If you’re looking for the ideal destination for a fun vacation you might want to check out Northern Spain. Typically people seem to gravitate toward the more southern regions of this diverse and beautiful country but the northern region has plenty to offer for the traveler who prefers not to be among the crowds.
For The Outdoorsy
For a truly outdoorsy experience you can travel to the Picos de Europa National Park first designated as such in 1918 and later given its current name in 1995. The unique biosphere region provides forests, rivers and some spectacular mountains. This area is certainly a hikers paradise but is equally worth a visit just to ride the cable car that reaches high over the park affording you awesome views.
Similarly appealing to those visitors who enjoy some outside activity is the medieval village of Santillana del Mar that has been wonderfully preserved. The village is open to foot traffic only so good walking shoes are a must to see this quaint little destination, that is also in a good spot to travel to.
Some other fascinating locations such as Santander and the caves of Altamira that are home to prehistoric paintings. Santander is also worth a visit as a less obvious choice for a beach destination. The city is a thriving port on the Bay of Biscay but the beaches here have some of the nicest sand in the northern region and the city has much to offer by way of attractive garden and outdoor areas as well as plenty of things to see regarding the arts. There are also lots of great cafes in the area that provide delicious provisions as well as great wifi, I took advantage of this while there to stop in and update my Instagram, check my emails and take a break from all the site seeing to relax and play some games like these strategies or entertainers. It was needed when doing all that sight seeing!
If beaches and art museums are not your thing but you still enjoy the great outdoors then a trip to the Rioja Wine Region is a must do. Obviously if wine is something you enjoy this area will be of special interest offering an impressive array of wineries totaling more than five hundred. However you can have just as much fun taking in the beautiful scenery whilst riding a horse as many of the wineries allow horse back riding through the vineyards or even all terrain vehicles which might make for a more comfortable ride! Back to the vicinity of the Bay of Biscay and one can enjoy the little peninsular island of Gaztelugatxe that looks uncannily like a castle.
Once a top the island you are rewarded for the somewhat strenuous climb with a fantastic view of the surrounding area. Pamplona, most known for its running of the bulls through the city streets during the San Fermin festival, is a more unusual destination and may appeal if bull fighting is your passion as it is home to the fourth largest bull ring in the world. A good walking city you may choose to visit in July, when the festival ensures a lively atmosphere, or at any other time to avoid the obvious over crowding that this event will create.
Beaches and Entertainment
Northern Spain seems to have a great selection of urban beaches as found most notably in Barcelona but staying off the beaten track somewhat and detouring instead to the town of San Sebastian one can enjoy this popular beach resort and still access the amenities of the town on foot. Whilst enjoying the ocean and the beautiful golden sand you can also drink in the surrounding scenery of wooded hillsides which adds a welcome and refreshing splash of green color.
July is also when the town hosts Europe’s oldest jazz festival and throughout the year numerous other events will be sure to provide ample entertainment for those searching a livelier location. The town often gets busy this time of year so it is smart to plan ahead when booking a place to stay, you can find lots of great deals on sites such as TripAdvisor and Hotels.com
Just a fifty km drive from San Sebastian is the town of Segura. This medieval town just shy of the Basque mountains takes you away from the hustle and bustle and offers a different Spanish experience. Enjoy the local fare of cider and goats cheese and the delightful treats from the local bakeries. A short walk to St Adrian’s cave found in the Aizkorri-Aratz park will be rewarded with awe inspiring views of the out lying hills and if you are fortunate a glimpse of the eagles found in this area. A truly rural and peaceful experience awaits you in the Basque region so relax and enjoy this along with a visit to the region’s capitol Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Finally if you are looking for a good place to be a center for your Northern experience you could do worse then follow the lead of many of the locals and head to Castro Urdiales situated in eastern Cantabria. It lies close to many of the afore mentioned destination and others equally worthy of a visit such as Bilbao. The quaint narrow streets of the old town are charming and the beaches a surfers delight. The close proximity to the ferry at Santander also makes this an ideal location to set off and explore the rest of this amazing region of Spain.