North of Spain, underestimated destination
North of Spain is one of my most favorite destinations. Some Spanish travel guides call North of Spain a very underestimated part of Spain. While this western European country is mostly famous due to its Southern coast, north has a lot to offer too and is definitely worth to be visited. Cliffs, mountains, beautiful beaches, little towns with colorful houses and much, much more.
Best way to get to north Spain would be with a plane to one of the northern airports, take a ferry to Santander or Bilbao, or by bus / car. Madrid has a relatively good connection, since it is a bit far and with this temperature driving over day might not be that comfortable I do recommend to take a night bus. Just remember to book it in advance.
My trip started in Gijon, where I stayed for the first night coming from Madrid. With the plan to go to Cabo de Peñas, the most northern point in Spain i decided to rent a car as it might be quite problematic to get there with public transport. And that was a perfect decision. Since I love driving and in this area being independent and able to quickly go from one place to another is priceless. High cliffs and amazing view on the Bay of Biscay is something you do not want to miss. After you get to the place, you will end up next to a small bar called, Cuatro Vientos (Four Winds), we did not have much time to explore it but it might be a great place to have a small snack and coffee break before heading to next location as the drive might take some time.
Next stop, Cudillero! A small town with spectacular view from the bay, and even better from the hill.
Just have a look on this photo. Is it not stunning ?
Ok, keep on going! Playa de las Catedrales! (Cathedral Beach). A must see, if not the main point on your trip map. Stunning cliffs, clear beautiful water and sand beach all around makes this a perfect place for an EPIC photo shoot and also a great place to spend a few minutes walking and have a moment of reflection. This place is also called a national treasure, therefore visiting the beach is possible and is free but is also limited. During high season a previous reservation is needed.
Keep on going! After this amazing walk on the beach we took a break in Lastres. A small town with little white houses build on high dark cliffs near a small Harbor.
Bufones de Pría. Walking through this stunning cliffs and rocky beach is an unforgettable experience. You will feel like walking over an active volcano or geysers field. Amazing voices coming out of small wholes all around will make you feel like you would be in a place from fairy tail. It is even more stunning when the water is not that calm as over the time we went to see it. But please remember it is also a bit more dangerous especially over bad weather.
Lunch break? Llanes, would be a perfect call! What makes it special is that you can see mountains, sea, and beautiful colorful blocks next to the harbor as you walk there. Having a walk inside the city will give you a great overview of how the life in Spain is going and might be a great moment to buy some souvenirs. After a nice meal in a local restaurant we continued our trip.
Potes. Drive from sea up to the mountains, down to the valley, and keep going through a very narrow roads full of surprises and stunning views! Just watch our, as in some places trucks, buses and other big cars wont let you enough space to pass near them. Waterfalls, straight mountain edges just next to the road an tunnels drilled directly through the mountain. Potes is located in the middle of mountains and Nature Park called Picos de Europa. This very touristic town will give you incredible experience. A great contrast to a Spanish sea coast. I few places I would recommend to see is old bridge, museum ow witchcraft and a walk in the old town
Last but not least! Cangas de Onís, I cannot even describe how beautiful the town is. Old Roman high bridge over the river Sella almost in the center of the town makes it so special you would like to settle down there and sea this every day. Lots of restaurants around makes this a perfect place to stay for the night. Oh and, be aware. It might be a bit scary to cross the bridge. For everyone with a fear of highs I do recommend to get a friend near you, but is so worth to do it!
To end up I only want to mention a place called Mirador del Fitu and top of the hill with its ideal view point. Watching a sunset or a sunrise there will give you a stunning view and incredible memories. If only the weather allows you to see it as it might be a bit foggy in the morning. If so you will have the great chance to admire mountains, sea, beautiful green fields and small towns. Having a cafe and a small drink there, made my day.
I wish you all lots of stunning views, and extraordinary trips.
What to take
–breathable wind/rain jacket, just in case
– polarized sunglasses, sun cream with minimum 50 SPF although this is north of Spain and is a bit colder than south, over summer it is getting quite hot here
– a good camera and comfortable shoes
What to be aware of
– some places requires pre-booking, for example Playa de las Catedrales if you are planning to go during high season
– Spanish, not English. There are lots of places where you will find hard to use English. Better get some Spanish classes before coming north
– traveling by bus, or public transport is time consuming and might not take you to all great spots or it might get hard to get there. Renting a car or even bicycles might be a good idea.
Over all note
Very easy to drive, amazing views, prices relatively small comparing to south coast. Very underestimated destinations, meaning not very crowded. Lots of attractions, variety of views, hills, mountains, sea, valleys all in one area. A great destination !