Liz Carlson a RoamRight Blog Author

Five Best Cities in Northern Spain


After living for several years all around Spain and visiting every nook and cranny of this unique, southern European nation, it didn’t take long for me to develop favorite haunts and spots. Northern Spain in particular really tugged at my heart and quickly became a favorite. Often overlooked by travelers trekking along the traditional tourist spots on the coasts or in the south, northern Spain has a charm and diversity that commands attention all on its own. If you are looking to come to Spain, I wholeheartedly suggest taking a peek at the north. Here are the five best cities from which to choose.

1. San Sebastián

The crown jewel of northern Spain, San Sebastián on the Basque Coast is world-famous for its beautiful architecture, stunning beaches, and most importantly, its fine dining. Tied neck-and-neck with the famous Catalan cuisine of the south, Basque is home to some of the best restaurants in Spain. Not to mention there is something for everyone to enjoy here. San Sebastián houses more pincho bars than you can ever hope to visit; pinchos are the Basque form of the famous Spanish tapa, a snack-sized portion of food served up with drinks, usually in the evening. If you are a foodie in any sense of the word, San Sebastián can’t be missed on a trip to Spain.

2. Santiago de Compostela

One of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the world, Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city located in the remote northwest corner of Spain. Home to the bones of the Apostle St. James (Santiago in Spanish), its beautiful cathedral has been one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites since the Middle Ages. Traveling around northern Spain, it’s very common to see modern day pilgrims hiking along the roads and trails, slowly gravitating towards Santiago.

3. Logroño

My home for a year, I can’t talk about northern Spain and leave out one of my all-time favorite places - Logroño! Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry, most people haven’t. The capital of the tiny wine-growing region of La Rioja, Logroño is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Wine culture is everywhere here. From the cafes to the pincho bars to the seemingly infinite number of wineries you can pop in for a tour, visit and tasting, red wine is inescapable, not to mention cheaper than water! The best time to visit is in October and November, when all the leaves start to change and the annual wine harvest begins.

4. Zaragoza

Zaragoza is a large city by Spanish standards but is also often overlooked by tourists traveling between Madrid and Barcelona. Founded in ancient times by Augustus, its name Zaragoza derives from Caesaraugusta, marking Zaragoza as an important Roman city. Because of this there are plenty of Roman ruins and archaeological sites to visit around town.

5. Bilbao

The largest city in Basque country, Bilbao is a modern, artistic hub of the north. Industrialized early on by Spainish standards, its port aided in Bilbao’s early growth and wealth. Nowadays it’s home to the famous Guggenheim Museum, with the whole city possessing a very young and modern air, making it both a unique and fun city to visit in Spain.

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Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

Liz Carlson

Liz Carlson, a RoamRight Blog Author Liz’s blog is Young Adventuress, which is geared toward adventure and slow travel. Liz Carlson began the blog while trekking through the Andes before moving to Spain for two years, where she has been teaching English and living the expat life. With over 30 countries under her belt, Liz is now planning to take on New Zealand and explore a whole other side of the world. Follow Liz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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