Northern Spain self drive holiday

“Drive through the mountainous national parks and wine regions of Cantabria and La Rioja en-route to the charming seaside town of San Sebastian.”


Picos de Europa | Liébana valley | Fuente Dé cable car | Santo Toribio de Liébana | Santander | La Rioja | Alavesa | Guggenheim Bilbao | San Sebastian | Basque Country |

Description of Northern Spain self drive holiday

Experience the best of Northern Spain, its incredible variety of landscapes, contrasts and impressions in just one trip: from the impressive mountains in Cantabria to the most stunning beaches at the coast near Santander, and from the soft hills covered with grapevines as far as the eye can reach in the famous wine region Rioja to the modern metropolitan cities Bilbao and San Sebastian, famous for their gastronomy and art.

As with any exceptional destination for a driving holiday, Northern Spain provides a unique blend of mountainous and coastal landscapes alongside cultural points of interest with the Picos de Europa mountain range offering untold natural attractions to observe and experience along the route.
Two weeks touring Northern Spain by car really allows travellers to get under the skin of this stunning region with hidden beaches, white washed villages and artisan communities, including: San Sebastian, Santillana del Mar and Santander sitting alongside the green parks and stylish architecture of Bilbao.
Food will no doubt feature on any driving holiday, Northern Spain being no exception, so chances to stop off and indulge in a pinchos en-route or linger over plate after plate of regional tapas, certainly adding to the attraction of exploring in the realms of Cantabria and the Basque Country.

Accommodation has been hand-picked to represent the region’s cultural identity and hospitable nature with small and rustic country hotels providing comfortable lodgings and traditional Spanish breakfasts to help you rest and relax over the course of 12 nights.

As this trip has a flexible itinerary it’s up to you to choose the level of activities and cultural experiences that you’d like to include whilst touring Northern Spain with plenty of opportunities to hike in the Picos de Europa or swim just offshore adding to the attraction of the Guggenheim or exploring the wine region surrounding La Rioja.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1-3:Picos de Europa (Cantabria): Accommodations: gem of a rustic hotel in Liébana Valley The Liébana valley in the Picos de Europa mountain range provides a wide range of physical and natural riches to explore. In the hidden mountain villages, time seems to stand still, and you are transported to a bygone era. There are ample opportunities for hiking and other activities in the valley or in the awe-inspiring mountain peaks. The dramatic cable car in Fuente Dé elevates guests 750 vertical meters (2,460 vertical feet) to a panorama of sublime mountain peaks over 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) high. The small town of Potes is the region’s center, where delightful, cozy restaurants serve local specialties that can also be purchased in many quaint shops. The region’s foremost cultural monument is among the most important Catholic monasteries in the world, Santo Toribio de Liébana. Relax by the sound of the lazy river rippling by one of the valley’s best hotels and survey the surrounding mountains. The hotel is renowned for its charm, and its kitchen serves heavenly local cuisine
Day 4-6:Near Santander (Cantabria): Accommodations: Lovely country hotel, located meters from the beach. From the mountains the trip continues toward the sea. Along the way, travelers pass amazing rock formations towering impressively on both sides of the road and paralleling the river. The small seaside resort just a few miles from Santander has one of the most stunning beaches in northern Spain and is centrally located to a wide range of thrilling attractions. The proximity to Santander is ideal because the town offers an ample opportunity for sightseeing, shopping and relaxation. Along the coast, a number of attractive swimming and fishing villages offer lovely restaurants that serve local delicacies. Furthermore, you will find world famous architecture and some of Spain’s most spectacular National Parks.
Day 7-8: La Rioja: Accommodations: Alluring and cozy three-star hotel nestled in the center of an old fortress village Now we journey back inland to the heart of the Rioja wine district of Alavesa. The village is the center of wine production in the area and gateway to La Rioja. Alavesa is a fantastic town with small winding streets that have not changed much since the 13th century. While here, visit some bodegas to gain insight into both old and new production methods. In recent years, architecture has embraced the wine culture and gastronomy. Several world-famous architects like Frank Gehry (Guggenheim Bilbao) and Santiago Calatrava (the new World Trade Center in New York), have designed spectacular wineries in La Rioja.
Day 9-10:San Sebastian (Basque Country): Accommodations: Four-star central hotel. In the eastern part of the Basque Country we find Spain’s cosmopolitan and gastronomic center — San Sebastian — a wonderful town that successfully blends traditional and modern. This urban hub is one of the hottest culinary destinations in the world, and the Basque Country boasts a high concentration of Michelin Star restaurants. In fact, one main attraction of this stunning city is its exquisite cuisine and atmosphere. The extensive white sandy beaches and its urban texture make San Sebastian a popular holiday destination.
Day 11-12:Bilbao (Basque Country): Accommodations: three-star superb located and charming hotel. Bilbao is one of the main towns in the Basque Country. Compared to the aristocratic San Sebastian, Bilbao has always been regarded as the ugly, industrial sister. Things changed when Bilbao was chosen as home to the magnificent, futuristic Guggenheim museum. Bilbao has no boardwalk per se, but there are several lovely beaches and natural wonders within a short driving distance from the city.
Day 13:Departure

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Northern Spain self drive holiday


All of our travels are individual, tailor-made vacations, which basically give our guest the chance to discover Northern Spain their way.
In many aspects Northern Spain is less developed, tourism wise, than southern Spain. This is, however, a considerable competitive parameter, as the experiences get unique. We spend a lot of time finding the most interesting, most knowledgeable and most service-minded partners in the area, to help us to give our guests truly exceptional holiday in Northern Spain.

This roundtrip is (initially) made in a smaller environmental friendly car. Some of the areas you visit are home to endangered animals, like birds and bears, and its important to be aware of each person's responsibility towards maintaining this unique environmental status of each area. Before your departure, you will receive a guidebook which includes guidance and requirements on how to get the most out of the experience and, at the same time, respect the animals and the nature.

Furthermore, its not only an interesting and authentic way to see Northern Spain, but at the same time you have the chance to support the local communities and their small-scale productions.

Using this approach, we are able to offer whale-, brown bear-, bird- watching, fishing from a fishing boat, collecting and preparing local food and gastronomy with ecological products, sustainable wine-tourism etc. Each local person assisting us, is truly enthusiastic about his/her field and by working with these people, we support the activity, the animals, the park or the local community, as most of the guides as well are archaeologists, ornithologists, geologists, restaurant owners, local farmers etc.

We are proud to be able to develop and support small societies and not least enthusiastic people that make a difference, and that support and commit to our environmental values.


Our guests typically look for a different experience and an alternative to large-resort-commercial-travels. The peacefulness, the small villages, the local food, “secret” beaches and amazing mountain hikes and not least 100% customised pilgrimage are keywords in our philosophy and daily work visiting and discovering new places for our guests.

All of our guest receive, prior to departure, a comprehensive guidebook describing norms and hints, how to get the most out of their holiday.
In this guidebook we describe our recommendation on where to find local craftwork, where to find smaller interesting museums as well as tips for the larger ones.
We describe as well how to experience things, which are impossible to find for foreigners, like how and where to witness the local wildlife in a respectful manner.
Local gastronomy is an important part of the local culture, and across Northern Spain, the variety is great and very exciting. We intent always to be up-to-date on the best local restaurants, and we guide you through local dishes, wines etc.

Our office is located in the heart of Northern Spain, in the old historic town of León. Our prime focus is to show our guests the most authentic, most beautiful and loveliest parts of Northern Spain.

We always share our guest’s experiences with the hotel and other collaborations partners we work with, to help develop local tourism into a sustainable and healthy destination, that is differentiated from similar areas in Spain, Italy and France.

Its important for Us to give our guests an experience that is not reachable in other parts of Europe, though showing the real local life and hidden places. We cant wait to welcome you to Northern Spain.

1 Reviews of Northern Spain self drive holiday

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 21 Sep 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The scenic drive from one town to the next and the fabulous churches

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring umbrella or rain protection.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes! There are so many things to discover and the only way to see them is via if more people will opt to do a self-drive tour...more tourist will go to the area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was great and will recommend to my family and friends.

Popular similar holidays

Altiplano de Granada activity holiday, Spain

Altiplano de Granada activity holiday, Spain

Multi-activity cultural holiday in fabulous rural Andalucia

From €207 - €270 6 days excluding flights

Catalonia self guided walking holidays

Catalonia self guided walking holidays

Self-guided walking holidays in Catalonia

From €715 - €799 8 days excluding flights

Spanish course & walking holiday, Picos de Europa, Spain

Spanish course & walking holiday, Picos de Europa, Spain

Spanish classes + stunning hikes in Picos de Europa

From €630 7 days excluding flights

Yoga Retreats in Valencia, Spain

Yoga Retreats in Valencia, Spain

Yoga and meditation in the magical countryside of Valencia

From €516 6 days excluding flights

Convert currencies