Northern Spain is a world away from the country's crowded southern coasts. There is a multitude to see and do, from discovering hidden tapas bars and local fiestas to the walking trails of the Picos de Europa mountains and one of Spain's most outstanding museums – the Guggenheim in Bilbao. That's without even mentioning the miles of beautiful coastline dotted with historic towns that buzz with Basque culture.
Nevion river & Bilbao river front
Most introductions are made in Bilbao, northern Spain's largest city and a cultural heavyweight. It's best known for the architectural masterpiece that is the Guggenheim Museum, but it's 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.
Catedral de Santa Maria, Pamplona
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 and Navarra wine regions. Here, world-class Spanish red wines can be enjoyed on guided wine tours year round. However, even if you're not imbibing, the rural scenery and centuries-old towns are simply gorgeous.
Vineyard and Davalillo Castle, La Rioja