Often overshadowed by its southern coastline, mountainous Northern Spain is alive with greenery and gastronomy. Coastal cities fuse old and new while catering to travelers seeking a mix of culture with glorious seascapes. Beyond the coast, a network of vineyards is responsible for crafting some of the best Spanish wines. Add the northern coast of Spain to your radar and explore the following areas.
Straddling its namesake estuary, Bilbao is the largest city in Basque Country. This handsome city is a blend of modern skyscrapers alongside historic plazas and churches and the winding streets of Old Town. Home to the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao is one of the best destinations in Spain for art lovers. Furthermore, innumerable sculptures stud the streets. Visit the Azkuna Zentroa – a modernist cultural center with visual and performance art exhibitions housed within a former wine exchange.
An easy day trip from Bilbao, La Rioja is a province located at the base of the Cantabrian Mountains that is known for its wine production. Vineyards are scattered across the Ebro and Duero River Valleys with Haro and Logroño towns providing an excellent base to start your wine tour. This area claims credit for Spain’s noteworthy Tempranillo wines, full-bodied with a fruity finish.
Situated in the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastian is one of the prettiest towns on the Nothern Spain coastline with sublime beaches and viewpoints. The town has a reputation as one of the county’s great culinary spots. The streets of San Sebastian are strewn with pintxos (Basque tapas joints) and Michelin-starred restaurants. Seafood is high on the agenda while in San Sebastian with the likes of anchovies, salt cod, and clams leading the charge. Remember to try San Sebastian cheesecake: a crustless variety with a caramelized top.
Occupying a promontory in the Galicia region of the northwestern coast, A Coruña consists of a charming medieval town and other historic points of interest. Torre de Hércules is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world while Praza de María Pita is a visual treat for architecture aficionados. Expand your travels with a day trip to Lugo, one of the oldest cities in Galicia. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Muralla Romana de Lugo is the best preserved Roman wall in the country.
Another coastal city in the lush Galicia region, Pontevedra sits on the banks of the Río Lérez which leads into the Ria de Pontevedra. The picturesque city comprises splendid plazas and unique architecture. The Church of Peregrina is constructed in the shape of a scallop, indicating that it was used by those undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (now a popular hiking trail). Pontevedra is the perfect base for exploring the wine regions of Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo, and Txakolina. Browse the wine menus for zesty white wines made from the Albariño grape and aromatic red wines with floral notes crafted with Mencía.
If you're already a fan of Barcelona and Madrid, Bilbao and Northern Spain will not fail to enchant you. Contact me when you are ready to book your trip to Northern Spain.
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