The 5 most beautiful towns in the north of Spain

5 of the best places in northern Spain to visit in 2021
5 of the best places in northern Spain to visit in 2021 / Gun Powder Ma, CC BY-SA 3.0
27 May 2021, Redaction

While Spain's southern and eastern coasts continue to prove popular with tourists and expats, there are also many other hidden gems in other parts of the country, and today we're heading north. Throughout the regions in north of Spain, there are countless villages of immense beauty that simply ooze both charm and history.

In recent years, an association known as the ‘Most Beautiful Towns in Spain’ has decided to bring together all these municipalities to promote them and in turn spread their fame around the world, and at the same time, they maintain their authenticity. For our part at idealista, we have prepared a fantastic route for you to escape the tourist hotspots of the south and get to know the most beautiful villages in the north of Spain this summer 2021.


The "Roman" bridge at Liérganes /

Life in the Cantabrian town of Liérganes revolves around the legend of the "Fish Man" which tells of Francisco, an inhabitant of Liérganes, who sent by his mother to work in Bilbao. One day, he jumped into the water in the Bilbao estuary and disappeared. 5 years later, in 1679, fishermen from the coast of Cadiz found a man covered in scales who did not speak and barely spoke just one word: Liérganes. He returned to live with his mother in the village, but he was not the same as before. 9 years after his return to Liérganes he disappeared once again and the whole village assumed that he returned to the sea.

When you visit Liérganes, one of the best places in Northern Spain, don't miss the Roman Bridge that crosses over the river Miera with the Fish Man Museum right next door in an old mill, plus a commemorative sculpture of the Fish Man himself.


Lastres and the Cantabrian Sea /

Lastres is a stunning seaside town on the Asturian coast that has become famous in Spain thanks to the TV series "Doctor Mateo".  Its curious shape, like a staircase that drifts into the Cantabrian Sea, attracts thousands of tourists who give the town a characteristic lively atmosphere throughout the year.

The best thing to do when visiting Lastres is to start at the viewpoint of San Roque (on a clear day you can see the Picos de Europa mountains from here) and continue along the fishing port, past the church of Santa María de Sábada, the Clock Tower, the Chapel of Buen Suceso and the chapel of San José. At the end of this pleasant walk, all that's left to do is relax and enjoy some of the town’s top-quality local seafood.


Church of San Juan in Laguardia / Wikimedia commons

Laguardia is a small town in the region of Álava in La Rioja. This beautiful medieval village is a real hidden gem that is off the beaten track and will make you feel like you’re going back in time, as walking through its streets takes you back to the 15th century. As if that weren’t enough, its location on top of a hill offers a spectacular and endless view of the vineyards of La Rioja.

Part of its medieval feeling is given by the town wall, which is about 2 metres high and surrounds the whole village, preserving 5 medieval gates by which you enter the village. The village is 100% pedestrianised and cars are not allowed inside, meaning that it is a very pleasant town to wander around.

Laguardia offers you, on the one hand, an idyllic setting for rest and relaxation, and on the other hand plenty of bars for great local tapas and a excellent wine from La Rioja Alavesa.


Statue of author Álvaro Cunqueiro in Mondoñedo / Wikimedia commons

Mondoñedo is a small town but one of the most important in the Mariña Lucense region of Lugo in Galicia. This beautiful village is just a step away from the famous As Catedrais beach with its incredible rock formations and truly is Galicia in all its essence.

If you're after some peace and quiet to really disconnect, then the old town with its narrow stone streets will take you to its amazing cathedral, with its lovely rose window and superb façade. Other must-visit places in the historical centre are the district of Os Muiños, the Seminary, the centre of interpretation of the Camino de Santiago and the birthplace of writer Alvaro Cunqueiro.

Bárcena Mayor

Panoramic view of Bárcena Mayor /

This small Cantabrian village near Los Tojos was declared a "historical-artistic site" for the splendid conservation of its old farmhouse and serves as a time machine to get to know what the mountain villages of northern Spain were like centuries ago.

This almost secret location is located in a wonderful natural environment, surrounded by streams of running water and abundant forest. These elements awaken peace and tranquillity and invite visitors to venture to the numerous hiking trails that run through the village.

Take your time to take in all the surroundings, including the traditional architecture and the 17th-century Church of Santa Maria. Another must is to enjoy the food in one of the few restaurants in the village, made the same way it was centuries back.

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