Across the Bay of Biscay, or Cantabrian Sea as it is known locally, lies a stunning part of Spain, green with rolling hills, punctuated by steep mountains and ending abruptly at its perilous coast. Scattered across this land are beautiful medieval villages, fishing ports and cities. As we travel along the coast, staying in hotels within easy reach of golden beaches and local highlights, discover what makes the northern reaches of Spain so different to the rest, with a unique language, signature dishes, spectacular cathedrals and the only creations by Antoni Gaudi outside Barcelona.
7 nights in hotels (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Stanstead Airport and our direct, scheduled easyJet flight to Bilbao. On arrival, our coach transfers us to Santander, where we stay at the Hotel Bahia (4T). On arrival we are greeted with a welcome drink and a buffet evening meal is included tonight at our hotel overlooking the Bay of Santander.
Spend your morning exploring the beautiful region of Cantabria. Our guide tells us about the area as we visit the charming village of Comillas, which shows evidence of Palaeolithic inhabitants with paintings in the area dating back some 14,000 years. Amidst the ancestral homes and towers, discover the influence of the Modernist movement and visit a building created by the great Antoni Gaudi. El Capricho de Gaudi is one of his earliest works, commissioned as a summer house by the Marquis of Comillas, whose love for botany, music and literature influenced the interior and exterior of this wonderfully eclectic building. We also visit Santillana del Mar, recognised as one of Spain’s most important historical and artistic sites, where nearly everything is a national monument. Strict planning rules placed in 1575 have made sure the centre of this medieval town has been perfectly preserved. Lunch is included in a local restaurant before we return to Santander.
Today is free to explore the port city of Santander. The city’s setting is unbeatable, with photogenic rugged cliffs and some of the finest sandy beaches in Spain. A fire devastated much of the heritage of Santander’s centre in 1941, but the city has retained an air of elegance. Its oldest monument is the cathedral, which incorporates the original 13th century church, while the Palacio de la Magdalena showcases early 20th century royal tastes. The Museum of Archaeology details the area’s much older story, including prehistoric cave art and medieval Spanish kingdoms. You may also like to visit the Botin Centre or take a ferry to visit the village of Somo.
Santander - Gijón - La Coruña
We head west along the dramatic coast, skirting the beautiful Picos de Europa Mountains, famous for their impenetrability and wildlife including wolves and bears. We reach Gijón for lunch in a typical cider house. You have time to explore the town which grew on an old Roman settlement, before we continue to Playa de las Catedrales, proclaimed one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our final destination is La Coruña, where we spend the next four nights at Hotel Zenit Coruña (4T).
Enjoy a free day in this Galician city. Our hotel is perfectly located to wander around the town and observe the culture. Galicia is one of three autonomous regions in Spain that have their own official language and here Gallego is similar to Spanish and Portuguese. The sight (and if you’re lucky the sound) of bagpipes that may make you feel closer to home, reflect the historical links this region is said to have had with Scotland and Ireland for millennia. If you fancy a day of relaxation, a beautiful beach is just metres away from the hotel; or a two-mile walk may lead you through the town to a small hill promontory where you can find an open air sculpture park and The Tower of Hercules. This ancient tower is the best preserved lighthouse from the Roman age which, according to myth, marks the resting place of the giant Gerylon who was killed by Hercules. This tale is enforced on the city’s coat of arms with a skull and bones.
Deserted beaches, stunning cathedrals, rolling green hills and charming villages fill our day as we explore Galicia, Spain’s north-west corner. We view its rugged Atlantic coast with a visit to Costa de la Muerte, arguably the most beautiful yet treacherous coastline in Galicia. We visit Muxia, a beautiful seaside town with a spiritual site that drew ancient pilgrims long before St James’ arrival; and the charming fishing village of Finisterre, Spain’s most western point, the medieval ‘end of the world’ and the official end of The Way of St James pilgrimage route, which starts in Lourdes, France some 500 miles east.
Spend your last day relaxing and exploring, or join an optional excursion to Santiago de Compostela. This journey takes you to the magnificent Pazo de Oca, a beautiful manor house with stunning gardens and the most impressive Galician palace, referred to as the Versailles of Galicia. Just a short drive away is Santiago de Compostela itself, the most important religious city in Spain and third in the Catholic World after the Vatican and Jerusalem. Your guide will introduce you to this World Heritage Site, including the incredible cathedral, with soaring spires that adorn this vast Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque masterpiece.
Day 8 La Coruña - Santiago de Compostela - London
Today we depart for Santiago de Compostela Airport and our direct, scheduled easyJet flight to London Gatwick Airport, where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.