Hidden wonders of Northern Spain—Recommendations from fellow travellers

Spain isn’t just about white villages and the Mediterranean sea, there are rugged mountains, and green landscapes throughout the north that often get overlooked by tourists.

Spain isn’t just about white villages and the Mediterranean sea, there are rugged mountains, and green landscapes throughout the north that often get overlooked by tourists.

Fellow bloggers spill their secret “to-go” spots in Northern Spain

Northern Spain has an entirely different culture and vibe from the sunny south. It is greener, wilder and is much less explored by tourists.

Being less explored doesn’t mean that is isn’t worth exploring—exactly the opposite—it is an undiscovered gem. Some fellow bloggers have sent me some of their favourite spots in the north of Spain and I will pass on their secrets to you:

Culture, architecture, cider and history in Oviedo, Asturias

Culture, architecture and history abound in Asturius. Talek Nantes photo.

Culture, architecture and history abound in Asturius. Talek Nantes photo.

Talek Nantes from travelswithtalek.com tells what she loves about Oviedo, Asturias.

The town of Oviedo is the capital of Asturias, one of Spain northern provinces. The city is a blend of Medieval structures and contemporary architecture mixing perfectly to create the impression of a vibrant city of wide avenues, spacious parks and wide plazas.  

Oviedo has a culture of good food and fun. There are several neighbourhoods dedicated to restaurants serving the local cuisine such as Fabada Asturiana. Many locations in these areas also serve cider with an interesting local touch. The Cider, or sidra, is served from bottles poured up to three feet above the glass. The purpose of this is to aerate the drink and ensure its maximum taste. It's amazing to watch the waiters pour the sidra with great dexterity hardly losing a drop as they do so.

These "sidrerias" or places that sell cider can be fun locations where musicians stroll in and out of the restaurants regaling the patrons with local songs. It is one of the most fun and unique experiences you can have in all of Spain.

Oviedo is a lot more than a party city. The town has a fascinating history evident in its buildings with eclectic architecture. This is a city that values art. This is evident in the large collection of galleries found throughout the city. It is an elegant, friendly city with lots to do and see. A worthy stop-over for at least three days to begin to appreciate it.

You can read more about Talek’s adventures in https://travelswithtalek.com/

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Stairway to the Sea

Sam from AlternativeTravelers.com has this to say about a stunning spot near Bilbao, Basque Country:

Take this wild and remote stairway to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a Game of Thrones location. Photo courtesy Alternative Travelers

Take this wild and remote stairway to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a Game of Thrones location. Photo courtesy Alternative Travelers

The picturesque islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in the Basque Country is a must on any northern Spain itinerary. The tiny island is located just off the rugged coast and boasts incredible sweeping views along with a long, turbulent history. Game of Thrones fans might recognize the island as a location featured in later seasons. Indeed, the island has seen a surge in tourism since its feature in the HBO series, so be forewarned that it’s likely to be busy on days with nicer weather.

Visitors reach the island via a meandering path and small stone bridge that traverses the rocky waters and small cliffs below. Once on the island, one must climb hundreds of stone steps up into the mist in order to reach the 10th century hermitage. Finally, once you’ve made it up, you’ve earned the right to toll the bell at the top three times and make a wish. Before heading back down, take in the lush green landscape, jagged coastline, and marvel at the 200+ stairs that you just climbed.

Travellers can visit as a day trip from Bilbao or as a stop on a northern Spain road trip!

If you would like to read more about the Basque Country on Alternative Travelers, take a look at their post about vegan food in San Sebastian and Bilbao:vegan food in San Sebastian and Bilbao .

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Take a hike in the picos de Europa

Jill from jackandjilltravel.com is all about the nature and hiking in Spain. I can’t say that I blame her, as the north is certainly the best place to get acquainted with Spain’s awe inspiring nature.

Her suggestion takes us to mountain peaks that few outside of Spain have ever heard of—Los Picos de Europa:

Hiking through the Picos de Europa National park takes you through some of Spain’s most spectacular scenery. Photo courtesy JacknJilltravel.com

Hiking through the Picos de Europa National park takes you through some of Spain’s most spectacular scenery. Photo courtesy JacknJilltravel.com

Los Picos National Park is located the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and León in Northern Spain - it doesn’t get as much fame as Spain’s more popular regions. Which is unfortunate since I believe that this part of Spain is so special, especially the scenery.

The landscape here is unlike what one would imagine Spain to be. There are alpine lakes, river canyons so deep sunlight almost never reaches the bottom, and cows ambling through green meadows. Tall limestone cliffs hide remote mountain villages that are only accessible by walking. One of the best ways to enjoy the best of Los Picos National Park is to hike the Cares Gorge trail. The trail follows an old maintenance road carved into a limestone cliff high above a river. The river canyon is almost a mile deep in some spots and so narrow in others it looks like you can jump across it. The scenery is spectacular. For an easy day trip, the alpine lakes of Covadonga is easily reachable by cars. You’ll be forgiven to think that you’re in Switzerland instead while you walk around these alpine lakes accompanied by the tolling bells of grazing cows and gazing at the snow-capped peaks.

Read more from Jill on her blog: jackandjilltravel.com
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Let me know if you have any other places that you would like to add to this list of places that travellers must go to in Northern Spain.

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