In many ways, the northern part of Spain is the real Spain. At least it is the oldest, and it has some very distinct cultural traditions. Here are 10 reasons to visit Northern Spain. You will also get a few suggestions on where to go exactly!
The most historic areas
During the Middle Ages, most of Spain was controlled by the Moors. However, the northern part of the country largely remained in their own control. Regions such as Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Navarre have almost always been in European hands.
All these regions have a very unique history, and there will be plenty of things to discover. Going there is a completely different experience compared to the rest of Spain. You really get a feeling of history. Some of these cities are incredibly old and offer great things to do. Some of the most historic cities are Santiago de Compostela, Gijón and Pamplona.
Known as the green coast
The northern coast is by far the greenest part of Spain. These areas have a lot of natural forests, mountains and wildlife. While much of the southern and eastern parts of Spain is very dry and at risk of turning into a desert one day, the north is completely opposite.
It’s very beautiful and refreshing to see. You will enjoy it if you are into nature.
Home to nice beaches
You will also find plenty of nice beaches in the northern part of Spain. Famous beach cities are San Sebastián, almost at the French border, along with Santander, the largest city in Cantabria. Asturias also have some nice beaches, and the same can be said for Galicia, where some of the beaches are equal to the very popular Portuguese beaches.
If you have been to Madrid, any central part of Spain, or any southern part, you will know that the summers in Spain can get really hot. Almost too hot.
But it’s hardly like that in the north. The northern coast has a somewhat mild climate, where temperatures are still nice and convenient, but where it rarely gets unbearable. It’s a great place to visit during the summer – a lot of Spaniards, especially from Madrid, seek the northern coast and go there during the months of July and August.
Many unique cities
While the cities of the north are not as large as the many central, eastern and southern cities in Spain, they are just as interesting, and every bit as unique.
The Galician cities of Vigo and A Coruña are both amazing to visit. Calm coastal cities, but still with a lot of activities and things to do. Cudillero, the Viking-founded city in Asturias, very close to Oviedo and Gijón, both worth a visit as well. Santander and San Sebastián are two popular coastal cities, famous for their beaches, like we mentioned earlier.
Aside from the coastal cities, you can also go a bit inland and visit the walled city Lugo that previously belonged to the Romans and was an important stronghold. León, Bilbao, Pamplona and other cities should also be visited. Bilbao is the largest city of the north of Spain.
Seafood is the most popular thing to eat in the north – and they are really good at cooking it. Galicia has the best seafood according to a lot of people. They are famous for their dishes with octopus. But the other regions are a close match and they also offer great foods.
Aside from seafood, you will also find some of the best meat here. The same can be said for milk and cheese – Asturias is famous for producing these. As for eggs, Galicia produces the best in all of Spain!
Be sure to visit La Rioja if you have time for it. It is the smallest autonomous community in mainland Spain. They produce the best wine in Spain, according to most people. It’s a tiny region, and even the main city of Logroño is not very big, but don’t focus on the size – focus on the nice experience you will get there. They have amazing wine, it’s not a very touristy place, and it’s incredibly authentic!
Cheaper costs of living
Generally, it is cheaper to visit the north of Spain compared to many other parts of the country. The only exception is the Basque Country, a part of the north where prices are high. But going on vacation to any northern city should be a lot cheaper than going to Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or any city on Costa del Sol.
So if you want an affordable, yet amazing vacation, then you should also consider a trip to northern Spain. We highly recommend it.
Very welcoming people
Spanish people can be a bit rude in other parts of the country – let’s face it. In Madrid, people are into themselves and don’t always seem very open to tourists, and the same is the case in other major cities.
However, in the north, you can expect to feel very welcomed. In Galicia people are very, very friendly. People will strike up conversations with you every day out of nowhere, and even if you don’t speak Spanish, they will still try their absolute best to communicate with you. We would say that people are more open and welcoming in the north compared to many of the central and eastern cities.
Less touristy than the rest of Spain
Aside from a few cities, the northern coast is far less visited than the eastern and southern coasts of Spain. Well, it depends on how we look at things: Among Spaniards themselves, the northern coast is incredibly popular, but among tourists from other countries, it is quite the opposite.
For that reason, you will get more of an authentic experience where everything is not suited towards tourists, but where you can soak in the real and legitimate culture.