Thursday, 19 Jul 2018

These locals will make you want to hit the road in Northern Spain right now

You desperately want to make a road trip in Northern Spain (very good choice) but you don’t know where, how or when to start? No worries, we’ve got your back. We asked some of the best Spanish bloggers and travellers that actually come from those regions of Spain.  Be ready to get local tips, secret spots to absolutely see and off the beaten track places to try out. Vamos!

  1. Northern Spain: Catalonia
  2. Northern Spain: Galicia
  3. Northern Spain: Asturias
  4. Northern Spain: Castilla and Leon

 

1. Northern Spain: Catalonia

By Carla

World traveller, sunset spotter and karaoke lover. My name is Carla Llamas and I’m a journalist and a travel blogger in “La Maleta de Carla” from Barcelona currently exploring South East Asia on a (very low) budget. So far I’ve travelled through 5 countries in 7 months: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. However, the more I travel, the more I realise there’s no place like home.

And since I’m honestly in love with my region, Catalonia, I’m here to tell you all about what makes it so special, all the things you can’t miss, the food specialities you have to try and a few off the beaten track plans. Follow me…

Northern Spain - Sagrada Familia, Barcelona @CarlaSagrada Familia, Barcelona @Carla

Let me start by saying that Catalonia is a very diverse land. It is the home of proud Catalonians but also to many international people who have landed here and who are seeking a better life. So yes, Catalonia is as cosmopolitan as it can get. It’s open minded and very modern, with quirky traditions, delicious food and a strong culture based on our history.
It is divided in 4 provinces: Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida and Girona; it doesn’t matter which one you choose for your next holidays, they will all leave you speechless. I can promise you.

If I had to choose, even though it’s really hard to stick to just one place out of all the special villages, big and small cities, landscapes and nature sights, I would go with my long time favourite: Sitges.

Northern Spain - Sitges @themisstinguetteWe can picture ourselves looking at the sea for hours right? @themisstinguette

Sitges truly has it all: architecture, nightlife, and beaches. There are little white and blue houses, a long and beautiful beach walk to enjoy at any time of the day, wonderful restaurants with a sea view, the first chiringuito (tiki bar) of Spain and very popular nightlife.

Northern Spain - Colourful street in Sitges! @CarlaLoving this colourful vibe in Sitges! @Carla

Sitges is also known as a gay friendly city and as one of the best places to enjoy mardi gras (carnival) in Catalonia.
If you are a movie buff, the Sitges Film Festival, an International fantastic film competition, takes place every October.

My favorite location in Catalonia also features modernist architecture. Don’t forget to visit the Palau Maricel, an exquisite modernist palace in the heart of the old town. You’ll be amazed by the colors and its deck overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Another not-so-secret spot is the Pati Blau (blue patio). It’s literally a patio with blue walls but it’s known because it appeared in one of Santiago Rossinyol’s (famous Sitges painter) paintings.

Tapas time! @CarlaTapas time! @Carla

If you’re looking for the best tapas in town, write this name down: El Cable. Amazing croquetas, patatas bravas and award winning pinchos (individual portion, usually served on bread and pierced with a wooden stick). As for drinks, you may head to Pique-Nique, right in front of the beach serving great mojitos and strawberry daiquiris. If you’re the seafood kind of person, there’s a good selection of restaurants along the board walk to choose from. None of them will disappoint you!

Off the beaten track plans

Whenever there is a friend of mine visiting me in Barcelona, I always try to show them something that is unique or out of the box. Here’s three off the beaten track plans you can’t miss in Catalonia:

Wine tasting: Catalonia is well known for many things. But did you know we have very well rated wines? Wine making in Catalonia goes back to the Phoenicians, who introduced it into the region. Cava (sparkling wine) was invented in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and Catalonia was the first Spanish region to use stainless steel fermentation tanks.

I grew up surrounded by vineyards in the area of el Garraf and el Penedès. This is a place with a long winemaking tradition, if you want to have a fun experience mixed with the best wine, contact the guys at Garraf Wine Tours. If someone knows nature, history, wine and how to make you laugh, it’s definitely them!

Calçotada: One could say that a calçotada is like a barbecue cooked with onions, but it’s more than that. It’s a friends and family gathering on a sunny day, ready to enjoy nature and time together. The Calçot is a type of green onion with a length of 15 to 25 cm. They are grilled over a hot fire and wrapped up in newspaper. You need to peel them one by one and dip them in romesco sauce. Meat and other veggies are usually grilled and eaten after the calçots. And here’s what you can expect: everybody wearing a bib or a napkin around their neck to avoid romesco stains and totally dripping this yummy sauce. Calçotades are celebrated between November and April, so mark your calendar!

What about typical food in Catalonia?

Even though you will be able to find food from all around Spain, I will focus on typical Catalan dishes or ingredients. Aside from the following, you can always have tapas, tortilla or paella. Those are not strictly Catalan, but who cares! They’re delicious anyway! ?

Esclalivada, @Carla

@Carla

Escalivada: roasted vegetables (normally eggplant, red pepper and onion) typically served on flat bread (similar to pizza) with olive oil and a little bit of salt. Sometimes also served with melted goat cheese. Escalivada is also traditional in other Spanish regions such as Valencia or Aragón.

Crema catalana @Carla

@Carla

Crema catalana: traditional Catalan dessert, similar to Crème Brulée. They taste similar but the ingredients and the cooking process is different. It’s usually served with caramelised sugar on top. So good!

Fuet: if you’re a meat lover, welcome to heaven! Fuet is a Catalan, dry cured sausage of pork meat flavoured with black pepper and garlic. The most famous one is the Fuet de Vic made in Vic, a city in the province of Barcelona.

Pà amb tomàquet: literally bread with tomato. Usually it’s toasted bread with rubbed tomato, olive oil and a little bit of salt. Some may add rubbed garlic with the tomato. Pà amb tomàquet is served at any time and it pairs very well with a good cheese or fuet.

Escudella I carn d’olla: this is a winter dish. It’s basically a soup and a stew and it contains a pilota, a meatball that has been spiced with garlic and parsley, vegetables, sausages and other types of meat, depending on the season. It’s very typical on Christmas day.

Panellets: this is a traditional sweet eaten on October 31st and November 1st precisely. While half of the world is celebrating Halloween and the other half is focused on All Saint’s day, Catalans are thinking about La Castanyada. This traditional festivity is all about eating roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets. This sweet is made basically from almonds and sugar and topped with pine nuts. Delicious!

Palau Musica, Barcelona @CarlaPalau Musica, Barcelona @Carla

Palau Musica, Barcelona @CarlaPalau Maricel @Carla

Cultural highlights you can’t miss in Catalonia

If there’s something I’m deeply in love with in Catalonia, it is our rooted traditions. If you have the opportunity, try to live one of these experiences and you’ll be taking a piece of our culture with you.

Festa major: the Festa Major is the local festivity of each town. What I love about it is that everybody is involved in organising and enjoying it. Every town is different, but usually there are traditional costumes, dances, music giant and dwarf dancing characters, dragons spitting fire through their mouths. Hard to imagine? You’ll have to experience it to fully understand it!

Castells: Sometimes there are also Castells at the local festivities. If you still don’t know what Castells are, read what’s next. They are human towers and, usually, every town has their own casteller team. In Catalan, they’re called colles castelleres. For a tower to be completed, a young child must climb to the top, raise one arm and hold up four fingers. The child performing the climb is called Anxaneta. Castellers aim to represent the balance, strength and common sense of the Catalan people.

Sardana: the Catalan dance. Sardanes are danced in a circle, holding hands and moving feets to the sound of the music. It’s a symbol of Catalonia’s unity and pride. The best place to experience this is at the Barcelona Cathedral Square. In special occasions, people gather to dance and all the square is filled with circles of Sardana dancers.

Montserrat @pauul.cBreathtaking Montserrat @pauul.c

Montserrat @amalkovWould you dare? @amalkov

Visit Montserrat: Even though it’s one of the most magical places in Catalonia, it’s not always included in the usual tourist route. I don’t think you can ever be prepared on how beautiful Montserrat is. This is a sacred saw-shaped mountain. A Benedictine monastery and sanctuary lies in the heart of the mountain. It’s just 30km away from Barcelona, and easy to reach by car or train, so you can make a day-trip out of it.

Best time to travel to Catalonia

Although you’ll enjoy it regardless of the season, I would definitely avoid summer and try to travel during Spring or Autumn, between April-May or September-October. Temperatures are milder  and there’s less humidity, especially in Barcelona. If you want to enjoy the skiing season, head to the Pyrenees in January or February.
I would recommend Autumn if you’re planning to visit places such as La Fageda d’en Jordà, a beautiful beech tree forest, or the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. With the colours of the leaves changing in Autumn, these places become even more charming.

Have you ever been to Catalonia? Is it in your plans? I hope this little guide will help you enjoy some of our best cultural and traditional highlights.

 

2. Northern Spain: Galicia

By Alberto

Hi backpackers! My name is Alberto Menéndez a series lover, a shower rock star, a sunset spotter and totally passionate about travel. After quitting my job back in 2015, I became a full-time travel blogger, a reporter and a digital nomad spinning all around the globe in Mochileros TV. Thanks to that I even achieved to became a host in a weekly Spanish TV show about travelling “Fuera de Ruta” (Off the beaten track).

Galicia @alberto@Alberto

I’m originally from Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, a region in the northwest of Spain. And the more I travel, the more I realise how nice the land I come from is. Galicia is everything a traveller can dream about, but allow me to introduce you to my beautiful region and tell you what makes it so special.

What makes Galicia so special?

Galicia is green everywhere. Stunning landscapes with little mountains, islands, beaches, and river inlets being a mix of feelings and emotions. Mystical, nostalgic, charming and beautiful at the same time. A region that embraces you from the very first moment you set foot in. Capable to conquer the tougher tourist by its history, by its nature, by its warming people or its fabulous gastronomy being able to make you fall in love at first sight.

Beach in Galicial @aworldtotravelSimply peaceful @aworldtotravel

The first thing you should know is that in Galicia we speak Spanish but also Galician language. It’s a kind of mix between Portuguese and Spanish and you will easily recognise it when you listen to it, as it would feel like Galician people singing when they are actually talking.

Galicia has 4 different provinces: A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra. There are many nice things to see and visit in Galicia, I’m afraid it’s impossible to write them all here, but let me share some of my favourite places you cannot miss with you.

“All ways lead to Santiago de Compostela”

It is said that that “all ways lead to Santiago”. In fact, Compostela is the capital of the region. This is a cultural and dynamic little city, where it’s easy to get lost in a cheerful conversation with its locals and its funny accent. In words of a galician writer: “Santiago, it’s a miracle, one of a kind”.

Santiago is an endless stone sea with its historical and beautiful old town. Walking in there is like stepping into an old fairy tale. Of course you can’t miss our stunning and iconic cathedral from the XIII century. It’s a symbol that was declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1985.

My favourite spots in Galicia:

Plaza de Abastos @alberto@Alberto

Plaza de Abastos: Go to the local market in the old town. In “Plaza de Abastos” you will find the essence of Galicia. Fishes, vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads… All the typical and fresh best products of the region are there. In this “cathedral of flavours” the quality and tradition of the old times still stands, and it’s a meeting point for locals and tourists to try some of the real Galician taste. You will see the typical old ladies with their big baskets and manual scales dealing with the customers. If you want to buy the best items, try to go early!
And of course there is also seafood. You can try octopus or buy some fresh mussels, scallop, prawns or any other kind of fish in the little shops of the market, and there is a place right there where you can go to make them cook for you!

Costa Vella Cafe: One of my favourite places in town is a little cafe out of the sight of the tourists. It’s part of a little cosy hotel, but open for all customers. This particular cafeteria is located in the old town in a kind well-stocked garden that will make you evade from reality drinking a coffee with friends or reading a book on your own.

Parque de Bonaval: The city is full of nice green areas like “la Alameda” but one of my favourite hidden places is “Parque de Bonaval”. This park is in San Pedro’s neighbourhood and it’s the perfect place to relax in a sunny day and a nice place to see the sunset during the summer nights.

Tapas: Always a highlight in the Spanish gastronomy, the tapas in Galicia are not an exception. Don’t waste the opportunity to jump from bar to bar buying a drink and having lunch eating the tapas (different bites and little dishes for free).

What about traditional food in Galicia?

If there is something you must totally try in Galicia it is the food and some typical drinks. Galicia is well known overall by its incredible seafood, meat and many other things:

Pulpo @alberto@Alberto

Octopus: The octopus is a classic of the galician cuisine and is cooked in the traditional galician way called “a feira” (because it was typical to be served in festivals all around the region). To prepare it right according to the old habits, when the water is boiling, you have to “scare” the octopus getting it in and out of the pot three times as a sort of spell. Then we will add oil, salt and paprika. Its flavour will totally pay off!

Churrasco: It’s not an Argentinian barbecue but it is not far from there. The beef in Galicia is premium and there are nice pieces of meat. Many restaurants will offer for a very low price delicious pieces cooked on the fire. Fries complete the dish and the salad will make peace with your conscience after the feast.

Pimientos de padron @alberto@Alberto

Pimientos de padron: As the saying says, “Pimientos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non” (some of them are spicy and the rest not). If you have ever tried them you will know what this saying is talking about. This little green pepper known as the “galician chilly pepper” is cultivated in Padrón (a little village close to Santiago) but eaten all over Galicia and Spain in general.

sea food @alberto@Alberto

Sea food: All kind of seafood! Lobsters, mussels, crabs, clams, prawns, razor clams… And the list continues. This is where you can probably taste the best seafood in the world. You can even try the barnacles! How to distinguish the good and the bad seafood? Normally the good one is the expensive one (sorry).

Queimada: This alcoholic drink used to be a pagan magical ritual. It’s made by burning moonshine, sugar, some lemons peel and coffee grains. Nowadays when is being made, some magical words are being said to drive away the bad spirits. It’s a good digestive after to try the abundant Galician dinners.

Highlights & Off the beaten tracks in Galicia:

Playas de las catedrales @alberto@Alberto

Playa de las Catedrales: Located in the northern coast of Galicia the “Playa de las Catedrales” (Cathedrals beach) is one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in the whole region and Spain. Its name comes from the impressive rock structures placed in the middle of the sand. When the tide is down, you can see the stone archs that have the magnificence of a cathedral that will let you speechless. Those are made by the action of the rust created by the sea and the wind after thousands of years.

Cies islands Cies Islands is a hidden gem and a must see in Galicia @natalisius

Islas Cies: Located in the Atlantic ocean in Galicia, (but just looking to the picture somebody might thing is any place in the Caribbean sea), there is a natural paradise called the Cies islands. Just 40 mins far from Vigo by boat this islands have beautiful beaches of white sand and turquoise water with a rich biodiversity. The Guardians itself named the Rodas beach as one of the beast in the world.

Torre de Hercules: Romans have been also in Galicia. Proof of that is for example the nice Torre de Hercules in A Coruña. The old lighthouse was built during the 1st century AC and is 55 meters high. It’s symbol for the city declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2009.

The way to Santiago: Probably the most famous thing in Galicia and the oldest route in Europe. After to discover the rest of apostle Santiago, many Christians and religious people started to pilgrimage to Santiago to visit the cathedral. It became a life experience not only for religious people but for anyone who likes adventure, getting to know many people along the way and collecting great memories. There are many ways to Santiago but some of the main ones are: the north way, English way, French way and Portuguese way.

Beach way @alberto@Alberto

Finisterre: In the old times, long before America’s discovering, people thought that Finisterre (in latin “Finis Terrae” translated as where “the land ends”) was the end of the world. Today many pilgrims and travellers go to the lighthouse to admire the landscape from the so called end of the world.

Anytime is good to visit Galicia. It’s true that from October to April it rains a lot, but it’s also part of the charm of the region. The are plenty of  stunning places to visit and to discover in Galicia, as the Carnivals in Verín, Xinzo de Limia or Laza where you can live one of the best Carnivals in Spain and in the World; or enjoy San Xoán jumping bonfires in the seaside like in A Coruña; or go surfing in Pantín beach, where a the surf world Championship takes place.

So I hope after you went through this little travel guide, your travel appetite is awake to visit my beloved Galicia!

 

3. Northern Spain: Asturias

By Victor

Hello! My name is Víctor Gómez and I am a professional photographer and travel blogger since 2010. Before I caught the “eternal traveller syndrome”, I worked as a web developer (I studied computer engineering). Now, I travel about four months a year.

@Victor in Asturias

@Victor

Today, my routine is still related to computers, but in a very different way. Now I inspire people to embark on their dream journey, to discover how fascinating the world is and to open their minds to everything they can experience while travelling.
Travelling has allowed me to overcome my stroppy facet, although strange and curious things continue to happen to me when I go on a trip, I do not know if by pure chance or as a consequence of planning as little as possible. I am a specialist in catching flights at the last minute, mistaking the dates of stay in the accommodations and finding peculiar characters (whom, of course, I photograph after learning their personal history).

What makes Asturias so special?

When I’m not travelling, you can find me in Asturias, a small province in the north of Spain located in the so-called Green Spain. We fondly call it Winterfell, because we have landscapes as spectacular as those seen in Game of Thrones and a climate that, is not as hot as the south of the country.

If I had to highlight the three best characteristics of Asturias, I would opt for its landscapes, its gastronomy and, of course, its people. You are in Spain, here we love to welcome visitors with open arms and show them the best of our land, although you have to get used to our humour, very ironic and sometimes complaining (but with good intentions).

Regarding the landscapes, I have to admit that my favourite places are the dream beaches, the steep cliffs, and the sharp mountains. If I had to choose only 3 of the 192 beaches in Asturias (yes, hard choice), I would say that the most impressive ones for me are:

Playa del Silencio @ashleigh_rachelSilennnceee… Playa del Silencio @ashleigh_rachel

Playa del Silencio: A dream to for any sunsets lovers. There is no sand, but the sound of the sea on the pebbles of the coast transports you to another world.

Gulpiyuri beach: A beach without a sea (what?!). So this fascinating beach is the result of the karst terrain of eastern Asturias. A delight created by nature to be amazed by.

Cuevas de Mar Beach: An amazing beach for any travellers that loves taking photos, both at low and high tide (Asturias is bathed by the Cantabrian Sea, so it has strong tides), where its large rock arch and the caves located on its cliffs stand out.
In the photographic field, I love to portray landscapes that transmit strength, such as cliffs and peculiarly rock formations. We are very well served in Asturias to find all of these beautiful landscapes thanks to the steep terrain.

My favourite spots in Asturias:

Bufones de Prias Mesmerising right? @hectorgaly5

Bufones de Prias @spineoverflowBufones de Prias @spineoverflow

My favourite place in the province is the area of Pría’s blowholes (bufones de Pría): a place where the sea waves hit great cliffs, eroding the rock and creating natural chimneys that become authentic geysers that emit unique sounds at high tide. When the weather is fine, Pría’s blowholes are very nice, but when there is a storm, they become one of the wonders of Spain (nevertheless, beware, because it is imperative to be at least 20 meters from the edge of the cliff so that the sea, which forms waves up to 10 meters high, does not drag us into the water).

I cannot forget to mention the Asturian mountains that dominate the entire landscape, which are divided into two areas: eastern Asturias, with the high Picos de Europa; and the west, covered by softer mountains but no less impressive as in the Somiedo Natural Park.

Each place has its own personality. Although the Picos de Europa (could you guess why they are called like that?) compete in beauty with the Pyrenees or even with the Alps, they are a unique place to enjoy mountain routes, vias ferratas, and wildlife watching like the wolf or the capercaillie. This is one of the best destinations for adventure travel, as there are options to suit all tastes.
Do you like kayaking? Then you should not miss the descent of the river Sella, where you will arrive from the mountains to the beach of Ribadesella in a day seasoned with good local cider.

The mountains of the east, as I mentioned before, are much softer and wooded, and they hide unique places in Europe, such as the forest of Muniellos, an oak wood forest whose heart has been beating for centuries. Only 20 people per day are allowed to access this ecosystem, so book your place in advance to enjoy this unique experience.

If you are looking for great landscapes with the most authentic essence of Asturias, then your destination is the Somiedo Natural Park. This is the most remote area of the Principality, where you can learn the most ancestral traditions, admire ancient glacial lakes, and even, if you have much patience and some luck, watch the brown bear in complete freedom. Many come to Asturias drawn by the solitary beaches, but they end up being enchanted by the captivating environment of the forests of Somiedo and Muniellos.

What about typical food in Asturias?

We have already travelled a nice lot of landscapes and thought about many of the things that we can do in Asturias. So it’s a good time to take a break and enjoy the delicacies of Asturian gastronomy.

In Asturias you eat a lot, and you eat very well, so do not worry if your travel plan is full of sports or activities, because we will feed you wonderfully.

Asturian gastronomy is composed of products from the area, but the diversity of foods that can be obtained is such that the variety of dishes is immense. From the highest quality meats to the best seafood, including fish, charcuterie and pastries prepared with all the love in the world.

Food in asturias@Victor

Fabada: The famous traditional dish in Asturias is the Fabada, a stew based on local large beans with charcuterie such as chorizo, blood sausage and bacon. Maybe, at first glance, you don’t find it very appetising, but once you’ll try it, you’ll love it.

Fabada@Victor

Meat: We continue with the meats, because they are another of the great treasures of Asturias. You can taste from the best veal, to beef, lamb or Asturian pork. But it will not be simply served grilled, that would be very boring. The most recommendable thing is to try traditional dishes such as the escalopines al Cabrales (breaded, fried fillet of beef with a typical blue cheese), the cachopo, the stone grilled meat, or even the Asturian beef burger. The options are endless, you just have to stay long enough in Asturias to try all the possible dishes.

Typical food in Asturias@Victor

Typical fish: Regarding fish, the most typical are the line-caught hake (prepared with various sauces), the scorpion fish (mostly scorpion fish cake), salmon or trout. All of them are local species that combine very well with many different side dishes, such as ham, potatoes or vegetables.

Cheese: If this has seemed little, let’s talk about cheeses, which are among the most diverse products of Asturias. In total there are 42 different varieties. Thus, this small province becomes the place in Europe with more variety of cheeses. There are all kinds: soft, hard, smoked, blue, spicy, creamy, from goat’s milk, or cow’s, or sheep’s… Absolute delights. Any time is the best to try a good tapa of Asturian cheese, so do not be surprised if by mid-morning you are eating different cheeses. Cheese in Asturias is an art, and as such, never disappoints.

Apple cider: And what is the best way to wash down all this food? Well, with the best drink of Asturias, apple cider. This ancestral drink, 100% natural, is the best kept secret of the Asturians. You can drink it while eating, at dinner, while you are with friends, or when you go partying (such thing is called “ir de folixa” in Asturias) in summer, especially in the villages.

Asturian cider is an alcoholic beverage (approximately 5%), but the best thing about it is the way to drink it, because it is unique. To serve yourself a glass of cider you can’t pour it directly from the bottle as if it were water. No. You have to “escanciar” it, which means pouring it out by stretching your arm as high as possible, dropping the golden liquid and hitting it into the cider glass (which is larger than usual).
This peculiar way of serving cider is what gives it all its character, and what attracts the cameras of those who come to visit.

With this travel guide for Asturias you have many tips to make your trip a memorable experience, although I still have a couple of details to tell you.

When is the best time to visit Asturias?

You can travel to the Principality throughout the year, although you should keep in mind that the four seasons are well differentiated, so in winter you will have snow, and in summer you will be able to enjoy beach days. If you like to make the most of each day doing thousands of things, it is best to plan your getaway between June and September, the most pleasant months in terms of weather. If you prefer photography and look for unique spots, then spring and autumn will enchant you, because the colour is spectacular.

What are the most typical traditions in Asturias?

Apart from the “escanciado” of cider, many traditions are kept alive in Asturias: playing Asturian bagpipes at parties, holding celebrations related to the crops, fields or animals, and eating “de espicha” (serving various dishes as tapas while diners taste them while standing).

All this and much more you can find in Asturias. The possibilities of fun and surprise are endless, the beauty of its landscapes is overwhelming and whoever comes to know these lands always returns but never gets tired. You just have to take the first step.

 

4. Northern Spain: Castilla and Leon

By Miguel

My name is Miguel Santamarina. I am a travel blogger with my girlfriend, Mónica —she created it—, in El Viaje de Sofi. Our families and friends are really worried about us because we don’t have a car, a permanent job, a TV, a pension plan… and the worst: we only think about travelling all the time.

Castilla y Leon @miguel@Miguel

My mother is really concerned about my way of life. I left my work in a bored office to be a full time traveller. She supports my choice but she would prefer seeing me working in a bank or selling life insurances. Anyway she loves me however she doesn’t understand properly what I do. To wander around the world is my dream, our dream, Monica and I, and my daughter, Julieta.

What makes Castilla y Leon the best of Spain?

I live in Burgos, a small charming village, full of art, wine and natural wonders. Where is Burgos? In Castilla y León. It’s one the biggest Spanish regions, It represents 20 % of the whole territory of the country. There are 9 provinces, Burgos is one of them.

Segovia @macqssSegovia @macqss

World Heritage: Three cities of Castilla y León have this label: Ávila, Salamanca, and Segovia. These cities have the distinction Atapuerca archaeological site (Burgos), Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in Siega Verde (Salamanca), Burgos Cathedral, in 2021 will be celebrating its 800 years!— and Las Médulas (León) —an outstanding example of innovative Roman technology.

Hiking trails: You will find many hiking routes in the region. For walkers, runners, bikers and for all the family too. There are in Castilla y León more than 30 natural parks, operated by a special protection. Magic places full of nature and biodiversity.

Culture: My region focuses on tourism. There is a good selection of museums, traditional and contemporary, tons of monuments to visit in the nine towns and small villages, the Seminci cinema festival, music events such as Sonorama —Mogwai played here—, theatre plays in historic roman places like Clunia.

Sports: It’s a good idea discover Castilla y León sporting. Here, there are a lot of BTT races (Maratón Bajo Tiétar), trails (Riaño Trail Run) , asphalt competitions (Burgos Marathon) and triathlons (Desafío Canal de Castilla).

What about traditional food in Castilla y Leon?

This region is a paradise for foodies. Exceptional meats: lamb, veal, pink delicatessens (sausages, chorizo, jamón ibérico…); delicious river fishes (trouts, crabs, perchs…); wonderful vegetable and fruits (Ibeas beans, Caderechas cherries, Sotillo pears…); extraordinary wines of 9 oficial D.O. —mark of origin—, globally recognised as Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Bierzo or Cigales.

Traditional food in Castilla y Leon@Miguel

Tapas route in Valladolid: The best place to celebrate the national pinchos & tapas contest. Here you could eat in Los Zagales bar, an “Obama in the White House”: a cooked dehydrated potato dyed with squid ink covered with a puff pastry and mushroom sauce; not to forget a tasty egg cooked at low temperature. Delicious!

Barrio húmedo of León: If you are going to do a tapa routes in Leon you should know one important thing: tapas are free here. Yes, free! It could be a good option to try the: 1 bar + 1 wine + 1 free tapa; 2 bar + 2 wine + 2 free tapas; 3 bar + 3 wine + 3 free tapas… Where is the limit?

Lechazo in Aranda de Duero: What is a lechazo? A roasted lamb, crunchy and juicy. You could eat it in almost any restaurants in any town but I recommend you to go in Aranda de Duero (Burgos). This is a wine area (Ribera del Duero). Ribera wine + Lechazo = the perfect combination.

Cochinillo in Pedraza: Segovia is well known for this recipe, cochinillo, a roasted little pig. You could eat this in the town, near the lovely roman Acueducto, but try to go to Pedraza, a charmful village to taste it.

International Cheese Fair in Hinojosa de Duero: If you loooove cheese and you are not a mouse, that is your event. It is celebrated in March, every year. You can taste all kinds of traditional cheese of Castilla y León and Spain.

My favourite places not to miss in Castilla y León

Soria, Castilla y Leon

@Miguel

Ávila: Here you will need an extra charger for your smartphone and your camera. You are going to take tons of pictures of their incredible walls.

Cañón del Río Lobos (Soria): It stands out for the spectacular nature of its landscapes, the result of erosion, and for its fauna: spectaculars griffon vultures. There are 15 walking routes to discover and explore this natural park.

Peñaranda de Duero (Burgos): The castle is a good reason to make a stop around here. But there are other treasures like the church, the main square, the ancient streets or the marvellous palace.

Candelario (Salamanca):  I love this village. It is one of my favourites of the country full of stoned streets and a beautiful view of the mountains.

Burgos: There is one great reason to visit Burgos… it is the town where I was born and where I live, and I can ensure you it is awesome. If you are going to stay here, don’t hesitate to call me; I will organise an unforgettable wine and tapas route just for you.

My travel tips to visit Castilla y Leon

Weather: We are in the north Spain. That is not Costa del Sol or Canary Islands, folk. You need a coat during 6 months, between Autumn and Springtime, and several coats in Winter. Summers are quite hot. Be warned —sunscreen, cap, fresh clothes…— if you are going to go to the valleys or mountains especially.

Best time to visit: Summer is awesome if you come from cold places. But it is lovely to visit us in Spring and Autumn: colours are really great. Winter is only for brave travellers.

Budget: Burgos and Valladolid are the most expensive cities. There is an important difference between towns and villages, but Castilla y León is cheaper than Madrid, Catalonia or Basque Country.

How to travel: You need a car. There is a fast train between Segovia, Valladolid and Leon too.

People: Cold weather has made us rude. We don’t use so many words when we speak, sometimes we just talk with gestures. It could be strange for you at the beginning: we don’t dance flamenco, only laugh twice per day and when we talk we do it very loudly. Anyway you’re going to fall in love with us. I promise!!

My secret spots in Castilla y Leon

Las Tuerces @danni_herreroImpressive view, Las Tuerces @danni_herrero

Babia (León): Exceptional area in the north of Leon. There are 87 mountains overt 2.000 metres.

Las Tuerces (Palencia): Amazing stoned figures sculpted by erosion: giant turtles, pirate ships, big mushrooms…

Arribes del Duero (Salamanca): A huge gorge through which the Duero river runs. It divides Spain and Portugal. It is full of viewpoints to admire the landscape you could also take a boat and sail by the river.

Waterfalls of Burgos (Burgos): In spring and autumn there are a lot of waterfalls plains of water in the whole province. One of most spectacular is El salto del Nervión, in the north, next to Basque Country. 222 metres. It is a great experience. The mountain where is located is a great place to have a good time.

La Fuentona (Soria): You arrive to the natural monument of La Fuentona through an easy walking. There you are going to find a nice and surprising place of big geologic value, an eye of the sea, the birth of the Abión river.

 

Are you ready to hit the road in Spain? If you have any other tips, feel free to leave us a comment ?

Want more inspirations in Spain? Check out these articles:

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