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San Sebastian, Northern Spain

Northern Spain

Visit Northern Spain


Northern Spain is a world away from the crowded southern coasts frequented by many holidaymakers. There is a multitude to see and do – from discovering Basque culture and distinctive local fiestas, to the walking trails of the Picos de Europa mountains and one of Spain's most outstanding museums, the Guggenheim in Bilbao. It also has plenty of beautiful coastline of its own – just without the crowds you might find elsewhere.

Bilbao, northern Spain's largest city, is a cultural metropolis. Best-known for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, an architectural masterpiece that sits on the Rio Nervión, the city is home to a number of other intriguing landmarks and an artsy scene to match. To the east lies San Sebastián, the Basque Country's most popular beach resort – a delightful city overlooking a beautiful bay. It hosts an international film festival each year and is widely regarded as Northern Spain's gourmet capital, full of atmospheric tapas bars and surrounded by green hills dotted with cider farms.

The Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona is one of the most famous local events, best known for the running of the bulls. Another festival of note is the Batalla de Vina - the Battle of Wine - that takes place, appropriately enough, in the celebrated La Rioja wine region, where world-class Spanish red wines can be enjoyed on guided wine tours.

Top itineraries in Northern Spain

Spain’s Paradors

Tailor-made self-drive routes from £370 pp incl. flights

Spain's 94 paradors are palaces, fortresses and castles, monasteries, convents and country houses. Our great-value Parador 5 night card includes a six-day stay across the majority of paradors and a 20% discount on meals. To tailor-make your own parador adventure, speak to one of our specialists.

Rioja & Navarra Wine Route

5-day tailor-made self-drive from £545 pp incl. flights

Combine two of Spain's favourite wine regions in this memorable five-day self-drive route through the rural charm of the country's north.

Highlights of the Basque Country

8-day tailor-made self-drive from £775 pp incl. flights

Explore the postcard-perfect coastlines, medieval cities and vineyards of this unique Spanish region, all the while staying in Renaissance palaces, seaside villas and thousand-year-old castles.

Camino de Santiago Self-Drive

9-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,110 pp incl. flights

Discover the Way of St James, a centuries-old pilgrimage route between León and Santiago de Compostela in beautiful northern Spain. Staying at a collection of Parador hotels, from monasteries to converted castles, you'll call in to pretty coastal towns and some of the region's famed wineries.

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Top places to stay in Northern Spain

Gran Hotel Domine, Bilbao

Contemporary hotel

Having opened in 2002, the Gran Hotel Domine exhibits all the designer considerations of its famous neighbour – the Guggenheim Museum.

Hotel Saiaz, Getaria

Traditional hotel

Escape to the Basque coast with this pretty medieval town and its 15th century stone tower – the Hotel Saiaz. Here, sweeping sea views are complemented by a charm both historic and contemporary.

Casa de Los Arquillos, Vitoria-Gasteiz

Traditional hotel

Housed in stone walls that back to the early 1800s, this is contemporary freshness among heritage charm. It’s ideal for longer stays, too, with apartment-sized rooms featuring full kitchens.

El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo, Northern Spain

Luxury train

Across its original 1923 Pullman carriages, the Gran Lujo hosts gourmet dinners, cocktail evenings and splendid private suites, realised in polished woods and brass fittings.

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Where to go in Northern Spain

San Sebastian

San Sebastián is an attractive city on the northern coast of ‘El País Vasco' - the Basque Country - with a glorious natural setting on the curving beach of La Concha (‘the shell'), with the Bay of Biscay beyond. Its stunning sandy beaches have made San Sebastián the Basque region's most popular sea…


Pamplona is the capital of Navarra, situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees. An ancient city with a vivacious appetite for its traditions, it's among Pamplona's cobbled streets that one of Spain's best-known festivals takes place - the Fiesta de San Fermín, a colourful and heady occasion focussed…


Bilbao is a sprawling city with a strong Basque identity and rich heritage, which has rapidly transformed from a rather unattractive centre of industry into a buzzing cultural capital bursting with civic pride. Further back, Bilbao was originally a small medieval fishing village on the Rio Nervión.

La Rioja & Navarra

La Rioja and Navarra are neighbouring regions in Northern Spain. Both are noted for their winemaking, although La Rioja is better known internationally, amid landscapes of gorgeous rural countryside dotted with old stone towns and villages.

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When to go to Northern Spain

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Northern Spain articles

  • Top 10 driving holidays in Spain & Portugal

    From wild coastlines and beach curves to mountain peaks and rolling countryside, the charms of the Iberian Peninsula are seemingly endless. To help point you in the right direction our destination experts have put together the following self-drive routes that showcase the best of it all.

  • The best places to visit in northern Spain

    It's easy to love Spain's sunny beaches and stylish cities, but the north of the country has a charm that's a little bit rustic, a little bit traditional, and full to bursting with personality and gorgeous holiday experiences.

  • Europe's Best Coastal Holidays for 2016

    Europe's many seas means there are a huge number of quality beaches to enjoy. Different countries, cultures, foods and landscapes vie for your attention so it's easy to pick a great spot. Here is our list of the best places to lay down your towel.

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Meet our Northern Spain experts

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7664 2264 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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