Northern Spain Travel Guide

Northern Spain

Up in the northern part, Spain keeps one of its biggest surprises. A beautiful, almost out of this world scenery will take your breath away and make you wonder if you’re still in Spain.
From the small town of La Coruña on the Atlantic coast to the exclusive and magical bay of San Sebastian, Northern Spain’s features will charm you with unusual terrains, flavourful cuisine, captivating culture, and impressive history. Just a quick glance explains why is it also known as the Green or the Secret Spain. You can choose to relax in an easy-going pace in of the many dreamy coastal towns and villages. You can choose to explore the nature in its full, pristine glory. Its unspoiled, virgin wilderness is like a dream come true for all the nature admirers and adrenaline addicts. Then, at the end of a long day of adventures, you can sit down and enjoy some of the first-class wines. The breathtaking provinces of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque Country Vasco make sure there is something for everyone.
This short and informative guide will reveal you some of the best things to do and see here, in the ever so inspiring, mystical Northern Spain.

Old town of San Sebastian from Monte Urgull

Things to see and do in Northern Spain

City tours

Visiting cities is always a fun and memorable experience, especially when they are as stunning and intriguing as those in the north.

Bilbao in Basque Country

San Sebastian is home to some of the finest restaurants and best European beaches. But that’s just part of the reason why people fall in love with it. Many refer to it as to the jewel of Basque country. With its undeniable and exquisite charisma, it is easy to understand why Donostia (Basque name) is so popular.
If you want to admire the architecture, then Bilbao is a place to go. This old industrial city has come a long way from its roots and now features many modern and urban buildings. Some of them are the Guggenheim Museum, The Isozaki Atea space, Bilbao Arena, The Ría de Bilbao Maritime Museum,… which are full of surprises and in a total contrast with the pretty Old Town Casco Viejo.
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia and is best known as the end destination of the renowned Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
Logroño, Navarra, Burgos, Santillana del Mar… are just a few of the names to remember and look out for if you’re headed in this direction. Each and every one has to offer something that is worth stopping by.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Ring the bell and make a wish at the “craggy fort” of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on the Basque Coast and let your imagination be taken on a wild journey of a lifetime. This small islet on the coast of Biscay is guaranteed to do just that. It’s hypnotic, with a hermitage sitting on top of it while ferocious waves crash against the wild shoreline. The hermitage was dedicated to John The Baptist. It dates all the way back to the 10th century although some discoveries suggest that the 9th century is a more accurate answer. You may recognize it from the 7th season of Game of Thrones.

Rioja Wine Region

The land of one of the best and most well known of Spain’s wines. However, great wines aren’t the only thing Rioja has to offer. Here you can spoil yourself with a stay in one of the many emblematic wineries which are very often also hotels and restaurants. Fill your time with trips to interesting wine museums, stroll around the wonderful nature or explore one of the many ancient monuments. As there’s so much to see and do, you might want to take a tour instead of planning your own trip.

Picos De Europa

The Rio Cares Gorge in the National Park Los Picos de Europa. The mountain stream is known because of the narrow and spectacular canyon it forms when passing the Picos de Europa

It’s hard to believe this land belongs to Spain, as it’s nothing like you’d expect from this sun-kissed country. Picos de Europa seem like a fairy-tale Alp-land with a twist. Spanning through the three northern provinces – Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile and Leon, they promise the unforgettable adventure for all the nature and outdoor lovers. Its rich flora and fauna will keep you busy and in awe. But nature isn’t the only thing to admire in what used to be only National Park in Spain. Traditions and centuries of history ooze out of every corner in the small villages that are still deterring the modern times. One of the most popular attractions here is Covadonga. It features a Holy cave, out-of-this-world lakes and a majestic Basilica of Santa Maria la Real. Cares River Route is often named one of the most amazing treks in Europe. And let’s not forget about the charming Cantabrian village of Potes. The superb cuisine which is the result of years of traditions and untouched fresh local ingredients will give you all the energy you need for exploring and make you wish you never had to leave.

Typical costs

Accommodation

Inland accommodations are cheaper than those on the coast, especially during the high season. An average price for a budget-friendly lodge is around 26 USD per night and from 60 USD for a mid-range accommodation. A lot of wineries in Rioja offer beds, some even include breakfast, with prices starting at around 70 USD. You can choose from a wide range of different types – be it backpackers, farm stays, family-friendly places and top-end resorts.

Food and drinks

The food here can be pricier but is also exceptional. An average cost of a meal for one person is around 11 USD. A bottle of sangria costs around 12 USD and the prices for a bottle of wine start at 17 USD. Ask a local for advice where to enjoy some authentic goodies or follow the crowds.

Transportation

A long distance bus is cheaper than the train, but the ride takes longer. Be careful when you book your trip. There are many different companies with various prices and tours. Make sure you always double check and compare the prices. You can also rent a car for around 26 USD per day.

Sights

Cottages in Northern Spain

Sight prices vary from place to place. An organized tour to wineries might be a bit more expensive, but you won’t have to worry about planning. Prices begin at 53 USD. When visiting museums and galleries make sure to come during the free admission afternoons.

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