Southern Spain and Andalusia may be more popular as holiday destinations than Northern Spain; however, the autonomous regions across the top of the country are fascinating areas with dramatic scenery and lots to discover. Here are 25 photos that prove you should visit Northern Spain right now.
The photo above depicts the stunning sweep of La Concha Beach and the foodie Basque city of San Sebastián. From excellent pintxos bars and Michelin-starred restaurants to the works of sculptor Eduardo Chillida, there’s plenty to do and see in San Sebastián.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Las Médulas features ancient Roman gold mines, which left their scars upon the landscape. The site lies on the western edge of the region of Castilla y León.
The Atlantic Islands sit off the coast of Galicia and lie within The Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park. They offer spectacular scenery, as well as some of the best beaches in Spain.
As Catedrais Beach
Cathedral Beach is often referred to as one of Spain’s best beaches. Located on Galicia’s north coast, huge rock formations, which look like giant stone cathedrals, cover the area.
La Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region. Sitting just below the Basque Country, it’s characterised by quaint villages, rolling hills, and, of course, verdant vineyards.
The city of Zaragoza – capital of the Aragon region – is not as well known as some of Spain’s other big cities, but it nevertheless has its own charm. The image above shows the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the city’s most impressive sites.
The capital of the Navarra region is the city of Pamplona, which every year hosts one of Spain’s most famous festivals – San Fermín, also known as The Running of the Bulls. Here, visitors and locals alike cling to the sides of the balconies in the Old Town to watch the bulls run past.
Basilica de San Isidoro, León
The city of León is brimming with magnificent monuments, from cathedrals and churches to palaces and monasteries. One of the most picturesque is the Basilica de San Isidoro and royal collegiate. Above is its exquisite Royal Pantheon, covered in intricate frescoes.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Located just off the north coast of the Basque Country, the small islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe offers dramatic views and wild scenery. There has been much hype surrounding it recently, as it was the filming location for Game of Thrones‘ Dragonstone.
Playa de Rodas
Playa de Rodas is another of Northern Spain’s stunning beaches. Almost tropical looking with its fine powder white sand and incredibly blue sea, it lies on the Islas Cies, off the coast of Vigo in Galicia. More than one kilometre in length, you can be sure that you’ll find a place to lay your towel here.
Bodegas Ysios, La Rioja
One of the most fascinating wineries in the Rioja region is Bodegas Ysios. Designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, it perfectly mirrors the undulating mountains, which rise behind it.
Cudillero made it on our list of ‘Northern Spain’s Best Seaside Towns to Visit’ due to its colourful houses, which hug clifftops and offer spectacular seaside views. Located in Asturias, it is a typical Asturian fishing village.
Spain’s Basque Country is a dramatic region filled with rolling green hills and soaring mountains. Txindoki Mountain, shown in the picture above, is an iconic conical-shaped mountain topped with a pointed pinnacle and stands in Goierri, in the province of Gipuzkoa.
Santiago de Compostela
The end of the long pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela is something special. Situated in the region of Galicia, at its heart stands the great Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, the last point on the Camino.
Playa de Riazor, A Coruña
The Galician city of A Coruña sits on the Atlantic coast in the northwest of the region. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, the main city beach is the vast Playa de Riazor.
The small village of Llastres, located in Asturias, is one of our ‘10 Most Beautiful Towns in Spain’. A typical fisherman’s village, it is framed by the Bay of Biscay on one side and the backdrop of the Sueve Mountains on the other.
Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum is one of the most famous contemporary art museums in Spain. Designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, it resembles a giant metal ship, floating down the River Nervión.
Río Fraga, Galicia
A magical hiking route through the forests of Galicia, and along the Fraga River, the Sendero del Río Fraga passes over 30 old water mills. Four miles (seven kilometres) long, the trail lies in the area of Moaña and is one of our ‘Best Hiking Routes in Galicia’.
Picos de Europa
One of Spain’s Best National Parks, the Picos de Europa contains the highest summits of the Cantabrian Mountains. The park covers an area of more than 650 kilometres squared and sits between the autonomous regions of Asturias, Castilla y León, and Cantabria.
The picturesque town of Cadaqués in the northeast of Catalonia inspired artist Salvador Dalí, and it will inspire you too. Characterised by steep, narrow cobbled streets and cute whitewashed houses, it’s brimming with many cafés, restaurants and art galleries.
Alcázar of Segovia
The fortress of Segovia is one of the most fairytale-like castles in Spain. It was this castle, in fact, along with Neuschwanstein in Germany, that was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
Hostal dos Reis Católicos, Santiago de Compostela
Besides the Cathedral, another of Santiago de Compostela’s most impressive monuments is the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, which dates back to 1499. It was originally built as a hospital for pilgrims who had walked the Camino de Santiago. Today, it is a luxury Parador hotel, which claims to be one of the oldest hotels in the world.
Castillo de la Mota
A classic sand-coloured castle, the Castillo de la Mota lies in the province of Valladolid and dates back to the 12th century.
Bosque de Oma
The amazing Painted Forest of Oma is not far from Bilbao and features sections of brightly coloured painted trees, created by the artist Agustín Ibarrola.