Last month, I spent a week exploring four regions in the North of Spain: Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria, and Galicia. When planning summer holidays in Spain people tend to look at the south of the country or coastal stretches like the Costa Brava. But the northern coastline has some big draws, so if you want to discover something new next time you travel to Spain, here are some reasons to give the north a try...
Amazing Beaches, All to Yourself
Because northern Spain is less popular with folks from the rest of Europe taking holidays abroad, it's a fair bit less crowded. Along the north coast are a string of absolutely incredible beaches, many of them completely deserted. I loved the white sandy coves just outside of Llanes in Asturias, tucked beneath green cliffs with steep staircases down. Surfers love the north eastern regions like the Basque Country, where the rugged coastline is perfect for watersports.
Northern Spain is home to the lesser known northern-route of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage of Catholic origin to the resting place of St James in Santiago de Compostela. This epic walking route stretches 825km through four regions. Hiking just a small section of this well maintained trail is an absolute joy, but if you fancy getting off the beaten path there are plenty of other routes to try too. Search the local tourist board websites for the best routes and other travel tips.
Some of the Best Spanish Food
Spanish cuisine isn't just restricted to paella and tapas - although these alone are good enough reasons to travel to Spain. The north of the country is home to some of it's best food, including many dishes you've probably never heard of (but should definitely try). Thanks to the rich Bay of Biscay, there's some incredible seafood. Hake is the local speciality, as well as Galician oysters, huge lobsters, and amazing octopus. Don't miss cod “al pilpil” in the Basque Country, a dish in a thick white sauce made from olive oil and garlic. In Santiago, be sure to try the famous Tarta de Santiago, an iconic almond cake long associated with the Camino pilgrimage.