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small towns in Northern(ish) Spain

Hi forum,
I am in the early planning stages of a trip to visit family in the French Alps. I'll be traveling with my husband and 9 year old. I'll likely be there in the end of May or EARLY June.
I'm looking for a small town to stay in for about 5 days after that. I did this several years ago in Collioure, France and that town was perfect. It probably gets flooded with people in the high season, but when we were there it had a great balance of charming town, beach, surrounding sites, restaurants, and shops.
It was almost too much travel from the Alps, so if we go to Spain for these days I think it would have to be Northern.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
(I'll post in Italy and France as well)

Posted by
2433 posts

A little bit confused here, because if you thought that Collioure was too far from the Alps, then anywhere in Spain will be even further.
But if you are willing to drive that far, then anywhere on Costa Brava (Catalunya) will be lovely at that time of the year, for instance Begur or Tossa de Mar.

Anywhere outside of Catalunya will be too far. For example, it takes more than a day to drive from Annecy to San Sebastian (Basque Country).

Posted by
5085 posts

Will you be driving? Train? Our trip in October, so be also not the height of tourist season, included San Sebastián (aka Donostia, in the Basque language). It has fantastic pintxo restaurants, and we had a sumptuous lunch at a 3-Star Michelin restaurant nearby one day. There’s also a great aquarium, which kids all were enjoying. There’s a nice beach area, although in rainy October, no one was using it. Car-free, with a big pay-parking garage for arrivals, and a free lot on the outskirts of town.

It’s inland with no beach, but Girona was another great stay that trip, not too far from Barcelona for a daytrip.

Posted by
2279 posts

There are thousands of small charming towns and villages across northern Spain, are there any hints you can give us beach? mountains? forests? what do YOU guys like to do while on holiday? where are you coming from? where are you going after?

FYI "May or EARLY June" may not be beach/bathing weather for most of northern Spain just yet.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for these ideas!
I'm looking for coastal probably, but we're in such the early stages that I'm open to inland. Really I'm hoping to hear people's favorite small places. We will decide on car or train once we decide on the place. And the place is what's important. I've already been to many of the major cities in Europe (and Asia and Africa), many small and big museums. These days I like to find a great small town and explore it and the area around it.

Posted by
2279 posts

Thanks for your extra info, the north of Spain covers a wide swath of territory my top picks for costal towns would be:

Peñíscola - Not really far north but halfway between Barcelona and Valencia With its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the old town of Peñíscola sits on a big rock that juts out into the sea. The town is dominated by a large Knights Templar castle that looks like something out of the Crusades, that is sounded by a sandy beach. Recently, Peñíscola was used as a filming location in the T.V. series Game of Thrones.

Tossa de Mar - a very atmospheric coastal town on the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona. Tossa has an idyllic medieval setting as it is dominated by a clifftop castle and a small cobblestone old town. Many restaurants and hotels around here, can get quite packed during the high summer months. I used to spend my summers here growing up, so it is very near and dear to my heart.

Inland would be:

Rupit - medieval stone village in the foothills of the Pyrenees, north of Barcelona, very popular with local Catalans.

Potes - another quaint medieval stone village, this time in the Cantabria region, located the heart of the Picos de Europa mountains (think a mix of Ireland and the Alps)

For these smaller places, it will be best to rent a car, especially the inland villages.