Overlooked by many travellers, northern Spain offers an incredible mix of history, scenery and culture, without the crowds.
Spain is a beautiful country steeped in history, culture and eccentric nightlife.
There are countless reasons to visit Spain and thanks to its close proximity to the United Kingdom, it’s also one of the most inexpensive places to visit and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
However, Spain is a pretty large place that has diverse culture and history, making it difficult to pick where to visit for a holiday. So to make things easier for you, we’re going to talk about some of the most amazing places in Northern Spain to visit if you ever plan a holiday here in the future.
Santander is the capital city of the autonomous Cantabria region that is located in the north of Spain. It’s right on the coast of the country, making it a beautiful beach-filled location that is a wonderful place to visit in the north of Spain.
It once served as the royal summer residence and is one of the most amazing locations that you’ll come across if you’re interested in history and deep culture. You may find the name familiar, and that’s because the headquarters of the multinational bank Banco Santander has its headquarters here.
There’s plenty of beautiful sightseeing to be had in Santander thanks to its iconic location. You have plenty of national parks such as the Peninsula of Magdalena, and since it’s a coastal location there is no shortage of beaches such as the Playa Primera de El Sardinero, one of the most popular beaches in the whole of Spain.
For something a little more relaxing, you can explore history museums such as the Museo de Prehistoria y Arqueología de Cantabria which is dedicated to prehistoric to Middle Age artefacts.
Bilbao is a city in the north of Spain and is the largest in the province of Biscay. It’s the tenth largest city in the whole of Spain, making it a relatively well-hidden gem that is an absolute treat for tourists.
It’s surrounded by mountains, giving it wonderful scenic views but the downtown area is very modern, filled with skyscrapers and contemporary museum houses that are some of the most popular attractions in the city.
The international symbol of Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum, an iconic art museum that is filled with modern and contemporary art that is designed by Frank Gehry. The entire city feels like a beautiful art project, complete with curved structures and breathtaking architecture that reaches into the sky.
This is certainly a location that can really be appreciated by anyone that loves art and wants to soak in all of the sights and sounds that are on offer. Take a look at some top sights such as the Arkeologi Museo, the Museo de Bellas Artes and historical locations such as the Basilica de Begona.
Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias. Located in the north of Spain, the city sits on the shoreline of the Bay of Biscay and has a maritime climate thanks to how close it is to the ocean.
Oviedo is a historic city with a lot of deep, rich culture to be discovered. Architecturally, the city has a very long history and many of the buildings still standing today date back to the early medieval period.
Oviedo is full of surprises. Whether you love taking walks along traditional city streets or want to visit large monasteries and cathedrals, Oviedo has architecture that dates back all the way to the 9th century.
You could visit the Santa Maria del Naranco to explore the decorative masterpiece, or you could consider visiting Route of Santiago de Compostela, one of the most famous hiking trails in the whole of Spain that is a must-see for anyone that loves long and peaceful walks through nature.
San Sebastian if often known as Donostia. It’s a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain. It’s on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and is very close to the French border.
It’s a city that is famous for its tourism and it’s become of the most popular and successful places for people to visit during their holidays. Due to how close it is to the ocean, it has a beautifully warm oceanic climate during the summer and a cool breeze during the colder months.
Some of the most interesting things to do in San Sebastian is to eat. There are plenty of different wines to taste, pastas to try and also a surprising amount of baked goods.
If you’re not into wine tasting or have little interest in food in general, then there are plenty of others sights to see and places to visit. For example, San Sebastian is home to several wonderful beaches such as the La Concha Beach and the Monte Urgull.
If beaches aren’t quite your cup of tea, then there are also parks such as the Cristina Enea Park and several walking trails that are commandeered by informative guides.
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, located in the northwest of Spain.
The city’s origins stem from the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which was a major destination of the Way of St. James, a Catholic pilgrimage route that has been around since the 9th century.
Since 1985, Old Town that is part of Santiago de Compostela was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique cultural significance.
The main cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is still one of the most sacred Christian monuments in the whole of Spain, providing a wonderful sight that is worthy of being toured at least once during a visit to the north of Spain.
In addition, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos is one of the most gorgeous examples of Gothic Plateresque architecture that is still standing in the world, and you also don’t want to miss the Casco Antiguo, also known as the Old Town. It’s atmospheric, it’s large and also filled with a quaint atmosphere that is difficult to find anywhere else in the world.
La Rioja is a community and also a province in the north of Spain. It’s actually one of the smaller regions in Spain and also the least populated in the country.
However, it’s a place that is well-known for its fine wines and contains some of the most beautiful medieval architecture. When visiting La Rioja, think picturesque views, delicious wine tasting experiences and beautiful churches.
You’ll see plenty of interesting museums in La Rioja such as the La Casa Encantada, a speciality museum that is free of charge to enter.
There’s also the famous Tierra Rapaz zoo, an educational location where you can learn about different birds of prey and also watch informative shows that will teach you about everything from eagles to falcons. Lastly, there are plenty of beautiful parks and hiking trails such as the Ruta de Las Neveras in Sojuela.
Officially known as the Chartered Community of Navarre, this is an autonomous community and province located in the north of Spain that borders the Basque Autonomous Community, La Rioja and Aragon.
It’s a mountainous region of Spain that is sprinkled with remote villages, castles and developed cities with a beautiful natural background. Depending on the season you visit Navarra, you’ll get to experience a wide range of different attractions throughout the year and a completely unique atmosphere that is special to the region.
There are plenty of interesting attractions in Navarra such as the Selva de Irati, a well-known nature park that has clean streams of water, beautiful forest views and serves as a wonderful hiking backdrop. There’s also a wide selection of medieval castles to visit and tour, such as the Palacio Real de Olite and Castillo De Xavier.
For outdoor activities, there are off-road experiences and many hiking trails in addition to cultural tours that will take you on a journey around Navarra. There are also a couple of golf courses to indulge in if you want to play against a beautiful Spanish backdrop.
We also can’t forget to mention the many historic sites in Navarra, like the fortress and walls of Pamplona or the famous Puerto de Ibaneta monument.
Burgos is a city in the north of Spain and also the historic capital of Castile, an old region of Spain that is thought to be named after the numerous castles in the area.
It’s a historic part of the country that is well-known for its important landmarks such as the Cathedral of Burgos, the Las Huelgas Reales Monastery and also several large churches from the medieval age.
Despite being such as historic location, Burgos is a modern and well-developed city that has a robust transportation system and many museums that celebrate the city’s historic significance to Spain. In fact, it was even selected as the Spanish Gastronomy Capital of 2013 and in 2015, it was named the “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO.
There are many unique locations to visit in Burgos, such as the famous Cathedral of Burgos which is a UNESCO World Heritage site that comes with a deep and rich history. It’s said that the cathedral was built over a period of over 500 years and features some of the world’s finest facades and sculptures.
You can also visit the Paseo del Espolon, a promenade that is a favourite of the citizens of Burgos. It’s a pleasant walk that is accompanied by quiet gardens, a riverbank and plenty of picturesque sights, making it a brilliant location to take a stroll or relax.
Finally, there are numerous museums that showcase the history of Burgos. The Museo de Burgos is one of the more popular ones, featuring a diverse collection of archaeology and antiquities in the Casa de Miranda which is a lavish 16th-century palace.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in the north of Spain. It’s a beautiful multicultural city that loves its art and architectural conservation, and also the first Spanish municipality to be awarded the title of European Green Capital in 2012.
It’s home to some world-renowned wineries and is almost always featured in lists of the best places to live in Spain due to its beautiful architecture, relaxing atmosphere and modern amenities.
If you’re visiting Vitoria-Gasteiz, then you’re likely coming for the art and contemporary museums. One good example is the Atrium, a modern museum that showcases work from artists like Miro, Tapies and Picasso. There’s a rotating schedule which means you’ll always get to see something unique when you visit.
There’s also the Museo Bibat, two combined museums that are located in the Bendana Palace. It’s an archaeological museum that is divided into several floors and features unique pieces from the Paleolithic era, the Iron Age, Roman times and even the Middle Ages.
You’ll also find countless high-quality restaurants that are serving up both traditional Spanish cuisine and also Michelin-starred meals that are worthy of the price tag.
If you like scenic routes, hiking and even cycling, then there’s plenty of green spaces such as the Anillo Verde which are the perfect backdrop for a relaxing time outdoors.
The capital of the Aragon region in northeast Spain, Zaragoza is well-known for its famous pilgrimage sites, shrines and overwhelmingly lavish cathedrals.
Zaragoza is dominated by spectacular views of its multi-domed structures, but it’s also a modern city with tall buildings and fine architecture. You’ll be surprised at how appealing the scenery is in Zaragoza and how many unique points of interest there are.
Some of the top places to visit in Zaragoza include the Monasterio de Piedra, a beautiful landmark that almost feels like a national park in the heart of the city, and Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the major historic sites in the city that is regularly visited by tourists.
It’s one of the most extravagant and wonderful cathedrals that you’ll see in the whole of Spain and a must-visit location for any tourist.