One of the best road trips we’ve ever taken as a family has been through the less-visited, but oh-so-beautiful north of Spain. Our journey started in San Sebastián (which I personally think is one of the most family-friendly cities in Europe) and we drove through the Basque Country and Asturias towards Galicia, finishing our trip in Portugal.
We visited the region in August, a time when most of Spain and Portugal are packed with tourists, never-ending traffic jams and blistering temperatures. Meanwhile, in this part of the world, temperatures remained an enjoyable 27c, hotel prices were reasonable, the views extraordinary and best of all we only saw a handful of foreign tourists in the Asturias for the whole week we were there.
Not convinced yet? Here are 6 reasons why we think you should head to Asturias and the Basque Country on your next family holiday:
This historically industrial city is famous for its iconic Guggenheim Museum, and rightly so. The Frank Gehry designed museum is one of Europe’s best, and certainly helped put this otherwise quiet city on the art-world map. Right next to the museum there is a fantastic playground and café, perfect for those little legs to run around and you to catch up on your coffee! From the modern Guggenheim you can stroll by the river towards Casco Viejo, the beautiful medievial quarter where beside its fascinating history and architecture, you’ll also find plenty of Pintxos bars to keep you all entertained.
Tip: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you may want to jump in a car and visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, to the west of Zumaia where the HBO show filmed, so you can pretend to be Jon Snow to your Daenerys.
2. San Sebastián
San Sebastián is one of the most beautiful cities you’ll ever visit, and quite probably where you’ll taste the best food. The city is internationally famous for its array of Michelin starred restaurants (the most per square meter in the world), excellent produce and endless rows of pintxos bars. The city is surrounded by beautiful beaches, great hiking, a good aquarium and a theme park – what else could you ask for?
3. Hiking & Wild Swimming
We spent a week discovering the Asturias by hiking, trying to find wild swimming holes and generally just getting (a bit) lost in the mountains. The scenery was incredible, and new surprises popped up at every turn. From the incredible Santa Cueva de Covadonga (see above), to the Rio Dobra Olla de Sao Vicente which was recommended to us by our friends at An Epic Education.
This area of Spain is home to hundreds of miles of idyllic easy-to-access beaches, from San Sebastian’s city coves, to the stunning waters of Llanes’ several beaches, and the iconic Cathedral Beach. Most of the beaches we visited were easy to get to and park, had great facilities for families and weren’t busy at all – perfection.
The Jurassic Museum of the Asturias was a real surprise for us. The rain had been pouring all day which forced us away from the outdoors fun we had been having – and we couldn’t have been happier for it. The museum is built in the shape of a large tridactyl footprint and is home to an impressive collection that will keep any dinosaur fan more than happy. My very own dino-fan was over the moon the minute we arrived – even before stepping foot inside – as we began exploring the dinosaurs the museum has outside, slowly making our way inside…just fantastic!
6. Monte Igueldo Theme Park in San Sebastián
Head to Monte Ingueldo for the best views over San Sebastian, as well as a slightly kitch amusement park packed with fun-filled rides, including a roller coaster that overlooks the bay!
nb: This post has been written in collaboration with Brittany Ferries.