town with elegant new streets lined with shops. It may be compact, but its medieval and Gothic architecture give it bags of character. Sitting between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay, it's the capital of Asturias, one of the country's lushest regions. The town has parks with wide avenues and monuments where you can smell the flowers and listen to the sounds of fountains and peacocks. Several hiking trails start just outside the centre, and its university students mean there's plenty of low-key nightlife.
Hostels in Oviedo are usually near the city centre so it's not far to wander back after a night out in the traditional sidrerías (cider bars). Extras like free Wi-Fi make it easy to upload snaps of the warm yellow buildings of the old town, the piles of fresh fruit in the market and the imposing mountains that back onto Oviedo. Some Oviedo hostels have elevators to help you get your luggage to your room. Other home-from-home comforts include satellite TV and an en-suite bathroom.
The Casco Antiguo (old town) of Oviedo is mainly pedestrianised, with cobbled lanes and squares winding their way past coffee shops and old churches. Navigating your way around town is easy. Look out for landmark statues like Fernando Botero's Madonna and child in the central square and (bizarrely) Woody Allen on Calle Milicias Nacionales near the main shopping area. In the evening, head for Calle Gascona (Gascon Street). It's known as the "Cider Boulevard" and is the best place in town to try the local drink of choice.
Hike up to Monte Naranco for its walking trails and historic sights like the Palacio de Santa María del Naranco and Iglesia de San Miguel de Lillo church. Both date back to the 9th century when the Kingdom of Asturias was isolated from the rest of Spain. If you want to learn more about local history, you can head to the Archaeological Museum of Asturias, which is inside a 16th-century monastery and packed with prehistoric artefacts.
It takes about 40 minutes to get to Oviedo from Asturias Airport using the airport bus, which leaves roughly once an hour between 7am and 11:45pm. If you're coming from another Spanish city, Oviedo's bus and train stations are right beside each other on the edge of the city centre. Walking is the best way to get around in town, as it's small enough to explore on foot and lots of the streets are pedestrianised.