Best Places to Visit in Northern Spain


By Abigail Lewis

Northern Spain is a region that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and vibrant cities. From the stunning coastline of the Bay of Biscay to the breathtaking mountains of the Pyrenees, this part of the country has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, Northern Spain has it all.

One of the best places to visit in Northern Spain is San Sebastian. This picturesque coastal city is famous for its beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. The city is also known for its culinary scene, with numerous Michelin-starred restaurants that serve up mouthwatering Basque cuisine.

If you’re a history lover, you won’t want to miss a trip to Santiago de Compostela. This historic city is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. The city is home to the impressive Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as charming narrow streets and squares that are perfect for exploring.

Another must-visit destination in Northern Spain is Bilbao. This industrial city has undergone a cultural transformation in recent decades and is now known for its impressive architecture, world-class museums, and lively art scene. The iconic Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, is a must-see for any art enthusiast.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore historic cities, or indulge in world-class cuisine, Northern Spain has it all. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, this region is a must-visit for any traveler.

Top Attractions in Northern Spain

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao: The iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of the top attractions in Northern Spain. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a stunning structure that houses a diverse collection of contemporary and modern art. It is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and architecture lovers.

Santa Maria del Naranco, Oviedo: Located in the city of Oviedo, Santa Maria del Naranco is an architectural gem that dates back to the 9th century. This UNESCO World Heritage site showcases unique pre-Romanesque architecture and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

The Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago): The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage route that starts at different locations in Europe and ends at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia. This ancient route attracts thousands of pilgrims every year and is a popular hiking trail for adventure seekers.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Bermeo: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a picturesque island located in the Bay of Biscay near the town of Bermeo. The island is home to a charming hermitage that can be reached by climbing a narrow path with stunning views of the coastline. It is a unique and memorable attraction that is worth the visit.

The Old Town, Santiago de Compostela: The Old Town of Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a cultural hotspot in Northern Spain. It is famous for its stunning architecture, charming narrow streets, and the impressive Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which is believed to be the final resting place of St. James.

Rioja Wine Region: The Rioja wine region in Northern Spain is known for producing some of the finest wines in the country. Wine lovers can explore the vineyards, visit wineries for tastings, and learn about the winemaking process. It is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.

The Tower of Hercules, A Coruña: The Tower of Hercules in A Coruña is an ancient Roman lighthouse and the oldest working lighthouse in the world. It offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic coastline and is surrounded by beautiful parkland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of the city.

Basque Culture: The Basque Country in Northern Spain has a unique culture and identity. Visitors can immerse themselves in the Basque culture by exploring traditional villages, trying delicious Basque cuisine, participating in traditional festivals, and experiencing the vibrant local arts scene.

Caves of Altamira, Santillana del Mar: The Caves of Altamira in Santillana del Mar are a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the best-preserved examples of Paleolithic cave art in Europe. Visitors can explore the caves and admire the stunning paintings that date back thousands of years.

Bilbao’s Old Town (Casco Viejo): The Old Town of Bilbao, also known as Casco Viejo, is a vibrant neighborhood with narrow streets, charming squares, and historic buildings. It is home to traditional Basque shops, pintxo bars, and the iconic Mercado de la Ribera, one of the largest covered markets in Europe.

These top attractions in Northern Spain offer a combination of art, history, nature, and culture, making the region a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a diverse and enriching experience.

Discover the Beauty of San Sebastian

Located on the stunning coastline of northern Spain, San Sebastian is a must-visit destination for any traveler. With its beautiful beaches, vibrant food scene, and rich cultural heritage, this city has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of San Sebastian is its picturesque beaches. Playa de la Concha, with its golden sands and clear waters, is often considered one of the best urban beaches in Europe. Visitors can relax on the beach, go for a swim, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views of the sea.

San Sebastian is also known for its incredible food culture. The city boasts 16 Michelin-starred restaurants, making it a paradise for food lovers. From traditional Basque cuisine to innovative gastronomic creations, the dining options in San Sebastian are truly unparalleled.

In addition to its beaches and food, San Sebastian is also home to a number of cultural attractions. The city’s Old Town, or Parte Vieja, is a charming neighborhood with narrow streets, historic buildings, and bustling tapas bars. Visitors can explore the area’s rich history, admire its beautiful architecture, and indulge in delicious pintxos, the local version of tapas.

For those interested in art and history, a visit to the San Telmo Museum is a must. Housed in a former Dominican convent, the museum offers a fascinating journey through Basque history and culture. With its impressive collection of artwork, historical artifacts, and interactive exhibits, the San Telmo Museum provides a unique insight into the region’s past.

Whether you’re a beach lover, a food enthusiast, or a culture buff, San Sebastian is sure to captivate you with its beauty and charm. From its stunning coastline to its world-class cuisine, this city is a true gem of northern Spain.

Experience the Rich History of Bilbao

When it comes to experiencing the rich history of Northern Spain, Bilbao is a must-visit destination. This vibrant city, located in the Basque Country, offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern developments.

One of the main highlights of Bilbao is its stunning architecture, with the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao being a must-see. Designed by Frank Gehry, this architectural masterpiece is not only a museum but also a symbol of the city’s transformation. The museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art and is a true testament to Bilbao’s commitment to art and culture.

Bilbao’s history can also be explored by visiting the Casco Viejo, the charming old town. Here, you will find narrow streets lined with colorful buildings, picturesque squares, and historic landmarks. Take a stroll through the iconic Seven Streets, known as Las Siete Calles, and discover traditional shops, local markets, and cozy cafes.

Another historical gem of Bilbao is the Santiago Cathedral. This Gothic-style cathedral, dating back to the 14th century, is a true architectural masterpiece. Admire the intricate details of its façade and step inside to marvel at its stunning interior. Don’t forget to visit the cloister and the Gothic-style Chapel of Santa Ana.

For those interested in industrial heritage, a visit to the Alhóndiga Bilbao is a must. This former wine warehouse, designed by Ricardo Bastida, has been transformed into a cultural and leisure center. Explore its unique features, such as the stunning glass floor of the central atrium, and enjoy its diverse range of activities, including exhibitions, cinema screenings, and a rooftop swimming pool.

Lastly, no visit to Bilbao is complete without tasting some of the local cuisine. Indulge in the world-famous pintxos, Basque-style tapas, and explore the vibrant food markets, such as Mercado de la Ribera. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, bacalao al pil-pil, a delicious dish made with codfish, garlic, olive oil, and chili pepper.

With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Bilbao offers a unique experience to every visitor. Immerse yourself in its past and present, and discover why this city is a true gem of Northern Spain.

Explore the Vibrant City of Barcelona

Barcelona is a vibrant city located on the northeastern coast of Spain. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere, Barcelona is a must-visit destination in Northern Spain.

One of the highlights of exploring Barcelona is visiting the famous Sagrada Familia, a masterpiece by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. This iconic basilica is still under construction but offers breathtaking views and intricate designs that are sure to leave you in awe.

Another must-see attraction in Barcelona is Park Güell, another masterpiece designed by Gaudí. This whimsical park is filled with colorful mosaics, unique structures, and stunning views of the city. Take a leisurely stroll through the park and immerse yourself in its magical atmosphere.

No visit to Barcelona is complete without a walk along Las Ramblas, the city’s most famous boulevard. Lined with shops, cafes, and street performers, Las Ramblas offers a vibrant and bustling atmosphere that truly captures the spirit of Barcelona. Make sure to stop by the iconic Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a vibrant market where you can sample local delicacies and pick up fresh produce.

A visit to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Whether you’re craving traditional tapas, fresh seafood, or mouthwatering paella, Barcelona has a diverse culinary scene that caters to every taste bud. Don’t forget to try the famous local drink, sangria, while enjoying the lively ambiance of the city.

After a day of exploring, take some time to relax on one of Barcelona’s beautiful beaches. With its golden sand and crystal-clear waters, the beaches offer the perfect spot to soak up the sun and unwind. Whether you prefer to relax on Barceloneta Beach, enjoy water sports at Nova Icaria Beach, or escape the crowds at Bogatell Beach, there is a beach for everyone in Barcelona.

Barcelona is a city that truly has it all – history, culture, architecture, cuisine, and beaches. Exploring this vibrant city is an experience like no other and will leave you with unforgettable memories. So, make sure to add Barcelona to your list of must-visit destinations in Northern Spain!

Delve into the Cultural Heritage of Girona

Girona, a charming city located in the Catalonia region of Northern Spain, is a must-visit destination for history and culture enthusiasts. With its rich cultural heritage and picturesque streets, Girona offers a unique experience for travelers.

One of the main attractions in Girona is its historic Old Town, which is surrounded by ancient walls dating back to Roman times. The medieval architecture is well-preserved, and wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets feels like stepping back in time. Exploring the Old Town is a journey through centuries of history, with highlights including the Cathedral, the Jewish Quarter, and the colorful houses along the River Onyar.

A visit to the Cathedral of Girona is a must for anyone interested in Gothic architecture. The imposing building, with its intricate facade and breathtaking interior, is a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic style. Climb the steps of the cathedral’s bell tower, known as the “Girona Cathedral’s Steps,” to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

The Jewish Quarter, or Call, is another significant cultural gem in Girona. This well-preserved medieval neighborhood is one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. Walk along its narrow streets and discover the history of the Jewish community in Girona through the Jewish History Museum, located in the heart of the Call.

For a taste of local Catalan culture, visit the Arab Baths, known as Banys Àrabs. These medieval baths were built in the 12th century and offer a glimpse into the city’s past. The architectural style reflects the influence of Moorish art and culture, making it a unique historical site in Girona.

To fully appreciate the cultural heritage of Girona, make sure to explore the local cuisine. The city is known for its delicious traditional dishes, such as “coca de recapte” (a savory pastry topped with vegetables and cured meats) and “suquet de peix” (a fish stew). Treat yourself to a culinary experience in one of the many charming restaurants scattered throughout the city.

Top Cultural Attractions in Girona Description
Girona Cathedral Imposing Gothic cathedral with stunning views.
Jewish Quarter Well-preserved medieval neighborhood with a rich Jewish history.
Arab Baths Medieval baths reflecting Moorish influence.
Old Town Historic neighborhood with ancient walls and charming streets.

When in Girona, don’t miss the opportunity to visit these top cultural attractions and immerse yourself in the fascinating heritage of this captivating city.

Visit the Charming Town of Santander

If you are looking for a charming and picturesque town to visit in northern Spain, Santander should definitely be on your list. Located on the coast of the Cantabria region, Santander offers stunning views of the Bay of Biscay and a rich cultural heritage.

One of the main attractions in Santander is the Palacio de la Magdalena, a beautiful palace situated on a peninsula overlooking the sea. This former royal summer residence now serves as a venue for events and conferences, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the palace’s beautiful gardens, enjoy a leisurely walk along the coastal path, and even visit the small zoo located on the grounds.

Santander is also home to a number of pristine beaches, making it a perfect destination for beach lovers. Playa de El Sardinero is one of the most popular beaches in the area, known for its golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Whether you prefer sunbathing, surfing, or simply enjoying a relaxing stroll along the shore, Santander’s beaches have something for everyone.

Attraction Description
The Cathedral A beautiful Gothic-style cathedral located in the heart of Santander’s historic center. Visitors can admire its stunning architecture and explore the interior, which houses a number of religious artifacts.
The Maritime Museum of Cantabria This museum offers a fascinating journey through the region’s maritime history, with exhibits on fishing, sailing, and shipbuilding. Visitors can learn about the life of fishermen, explore a replica of a historical ship, and even try their hand at navigating a virtual boat.
The Magdalena Peninsula A beautiful natural area located next to the Palacio de la Magdalena. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the lush greenery, take in the breathtaking views of the sea, and spot various species of birds.

After a day of exploring, be sure to sample some of the delicious local cuisine that Santander has to offer. The town is known for its seafood and traditional dishes such as rabas (fried calamari) and cocido montañés (a hearty bean and meat stew). Pair your meal with a glass of local cider or a refreshing vermouth for a truly authentic culinary experience.

Overall, Santander is a hidden gem that should not be missed during your visit to northern Spain. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, this charming town has something for every traveler. So pack your bags and get ready to experience all that Santander has to offer!

Enjoy the Stunning Natural Landscape of Picos de Europa

One of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in Northern Spain is the Picos de Europa. This magnificent mountain range is located in the autonomous communities of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile and León. Known for its rugged peaks, deep valleys, and stunning vistas, it is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Picos de Europa offer a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Hiking is one of the most popular ways to explore this natural wonderland. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer or a casual hiker, there are trails for all levels of ability. You can embark on a challenging multi-day trek through the high mountain passes or take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque river valleys.

For those who prefer a more adrenaline-fueled adventure, rock climbing and caving are also popular activities in the Picos de Europa. The limestone cliffs and caves provide the perfect setting for thrill-seekers to test their skills and explore hidden underground wonders.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Picos de Europa also boast a rich and diverse wildlife. The protected status of the national park has allowed many species to thrive in this pristine environment. Keep an eye out for the native Cantabrian brown bear, the Iberian wolf, and the endangered Capercaillie. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of avian life, including the impressive Lammergeier and the colorful Golden Eagle.

A visit to the Picos de Europa is not complete without savoring the delicious local cuisine. The region is known for its hearty dishes, including hearty stews, artisan cheeses, and succulent meats. Be sure to try the famous Cabrales cheese, which is made from the milk of local mountain goats and brings a unique flavor to any meal.

Whether you are looking for adventure, natural beauty, or culinary delights, the Picos de Europa has it all. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and mouth-watering cuisine, it is a destination that should not be missed.

Marvel at the Architecture in Oviedo

Oviedo is a city in northern Spain that is known for its stunning architecture. With a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages, Oviedo is a treasure trove of beautiful buildings and landmarks.

One of the most famous architectural sights in Oviedo is the Oviedo Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of San Salvador. This magnificent Gothic-style cathedral features intricate details and stunning stained glass windows. Inside, visitors can admire the beautiful altarpiece and explore the treasury, which houses a collection of religious artifacts.

Another architectural gem in Oviedo is the Church of San Julian de los Prados. This pre-Romanesque church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most important examples of Asturian architecture. Visitors can admire the intricate carvings on the exterior walls and explore the beautiful interior.

The Campoamor Theater is another architectural highlight in Oviedo. Built in the late 19th century, this theater features a beautiful neoclassical façade and a stunning interior. Visitors can attend performances and events at the theater and marvel at the exquisite details throughout the building.

Discover the Historical Sites of Pamplona

Pamplona, the capital city of the Navarre region in northern Spain, is a treasure trove of historical sites that are sure to captivate any visitor. With a rich history spanning back to Roman times, this beautiful city is a must-visit destination for history buffs and culture enthusiasts.

One of the most iconic attractions in Pamplona is the medieval fortress of the Citadel. Built in the 16th century, this well-preserved military complex was designed to defend the city from attacks. Today, it serves as a park and cultural center, offering panoramic views of the city and housing museums and exhibition spaces.

Another must-see historical site is the Cathedral of Santa Maria. This imposing Gothic-style cathedral dates back to the 14th century and is known for its stunning architecture and intricate stone carvings. Inside, visitors can admire its impressive altarpiece and wander through its beautiful cloister.

Pamplona is also famous for its annual Running of the Bulls festival, held during the city’s San Fermin festival in July. The festival attracts thousands of tourists from around the world who flock to the city to watch the thrilling bull runs through the narrow streets of the old town.

For a glimpse into the city’s Roman past, a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Navarre is a must. Located in a former hospital building, this museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to Roman times, including mosaics, sculptures, and household items.

Exploring the historic streets of Pamplona’s old town is like stepping back in time. With its narrow winding streets, picturesque squares, and charming buildings, it’s easy to see why this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Strolling through the old town, visitors can soak up the atmosphere and discover hidden gems such as St. Nicholas Church and the Town Hall.

To fully appreciate the historical significance of Pamplona, a visit to the Museum of Navarre is a must. Housed in a former palace, this museum showcases the region’s history through a wide range of exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and archaeological artifacts.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate the charm of a well-preserved historic city, Pamplona has plenty to offer. From its ancient citadel to its impressive cathedral, this city is a true delight for anyone interested in exploring the rich history of northern Spain.

Relax on the Beautiful Beaches of Galicia

When it comes to stunning beaches, Galicia has some of the best in Northern Spain. With its rugged coastline and pristine waters, this region is a paradise for beach lovers.

One of the top beaches in Galicia is Playa de Rodas, located on the Cies Islands. This beach is often ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world, with its white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and stunning views of the surrounding islands.

Another must-visit beach in Galicia is Praia das Catedrais, also known as the Beach of the Cathedrals. This beach is famous for its natural arches, caves, and rock formations that are shaped by the sea. During low tide, visitors can explore the intricate caves and enjoy the breathtaking views.

For those looking for a quieter beach experience, Playa de Carnota is an excellent choice. This long sandy beach is often less crowded and offers a peaceful atmosphere. With its scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Monte Pindo mountain in the background, it’s the perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun.

Other notable beaches in Galicia include Playa de las Catedrales, Playa de la Lanzada, and Playa de Areas. Each beach has its own unique charm and offers visitors a chance to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of the region.

Whether you’re looking for a lively beach with plenty of activities or a secluded spot to relax and rejuvenate, Galicia has it all. With its diverse range of beaches, this region is a true gem for beachgoers and nature lovers alike.

Wander through the Picturesque Countryside of Asturias

Asturias, located in northern Spain, is known for its stunning countryside filled with lush green meadows, towering mountains, and charming villages. A visit to this region offers a perfect opportunity to wander through the picturesque countryside and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

One of the best ways to explore the countryside of Asturias is by taking a hike through its numerous nature reserves and national parks. The Picos de Europa National Park is a must-visit, with its rugged peaks, deep gorges, and stunning glacial lakes. Hiking trails of various difficulties crisscross the park and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Another highlight of the Asturian countryside is its quaint villages that seem frozen in time. The village of Cudillero, for example, is perched on a steep hillside overlooking the sea, and its colorful houses create a mesmerizing sight. Strolling through the cobblestone streets of traditional villages like Taramundi and Navelgas allows you to experience the authentic rural life of Asturias.

The countryside of Asturias is also famous for its traditional farming practices, and you can visit working farms to see how locals produce their renowned cheeses and ciders. From watching cows graze in green pastures to witnessing the cheese-making process, these farm visits offer an insightful glimpse into the agricultural traditions of the region.

Asturias is home to numerous stunning beaches, and a visit to the countryside wouldn’t be complete without exploring its rugged coastline. The seaside towns of Llanes and Ribadesella boast picturesque beaches with clear turquoise waters and golden sands. You can take leisurely walks along the shoreline, enjoy a picnic with panoramic views, or even try your hand at surfing at some of the popular surf spots.

As you wander through the picturesque countryside of Asturias, make sure to take in the fresh air and serene ambiance. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains, exploring charming villages, or enjoying the coastal beauty, this region offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.


What are some of the best places to visit in Northern Spain?

Some of the best places to visit in Northern Spain are Santiago de Compostela, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Asturias, and Galicia.

What is there to see in Santiago de Compostela?

In Santiago de Compostela, you can see the magnificent Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. You can also explore the medieval streets of the city and visit the Plaza del Obradoiro, which is a stunning square with beautiful architecture.

What is the best time to visit Northern Spain?

The best time to visit Northern Spain is during the summer months of June, July, and August, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the region can get quite crowded during this time, so if you prefer to avoid the crowds, you can also visit in the spring or early autumn.

How do I get to San Sebastian?

You can get to San Sebastian by flying into San Sebastian Airport, which is served by domestic and international flights. If you prefer to travel by train, you can take a train to San Sebastian from major cities in Spain such as Madrid or Barcelona.

What are some outdoor activities to do in Asturias?

Asturias is known for its stunning natural landscapes, so there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in the region. You can go hiking in the Picos de Europa National Park, explore the beautiful coastline, go surfing or paddleboarding, or try your hand at fishing in the rivers and lakes. Asturias is also a great place for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.


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Abigail Lewis

Abigail Lewis, a valued Cancun resident since 2008, skillfully combines her extensive knowledge of the region with her travels across Mexico in her engaging TravelAsker pieces. An experienced traveler and dedicated mother, she brings the lively spirit of Mexico to her articles, featuring top family-friendly destinations, dining, resorts, and activities. Fluent in two languages, Abigail unveils Mexico's hidden gems, becoming your trustworthy travel companion in exploring the country.

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