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San Sebastian

Northern Spain

Coastal, culinary & cultural delights

Spain tailor-made holidays & self-drives

Introduction

From sleepy fishing villages, mountain walks and quiet beaches to world-class vineyards, near-ancient cathedrals and look-at-me contemporary architecture, the charms of northern Spain are wonderfully diverse. Having visited regularly, our Spain specialists will happily share their tips and tailor an itinerary to take in the very best of the region, from self-drives to walking tours of the Camino de Santiago.

Basque Country

And the fiercely proud Basque Country is a microcosm of it all. Introductions are made at its Bilbao showpiece, a city whose industrial past has been shrugged off in a skyline defined by great modernist sweeps. Even the Renaissance buildings of its delightful old town seem to shine with new enthusiasm.

A view across Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum, Basque region, Northern Spain
Bilbao, Basque Country

From here, continue along the dramatic coast, past cliff-perched villages to reach San Sebastián’s heady mix of white sands, pintxo bars and Belle Époque grandeur. It’s all a postcard-perfect front to rolling vineyards, stone villages and such pretty medieval towns as Vitoria. The Basque Country even has the most Michelin stars per capita in the world.

Galicia

In fact, perhaps northern Spain’s only common thread is a shared love of good food. Whether it’s delicately spiced chorizo, peppers stuffed with salted cod or hearty albondigas meatballs, expect every inch of your tapas table to be quickly covered. No more is this true than in Galicia, whose fertile natural world of fishing-village-lined beaches and rolling, vineyard-capped hills produce some of Spain’s finest dining experiences.

It’s the idyllic backdrop to everything from prehistoric settlements to medieval fortifications, best taken in on the Camino de Santiago. This ancient pilgrims’ trail ends at Santiago’s cathedral, its Romanesque spires reaching skywards in grandeur only matched by its gilded interior.

The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at dusk, Galicia, Spain
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

Navarra & Rioja

There are also the neighbouring delights of Navarra and La Rioja. Moving out of the citadel-bound Navarran capital, Pamplona, and its world-famous ‘Running of the Bulls’, this is your chance to head off the beaten track. Lose yourself in Pyrenean peaks, centuries-old monasteries, castle town mazes and, yes, a seemingly endless collection of vineyards.

Vineyards in Spain's Rioja wine region
Rioja wine region

 

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Top itineraries in Northern Spain

Hacienda Zorita, Salamanca

Salamanca Wine Experience‬‬ at Hacienda Zorita

6-day tailor-made break staying at Hacienda Zorita from £650 pp incl. flights

Staying in a 14th-century country manor among the vineyards of the Duero Valley, you'll enjoy sommelier-led tastings, spa treatments and the chance to explore Salamanca’s heritage charm.

Parador de Siguenza

Spain’s Paradors

Tailor-made self-drive routes from £375 pp incl. flights

Spain's paradors are a network of historic palaces, fortresses and castles converted to luxury hotels. Take a look at our favourite parador itineraries or get in contact to tailor-make your own, with plenty of superb-value offers available.

San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja

Rioja & Navarra Wine Route

5-day tailor-made self-drive from £570 pp incl. flights

Taste your way through two of Spain's finest wine regions as you explore the quieter, rural charm of the country's north on super-scenic drives and stays in historic accommodation.

San Sebastian

Highlights of the Basque Country

8-day tailor-made self-drive from £795 pp incl. flights

Explore everything from postcard-perfect coastlines to medieval cities and tempting vineyards of, all the while staying in Renaissance palaces, seaside villas and thousand-year-old castles. This is northern Spain at its best.

Top places to stay in Northern Spain

Bedroom, Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, Bilbao, 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

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

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 Transcantabrico

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 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, Spain

Pamplona

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.

The Sanctuary of Loyola, near Bilbao

Bilbao

Bilbao is a sprawling city with a strong Basque identity and rich heritage, which has rapidly transformed into a buzzing cultural capital bursting with civic pride.

La Rioja, Spain

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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  • Madeira, Portugal

    Top 10 driving holidays in Spain & Portugal

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  • San Sebastian, Spain

    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.

See all articles

Meet our Northern Spain experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7664 2264

Meet the team

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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