The beauty of a country like Spain is that it is filled with a myriad of landscapes, cultures, languages and history. Each region has something special to offer and the north of the country feels like a romantic escape that will have you wanting to spend time in solitude exploring the city streets and luscious countryside. If the north of Spain has never been on your radar, here are a few reasons why it should be.
Pride + History
Those who live in the Basque country are extremely proud of the culture and history that runs through the streets and their veins. With rich stories of overcoming many struggles, the cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian are now thriving with a refined pride of where they’ve come from and what will come next. Bilbao has transformed from just being an industrial city to one of the most well known cultural hubs in the world. After an economic downfall, it reinvented itself and shifted its strategy to create an intelligent and artistic ambiance, from the self-funded creation of The Guggenheim to holding one of the leading universities in the country.
Recently in San Sebastian, while roaming the streets, I ran into a plaza filled with residents dancing in the center. At first, I assumed it was some type of celebration or performance of sorts… after watching for a while, I realized that people were joining and leaving as they pleased but when the music came on, everyone’s movements were in sync. What was happening exactly?
Over 100 people, young and old (but mostly older) were moving to original Basque music, taking place in an array of different choreographed dances that I imagine they were taught by their parents and grandparents alike, the tradition now passing on to younger generations. While playing the part of a spectator, I got invited in to join one of the simpler dances, laughing and holding hands with locals along the way. It felt like was part of a large family, all of us joining together to celebrate life.
Wine Tasting in La Rioja
La Rioja is the most well known wine region in Spain (and across the world) and with good reason. A majority of famed vino comes from this location, so participating in a wine tasting is absolutely recommended. With a range of bodegas and wineries in the area, you’ll be able to not only experience the diverse flavors but also learn about the process, allowing for you to appreciate the intricacy of the flavors a bit more.
If you’re really looking for an all-inclusive wine experience, I’d recommended that you wine and dine… literally. If you’re willing to splurge and have an unforgettable dining experience, go to Bodegas Baigorri, where you can enjoy lunch in an expansive bodega with impeccable views. There, you’ll see everything from art exhibitions focusing on architecture and wine to an unforgettable menu that fuses elaborate cuisine with an array of wines that compliment the different palates.
Diverse Landscapes and Scenery
If I had to describe the north of Spain in one word, it would be breathtaking. The greenery and diverse landscapes are a breath of fresh air. Filled with a sentiment of coexistence, you can find many different elements that all flow together, sharing a communal story. From mountain ranges to cityscapes, no matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by beauty.
The gastronomic culture in the north of Spain, specifically in País Vasco is to die for. The innovative creativity when it comes to food is remarkable. Well known for its Pintxos, normally eaten in bars or taverns, it might as well be an art, as most of them are well thought out and designed, both in it’s appearance as well as taste. Pintxos are the perfect excuse to go out on the town, enjoy a nice wine and conversation and get filled up on these delicacies.
All in all, the north of Spain is a dream-like escape and if you’re looking for new locations to travel, you should absolutely make your way there. Stay for at least 5 days if you can, slow travel will allow for you to make the most of your time and take in as much as you can.
Have you ever been to the north of Spain? If so, what was your favorite part?!
Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas de España. From New York to Murcia, Spain, she is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. See more of her work here and follow her adventures on instagram.