101 Holidays

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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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Secret Spain

Mark and David's verdict:

There’s more to Spain than big cities and crowded costas. The north-west regions of Cantabria, Galicia and Asturias offer character and authenticity, friendly people and delicious food. You’ll find unspoilt sandy beaches, wild mountains, beautiful medieval towns and plenty of outdoor activities. It’s great value whether you fly or travel by overnight ferry.

Recommended tour operator: Casas Cantabricas

Casas Cantabricas says

There’s so much to offer in North and West Spain, from unspoilt beaches, glorious countryside and lofty mountains to a rich heritage, vibrant cities, delightful old fishing ports and superb regional gastronomy. It’s the perfect destination for a villa holiday or, if you would like to explore further, a touring itinerary.

  • Beaches and culture
  • Low cost flights and ferries
  • Rent a villa or go touring

As specialists who know the region inside out, our knowledgeable team will help you find the right holiday.

We’ve hand-picked a wide range of cottages and villas in Cantabrica, Galicia and Asturias, including some with a private pool. Enjoy the freedom of your own home from home and explore as much or as little as you wish.

If self-catering isn’t your thing, we offer a wealth of charming family-run small hotels.

Our sister company, Caminos, offers a range of independent touring holidays in northern Spain, the Spanish Pyrenees, central Spain and, further south, in Andalucia. We can arrange car hire for you or you can take your own car or motorbike on the ferry, of course.

In Cantabria, the Picos de Europa’s amazing craggy peaks rise above rolling hills, tumbling back down to the sea in Asturias.

From Basques to Gallegos, you’ll find a patchwork of unique and interesting peoples and cultures. There’s Spain’s own Jurassic coast, Celtic villages, the forts of Galicia and Asturias and Roman gold mines at Medullin. Monasteries, churches and cathedrals accompany the criss-cross of ways that are the pilgrimage, Caminos de Santiago.

The architectural diversity ranges from medieval buildings to ground-breaking modern design – from the great cathedrals of Leon, Burgos and Santiago to the Guggenheim Bilbao for example.

For more active pursuits, walking, climbing, surfing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, bird-watching and cycling are on your doorstep.

This foodie paradise boasts bustling markets, Michelin-starred restaurants and charming low-key eateries. Rick Stein’s 2011 TV series on Spain raved about the region’s cuisine, wines – and passion for food.

With seven ferries a week and low-cost flights from Stansted and Heathrow to seven key regional points, Northern Spain is easy to reach too.

Find out more about our villa holidays in Northern Spain and touring holidays throughout mainland Spain.

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