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Travel experiences

Top five experiences to enjoy in Northern Spain

9th September, 2019

When you think of Spanish holiday destinations, you likely skip straight to the country’s southern coast - with its bustling beach resorts, great weather, and reputation for being a holidaymaker’s paradise. But there is more to Spain than its southern coastline.

Northern Spain has plenty to offer visitors to this vast and varied country, from lush green expanses and picturesque mountain ranges to its own selection of golden sandy beaches, quaint towns, and impressive places to eat.

Here, we’ve picked out some of our favourite places to explore in Northern Spain - including excursions that are available within our hotel packages in this wonderful area.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
(optional excursion)

The attractive Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

If you want to enjoy a little art and culture on your adventures in Northern Spain, then look no further than Bilbao. With a wonderful reputation for impressive architecture and delectable cuisine, the city is also home to the Guggenheim Museum - housed in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry. The dramatic exterior is a striking fixture against the narrow winding streets of the old town, and plays host to works from famous artists such as Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Mark Rothko and Anselm Kiefer.

Don’t forget to review the current exhibitions before you travel to see what wonderful pieces will be on show at the time of your visit.

(included excursion from 2020)

Santander harbour

Santander in Cantabria's grand, bustling capital city - pairing gothic inspired architecture with beautiful beaches and a calm, maritime feel. Soak up the atmosphere of the place in one of its historic plazas, or enjoy the juxtaposition of traditional architecture against some of the city’s more modern constructions.

Explore the lush greenery of Magdalena Park, or plan a guided tour of the Palacio de la Magdalena - once the summer home of Spanish royalty. Alternatively, while away the days at one of the area’s glorious stretches of sandy beach.

(included excursion from 2020)

The pretty town of Laredo

As one of Northern Spain’s most popular beach resorts, Laredo is a must-visit destination for those looking to enjoy all that this part of the country has to offer. Across the bay from Santoña, this pretty resort town is famous for its seemingly endless sandy beaches, perfect for relaxing on a sunny day. If you’re looking for a little more history, head to the eastern end of town and enjoy the historic buildings and cobbled streets - where parts of the town dates back to Roman times.

San Sebastian
(optional excursion)

San Sebastian’s picturesque bay

Surrounded by lush hillsides, the beaches of San Sebastian are another must-see on your Northern Spanish bucket list. Famed for its reputation as a global dining destination, foodies will be spoilt for choice in the city - whether you’re looking for delicious beachside tapas or a Michelin-starred meal to remember.

Plan a visit around one of the many events dotting its cultural calendar, such as the International Film Festival or a Basque folk fest, and make the most of your time in this truly enchanting city. Whether you want to take in the views from a hillside vantage point or enjoy wandering its art nouveau-inspired towns, San Sebastian has something for everyone.

Picos de Europa
(optional excursion)

Admire the views across the Picos de Europa mountains in Cantabria

Picos de Europa National Park is one of Spain’s first National Parks, and is now also recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. With the Picos de Europa mountain range at its heart, and being relatively close to the coastline, the area offers many wonderful viewpoints from which to enjoy the impressive local area. Whether you enjoy a hike, or would rather take a cable car, the views from the top of some of these impressive limestone peaks are not to be missed.

At over 100 years old, this national park boasts a range of habitats - making it appealing to a number of different animals. From rare wolves and Cantabrian brown bears to deer-like creatures, otters, wild cats, weasels and several species of bat, there are plenty of beautiful animals to observe.

Looking for accommodation in Northern Spain?

If you’re planning a trip to Northern Spain in the near future, then consider staying in one of our authentic, hand-picked Spanish hotels - such as the Juan de la Cosa. Just a stone’s throw from the beach and perfectly placed for exploring all that the area has to offer, the hotel comes with all of the special touches and added extras you’d expect from a Saga holiday.

Find out more about the Juan de la Cosa hotel, or get in touch with one of our Travel Consultants today to let us help you plan your next Spanish adventure.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.