Our luxury holidays to Green Spain feature some of the best four and five star hotels in the regions of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria in northern Spain, including coastal properties, city hotels and rural retreats.From the pretty rivers on the west coast of Galicia to the spectacular mountains of Asturias and the prehistoric caves of Cantabria, Green Spain is a picturesque area in the north of Spain. With quiet sandy beaches, green landscapes, charming villages and Romanesque architecture lining the famed pilgrimage route which leads to Santiago de Compostela, there is plenty to discover. Although many of those who go on holiday to northern Spain simply pass through en route to Santiago de Compostela, the entire region has much to offer. Stunning beaches are almost untouched, whilst the mild climate has produced rich vegetation which covers unspoilt countryside. Both along the coast and further inland there are attractive cities, towns and villages with a wealth of historical, architectural and cultural sights to discover. Galicia and Asturias have strong cultural identities, both fiercely defending their Celtic traditions which include playing bagpipes, and even speaking their own languages.In the far west is the remote region of Galicia, known as ‘The land of a thousand rivers’ thanks to the numerous wide inlets that run into the sea. The Atlantic coastline is rugged, with rocky headlands, idyllic beaches and isolated fishing villages, whilst the interior is hilly and overwhelmingly green. To the east is the Principality of Asturias, an enchanting region of contrasts with secluded beaches as well as peaceful countryside. Forming a natural barrier in the south are the towering Picos de Europa mountains, a spectacular area with small mountain villages, lush pastures, emerald forests, sheer gorges and glittering lakes. Next is the small, mountainous region of Cantabria, where white sand beaches line the coastline facing the Bay of Biscay, separated by rugged headlands.Further east towards the border with France is the Basque Country - click here to view our full range of holidays in this region.
Santiago de Compostela cathedral, the supposed resting place of St James the Apostle, from whose rooftop you can enjoy unforgettable views over the old town. The attractive Galician cities of Ourense, Pontevedra and Lugo, all with historical sites including Roman architecture. Maritime cities along the Atlantic coastline including A Coruna, Ferrol, Vigo, and Baiona. The Tower of Hercules, an ancient Roman lighthouse near A Coruna. Galicia’s fjord-like inlets known as the Rías Altas (along the north-west coast) and the Rías Baixas (along the southwestern coast). The dramatic Cape Finisterre, so called because it was thought to be the westernmost point in Europe. The stunning Picos de Europa mountains, home to a diverse range of walking trails and the atmospheric Covadonga Sanctuary. Oviedo, the attractive capital of Asturias which is home to some remarkable pre-Romanesque churches. Altamira Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ancient rock paintings which are up to 20000 years old. Comillas, a beachside town with impressive architecture including a building designed by Antonio Gaudí. Pleasant towns along the shores of the Cantabrian Sea including Gijón and Llanes. Santillana del Mar, a picturesque village inland with a number of well-preserved mediaeval buildings. Santander, a lively port city with a historic quarter, a modern centre and the famous El Sardinero beach.
Local events February/March: Carnivals celebrating Lent, March: Vigo Reconquest Festival; March/April: Holy week celebrations, July: ‘A Rapa das Bestas’ horse festival held in Galician villages, July: Saint James the Apostle festival in Santiago de Compostela, July: Nava Cider Festival (near Oviedo), August: Festival of San Roque in Betanzos (near A Coruna), August: Santander International Festival.CuisineCuisine in the north of Spain tends to be simple and hearty, making good use of the excellent local produce including abundant fish and seafood, plentiful meat and game and a great variety of vegetables. The regions produce a range of dairy products, from the mild soft cheeses of Galicia to the smoked cheese of Cantabria and the blue cheeses of Asturias. Asturias is known for its dry cider, whilst Galicia produces high quality wines, both crisp whites and fruity reds, as well as a strong liqueur, ‘Orujo’. Local dishes include ‘Vieras de Santiago’ (Scallops, the symbol of St James, which are baked in their shells), ‘Empanada gallega’ (a Galician meat pasty), ‘Lacón con grelos’ (pork shoulder with chorizo, turnips and potatoes), ‘Caldo gallego’ (thick soup with meat, potatoes and beans), ‘Fabada’ (an Asturian stew with pork and beans), ‘Tarta de Santiago’ (an almond cake), ‘La quesada’ (a Cantabrian cheesecake) and ‘Sobaos Pasiegos’ (Cantabrian sponge cakes). ClimateGreen Spain has a wet and mild climate with warm summers and cool winters. Summer is a popular time to visit northern Spain as the weather is sunny yet comfortable, but you can expect good weather in Spring and Autumn as well. Rain falls throughout the year although there is little during the summer months. Temperatures are rarely extreme, although mountainous areas can be very cold in winter with snow falling.
By air: Santiago de Compostela airport is served by low cost airlines including Easyjet, with flights to the UK and to other Spanish cities. Buses run from the airport into the city centre (taking approximately 25 minutes) and to other destinations including A Coruña. Asturias airport, located around 30 miles away from Oviedo is also served by low cost airlines, with buses running to Aviles, Gijon and Oviedo. Eastern Cantabria is within easy reach of Bilbao airport. There are also a number of small airports within the region which have flights to other cities within Spain. By rail: There are train stations in many towns which facilitate rail travel within the regions. However rail links to the rest of the country are poor with long journey times. Hire-car: Car hire is recommended for visitors to Green Spain as driving is the simplest means of transport. Own car: Brittany Ferries offers weekly ferries from Plymouth to Santander (journey time 20 hours) and twice weekly ferries from Portsmouth to Santander (journey time 24 hours). LD Lines offers weekly ferries from Poole to Santander (journey time 26 hours) and Poole to Gijon (journey time 25 hours).
Experience the variety of the region during your holiday to Green Spain by combining a stay on the coast with a stay inland, perhaps in an idyllic mountain setting.
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CapitalMadrid Airportthe main gateway to Spain is Madrid’s Barajas airport, although many airlines serve other centres, particularly Barcelona, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. CurrencyEuro (£1=1.24 Euros) Size195,000 sq miles Population46 million Average temperatureClimate varies dramatically from region to region, with the meseta (high tableland of central Spain), Ebro basin and Andalucia scorching in summer (up to 45 degrees Centigrade), cold and dry in winter. The Mediterranean coast and Balearic Islands get a little more rain than Madrid, and the south can be even hotter in summer. The Mediterranean, particularly around Alicante, also provides Spain’s warmest waters (reaching 27°C or so in August). Barcelona’s weather is typical of the coast – milder than in inland cities but more humid.
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