Spain is without doubt one of the world’s most visited international locations. Whereas the standard photos that vacationers affiliate with the Southern European nation sometimes revolve round Andalucian white cities, paella or the distinctive structure in Barcelona; there’s a aspect to Spain that vacationers usually miss – and that’s its northern coast.
I just lately went for a visit within the northern areas, beginning within the Basque Nation and ending in Galicia and the distinction between that and extra well-liked areas corresponding to Andalucia, Valencia, Barcelona and even Madrid couldn’t be any higher. The regional variations lengthen to the structure, the delicacies and the landscapes. It’s simply a lot greener within the north that I usually needed to pinch myself to persuade I’m nonetheless in Spain.
On this information, I purpose to share my Northern Spain itinerary from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela, which may be carried out by practice or bus. I personally went on a 6-day/5-night practice journey via the Costa Verde Specific which allowed for excursions in these locations via a mix of practice or bus. The beneath itinerary may also be carried out independently utilizing a mix of public trains, buses and automotive rent.
When touring by practice or on the countryside, do notice that the wifi onboard may be unstable so I additionally had roaming cell information throughout my journey. Jetpac’s Globetrotter e-sim permits for information roaming in 50 locations via a straightforward set up course of.
Day 1: Bilbao
Go to Guggenheim Museum
Start the journey with a go to to the world-renowned Guggenheim Museum. I used to be personally awed by the outstanding structure of this titanium-clad constructing designed by Frank Gehry that I loved simply sitting on a bench on the reverse aspect of the river for a full view of the construction. Inside, one will get to discover the huge assortment of recent and up to date artwork from famend artists corresponding to Picasso, Yayoi Kusama, Warhol and Jeff Koons. The museum is the preferred attraction in Bilbao and it’s endorsed to reach early to keep away from crowds. The museum opens at 10AM.
Get Misplaced within the Casco Viejo
After visiting the Guggenheim Museum, it’s a 20-minute stroll alongside the riverfront to the charming streets of Bilbao’s outdated city, generally known as Casco Viejo. This historic district is residence to quite a lot of outlets, bars, and eating places, making it an ideal place for a leisurely lunch and a few buying. Don’t miss the gorgeous Catedral de Santiago, a 14th-century Gothic-style church and the Mercado de la Ribera, a bustling market with native produce, seafood, and pintxos bars. Get pleasure from the remainder of the afternoon exploring the slender streets and plazas of Casco Viejo.
Tip: For cheaper pintxo choices, head to the meals court docket of Mercado de la Ribera the place you possibly can select amongst dozens of those gentle bites at a less expensive worth.
In case you have time, you too can catch a efficiency on the gorgeous Teatro Arriaga or you possibly can take part in a guided tour of the interiors. Two buildings away from the theater is the Biblioteca Central de Bidebarrieta, a powerful showcase of nineteenth century structure with a grand staircase and Instagram-worthy studying room with stained glass home windows.
After having your fill of Bilbao, you possibly can head to Bilbao Station to catch a bus to Santander (roughly 1hour 45 minutes).
Day 2: Santander
Get pleasure from El Sardinero Seashore
Santander is thought for its sardines and the fish’s significance is apparent on the El Sardinero Seashore, a preferred spot amongst locals and vacationers alike. With its golden sand, clear water, and gorgeous views, it’s a good place to bask within the solar or take a refreshing dip within the sea. There are a number of eating places and cafes close by the place you possibly can seize a chew to eat and benefit from the view. The Michelin-starred Restaurante El Serbal is a good place to sit back whereas having fun with the view of the seaside. Their set menus embrace specialties of the area – contemporary fish and beef.
Discover Magdalena Peninsula
Subsequent, head to the Magdalena Peninsula, a must-see attraction in Santander. Right here, you’ll discover a mixture of pure magnificence, historic monuments, and scenic views.
First, go to the Palacio de la Magdalena, a good looking early Twentieth-century palace that after served as a summer time residence for the Spanish royal household escaping the insufferable warmth of Madrid. Make sure to take a guided tour to find out about its historical past and structure.
Then, discover the encircling parkland, which options various wildlife, in addition to picturesque trails for strolling or jogging.
Lastly, pay a go to to the Magdalena Maritime Museum to delve into the area’s maritime historical past. The museum gives a singular glimpse into the lives of fishermen, sailors, and explorers who as soon as sailed the waters round Santander.
Day 3: Santillana del Mar & Altamira Caves
Go to Altamira Museum and Reproduction Cave
On the third day of the journey, it’s time to discover the Altamira Museum and Reproduction Cave. This museum supplies a singular alternative to expertise and find out about prehistoric life. The spotlight of the go to is the duplicate of the well-known cave, the place guests can see a few of the most well-preserved examples of Paleolithic artwork.
Begin the day by heading in direction of the Altamira Museum, positioned close to the city of Santillana del Mar. It takes roughly 10 to twenty minutes to drive to Altamira from Santillana del Mar. When you attain the museum, take your time to discover its displays, which showcase the timeline of human evolution and the inventive expertise of the prehistoric inhabitants of the area. Whereas visiting the precise caves is now topic to balloting, the museum has an especially reasonable duplicate of the cave together with the prehistoric work. It’s also possible to stroll to the precise web site of the caves, though you’re solely allowed to survey the true cave from a number of meters away.
Wander By Santillana del Mar
After visiting the Altamira Museum, proceed your journey by wandering via the charming city of Santillana del Mar. This historic city has been dubbed “The City of Three Lies” as a result of it’s neither a Saint (Santa), nor flat (llana), nor has it a sea (sea = mar) close by. The slender cobbled streets and well-preserved medieval buildings give the city a fascinating environment. Solely twenty years in the past, Santillana del Mar was nonetheless primarily an agricultural city and a few of the lovely stone buildings was barns for cattle. Don’t miss visiting these well-liked websites:
- Colegiata de Santa Juliana: A surprising Romanesque-style church and monastery courting again to the twelfth century.
- Casa del Aguila y la Parra: A gorgeous instance of a Baroque-style palace with an ornately adorned facade.
- Plaza Mayor: The central sq. of Santillana del Mar, surrounded by picturesque homes and native outlets.
As you stroll via the city, take a while to pattern native specialties, corresponding to sobaos, a standard Cantabrian cake. The cobblestone pedestrian-only streets home artwork galleries, craft outlets, and pottery studios that contribute to Santillana del Mar’s distinctive, inventive aptitude. For a pleasant meal, you possibly can head to the restaurant of the Parador de Santillana Gil Blas for hearty Cantabrian stews.
Tip: As there may be loads of navigating concerned, you’d most likely wish to have cell web with loads of information out there. Save the effort of discovering a sim card from town or airport by availing of Jetpac’s E-Sim. Their Globetrotter plan which prices S$35 for 10gb covers Spain and also you don’t should manually insert a bodily sim to get cell information whereas on the street!
Day 4: Picos de Europa & Llanes
Discover Picos de Europa Nationwide Park
On the fourth day, enterprise to the gorgeous Picos de Europa Nationwide Park, recognized for its dramatic mountain surroundings and wealthy biodiversity. The panorama right here carries an nearly alpine high quality, full with cows grazing on the fields and jagged peaks within the distance. After I did the Northern Spain journey just lately, I discovered Picos de Europa to be my favourite cease!
You’ll be able to select to hike numerous trails, such because the Ruta del Cares or Ruta de los Lagos de Covadonga. I personally went for the Lagos de Covadonga route as I believed lakes had been extra scenic. My group additionally went to the Sanctuary of Covadonga after so the latter was the extra handy route for us.
Calm down in Llanes
After spending the day admiring Picos de Europa’s pure magnificence, it’s time to move to Arriondas and catch the practice to the coastal city of Llanes. With its colourful homes and charming streets, Llanes supplies the proper setting to unwind. One of many highlights of the city is Playa de Toro, a picturesque seaside recognized for its distinctive rock formations. Vacationers can take a leisurely stroll alongside the shoreline, absorb the solar on the golden sands, or maybe get pleasure from a refreshing swim within the Cantabrian Sea. Within the night, guests can discover the native delicacies in one of many many seafood eating places and tapas bars all through the city.
Day 5: Oviedo, Gijon & Luarca
Go to Oviedo’s Cathedral
From Llanes, it’s a 1.5 hour bus journey or 1.75 hour practice journey to Oviedo. The bustling metropolis of Oviedo in Asturias is thought for the spectacular Oviedo Cathedral. This gorgeous Gothic-style cathedral dates again from the 14th century and options an attention grabbing tower that dominates town’s skyline. As you discover the cathedral’s inside, be aware of its distinctive architectural parts and historic artifacts, such because the Holy Chamber, which homes an vital relic – the Holy Shroud which is alleged to be the material used to wrap across the head of Jesus Christ after he was crucified.
After visiting the cathedral, take a stroll round Oviedo’s charming outdated quarter. Right here, you possibly can admire the mix of architectural types and go to different historic landmarks, such because the Velarde Palace and the City Corridor.
Stroll Alongside Gijon’s Beachfront
Subsequent, make your technique to the coastal metropolis of Gijon, simply half-hour away from Oviedo. Barely bigger than Oviedo, Gijon is thought for its lovely seashores and vibrant environment. Begin by taking a leisurely stroll alongside the Cimavilla Peninsula, which connects town’s outdated city to the principle beachfront space. This space of Gijon is crammed with Roman-era ruins, together with historic baths and wells which might be displayed publicly like an open museum.
Expertise Luarca’s Harbor
Finish the day by taking the practice from Gijon to Luarca. Because the practice pulls into the station, you’ll get a panoramic view of the picturesque harbor of this charming coastal city in Asturias. Take a stroll alongside the marina and benefit from the sight of colourful fishing boats docked in opposition to the backdrop of white-washed buildings. Have a hearty breakfast at one of many native cafes earlier than exploring the quaint streets of this charming city.
Day 6: Ribadeo, Viveiro & Santiago de Compostela
Cross the Eo Estuary to Ribadeo
The subsequent morning, take the practice to Ribadeo the place you’ll be greeted by views of the scenic Eo Estuary as you method the city. This estuary marks the pure border between Asturias and Galicia. Ribadeo is a coastal city steeped in historical past and its outdated city gives a plethora of gorgeous buildings and landmarks to discover. Highlights embrace Torre dos Moreno and the city’s principal sq., Plaza de España.
Roughly quarter-hour by automotive from Ribadeo is the elegant Cathedral Seashore. The seaside is thought for its tall rock formations jutting out from the seaside together with the enduring cathedral home windows or pure arches. To entry these arches, you’ll have to go to the seaside when it’s low tide.
Discover Viveiro’s Historic Middle
From Ribadeo, proceed your journey westward to the city of Viveiro, famend for its wealthy historical past and noteworthy structure. Stroll via the well-preserved medieval metropolis heart, taking within the lovely plazas, church buildings, and monuments. Notable websites embrace Santa María del Campo Church and the San Francisco Bridge.
Arrive in Santiago de Compostela
End your day by arriving at Santiago de Compostela, the ultimate vacation spot on this six-day itinerary. Santiago de Compostela is a crucial metropolis for pilgrims and is the top level of the Camino de Santiago or the St. James Means, an 800 kilometer lengthy strolling path that begins from the Pyrenees in France and which usually takes s few weeks to finish on foot.
Try town’s large cathedral. Attending mass here’s a little bit of an exhilarating expertise as some periods characteristic a protracted swinging incense burning pendulum hanging from the ceiling referred to as Botafumeiro.
The primary sq. – Praza do Obradoiro – just isn’t like every other squares in Spain. That is the official endpoint of the St. James Means which makes it an enchanting place to individuals watch. From morning till late afternoon, you’ll see the relieved faces of pilgrims who’ve arrived right here after weeks of strolling the path.
In case your finances permits, spend the evening on the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, one of many oldest (if not the oldest) resort on this planet. Inbuilt 1486, it has a definite medieval look though the rooms are a bit extra modest.
Finish the journey in Santiago de Compostela, simply because it serves as the top of the St. James Means. Alternatively, you too can do that journey the opposite manner round and begin in Bilbao and finish in Santiago.
From Singapore, I flew with Turkish Airways and transited in Istanbul for my onward flight to Barcelona. From Barcelona, I took a home flight to Bilbao. Alternatively, Turkish Airways additionally flies to Bilbao throughout sure days by way of Istanbul, saving one among an additional transit if coming from Singapore or different main Asian capitals.
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This put up is written in collaboration with Jetpac