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Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Basque Country

Hi, all.

I've just booked two weeks in northern spain for the beginning of July 2014. We're flying into Vigo, spending four nights, then three nights in Santiago de Compostela, three nights in Santander, then four nights in Bilbao.

On a prior trip, we saw San Sebastian and Getaria (loved both places). Additionally, we've seen other parts of Spain and really loved them, too; but this trip we'd like to concentrate and really absorb the northern part of Spain.

oh, and we'll have a car.

To those who have been there (or have done research), could you kindly suggest things that we should see for sure? Or other thoughts about the trip? I'd like to incorporate a couple beach days into the schedule, too.

Gracias amigos!

Posted by
9110 posts

How'd you pick those stops? Yuk!

A couple is fine for Santiago and Bilbao both. Zero is about right for Santander. There's probably nothing wrong with three days in Vigo since that's you're landing point, but you can wander the whole of the historic center in an afternoon.

You've skipped the whole area around Coruna and also Gijon and the Picos. Just because it's different, you might want to spend one night in Santillana.

I great isolated beach is Sarello-Serantes, east of Ribadero. Around Bilbao, the beach at Getxo just outside the harbor seawall is pretty good - - the one downhill from Algorta between the groin and the headland cliffs is better.

No tact, huh?

Posted by
241 posts

thanks for the information. We plan to drive a lot and explore the countryside. We picked this part of Spain after doing some research and deciding to spend some really relaxing time learning abut the people there. It's really part of a bigger plan to see as much of Spain as possible and figure out where to retire (in 15 years!).

Thanks for the response. I'm adding those spots to the list.


Posted by
9110 posts

I'll try to restate my case. There isn't much of the country I haven't seen a bunch of times and, in fact, lived on the north coast for years.

You've got some big misses (the interior cities of Lugo, Leon, and Burgos, for example) and (the small gems like Sada, Ferrol, Viveiro, and Castro Urdiales). You've picked places that are large enough to show up on a small-scale map or that are a jammed-up mess like Santiago. Why not go to Fisterra just to say you have?

It's great to see people figure out that there's more to the country than Barcelona, Toledo, and Andalucia. Shoot, Galicia alone is an easy month.

You might want to take a look at the Michelin Green Guide for Spain. They do an excellent job of giving places a hierarchical rating. Their ideas probably won't match mine, but they'd be just as good.

You'll go nuts when you start trying to figure out Extremadura for some trip down the road.

Posted by
9363 posts

I completely agree with Ed - you are missing the best parts, with way too long spent in places with not much to offer. Leon's cathedral, the beautiful town of Burgos (with its own stunning cathedral), Picos de Europa national park, Covadonga, Gijon, Oviedo.... I agree that the northern coast is vastly under-touristed, which is what makes it special. It is mountainous and green and there is a lot of beautiful coastline and interesting small villages like Cudillero and Llastres. It's a little harder to find information about the northern part of the country (and RS ignores it almost completely - there is not a word about it, except for Santiago, in the Spain book) but it is well worth a little research.

Posted by
1019 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
I too will be headed to the north border of Spain. We will pick up a car after touring Barcelona and head west along the mountains until they run out and then pick up the Bay of Biscayne ending in Santiago.
We have four weeks for this portion of the trip. Maybe four and a half weeks.
I would love suggestions on best villages or sights to see.
Anybody have ideas.
wayne iNWI

Posted by
241 posts

Thanks for all the information. I guess I didn't express myself clearly; we're planning to use our stops as "home bases" and then do daytrips out into other areas -- so we'll be able to make good use of the suggestions that were posted. I expect that we'll spend one whole day touring each of cities where we're staying (Vigo, Santiago de Compostela, Santander and Bilbao), and then make trips out to other interesting areas, returning to our base at the end of each little trip. So, I've done a little internet research on the suggestions that you guys have so generously provided and we'll put together our wish list before we get there and then whittle it down. Are the Cies Islands worth a visit?

Posted by
9110 posts

With only a couple of weeks and the time and logistics involved to get out there and back, probably not.

With more time, of course they are, but you've got a full plate already. Unless things have changed, the only way to spend the night is to camp