When most people visit Spain, they aim firmly for the southern half of the country. After all, that’s where most of the big resorts are, and the Mediterranean weather is a big draw. What’s more, even those looking for some culture rather than sunshine will tend to visit the main Spanish cities. However, those who limit themselves to this part of Spain are missing out on plenty to see and do up in the north.

Mountains and Beaches: Northern Spain has it all!

reasons to visit Northern Spain

If you’ve only ever visited the south of Spain, then you’ve been missing out on some truly breathtaking scenery in the north. The Picos de Europa in Asturias are a range of snow-topped mountains that make for an unforgettable backdrop to your next vacation, and they are among the most untouched areas in the whole of Europe. If you love getting out there into the heart of nature, then the mountains here are ideal.

Even for those who prefer the fun and sun of the southern Spanish resorts, the north is still a wonderful option. While there are plenty of beaches in the south, the vast majority of them are packed full of other tourists, meaning you face a day full of screaming kids and overpriced food vendors. In the north, though, there are miles upon miles of untapped beaches just waiting to be discovered, and many of them are easily accessible from the major towns and cities in the region. Even better, since they see fewer tourists, you won’t find yourself getting ripped off when it comes to food and accommodation!

Some of the best beaches are in San Sebastian (famous for its waves and surfing communities) and in Noja.

Bilbao and the food. It’ll be hard to go back!

Bilbao, with its mix of modern landmarks such as the Guggenheim Museum and a picturesque old centre, is a place that will conquer you right away.

Bilbao, and the Basque Country in general, are also famous for offering some of the best food in all of Spain. Try pinxtos for happy hour (little sandwiches so rich that you’ll never look at sandwiches in the same way), or splurge at one of the many (over 40!) Michelin starred restaurants for an incredible dinner.

Northern Spain is a great place to relax

The prevailing stereotype of the Spanish is that of taking a siesta in the afternoon- and up in the north, that tradition is still going strong today, and is emblematic of the region in general. Up here, life is lived at a much slower pace, making for a more relaxed feel that’s perfect for when you want to forget the stress and hassle of your life at home.

Northern Spain is also easily reachable from the UK, so if you’ve had enough of hectic life in London, jump on a ferry to Spain from Portmouth or Plymouth.

The Wine, oh The Wine!

If you’re planning on visiting northern Spain, then you need to make sure you take a detour through La Rioja. This region is world famous for its wine, and there are literally hundreds of vineyards to choose from, so you’ll never run out of new taste sensations to discover. A tour of the vineyards is also a great excuse to take a train journey through the area, and see some more of the one-of-a-kind scenery that encompasses rolling hills of red and gold.

Skip the usual hotels, there are much better options in Northern Spain

Forget a regular resort- wouldn’t you rather spend your vacation staying in a real life castle, or an ancient monastery that’s just dripping with history? Then you need to head on up to the north of Spain. Here, such hotels, or “paradors”, are commonplace, and most of them are very affordable. Wherever you go, there will be somewhere unique to stay, so make sure your next vacation is truly memorable, and stay in a parador.

Are you convinced yet? Norther Spain is still quite off the beaten path, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be so quiet for much longer… so go now!

Justin Carmack

Justin Carmack

Wanderer and diver at Art of SCUBA Diving
I've been on the road for 5.5 years now, visiting 80 countries, 6 continents and endless adventures. Divemaster and SCUBA addict. Travel junkie. World roamer.
Justin Carmack

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