Top Places to See in the Pyrenees Mountains
by Taylor Deer
I hope you all enjoyed reading my first blog post on Salamanca, Spain – the picturesque university city I was lucky to have studied abroad during summer 2012. Today, enjoy reading about one of the most beautiful long weekend getaways I got to experience during my time living in this great country.
Along the Bay of Biscay, on the Iberian Peninsula, lies the magical Pyrenees Mountains of Northern Spain. This gorgeous area is highly overlooked amongst tourists, but what people need to know is that it hosts several of Spain’s most beautiful regions and could easily be confused as the “Switzerland” of the country. Unlike the popular (but dry) Castilian and Catalonian regions, Northern Spain is known for it’s heavily forested greenery, sky-tall mountains, beautiful beaches, medieval villages, picturesque wine regions, great hiking trails and ski resorts as well as super cool caverns!
Prior to traveling to Northern Spain, I was unsure of what to expect. Unlike the tourist cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, Northern Spain experiences more rain and cloudy days, which is why it is so green and the nature is amazing! I remember driving through the windy mountain roads and being amazed at everything surrounding me – snowcapped mountains, luscious green rolling hills, dreamy farmland and refreshing blue lakes and rivers.
If you are planning a trip to Spain, Portugal or even France, check out these gorgeous must-see places in the Pyrenees Mountains and you will be talking about this dreamy destination like I have been the past few years.
Go Back in Time as you Adventure in Asturias’ Caves:
Traveling to the beautiful Asturias region is like a real trip back to pre-historic times. In this region, there are several different caverns to visit where you could get spectacular views of Neo-Lithic cave painting and engravings. When I visited these caves, our tour guide said that people would mash up grains of sand and use it as paint. Most of the artwork were of bison, which are popular in the northern regions.
Stay at the Parador de Fuente Dé:
Located in the heart of Picos de Europa National Park in the Cantabria region, the hotel Parador de Fuente Dé is a warm and welcoming bed and breakfast where each room has its own balcony that overlooks the steep mountains and farmland. (It was the perfect place to get some homework done.)
At this great bed and breakfast, everyone enjoys a comforting Northern Spanish dish together. The owners of the B&B served meat, but had vegetarian options available to those like myself. They were so sweet!
Wander through Picos de Europa National Park:
Let’s get real; is there ever a mountain range that isn’t spectacular? The nature, fairytale chalets and friendly people are what make these beautiful European mountain ranges magical for all. Depending on the weather and time of year, there are several hiking trails, ski resorts, outdoor activities and so much more!
One of my favorite adventures in Picos de Europa was taking a gondola all the way to the peaks of the mountains. The views that we experienced on our way up to the top were breathtaking! Once we reached the top, the atmosphere was completely different than it was at the bottom of the mountain. It was snowing, there were wild caribou running around and we even got to see some skiers. There was a cute chalet at the top of the mountain that was serving Spain’s amazing hot chocolate and warm croissants. (Talk about hitting the spot!)
Pretend You’re In a Fairytale in Santillana del Mar:
Santillana del Mar is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Cantabria region. This adorable town is a stop along the world-famous Camino de Santiago – a Northern Spanish route as a form of a spiritual path or retreat for spiritual growth. The goal of pilgrimage is to reach the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. (If you haven’t already, I recommend watching the movie “The Way”. It will bring you straight to Northern Spain.)
Santillana del Mar features many cute cafés, shops, churches and museums. I LOVED the town’s chocolate shop! They offered a variety of different flavors; even blue cheese. (I know, not my cup of tea either.) But overall, it was a cute city with beautiful views throughout!
Enjoy a Beach Day in Santander:
As the capital of the Cantabria region, Santander offers beautiful plazas, gorgeous architecture, seaside promenades, amazing beaches and great surf in the Bay of Biscay. Unfortunately, the couple days I was in Santander, the weather wasn’t necessarily appropriate for a “beach day”, but it was still dreamy being there.
Admire Gothic and Renaissance Architecture in the Provincial City of Burgos:
I visited Burgos on a cold Sunday and it was the definition of a picturesque city. The gorgeous 15th and 16th –century buildings are built with white limestone, giving the city its own character.
Burgos’ 13th-century Cathedral of St. Mary was the most beautiful cathedral I have ever visited in the world. What is also admirable about this cathedral is that it is listed a UNESCO site. Not only is the architecture beautiful, but the medieval carvings and the peace throughout this sacred site is something you will always remember.
Journey through Spain’s Basque Country:
The Basque region of Northern Spain is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Filled with color, picture-perfect villages and bewildering vistas, you will find plenty of hidden treasures in Basque country.
People who live in the Basque region speak a distinct language that pre-dates the Romance languages of Spanish, French and Italian. Some great cities to visit in the Basque region are Bilbao, San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz to name a few.
We have some exciting group packages to Spain and we would also love to personally customize your trip as well! Email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com or call us today to book your next trip to Spain.
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