Spain has some of the most gorgeous places in the world. With a rich culture, history, sights, sounds, architecture, food, and warm, welcoming people, Spain should be at the top of your bucket list. The south of Spain is famous for Madrid, Barcelona, and all the sandy beaches. However, North Spain is less explored but untouched and equally gorgeous.
Northern Spain is home to medieval villages, gorgeous Bay of Biscay coastline, wine regions, and the Basque country. The natural landscapes and picturesque beaches are less crowded, with elegant cities, small villages, and happy people. The gastronomic delight in the north of Spain is fabulous, and there is always something for everyone.
When making your travel bookings, it is best to consider taking a road trip through the north of Spain. The countryside is scenic, clean, and photography-worthy! We would advise spending a day or two in each town and village as you make your way through. For comfortable accommodations, you should book Stay Líbere in Bilbao.
Let us look at some of the best places to visit in Northern Spain.
San Sebastian (Basque Country):
San Sebastian has a rich history. The Spanish Kings and Queens made San Sebastian their summer home since Queen Isabel II was advised to take a dip in the thermal baths. The court and government of San Sebastian were built thanks to Queen Maria Cristina, and the city of San Sebastian now has stately government buildings and the height of the Belle Epoque.
San Sebastian is known for its food and wine culture. You can walk through the Casco Vieja while cruising through the numerous pintxos (tapas) taverns. You should spend some time eating at a traditional sidreria and take a walk along the picturesque La Concha Beach.
Bilbao (Basque Country):
Bilbao has had the most splendid upgrade from being a dreary industrial city to the husting metropolis it is now. The city has become a hotspot for culture, art, and food. It is also home to the famous Guggenheim Museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and is one of the crowning jewels of Basque Country.
When in Bilbao, you should make a special stop for the contemporary Guggenheim Museum and view some of the temporary exhibitions, along with the permanent installations. Once done, head to the Casco Viejo (Old District) for tapas and a great atmosphere to relax and have fun. If you’re there on a Sunday, you could also visit the Plaza Nueva flea market. Bilbao is also home to the Basilica de Begoña and the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral of Santiago.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, nestled in the province of Alava, is approximately an hours’ drive from Bilbao. It is easy to drive or hike (if that is your preference). It is a small city (compared to Barcelona and Madrid) but is picturesque and lovely. You can visit the Atrium Museum for some stunning photography and explore the gorgeous Cathedral of Santa Maria.
Another stop that many tourists prefer is the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca. There are places here to shop, eat, rest, and listen to some haunting music.
Oviedo is the capital of the Asturias province and is home to some outstanding religious monuments that are great for photography. Oviedo is one of the stops on the pilgrims’ road to Santiago, with churches dating back to the 8th century. The highly well-preserved Basilica of San Julian de Los Prados and the Cathedral of San Salvador are two notable ones.
La Foncalada, a gorgeous ninth-century fountain, is another famous architectural masterpiece that Oviedo offers. Oviedo is also one of the shooting locations for the renowned film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
The cider houses, elegant shops, cathedral, gorgeous marketplace, Campoamor Theatre, and beautiful buildings and architecture are more than enough reason to make a stop in Oviedo.
The small island in the Bay of Biscay resembles a castle, and the name actually translates to castle rock. It is possible to access the island from the mainland with a footbridge that goes over the rocks. Atop the island sits a small picturesque chapel dedicated to San Juan (St. John).
There are 231 steps up an extremely rocky slope. But tourists are advised to climb them slowly as they can cause pain. However, the views from the top are incredible. Gaztelugatxe is not a very well-known tourist destination, but it is exceptionally scenic and great for a quick stop.
Other noteworthy places in the North of Spain are Pamplona which is famous for the festival of San Fermin (running with the bulls), Santiago de Compostela – the final destination of the pilgrimage route, and Santillana del Mar, a beautifully preserved Medieval village.