Whether you're island hopping along the Croatian Coastline, punting down the canals of Venice, speeding down the Lillehammer Bobsleigh or sipping a coffee in a Viennese cafe. Europe offers plenty of iconic experiences to enjoy. So how does the North of Spain compare?
A 'jaw dropping' view generally suggests one that goes on for miles.... and in the case of the stretch from San Sebastián to Deba Gipuzkoa... you'd be right! Over 20miles of winding coastal road perched close to the cliffs, it's packed full of coves, crashing waves and picnic spots galore!
We love the ultra chic San Sebastián which is only just over the border into Spain. It's a stunning blend of Victorian elegance and cultured seaside feel that makes it so easy to relax. Imagine looking out to sea, with the sun setting and the contours of the bay wrapping itself around the town.... it's difficult to worry about anything! Expect perhaps where your next tapas, pintxos or ice cream might be coming from.
With every roadtrip with kids there's always something to consider... just how do you keep them occupied? Ours either crack on with their homeschooling (check out our Top 5 Educational Apps article here) or look our the window, read books or listen to music? But recently they've started getting creative.... with Libby spending this journey making the cross stitch 'pen jar' below.
Having enjoyed trying to drive over the Pyrenees last year (click here for the article and full route)... we've opted to miss this stunning part of Northern Spain (perhaps none more so than the iconic 'Pic du Midi' cable car)
So leaving the coastline behind us heading south, we enjoyed the route that heads towards Pamplona. A city famed for the annual running of the bulls. It's also intensely proud of it's Navarran heritage and well worth a stop enroute to another of Spain's hidden treasures at Zaragoza. The vibrant city of Zaragoza and it's amazing Basilica of Our Lady and the Pillar holds half of the region's population and is full of life... feisty, sassy and dripping with history...
In fact this whole northern area is one of Spain's best kept secrets with most heading for the sun of Andalusia or one of Spain's beautiful cities like Valencia, Barcelona or Seville. But in Navarra and Aragon, not only will you find breathtaking views galore but almost every hill you climb reveals yet another majestic village, safely tucked away from the mainstream crowds.
For those travelling further south towards Valencia, you'll chance upon one of our favourite places from the entire European Roadtrip at Albarracin.. Easily rivalling others that include Dubrovnik, Geirangerfjord, Budapest, Ile de Re or Korcula..... this is one you should make a detour towards (staying at the aire in nearby Teruel)
Nestled snugly into the mountainous backdrop of the Sierra de Albarracín Comarca.. the fortified town Albarracín sits astride massive rocky outcrops that dominate the whole area... some of which are home to 'troglodyte caves' much like the Loire and Dordogne valleys in France.
Albarracín's history is inextricably linked to the Muslim domination of the Iberian peninsula... even gaining its name from the Moorish family that lived here for many years...Leading to it being fought over many times before eventually becoming part of the Kingdom of Aragon in 1300. The whole area has been heavily fortified over generations and includes a magnificent cathedral (in brickwork/ceramic titles much like Teruel) and the Andator Tower too..
Head a little further towards Valencia and you can find another hidden gem. Best explored by bike, Teruel is known for its association with the Mudéjar architecture. It's an open air museum to these ornate 'Mudéjar monuments that line the old town...If you get the chance, try to find one of the wonderful ceramic illustrated maps that give brilliant visual pictures and directions.. It proves a fantastic tour guide in its own right!
Tomorrow sees us explore another of this region's highlights.... this time the home of the dinosaurs at Dinopolis in Teruel!!
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