northern spain parador tour

Northern Spain Parador Tour | 10 Days Self-Drive

Share this:

Totally Spain has paired up with Spanish Paradores, one of our favourite Spanish hotel chains, to bring you this unique 10-night Self-Drive Northern Spain Parador Tour of one of our favourite parts of the Iberian Peninsula – Northern Spain and the stunning regions of Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. Experience some of the best food in Spain along with some of the finest beaches and coastal scenery. As well as dramatic mountain areas and charming towns and cities such as Bilbao, San Sebastian, Santander and Santiago de Compostela. And best of all? No crowds. This tour provides a terrific overview of the area and will no doubt leave you wanting to return for more.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Days 1 & 2: Bilbao – Friday & Saturday night

Your Northern Spain Parador Tour commences with your arrival in Bilbao where we transfer you privately from Bilbao airport to your centrally located 4-star Bilbao hotel.

Enjoy all this wonderful city has to offer including pre-booked tickets to the Guggenheim museum so you don’t have to wait in line. Tuck in to delicious Basque tapas and local Riojan wines in the city’s many idyllic cafes and bars. Discover the charming Old Quarter and riverside walkway. And shop to your heart’s content at unique independent boutiques and big name stores. All within easy walking distance of your hotel. First-timers to the city can take part in a walking tour of the city of Bilbao with an expert guide whereas repeat-visitors might prefer a tapas tour, cookery class or wine-tasting in the city’s old quarter. On the second day you might like to make a day-trip to Gaztelugatxeko – made famous in the Game of Thrones. Stop off at one of the many fine eateries in the Basque country for lunch – you have to try ‘al pil pil’. If you want something really exclusive make a booking at the Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi (near the city) or Asador Etxebarri (30-mins drive) which was voted 10th Best Restaurant in the World in 2015. For more ideas on what to see and do, read our city guide to Bilbao.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

One of the star’s of any visit to Bilbao – it’s the Puppy! photo credit: fernando_villadangos-2830891 via pixabay

Day 3 Hondarribia – Sunday night

It’s time to go east towards the French border to one of Northern Spain’s most picturesque fishing towns. If it’s your first time in Northern Spain, why not stop off in San Sebastian on your way – to walk on the famous Concha beach and dine on some of the exclusive tapas. Read our guide to San Sebastian city here. We can arrange a tapas tour for you or a cookery class if you’d prefer a structure activity there. Later that afternoon, drive onto Hondarribia to the Parador (the first of six on this trip!) and relax in the sumptuous surroundings.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Located in the medieval town of Hondarribia on the Bidasoa estuary close to the French border, the Parador de Hondarribia was a defensive fortress founded in the year 980 by the Navarrese King, Sancho Abarca. photo credit: Hondarribia Parador Paradores of Spain

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Colour and charm in abundance in downtown Hondarribia. photo credit: MRodas Hondarribia via photopin (license)

Day 4 Argomaniz – Monday night

Today you say good-bye to the coast as you’re driving inland on your Northern Spain Parador tour to a Parador that’s closeby Vitoria-Gasteiz – the capital city of the Basque Country with a few wonderful squares for dining out. Argomaniz itself is a stunning building and you’ll find many charming monasteries and chapels on its doorstop that are well-worth exploring. Read more here about Vitoria and its nearby villages. You can also reach some great wineries – and we can book a tasting tour for you in the many Rioja-Alavesa or Riojan wineries that are closeby – read our guide to Laguardia here.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

The stunning 17th Century Renaissance Palace in Argomaniz known as the Larreas Palace as well as the Viceroy of Mexico’s Palace. photo credit: Argomaniz Parador Paradores of Spain

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Plenty of plazas perfect for a stroll in Vitoria-Gasteiz. photo credit: santiagolopezpastor Vitoria via photopin (license)

Days 5 & 6 Limpias – Tuesday & Wednesday nights

We’re leaving the Basque Country today for Limpias in the Cantabria region. Drive to the Parador of Limpias and after a relaxing stroll on the grounds, head for the coast at Laredo or Santona – home to some amazing fish and seafood. We can book a table for you at one of the many Michelin-starred dineries in Cantabria – read the guide here. For your second day in Cantabria we’ve included a visit to the Centro Botin in Santander. Afterwards we suggest you enjoy a meal in a typical tavern or take in some tapas in Santander’s Puertochico area.  Later perhaps take a boat tour of the bay offered by Los Reginas and enjoy the wonderful views of the Magdalena Palace and the Lighthouse. Or you might want to visit the charming UNESCO-listed  Santillana-del-Mar medieval village.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

The Palace of Eguilior was the summer headquarters of King Alfonso XIII’s Council. The palace belonged to Don Manuel de Eguilior, the Count of Albox, and is attributed to the architect Emilio de la credit: Limpias Parador Paradores of Spain

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Waterways in Cantabria’s Limpias. photo credit: Mikel DLM IMG_3084 via photopin (license)

Days 7 & 8 Picos de Europa – Thursday & Friday nights (Fuente De Parador (1nt) & Cangas de Onis Parador (1nt))

Prepare to go back inland as you head to the Picos de Europa mountain range. En route, you might want to stop off briefly to see El Capricho by Antoni Gaudi in Comillas. The drive from the coast to Fuente De is a dramatic one – as you travel through the Hermida Gorge and finally get your first glimpse of the majestic Peaks.  On the way, stop and discover some of the local wine, cheeses or liquor makers in the market town of Potes before checking into the Parador at Fuente De.  This afternoon – time permitting – or tomorrow morning, take an included ride on the cable-car (it’s right beside the Parador) to see the beauty and expanse of the Picos mountain range. Later, set off for Asturias and the other side of the Picos mountains.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Although this Parador is not in a historic building, its stunning location at the foot of the Picos de Europa, beside the famous cable car taking visitors high into the mountains, is unbeatable. photo credit: Parador Hotels Fuente De Parador

Northern Spain Parador Tour

For the beauty of the rock formations, it has to be the Picos de Europa. photo credit: Leticia Roncero Touching the Sky via photopin (license)

You’re staying inside the mountains for another day – and passing into Asturias to enjoy the Roman bridge, the Lakes of Covadonga and the Sanctuary which is located inside a cave containing the remains of Pelayo – a king and symbol of Christian resistance in medieval Spanish history and literature. Overnight at the Parador at the Cangas de Onis by the River Sella and enjoy the local meats, fish and cheeses over dinner.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Located just outside the town of Cangas de Onis this 5* Parador, the former Monastery of San Pedro de Villanueva, was declared a National Monument in 1907. photo credit: Parador Hotels Cangas de Onis Parador

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Lake Enol at Covadonga, Picos de Europa. photo credit: Randy Durrum Lake Enol, one of the Lakes of Covadonga in Asturias, Spain via photopin (license)

Day 9 Vilalba – Saturday night

After the mountains, it’s time to explore Galicia. You’re staying at the Parador of Vilalba – a small town best known for its medicinal springs. You can visit the nearby walled city of Lugo and what about taking on some of the Camino de Santiago? The Camino del Norte actually passes through Vilalba so if you want to stretch your legs, you walk along some of the Way and get a sense of the history of the route which continues onto Arzua when the Camino meets up with the French route and carries on into Santiago.

Northern Spain Parador Tour

Vilalba was the capital of this fertile region known as Terra Cha and the tower was where the Counts of Vilalba lived. The Parador’s impressive medieval Galician tower, dominates the urban and rural landscape of Vilalba. photo credit: Parador Hotels Vilalba Parador

Northern Spain Parador Tour

The calm and tranquil woods at Vilalba on the Camino de Santiago. photo credit: Manu gomi via photopin (license)

Day 10 Santiago de Compostela – Sunday night

Today after check-out, you drive to Santiago de Compostela, your final destination on your Northern Spain Parador tour and a magical place. The pedestrianised old quarter of Santiago is very charming and atmospheric with the Camino pilgrims giving the city centre a very medieval feel. The jewel in the crown of this enchanting city is Plaza del Obradoiro where you’ll find the cathedral and the Parador, known as Hostal dos Reis Catolicos. After check-in, enjoy a refreshing drink on the Parador terrace overlooking Obradoiro Square. You’ll want to visit the Cathedral and if you’re in luck you’ll get to see the botafumeiro in motion. If you arrive in early, we recommend a visit to the city food market and for later on in the day, you might wish to take in a wine tasting – remember, Galicia is home to some wonderful wine territories such as the Rias Baixas. You can read more about our guide to Galicia & the Rias Baixas wineries here. Seafood is king here in Galicia and we encourage you to try the delicious ‘pulpo’, clams, mussels and more.


Northern Spain Parador Tour

Santiago’s Cathedral in the Plaza del Obradoiro – where all roads lead to – especially if you’re walking the Camino! Photo credit: Catedral de Santiago de Compostela via photopin (license)

Northern Spain Parador Tour

One of Spain’s best loved Parador hotels (and one of the oldest hotels in the world) started out as a royal hospital in 1499 to accommodate pilgrims traveling to Santiago. photo credit: byb64 Dans l’église, ancien hôpital des Pèlerins, aujourd’hui Hôtel des Rois Catholiques, St Jacques de Compostelle, province de La Corogne, Galice, Espagne. via photopin (license)

Day 11 – Santiago Airport – Monday

Today is when you drop off the car rental and fly home from Santiago’s Airport. Buen viaje and we hope it’s just the first of many trips with us. We pride ourselves in repeat custom and hope you will be no different! [NB You might be tempted to follow up with our Southern Spain Parador tour here]

Tempted to take this trip?

We’ll take care of everything on the ground for you as well as pre-booking some top sights. We’ll arrange your car rental too and provide you with comprehensive documentation so that you make the very most out of your time in Northern Spain so as you see all the best places.

Trip Price: from 1,289 euros per person sharing, which includes:-

  • 10 nights accommodation in a standard double room with ensuite bathroom (8 nights in Parador hotels and 2 nights in a 4-star hotel in Bilbao including buffet breakfast daily)
  • Car Rental (VW Golf or similar) with unlimited mileage, basic collision damage waiver and theft insurance. Pick-up Day 3 in Bilbao. Drop-off Santiago de Compostela city Day 10.
  • Pre-booked entrance tickets to Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Centro Botin in Santander
  • Return journey on cable car in Fuente De, Picos de Europa National Park
  • Comprehensive documentation including road & city maps, guides & suggested itineraries
  • All taxes

Itinerary Terms & Conditions

  • Price is valid for travel in 2019 and subject to availability.
  • This tour must commence on a Friday
  • The itinerary is not available in July and August
  • You need to book and manage your own flights
  • Your hotel in Bilbao will be advised at time of booking


Would you like to enquire about this 10 night Parador Tour of Northern Spain or have Totally Spain arrange your very own private custom Spain tour?

Just complete and send the form below and an experienced Spain travel specialist will get back to you shortly.

Free, no obligation enquiry.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Trip Details
Eg: Number of travellers / Date you would like to commence the Northern Spain Parador Tour or your own private custom tour / Any Special Requests

  I have read and agree to Privacy Policy and Terms of service

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by TOTALLY SPAIN SL

Posted in Accommodation, Asturias, Basque Country, Bilbao, Cantabria, Galicia, Getting Around, Green Spain, Hondarribia, Paradores, Vitoria and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .