Taste of the North NC3

Bilbao – La Rioja – Coastal Cantabria Tour

Based on 7 nights self-drive independent tour in Spain

Wherever you go in Northern Spain you’re in for a gastronomic treat, from the famous ‘Cocina Vasca’ to the first class seafood of Galicia, accompanied by world class wines from La Rioja to Albariño. Here we offer some of the highlights in a route full of contrasts yet without a lot of driving.

And it’s not all about the food – here you’ll find dramatic mountain scenery, fantastic beaches and a wealth of art and architecture, not least in Frank Gehry’s famous Guggenheim Museum.

Tour Highlights:

  • Bilbao, the ‘Phoenix City’
  • The great wines of La Rioja
  • Architecture ancient & modern
  • Relax in the beaches & valleys of coastal Cantabria
  • Wonderful gastronomy throughout
  • Short drives – big contrasts!

From £550* per person

* Indicative prices (including car hire – flights not included). Ferry-drive based on 2 people from £750 p.p. for 14 nights.

Guggenheim Bilbao

Day 1 & 2 – Bilbao & the Basque Country

  • Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim & its sister the Bellas Artes
  • Basque cuisine, pintxos or something more substantial
  • Basque coast, lovely beaches, spectacular rock formations
  • Head for the hills, great walking just near the city
  • Visit San Sebastian, Belle Epoque elegance by the sea
Laguardia, Rioja Alavesa

Day 3 & 4 – La Rioja Alavesa

  • Spain’s most prestigious vineyards
  • Riojan & Basque cuisine – excellent local ingredients
  • Stunning modern architecture among the vines
  • Medieval Laguardia and Labastida
  • Dinastia Vivanco museum of wine culture
Oyambre Beach

Days 5 to 7 – Western Cantabria

  • Historic seaside towns of San Vicente, Comillas or Santillana del Mar
  • Sandy beaches and craggy protected coves
  • Carmona, Barcena Mayor in the beautiful valleys
  • Prehistoric cave paintings at Altamira and many more
  • Wonderful walks along the coast or in the rolling hills

What’s included…

The itinerary includes the following:

  • Accommodation in our listed hotels – 2 sharing 1 std. double ensuite, B&B
  • Economy 4dr car hire
  • or ferry crossings with Brittany Ferries (car + 2 berth interior cabin)
  • Guide book to Northern Spain
  • Restaurant guide covering regions en-route
  • Instructions to find all accommodation & regional road map

Not included:

  • Flights – but we are able to advise
  • One-way car hire charges, where applicable (see your quote email)
  • The following car hire extras – these can be added at pick-up point
    • extra driver
    • child seats
    • GPS
  • Garage parking where applicable (mostly city stops) – please ask us about parking charges

Getting there

A circular route, this itinerary has excellent access by air and sea:

  • Connections from-to:
    • Stansted: Santander with Ryanair / Bilbao with Easyjet / Biarritz with Ryanair
    • Gatwick: Bilbao with Vueling-BA
    • Dublin: Santander with Ryanair / Bilbao with Aer Lingus
    • Manchester: Bilbao with Easyjet
    • Bristol: Bilbao with Easyjet
    • Edinburgh; Santander with Ryanair / Bilbao with Easyjet
  • Ferries Portsmouth or Plymouth: Santander or Bilbao – 7 sailings weekly. We can include the ferry crossings as part of the package

Getting around

For passengers travelling by air we will include a hire car as part of the package. Normally we include a 4 door economy class car but please let us know if you would like something different.

For those coming on the ferry you will use your own vehicle but in either case we will provide full instructions to arrive at each hotel, complete with GPS, as well as a map of the area

What our clients say

A fantastic holiday in 3 different areas. Bilbao was a nice city for a bit of culture. The castle hotel was more than we could have hoped for. The cobbled streets of Santillana del Mar were picturesque.

Client 2018

All the recommended sights were good suggestions. A perfect holiday, off the beaten track.

Client 2018

Guggenheim Puppy

Excellent detailed arrangements and directions throughout the tour which was put together according to our wishes. Hotels were well chosen in areas that were away from the tourist trail and allowed the chance to see both the countryside and rural life. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Client 2018

Easy to contact with quick response to any question. Provided ample information and expertise.

Client 2018

A fantastic holiday in 3 different areas… All the recommended sights were good suggestions.A perfect holiday, off the beaten track.

Client 2018

Photo of vineyards, La Rioja, Spain

Casas Cantabrica were very helpful throughout. … lots of information, including road maps, guide books were sent as soon as we had booked …. We had absolute confidence that they would be available if we should need them.

Client 2018

The three hotels we stayed in were all excellent and the car hire experience worked perfectly with no nasty surprises at the end. We thought about organising the trip ourselves but we’d never have found hotels like the three we stayed in

Client 2017

The supporting documentation was outstanding- including itineraries, a guide book, a map and the App containing all the info we needed.

Client 2017

Guggenheim Bilbao
Oyambre Beach

We enjoyed all of the trip. The pace was just right with not too much driving; a good mix of coast, mountain / country and city locations and the standard of food (breakfast) was excellent throughout.

Client 2016

We would not have found these places on our own.
All went brilliantly, could not fault it.

Client 2017

Efficient, friendly and SO helpful. It was really nice dealing with you, especially being able to chat on the phone. Best we have ever dealt with over 50 years!

Client 2014

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria

As we had wanted to do this holiday for years this was perfect and we have recommended you to friends and relatives.

Client 2014

This is the best holiday of its type we have experienced and can’t wait to go back.  I am so pleased to have found your company on the internet. I am quite sure we would never have come up with such a perfect itinerary or lovely hotels had we tried to do it ourselves.

Client 2012

Everyone really enjoyed our holiday. We liked the change of scenery every few day and each place had its own particular merits.

Client 2013

Laguardia, Rioja Alavesa

Castles and wine tour in pictures