Explore the Most Beautiful Towns in Northern Spain

Spain is a country famous for its rich culture, history, and picturesque landscapes. Northern Spain, in particular, boasts some of the most beautiful towns in the country, each with its own unique charm and allure. From hidden gems to well-known destinations, Northern Spain is a must-visit for those seeking to delve into the country’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

These towns are a true representation of Spain’s rich history and culture, with medieval architecture, traditional Basque style homes, and scenic coastal locations. Join us on a journey as we explore the most beautiful towns in Northern Spain, each with its unique character and story to tell.

Key Takeaways:

  • Northern Spain is home to some of the most beautiful towns in the country.
  • Each town offers something special, whether it’s historical landmarks, natural beauty, or a rich wine culture.
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and create unforgettable memories in these remarkable destinations.
  • From hidden gems to charming locations, these picturesque towns are filled with history, culture, and breathtaking scenery.
  • Don’t miss out on exploring these hidden treasures during your journey through Northern Spain.

Santillana del Mar – A Timeless Beauty

Santillana del Mar is one of the most delightful towns in northern Spain. Its well-preserved medieval architecture and cobblestone streets transport visitors back in time to Spain’s rich history. Located in the heart of Cantabria, this charming town offers a glimpse into the region’s past and traditional way of life.

Stroll through the quaint alleys and squares, marvel at the impressive Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana, and visit the town’s museums to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Santillana del Mar.

santillana del mar

Santillana del Mar’s Old Town is a well-preserved example of medieval architecture, with many buildings dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The town’s main square, the Plaza Mayor, is surrounded by grand old buildings and is a bustling hub of activity, with street performers and vendors selling regional goods.

“Santillana del Mar seems to me the most beautiful example of a Spanish town and for that reason, it is the best to be seen.” – Spanish author Jose Maria de Pereda

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Museo de Altamira, where you can see replicas of the famous Altamira Caves, which are home to some of the world’s oldest cave paintings.

Santillana del Mar may seem small, but it is packed with history, culture, and charm. It offers visitors an authentic Spanish experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Lastres – Where Coastal Beauty Meets Tradition

Located on the rugged northern coast of Spain, Lastres is a truly stunning town that boasts captivating views of the Bay of Biscay. With its colorful houses perched on cliffs and a scenic harbor, Lastres exudes a relaxed coastal charm that will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

As you wander along the picturesque harbor, take in the salty sea air and enjoy the visual feast of the boats bobbing up and down on the waves. The town’s maritime history is palpable here, with local fishermen still casting their nets in the surrounding waters.

One of the most striking features of Lastres is its traditional architecture. The town’s narrow streets are lined with 18th-century houses that have been skillfully restored, preserving the town’s heritage and unique character.

Exploring Lastres’ Local Cuisine

No visit to Lastres is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. The town boasts an array of superb seafood restaurants that serve up the freshest catch of the day. From succulent squid to grilled sardines, there’s something to delight every palate.

One of the local specialties is the fabada, a hearty bean stew that is perfect for cooler days. Pair it with a glass of sidra, a refreshing and slightly acidic cider that is typical of the Asturian region of northern Spain.

Discovering Lastres’ Cultural Treasures

Despite its small size, Lastres is home to some remarkable cultural treasures. The town’s iglesia de Santa María de Sábada is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture or history. The church was built in the 13th century and has been beautifully preserved, making it a fascinating example of Romanesque architecture.

If you’re interested in learning more about Lastres’ rich history, visit the town’s museum, which chronicles the region’s seafaring past and its importance to the local economy.

Stunning view of Lastres

Unwinding in Lastres’ Tranquil Ambiance

Whether it’s the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks or the sight of the town’s charming houses, Lastres’ tranquil ambiance is undeniable. Take a stroll along the sandy beach, relax in a sidewalk café, or simply soak up the laid-back atmosphere.

For those seeking a more active holiday, Lastres also offers a range of outdoor activities, from hiking along the rugged coastline to kayaking in the nearby sea caves.

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of popular tourist destinations, Lastres is the perfect destination. With its stunning coastal beauty and rich cultural history, it’s no wonder that it’s considered one of the most stunning towns in Northern Spain.

Laguardia – A Wine Lover’s Paradise

Laguardia is one of the most charming towns in northern Spain, renowned for its excellent wineries and vineyards. In the heart of the Rioja wine region, this picturesque town boasts a unique blend of wine culture and historical charm.

One of the main attractions of Laguardia is its underground wine cellars known as bodegas. These historic cellars have been used for centuries to produce some of Spain’s finest wines, and many are still in use today. Take a tour of one of the bodegas to learn about the winemaking process and sample some of the world-renowned Rioja wines.

laguardia vineyard

Aside from wine, Laguardia is also known for its well-preserved medieval streets and traditional Basque architecture. The town is surrounded by 13th-century walls and gates, providing a glimpse into its rich history and culture.

While exploring Laguardia, be sure to visit the 10th-century Church of Santa María de los Reyes. This impressive church features Gothic and Romanesque architecture and is home to a stunning altarpiece and medieval frescoes.

“Laguardia’s unique blend of wine culture and historical charm makes it a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.”

Additionally, the town offers breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards and countryside. Take a leisurely stroll along the Camino de la Hoya trail for panoramic views of Laguardia and its picturesque setting.

Best time to visit Laguardia:September or October during the grape harvest festival, or anytime from April to June and September to November for pleasant weather and smaller crowds.
How to get to Laguardia:The closest airport is Bilbao Airport, which is approximately 70km away from Laguardia. From there, you can take a bus, rent a car, or take a taxi to reach the town.
Where to stay in Laguardia:Laguardia has several accommodation options, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury hotels. Some of the popular choices include Hotel Castillo El Collado, Hospedería de los Parajes, and Villa de Laguardia Hotel & Spa.

Overall, Laguardia’s unique blend of wine culture and historical charm makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable experience in one of the most delightful towns in northern Spain.

Hondarribia – Where History Comes Alive

Hondarribia is a town steeped in history and is undoubtedly one of the top towns in Northern Spain. The town is located in the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country, and is popularly known as Fuenterrabía in Spanish. It is situated on the eastern side of the Bay of Biscay, close to the French border.

The town is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture, with narrow streets lined with traditional Basque houses painted in bright colors. The cobbled streets and charming buildings give the town an authentic atmosphere that transports visitors back in time.

One of the main attractions of Hondarribia is the impressive and imposing 15th-century Castle of Charles V, which overlooks the town. The castle was built to protect the town and repel attacks from the sea, and today, visitors can explore the castle and enjoy panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay and the surrounding landscape.

Another highlight of a visit to Hondarribia is the Old Town, which is surrounded by a stone wall and is exceptionally well-preserved. The Old Town is home to several magnificent churches, museums, and impressive architectural landmarks that date back to the 16th century.

If you’re a food lover, Hondarribia offers an array of traditional Basque cuisine, including fresh seafood and pintxos, Basque-style tapas. The town has a bustling food scene, with numerous bars and restaurants to choose from.

Hondarribia Bay of Biscay

With its rich history and stunning coastal location, Hondarribia is undoubtedly one of the top towns in Northern Spain. Its charming architecture, historical landmarks, and culinary offerings make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Basque Country.

Liérganes – A Hidden Gem in the North

When it comes to hidden gems in northern Spain, few towns can rival the enchanting beauty of Liérganes. Situated in the heart of the Cantabrian mountains, this idyllic town boasts charming architecture, picturesque squares, and a tranquil ambiance that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

One of the town’s main attractions is the grand Palacio de Elsedo, a magnificent palace that dates back to the 17th century and features elegant Baroque architecture. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and learn about its fascinating history, including its role in the Spanish Civil War.

Another highlight of Liérganes is the iconic Devil’s Bridge, a stunning stone bridge that spans the Miera River and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Legend has it that the bridge was constructed with the help of the devil himself.

The Tranquil Ambiance of Liérganes

One of the things that sets Liérganes apart from other towns in northern Spain is its tranquil ambiance. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks, relax in one of the charming local cafes, or simply enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the town’s picturesque squares.

Liérganes is also known for its beautiful natural surroundings, which offer ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. The nearby Monte Buciero Natural Park is a particularly popular destination, offering stunning views of the coast and the surrounding mountains.

Discovering the Local Cuisine

No visit to Liérganes would be complete without indulging in some of the local cuisine. The town boasts a number of charming restaurants and cafes that offer delicious traditional dishes, including cocido montañés (a hearty stew made with beans and pork) and sobaos (a type of sweet cake).

Visitors can also sample the local cheeses and cured meats, which are renowned throughout the region for their exceptional quality and flavour.

Experience the Charm of Liérganes

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of the mountains or simply looking to discover one of northern Spain’s hidden gems, Liérganes offers a unique and unforgettable experience. From the grand Palacio de Elsedo to the stunning Devil’s Bridge, this charming town is sure to captivate visitors with its timeless beauty and tranquil ambiance.

hidden gems in northern spain

Exploring More Scenic Towns in Northern Spain

While Santillana del Mar, Lastres, Laguardia, Hondarribia, and Liérganes offer breathtaking scenery and unique cultural experiences, Northern Spain has numerous other scenic towns waiting to be explored. From coastal beauties to mountain gems, here are some other towns that should not be missed:

San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a coastal town famous for its stunning La Concha beach, picturesque old town, and delicious cuisine. Wander through the charming streets filled with tapas bars and seafood restaurants, and don’t forget to visit the stunning Gothic-style Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro.


Cudillero is a quaint fishing village perched on a steep hill overlooking the Bay of Biscay. Admire the colorful houses lining the narrow streets, and don’t miss the chance to try the local specialty, Asturian cider.


Oviedo is a historic town known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and religious landmarks. Visit the Gothic-style Cathedral of San Salvador, the popular Campoamor Theater, and the charming Plaza del Fontán.


Aínsa is a picturesque town located in the heart of the Pyrenees. Discover the stunning Romanesque Santa María Church, walk along the medieval walls, and admire the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.


Bilbao is a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene. Visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum, explore the charming old town, and indulge in the city’s famous pintxos, the Basque version of tapas.

scenic towns in northern Spain

These are just a few examples of the many scenic and breathtaking towns that Northern Spain has to offer. Plan your journey wisely and don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of this beautiful region.

Uncovering the Must-Visit Towns in Northern Spain

As you plan your trip to Northern Spain, make sure to include these must-visit towns in your itinerary. Our curated selection of the best towns in Northern Spain offers something for everyone, from historical landmarks to natural beauty and rich wine culture.

SantanderPalacio de la Magdalena, Centro Botín, Playa del Sardinero
BilbaoGuggenheim Museum, Casco Viejo, Basque Museum
PamplonaRunning of the Bulls, Ciudadela of Pamplona, Pamplona Cathedral
San SebastianConcha Beach, Old Town, Mount Igueldo
AstorgaArchitectural heritage, Chocolate Museum, Episcopal Palace

Santander is an elegant coastal city with a vibrant cultural scene. Don’t miss the chance to stroll around the beautiful peninsula of Magdalena and visit the imposing Palacio de la Magdalena. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country and home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Explore the charming Casco Viejo district and indulge in the local cuisine.

Pamplona is known for the famous Running of the Bulls, but the city has much more to offer than this annual event. Visit the impressive Ciudadela of Pamplona and the Pamplona Cathedral for a glimpse into the city’s rich history. San Sebastian is a visually stunning city with a beautiful beach and a vibrant Old Town. Ride the funicular to the top of Mount Igueldo for panoramic views of the city and the sea.

Astorga is a small town with an impressive architectural heritage. Visit the Episcopal Palace designed by Gaudí and the Chocolate Museum to learn about the town’s sweetest tradition.

No matter which town you choose to visit, each one offers a unique cultural experience and unforgettable memories. Don’t hesitate to add these must-visit towns to your Northern Spain travel itinerary.

best towns in northern spain


There you have it – the most beautiful towns in Northern Spain that should definitely make it to your travel list. From the timeless beauty of Santillana del Mar to the coastal charm of Lastres, these towns offer unique experiences that showcase the rich history and culture of the region.

If you’re a wine enthusiast, don’t miss out on visiting Laguardia, a charming town famous for its exquisite Rioja wines. And if you’re a history buff, explore the well-preserved medieval fortress of Hondarribia, offering panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay.

Uncovering More Hidden Gems

While these towns are undoubtedly some of the best in Northern Spain, there’s so much more to explore in this region. Don’t forget to check out the enchanting streets of Oviedo, the coastal beauty of San Sebastian, or the tranquil ambiance of Liérganes.

Whatever your travel preferences, Northern Spain offers an abundance of picturesque landscapes, rich culture, and a warm welcome from the locals. Embark on a journey to this breathtaking region and create unforgettable memories in these remarkable destinations.


Which are the most beautiful towns in Northern Spain?

The most beautiful towns in Northern Spain include Santillana del Mar, Lastres, Laguardia, Hondarribia, and Liérganes.

What makes Santillana del Mar a timeless beauty?

Santillana del Mar is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and cobblestone streets, which give it a charming and enchanting atmosphere.

Why should I visit Lastres?

Lastres is a stunning coastal town that offers breathtaking scenery, colorful houses clinging to cliffs, and delicious fresh seafood in charming local restaurants.

What makes Laguardia a must-visit for wine lovers?

Laguardia is renowned for its excellent wineries and vineyards, where visitors can explore underground wine cellars and taste exquisite Rioja wines.

What makes Hondarribia a top town to visit in Northern Spain?

Hondarribia is steeped in history and boasts a well-preserved medieval fortress, narrow streets in the old town, and stunning views of the Bay of Biscay.

Why should I visit Liérganes?

Liérganes is a hidden gem nestled in the lush Cantabrian countryside, offering charming architecture, tranquil ambiance, and notable landmarks like the Palacio de Elsedo and Devil’s Bridge.

Are there any other scenic towns in Northern Spain worth exploring?

Yes, besides the mentioned towns, Northern Spain is home to other scenic destinations such as San Sebastian and Oviedo, each with its own unique charm and allure.

What are the must-visit towns in Northern Spain?

When planning your trip to Northern Spain, make sure to include Santillana del Mar, Lastres, Laguardia, Hondarribia, and Liérganes on your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

Why should I consider visiting the towns in Northern Spain?

The towns in Northern Spain offer historical landmarks, natural beauty, rich wine culture, and picturesque landscapes, providing a unique and memorable journey for every traveler.

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