Spain has a whole range of gorgeous cities, lesser-known spots and a heap of incredible places to see dotted all across the country. Now, the south of Spain is already pretty popular, but there’s a heap of the best places in the north of Spain that you really shouldn’t miss, too.
That’s the thing about Spain, to be honest. The country is so diverse depending on what region you visit. The Costa Del Sol, for instance, is so different from the Spanish Basque Country in the north. This makes it a totally fun country to visit on a road trip as you can see so many different cultures and vistas, too.
Plus, you’re gonna get to gorge your way across a country that has some of the tastiest dishes around! I swear, I ate my weight in all the pintxos, paella and Iberian ham (which is so good).
Anyway, enough about the food! I wanted to share some of the best places in the north of Spain to visit when you next visit. It’s such a diverse region and I really hope you’ll love it as much as we do.
Oh yeah, and for clarity, I’m considering anything higher than Madrid to be the north of Spain. Hopefully, this will help when you’re planning your route.
Read more, below, for the best places in the north of Spain to visit. Have a great trip!
1.) Delica canyon
Okay, Delica Canyon is incredible and easily one of the best places in the north of Spain you have to visit. Plus, it’s really easy to visit via car (and some hikes) from Bilbao itself.
Honestly, it’s so incredible to see and almost feels like a Spanish Grand Canyon. Though, it totally doesn’t need any comparisons, this place is iconic.
One thing to note is that you will need quite a lot of wet weather to see a huge barrage of water. Though, water or not, it doesn’t take away from the incredible views.
Once here, be sure to see the Nervion Waterfall (Salto del Nervion), which is one of the highest waterfalls in all of Spain. Also, don’t just follow the location on Google Maps, it’s not quite accurate and so it’s best to get directions once you arrive in the area.
The whole area is stunning and well worth the drive and ramble (around 2km) to get here. Oh, and make sure to stop (in the car) at areas like this, too. They’re stunning viewpoints over the whole region.
Also, just make sure to plan your hike safely, there are very little in terms of fencing near the edges and you must be careful on the trails. After all, no one likes a reckless hiker.
Perched in the province of Alava, Vitoria-Gasteiz is around an hours drive from the centre of Bilbao by car. It’s a relatively small city (compared to places like Barcelona) but is totally lovely.
Once here, make sure to explore the Artium Museum which is incredible to visit and a great indoor spot if the weather gets a bit rainy. Also, don’t forget to explore the Cathedral of Santa María and stop off at Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, too.
You’ll find lots of little shops and foodie joints around the historic plaza, which makes it really great to visit in the late afternoon or early evening.
Finally, be sure to take a little gander at the medieval walls of the city, too.
Now, Covarrubias is a tiny little place but one of the best places in the north of Spain to visit if you love gorgeous little villages. This protected place is totally lovely and well worth stopping for an afternoon as part of a wider road trip around the region of Castile and León.
After arriving, take a stroll to the Torreón de Fernán González, see the town’s churches and gorge at De Galo Restaurant. It might seem a little no-frills but their roasted lamb is so good.
For me, the hilltop town of Albarracin is one of the more picturesque and best places in the north of Spain you have to see. It’s totally gorgeous and well worth seeing when heading through the province of Teruel.
Once here, explore the stunning cathedral, wander through the historic plaza and follow the remains of the Walls of Albarracin. It’s such historic places and well worth exploring by foot over a few hours.
Also, for a tasty lunch, pop into Tiempo De Ensueño that’ll leave you stuffed. Plus, they have the most amazing wine selection (for the non-drivers).
One other thing to note, it’s around a 3.5 hours drive from the centre of Madrid, this makes it more than just a day trip from the larger arrival airports. That being said, it’s a really easy spot to visit when driving from Madrid to Barcelona and totally worth it.
5.) Cies Islands
Nestled just off the Atlantic Coast, near Pontevedra, the Cies Islands are a must-see when exploring the north-west of Spain.
Forming part of the Galicia National Park, it’s one incredible place to explore the rugged beauty of Northern Spain and well worth exploring if you’re already in the city of Vigo (or even northern Portugal).
Now, the only real way to get to the Cies Islands are by boat, which is easiest from Vigo in the summer months. The islands are stunning and it has some of the best beaches in Spain that are totally beautiful. Not only that, on a calm day you’ll see how crystal clear the waters are!
It’s the perfect place to relax and explore the trails or just chill on the beach. Though be warned, the sun is strong here!
Oh yeah, and make sure to book your boat tickets as soon as you arrive in Vigo (or before, if you can).
Nestled on the Bay of Biscay, Gaztelugatxe is one of the Basque Country’s most iconic spots to see. It’s so beautiful and well worth a gander whilst exploring the Basque Country.
With over a thousand years of history, it’s well worth driving and taking a stroll around the whole area. Just keep a watch for those coastal winds, it can get blustery.
Also, it’s totally easy to explore from Bakio or even Bilbao, too. Now, remember there are quite a few hundred steps, so consider this if you have mobility issues.
All in all, you’ll likely spend a few hours exploring and it’s totally easy to build into any itinerary whilst exploring the best places in the north of Spain.
Nestled on the coast in Asturias, Castropol is a stunning little place to visit whilst following the coastal road further west in Spain.
It’s the kind of spot you can stop for lunch and explore the coastline before continuing the drive. After all, it’s not too big.
Once here, spend a few hours walking around Pancha Island or stop off at Playa de Mexota. The latter is a gorgeous beach that’s so lovely to chill at on a sunny day. Though, don’t be surprised if you come across some cheeky nudists!
Ribadesella is one of the best places in the north of Spain to visit if you love history! You see, it’s home to the Tito Bustillo Cave where early humans used to shelter around 10,000 years ago.
Today, you can see the pre-historic drawings and neolithic sketches in the caves (on a tour). They’re totally awesome (and I mean that literally). Honestly, it’s the kind of place you can’t miss when in northern Spain.
Just make sure to book your tickets in advance (on their website) and remember that no photos are allowed inside.
We stayed a few nights in Logrono and totally loved how charming this little city is.
It’s totally lovely, especially with all the tapas spots on and around Calle Laurel. I think we spent the whole night around this area and left totally full (and a little tipsy).
Also, don’t forget to visit the Museo de La Rioja, explore the cathedral and even take a drive over to some of the nearby Rioja vineyards. too.
Now, Gijón might be the largest city in Asturias but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in character. It’s the perfect place to start your trip around the Bay of Biscay.
Gijón also has a fantastic beach, which is totally epic on a summer day. Plus, don’t forget to explore the Elogio del Horizonte (In Praise of the Horizon), the sculptures are amazing, especially as they’re produced by the Basque artist, Eduardo Chillida.
Oh, and don’t forget to explore the district of Cimavilla, the oldest district in the whole city.
Nestled within the Basque Country in Spain, Bilbao is a beautiful city to explore some of the cultural heritage of this marvellous Basque town.
When you’re there, be sure to take in the beauty of the Plaza Nueva, discover Doña Casilda Iturrizar park and take a wander across Zubizuri.
Also, you can’t forget to visit one of Spain’s most iconic contemporary buildings, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Here, you can explore some of the world’s most beautiful pieces of modern art and it’s totally amazing.
12.) San Sebastian
San Sebastian is possibly one of the more well-known and best places in the north of Spain to visit if you’re a total foodie.
You see, San Sebastian is perhaps best explored with your tummy and mouth. The fresh seafood and pintxos are just epic!
If you’re looking for a little more of a challenge, take a hike up Mount Ulia for some stunning views or see the totally gorgeous Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
Plus, On a warm sunny day, head to the Beach of La Concha which is one of the Basque Country’s most famous beaches.
The capital city of the Aragon region of Spain, Zaragoza is a stunning historic melting pot that spans centuries.
Take a wander around the iconic Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar that was built in the 1700s or marvel at the beautiful gothic architecture of La Seo Cathedral. Honestly, these places alone will give you a good idea of how amazing and rich the history is in Zaragoza.
Though, If cathedrals aren’t your thing, discover the city’s most famous festival, the Fiestas del Pilar (which, by the way, is so much fun).
The medieval city of Burgos is sometimes overlooked by some visitors, but thankfully, that’s changing! It has some of the best places in the north of Spain to visit that’s totally gorgeous in the heat of summer or the snow of winter.
To be truly impressed by Burgos, start your visit by taking a wander around the Burgos Cathedral that’s almost 1,000 years old.
Also, if your a biology bookworm (like me!) then head over to the Museum of Human Evolution.
Vigo is one of the largest Spanish cities on the Atlantic Ocean and a perfect little stop for a few days exploring the Atlantic Coast.
After arriving, make sure to explore the Museum of Contemporary Art, soak up the rays at Praia de Patos (which can get busy) and see the Castle of Vigo, too.
As I mentioned earlier, whilst here, take a trip over to the stunning Cíes Islands that are only a few miles out into the Atlantic Sea. They’re incredible.