High mountains, hot springs, sandy beaches and the most beautiful waterfalls. This is Green Spain Spain. The North-West of Spain has so much to offer. There are many walking routes, many parking options, and delicious Spanish dishes. There is something for everyone, whether you like the city, nature or history. We loved it! We visited Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia during our trip through North-Western Spain. Let’s tell you all about it! We made a list of our favourites to park and explore.
The North of Spain, called Cornisa Cantábrica, extends from Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia to the Basque Country. You can read about our adventures in the Basque Country here. In this article, we tell you all our tips about the first 3 regions! This whole area is also called España Verde, which stands for Green Spain. And it shows, there is a lot of nature with a variety of vegetation and landscapes.
Green Spain: Our Favourites
Our favourite way of travelling is day by day. We mainly stay at free places and prefer visiting natural sites, small towns and hidden gems. We have tracked our route via polar steps and now it’s time to share it with you!
When you walk in this village, it feels like you’re back in time… It is a historical place, dating back to the 6th century. There are many cobbled streets, with many beautiful mansions. The tourist attraction: the Caves of Altamira are located near the village. Because of this, you see many souvenir shops and shops with local products such as liqueur (if you like liqueur I would buy one, they come in different flavours!). In the low season, it is wonderful to walk around quietly, there are also places in the area to park the camper.
This fishing village has its charm. You will see locals, surfers and tourists here. Next to the village is a large bay which belongs to a national park. Oyambre National Park can be visited, there is a nature centre and many hiking trails. The old pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela and the northern walking route (Camino Primitivo) also run here, which you have probably heard of before. If you like history, it is nice to walk over the La Maza Bridge, which dates from 1600. The views are stunning from both sides. Parking spaces are a bit more difficult to find around the village, but there are options a little further away.
This beautiful coastal town is located on Costa Verde, and you will find beautiful beaches and high cliffs here. It is a hotspot for surfers. The houses in the village have the most beautiful colours and the view of the mountains is incredibly beautiful. There are plenty of camper spots around, for day and night. You can also do your services around here.
About an hour’s drive from Ribadessela, you will arrive at the start of the National Park: Picos de Europa. The route to the area is impressive but very exciting for us. The winding roads with enormous heights gave us some jitters. Nevertheless, it is worth it! The park was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2003, covering a gigantic expanse of over 60,000 hectares. This is the location for outdoor activities, where you can go hiking, kayaking, canyoning, rafting and climbing. There is a diversity of plant and animal species, and even the Cantabrian brown bear lives here! We visited the lakes and had a walk around, but there are many options and you will find camper spots for day and night here. It is one of our highlights in Spain!
Gijón is a large port city, located on the Cantabrian Sea. During our visit, it was busy with locals walking on the beach or sitting on a terrace with a drink. It is a city with a lot to do, you can surf here, visit shops, enjoy Spanish dishes, and there is extensive nightlife. The old town is worth visiting. Here you find the Revillagigedo” palace and nice views of the water. There are campsites and motorhome pitches near Gijon where you can stay day and night.
For us, finding vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Spain was very difficult, but in Gijon, there are many options. For example, there is a lunch cafe called Pasiones. All dishes are plant-based and belong to traditional recipes of the region. You can enjoy drinks and snacks here for hours. It is highly recommended!
There is also plenty to do in the evening. Gijon has all kinds of bars and clubs. Also, alternative places, such as Dilema Indie club where you can dance until late at night! You can hear all kinds of Spanish indie songs here. But beware, the nightlife starts late, around 1 am.
The beach with the high rock formations and various caves is stunning. You can only visit the beach at low tide, otherwise, it is dangerous and full of water. Swimming is not allowed here. You will find a walking path that runs all over the cliffs, and this is worth it! When we were here, we could stand with the camper and park it overnight.
Twenty minutes further on is Santo Estevo do Ermo. The nature reserve is a native forest with a high diversity of native plants. There are beautiful waterfalls with many hiking trails. You can park at the starting point on a sandy path. There is little space, but in low season this is not a problem. It is a fairly short route to the waterfall, but it is slippery, so be sure to wear good footwear!
This beach is small but very special… Crystal beach owes its name to the small glass pieces that lie all over the beach. This used to be a glass dumping area, the ocean has sucked it all in and returned it as polished stones. Strange how something so sad can be returned this beautifully. It is difficult to park here, but it is possible to park in the village and walk. There are also several walking routes along the sea with beautiful views.
Laxe is a beautiful municipality, located on the coast. The beaches are long, with large cliffs and exciting hiking trails. You still find old settlements here. These are scattered all over the coastline and are special to see. We had a wonderful time here at the beach with our camper, and it is therefore not difficult to find a nice spot in this area to stay.
Maybe you know Santiago from the long pilgrimage routes that are done. It is a special city with many students, pilgrims and tourists. Santiago is located in the Galicia region and has a beautiful historic centre that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are several parking spaces here, also for day and night and camping sites.
The Old Centre
The most famous tourist attractions are the cathedral and the square: Plaza del Obradoiro. The cathedral is Romanesque-Gothic and dates (first construction period) from 1077. The square is next to the cathedral. Hundreds of pilgrims arrive here every day after their long hike. It is therefore a very special place to visit. In addition to these attractions, it is also nice to walk around in the small streets and enjoy Spanish tapas. We liked the city!
We really liked Ourense! There was so much to experience. A friend of ours lives in this city and gave us a tour with nice tips and a bit of history about Ourense. It is a city with a lot of history. You can still find remnants from the early Roman period, such as the Ponte Vella. An old bridge that crosses the Miño river. There is also a daily market with fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish and other Spanish local products. A nice place to eat and drink in Ourense is Charlotte. It’s not expensive and has a nice vibe to it. It is a great gastro bar and cafe with breakfast options. You can also do work online here.
In addition, there are several hot springs scattered throughout the city that you can visit for free. We thought this was the highlight of the city! On the first day, we visited Ourense Thermal Springs. This thermal hot spring is a hotspot for locals. You must change in advance and bring slippers and a towel. Then you can go into the warm water, which is around 38 to 42 degrees warm. It is a special experience, especially on a winter day in the evening. After a warm bath, n you can also take a shower here. It was an ideal location because parking spaces for campers can be found close by.
We have been to the hot springs before, but this one was one of our favourites! In the winter of 2022, we paid €5.70 for entrance to Termas de Prexigueiro. There are several pools with different temperatures and there is a specific route that you can best follow. The number of degrees is indicated with each bath and how long you can stay in. The staff are friendly, the view is fantastic (forest view) and it’s clean! There are several parking spaces next to the hot springs. You can also book a massage or have a drink at the bar.
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