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 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.
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.
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.
Top places to stay in Northern Spain
Having opened in 2002, the Gran Hotel Domine exhibits all the designer considerations of its famous neighbour – the Guggenheim Museum.
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.
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.
Where to go in Northern Spain
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.
When to go to Northern Spain
Northern Spain articles
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.
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 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.
Meet our Northern Spain experts
Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7664 2264