When living in the city of Barcelona or in the state of Catalunya, it is very common to plan road trips all the time! I will share with you the one I did this last summer when I went back for a visit to Spain.
The thing is, highways in Spain are awesome! The whole country is fantastically communicated, so it is very easy to go from State to State, one only has to bare in mind that there might be some tolls on the way. I would definitely recommend renting a car in order to explore this region.
So to get from Barcelona to Asturias this is the way I always go: AP7 towards Tarragona/AP2 towards Lérida/AP68 towards Bilbao/A8 towards Oviedo. This journey might take up to 12 hours, so it would be good to have more than one driver, or stop overnight on the way.
So, in the North of Spain there are several States, and the ones I visited where Asturias (this is where my father’s family is from) and Cantabria (I went to visit friends from my travels).
This region has a population of about 1 million inhabitants, the weather is similar to the UK, it rains mostly throughout the year and this makes the scenery beautiful: huge mountains, rivers, rough sea and beaches, cute villages, this is the land of lighthouses… I just love Asturias!
Playa del Silencio (beach of silence)
It belongs to the village of Castañeras. Obviously very different from the tropical beaches we are all used to see on travel blogs or agencies, but with its bay shape, very clear sand, the sea powerful blue like the color of the sky, surrounded by vast mountains that gives you the sensation of intimacy and of being immersed in nature, this beach is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen! Obviously this beach is very popular amongst the locals, in fact this was tip from my cousin (as I mentioned before, my family on my father’s side is from there)
This is one of my favorite villages. With only 5 thousand inhabitants aprox. Traditionally a fisherman’s village on the coast, but recently it has been very popular among tourists visiting this region of Spain. One definitely will have the feeling of being back in time, Cudillero has remained the same since the 50s! Its winy roads, old houses built using the mountains as walls, the gothic church, the harbor and the amazing restaurants make it a perfect place to go and spend the day, just be ready to walk through some very steep areas! If you happen to be there during Easter don’t miss the local parties the town hall organizes including concerts, community meals, etc.
This village just brings me back so many childhood memories. Also a fisherman’s village but much tinier than Cudillero, it only has something like 4 thousand inhabitants. Viavelez is well known because traditionally many boats have been built there, not only that but also Viavélez has been a recognized school in the boat building industry of that region. I would recommend to get lost through the harbor and all the pathways through the cliffs, the walk is absolutely out of this world!
Cantabria is the region in spain next to Asturias, on the east side. Geographically very similar to its neighbor Asturias. Amazing beaches surrounded by vertiginous cliffs, very green, fields and pine trees everywhere. As crazy as it might seem, I had never visited Cantabria before (only driven through it), so it was just great to go and visit my friends Raquel and Samu that I met in Kolkata (India) some months before. Cantabria is the capital of this region and its where I stayed at my friend’s place.
So after doing all the catching up, Raquel and Samu had the whole of my stay organized. These are the places we visited:
As I mentioned before, this is where I stayed. It has about 180 thousand inhabitants. It is such a beautiful city full of Gothic to Neoclassical churches and buildings; it is considered one of the most majestic cities in Spain. It is very clean and a very walking/cycling/rollerblading friendly city. So it is just great to visit this city without a vehicle (although public transport is great). One of the interesting things about Santander is that you can see sea sunset and also sunrise, this is due because the whole of the city is a cape. I haven’t been able to see that other than being on a small island!
Natural park of the sand dunes of Liencres
This is an area designed by the Spanish government as a Natural Park. It is on the coast line of the Cantabric sea and at the outskirts of Santander. It is well known for its sand dunes and also because beside this natural area there is a beautiful beach surrounded by cliffs. The beach here is awesome great atmosphere, cool bar to hangout and great place to meet people. It is not as intimate as the “playa del silencio” but I definitely recommend it. You just have to have your mind set up of feeling really cold if you decide to have a swim.
Besides from sightseeing and visiting all the lovely places the north of Spain has to offer, one of the things I enjoyed the most when I was there was the food (especially sea food) and the traditional cider! Basically every bar/restaurant has the most amazing cooks! You can have fantastic and super good meals everywhere and anywhere! And not expensive either. And of course, one cannot go to the north of Spain and not try their cider, but must be served the proper way or “escarciar” like the locals say.
I just love going to the North of Spain, I get to go back to some of my favorite locations but always get to discover these new amazing places that just grab you immediately!