Northern Spain

I quite fancy it but everyone who goes says it is bloody awful - weather food and everything else. I know San Sebastián is a beacon food wise but what about the rest?   Can anyone recommend or should I just avoid?

It’s great but yes, if you go before late Spring/after September you need to be prepared for cold and rain. As long as you’re not going to sit on a beach perfectly ok times to go though as places are geared up to being indoors.

Santiago is stunning and has great bars/food plus all the history. Bilbao would highly recommend as a more interesting alternative to SS (obvs Guggenheim, quite hipster, old town and great food). Hondarribia nearby is great in the Summer. Lovely fishing village near French border. I quite like A Coruna too, nice beaches and much more modern than Santiago. 

It's like Wales. 

Dodgy weather, mountains, radical locals with a penchant for firebombs, language which is almost impossible to understand.

Some interesting food places and it looks quite pretty though.

Funny you should say that, have recently watched Rick Stein in Spain who also compared it Wales, the people in particular.    He quite clearly hated the food though.    He never says so but you can always tell.   His relief when he headed SW to the Catalonia was palpable.

I was in Galicia in October and the weather was quite fine.

The cities and towns are well worth visiting - A Coruna is a great place.

I didn’t rate the food that much; in particularly their salty take on pulpo (octopus) is pretty take it or leave it. 

I certainly haven’t heard anyone slagging off the food in northern Spain more widely - surprises to hear you say that. The regions further east from Galicia are positively renowned for gastronomy.

I went in September last year. Visited San Sebastian, the Pico's de Europa national Park and Oviedo, along with a few smaller places in between.

Food was good throughout, no complaints at all, although we were going fairly premium for restaurants (albeit not Michelin star level generally).

The national park and mountains were excellent, if you like that kind of thing.

San Sebastian and hiking near it was also good.

Oviedo was a really nice city.

The weather, even in early September, was very variable. Some days lovely, some grey and drizzly. 

All in all, would recommend.

Good for cycling. Many Spanish pros are from the Basque Country. 

Does feel v like Wales landscape and topography wise (green, rainy, hilly / mid-mountains rather than barren scree slopes that you get elsewhere in Spain).

I know Andalusia Castille Valencia and Catalonia  reasonably well blindtom and love them, which is why am interested in exploring a bit more widely but accept Northern Spain isnt really the Spain I know. 

+1 for Pico's de Europa, went climbing up there and loved it, amazing how primitive parts of Europe still are.

Was impressed with the Guggenheim, obviously it depends what's on in terms of exhibitions but the place is world class. Bilbao old town was pretty cool too.

What they all said. It is not bloody awful, it is excellent, but the reasons some people don't like it are - 

- Atlantic climate not Mediterranean - real rain, real winds, real sleet

- you wouldn't want to have vertigo,  driving on the main East-West motorways up there. A6 and A8 I think. 


I spent most of my honeymoon there. It's excellent. There are some tourist traps bit on the when the food was great. I had the best steak of my life to date in Cangas de Onis. Although the town is unremarkable otherwise. I stayed in Paradores and that pretty much set out route. Hondarribia is a fantastic starting point. Pick up a car there and make your way along the coast to Vigo. Stick to the coast and go in summer. If you're prepared to do a one way rental I think Ryanair fly to both of those airports. 

I would fly to Biarritz and pick up a car from there. 

If you go at the right time in  August there are loads of festivals etc throughout the Basque region but you can also catch some rugby in Biarritz or Bayonne which is a great experience - quite different to the UK and a lot of fun.

I also liked Honadarribia - the whole town was in a festival when we were there, and there is a great parrador to stay in. 

I've been to Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria. Beautiful. Mountains, beautiful crystal clear rivers/lakes, great variety of beaches (from booming Atlantic to calm Carribean-like flat beaches for the kids), great sea-food and some lovely mountain stews. Lovely medieval towns/cities and lively modern cities too. 

I can't stand Rick Stein. He's surely got to be one of the worst TV presenters ever.

I would genuinely rather listen to Joe Pasquale give a commentary of my parents fvcking that sit through one of his dire programs.

I went to a festival in Bilbao in July once.

"It'll never rain cos well be in Spain!" They said.

Night 2 : torrential rain like I've never seen in England plus forked lighting.

The beach looked to be a surfers paradise though with the proper Atlantic and not the glorified lake that is the Med.

And yes the weather may not be as warm or dry as the south but its still a damn sight better than the UK pound for pound and also less chance of an unbearable heatwave of the kind you will see in Madrid or the south in summer 

Playa de Loredo is a nice beach and area. Great waves and some hiking. Take a ferry across the Bay to Santander where we found the food good. It’s the kind of place to rent a great house and do outdoorsy stuff. For more glamour and shopping but also good beaches, Biarritz, not Spain but same sea. 

There’s not much to do in San Sebastián other than eat/drink very good food.

Bilbao much more promising for a 5 day trip, and you can get a train to San Sebastián for a day trip (or car hire, I think a taxi cost us 120 euros to SS from Bilbao airport)

I don’t think I’d bother visiting Spain outside the football season tbh. Tourism in the close season is such a waste of the opportunity to groundhop.

I love the Picos de Europa. Food is mountain fare but quality was generally good.  There are some super high end places that are really interesting

As someone said above San Sebastian and Oviedo are nice. A couple of days in one (or both) of those stuffing your face and seeing the sights and then a few days hiking in the Picos de Europa and a couple of days at the end in somewhere luxury is a really nice trip

It´s a wonderful part of the country.  Definitely one of the prettiest parts of Spain.  I have lived in Oviedo and have family in Santander, both of which I highly recommend.  Cantabria is the most overlooked region I would say but I think it is one of the best.  Stunning countryside, awesome food, friendly locals, beautiful beaches. There is also the most wonderful animal sanctuary called Cabarceno which is well worth a visit.

Hire a car and do a road trip. You won´t regret it.

WTF, what's that based on? Your bucket shop Jet2 lifestyle in the South doesn't mean much for a middle class consumer in a non tourist area of a western european country m6

I got food poisoning last time I was there. It was possibly because I went to an empty restaurant in the off-season, and ordered from the last day of the mid-week lunch menu a dish that translated into English as “pigs trotters without work”. 

Also had a previous episode ordering from a beach restaurant on coastline that was deserted for 20 miles in each direction copious amounts of sardines which bubbled away in my stomach for 12 hours before projecting themselves over a balcony. Must have wanted to return to the sea.

I've only once had food poisoning in Spain - I've been there a lot - and I had eaten a lot of bivalves.  It happens and it's certainly not unique to Spain.

On the OP:  people say "northern spain" and think Galicia, Asturias.  But there are also some wonderful cities in northern Castilla - Leon, Zamora, Burgos, Valladolid etc.  Highly recommended if that's the kind of thing you like.