Uncovering Northern Spain – 8 of the best experiences

Heading north, we explore the far reaches of Spain in the country’s beautiful northern regions, packed with history, jaw-dropping scenery and memorable towns and cities offering a different cultural experience compared to the country’s most popular southern destinations.

1. Gijón

Gijon Port

One of the classic European coastal cities, Gijón is steeped in maritime history.

Holding a close relationship with the nearby Bay of Biscay, signs of the city’s maritime culture are evident around every corner.

Tourist attractions include an aquarium, a botanical garden specialising in plants that thrive along this scenic stretch of coastline and a fantastic beach that curves along with the contours of the famous bay.

Dedicated to sharing the story of the region of Asturia and its people, the rather stylish Museum of Asturian People is one of Gijón’s most-visited attractions, providing wonderful insight into this famous Spanish region.

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2. Bilbao


Artistic Bilbao is one of the greatest Spanish cities and is perhaps the country’s most stylish major city.

A city with strong steel industry ties, Bilbao today is a true cultural hub. At the centre of it all, the renowned building and art collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a fantastic place to experience.

Designed by the famed architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a key city landmark that can be found in the heart of Bilbao on the banks of the Estuary of Bilbao.

Read More – A look at Artistic Bilbao: 5 highlights

Another artistic highlight offering the chance to admire a collection of artwork including some key medieval pieces, the city’s Museum of Fine Arts is another exquisite cultural attraction.

Moving away from the modern attractions, perhaps Bilbao’s most historic building is the grand Cathedral.

White, tall, displaying some detailed Gothic features, the cathedral is a massive city landmark worth stopping by purely to experience the contrast between old and new with the city skyline dominated by more modern structures.

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3. La Coruña

La Coruna

The extremely pleasing-on-the-eye port city of La Coruña is another northern Spanish highlight.

Again offering a blend of modern marvels and historic landmarks, La Coruña is perhaps best known for its old lighthouse and Old Town.

Similar to some of the European greats, the city’s Old Town dates back to medieval times.

Stretching out into a point, part of the city is one of the most northerly points in all of Spain.

UNESCO-listed, the wonderfully named Tower of Hercules is one of the tallest buildings of its type in the country arriving complete with its own dedicated sculpture garden for visitors to admire.

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4. La Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja Wine Region

Right up amongst some of the best-known wine regions in the world, La Rioja’s delightful wine region attracts tourists from around the planet.

Extremely colourful, the landscape here evolves throughout the year into a range of different colours depending on the stage of maturity seemingly endless vineyards are at.

Awash with bright colour during the warmer months, the fields here transform into the deepest orange and brown when the temperatures start to cool.

At the heart of the local wine industry here, Haro offers a great selection of wine bodegas for visitors to choose from where they can sample some of the renowned Spanish export.

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5. Oviedo


Nestled between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Mountains and the capital of the Asturias, Oviedo and its long history present an authentic taste of truly historic Northern Spain.

Wonderfully preserved old buildings, some of which dating back over a thousand years, to admire within Oviedo include the ark-like Church of Santa Maria del Naranco and centrally placed Oviedo Cathedral (pictured).

In fact, the city has a number of important religious points of interest including San Miguel de Lillo and San Julian de los Prados – both dating back to the 9th century.

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6. Picos de Europa

Picos de Europa

Visible from various points throughout the region, the massive Picos de Europa Mountains are a key draw for walking enthusiasts visiting the region.

Forming part of the bigger Cantabrian Mountain Range that spreads into a number of different regions, the Picos de Europa range is a jaw-dropping, epic part of the country.

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7. Santander


A stunning beach awaits visitors to the city of Santander.

Sitting on the north coast, the city’s main draws alongside the huge beach are both Magdalena Peninsula and the city’s old fishing port.

Handily also found on Santander’s Ocean Front, the Palace of Magdalena resting on the very edge of a peninsula that spans out into the Bay of Biscay is a luxurious building first constructed in the very early 20th century.

Relatively modern compared to some of the other famous landmarks in the region, the palace highlights the evolving trends in architectural style.

In many ways constructed to be a seaside retreat for the Spanish royal family, the Palace bears more similarities to some of Scotland’s grandest manors than some of the classic Spanish palatial buildings found in the south of the country.

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8. Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

Heading to another northern region completely, Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful capital of Galicia.

Standing since the 11th century, the huge, imposing Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is undoubtedly the city’s most famous historic landmark, quickly followed by the city’s old Monastery.

A more modern work of art itself, the collection of amazing structures making up the City of Culture of Galicia are amazing with the buildings flowing like ocean waves across the ground.

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