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SPAIN, A COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS – PT1

THE NORTH OF SPAIN

Spain is a country of cultural and geographic contrasts united by the friendliness of our people and our great gastronomy.

To discover the best of Spain's north, we have prepared this route for you and your travel companions to enjoy.

The Serranía Celtibérica (Celtiberian Range) is sometimes referred to as Laponia Española or Spanish Lapland. Here, you will find clusters of autonomous communities, some of the least crowded places in a country known for its tourism, beautiful vistas, and extraordinary history extended back to the Middle Ages. In the RoadTrip that we have created, we suggest making Siguenza, a small town in Guadalajara, your first stop. Stroll through the town’s labyrinthine streets, visit its famous castle, and indulge in its gastronomy, specifically the torrezno, a type of fried bacon snack (we know, right?!). From here, make your way to the semidesert landscapes of the Bardenas Reales Natural Park and its iconic Castildetierra formation. Explore the park’s arid beauty on foot, by bike, or by car. North of here is the Pyrenees mountain range, which stretches 621 kilometers across northeastern Spain, from Cap de Creus on the Mediterranean Sea to Irún on the Cantabrian Sea, and is home to wondrous valleys, waterfalls, beech forests, and lakes, as well as Europe’s largest limestone massif. Next, your itinerary through Northern Spain takes you to the winding streets and pintxo bars of Pamplona’s old town and the museums, beaches, and gastronomy of San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque) and Bilbao. If geology is your thing, be sure to visit Zumaia (or Zumaya) and the 100-million-year-old sedimentary rock layers of the Deba-Zumaia flyscha. If Game of Thrones is your thing, follow the coast west past surf spots and beaches to the hermitage at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, which fans of the series will know as Dragonstone. Climb the 241 steps to the hermitage’s bell and ring it three times to have your wish granted or ward off evil spirits. Travel from there into Asturias and to the region’s beaches (we recommend Cuevas del Mar and the surreal Playa de Gulpiyuri in Llanes), fishing villages, and to Cabo de Peñas, one of our favorite stops and a phenomenal place to watch the sunset. End your journey in Galicia after traveling through the Picos de Europa National Park, set in the Cantabrian Mountains, and maybe getting sidetracked in Bulnes, which is accessible only on foot and by funicular and well worth the exertion. In Galicia, visit the Praia das Catedrais (Cathedrals Beach) and the Cíes Islands and delight in some of the world’s best seafood along the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), which will take you to Santiago de Compostela, the proper end of our journey. This itinerary is drivable/rideable year-round though do keep in mind that Northern Spain gets its fair share of snow in the winter.

Join us for part two of our journey, which will take us through the grandeur of Southern Spain.