The Best of Northern Spain: Readers’ Travel Tips

Forget crowded Med beaches: the four coastal regions of España Verde offer cool cities, wild shores and great walking in verdant coast and mountains.

Winning tip: Basque Coast Geopark

If you’d rather stray far from the tourist trail, the Basque Coast Geopark is a delight. It’s a protected area of the coastline around Mutriku, Deba, and Zumaia. There are 13km of cliffs made up of flysch (shale bed) deposits which have created layered and bizarre rock formations. We felt as though we were on the set of Jurassic Park. These staggering cliffs show how the Earth changed over millions of years and fossils are plentiful for the kids to admire. A boat tour is a great way to see it and costs €20 adult, €10 under-12s.

Galicia

Camino Ingles

The Camino Inglès (the “English Way”) is the shortest of the routes to Santiago de Compostela, and fits neatly into one week. Starting in Ferrol and passing through the historic towns of Pontedeume and Betanzos, it also takes you along beautiful fjord-like rías and through magical forests, and tiny forgotten villages.

Unexpectedly beautiful Vigo

Vigo won’t be top of many people’s lists when thinking of Spain but one of the largest cities in Galicia is well worth a visit, with cheap flights from the UK. What Vigo may lack in Mediterranean warmth it makes up for in Atlantic charm. The Casco Vello (old town) has some glorious fish restaurants along with pintxos and tapas galore. This bit of the Atlantic produces some of the finest seafood in Spain.

Exploring the woods: Illa Cortegada

In Galicia, there is an island whose woods smell of bay and seafood: the most mouth-watering combination. The sand banks of the Ría de Arousa produce clams, cockles, razor clams, and other types of shellfish. And the Illa Cortegada provides the bay leaves to flavour these delicious seafood products.

Asturias

Stunning scenery and great food: Cudillero

Cudillero is a picturesque fishing village accessible from Oviedo on the Feve train. Whether it’s watching the boats unload their catch in the harbour or exploring the narrow, winding streets, this is a beautiful place to experience everything that’s great about Asturias. Local restaurants offer delicious, fresh seafood and there are scenic coastal walks. Pension Alver is a wonderful budget place to stay (doubles from €40 room-only), run by a friendly Anglo-Spanish couple who are full of tips on walks and places to eat.

Small city with a big heart: Avilés

Just 20 minutes from Oviedo airport lies the city of Avilés, whose old town is among the most vibrant I have ever visited. Cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and locals who like any excuse for a party. With doubles in the five-star Palacio de Avilés hotel on the main square from €95 room-only and complimentary tapas in most bars, this city is heavy on fun while light on the pocket.