Think you know Spain? Think it's all sangria and paella? Then you've not been to the North-West of Spain. Known as 'Green Spain', the regions of Asturias and Galicia (as well as parts of Castilla y Leon) are very, very different from the rest of Spain.
Cities and Towns in North-West Spain
Major cities and towns in North-West Spain, in order of 'importance' to the tourist:
- Santiago de Compostela
- Enjoy the fabulous green countryside - it's everywhere. Have your ideas dispelled of what Spain looks like as you are surrounded by rolling hills and green pastures.
- Visit the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of those on the Camino de Santiago.
- Drink Sidra (Spanish cider) in Oviedo (on the Boulevard of Cider)
- Visit the end of the world in Fisterra. Fisterra was the most-western point of the Roman Empire and it was believed that the sun was extinguished each night as it set in the sea. The awful weather there really adds to the feeling that you've reached the end of the planet!
- Eat Pulpo a la Gallega, boiled octopus with paprika, at a restaurant in A Coruña or Santiago de Compostela. It may sound gross, and it certainly isn't to everyone's taste, but it is a quintessential part of Galician cuisine and a lot of people can't get enough of it. Read more about Galician food.
- Go up the Torre de Hércules in A Coruña and check out the breathtaking coastline.
- Eat Free Tapas in Leon (and check out the city's cathedral too)
Places to Add if You Have Time
Other popular cities in North-West Spain include Ourense, Vigo, Pontevedra, and Gijon.
North-West Spain Itinerary
This suggested itinerary is for those who didn't come to Spain for a suntan, but are interested in the diversity of Spain - from old Castilla (where the Spanish language originates from) to Galicia and Asturias, where it's bagpipes and cider rather than flamenco guitars and sangria.
This itinerary is self-guided.
- Day 1-4: Madrid
- Day 5-6: Segovia
- Day 6: Avila (half a day)
- Day 7-8: Salamanca
- Day 9-10: Santiago de Compostela
- Day 11-12: A Coruña
- Day 13-14: Oviedo
- Day 15: Leon (half a day - or even just for lunch)
- Day 15: Madrid
Total Travel Time
- By Bus 22h (Total Price: 88€)
- By Train 22h45* (Total Price: 90.50€)*
*It is not possible to do your entire journey solely by train. Where necessary, the relevant bus time and price have been added to the total.
Longest Journey Time
- By Bus Salamanca to Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña to Oviedo are both six hours. There are no trains on these routes.
- By Train Leon to Madrid takes four hours. The bus is slightly quicker.
Below are the times and prices for traveling by bus and train. All train tickets can be booked through Rail Europe. Not much of this itinerary is served by trains.
Typically, buses can be half the price of the train, with journey times approximately 30% longer, although on the itinerary route the times are more or less the same. The bus is a much better value than the train, but it can be quite difficult to book. The Spanish bus network is split up into a number of different companies - I have indicated below which bus company to book with.
For most bus timetables (but, frustratingly, not all), see Movelia. Movelia allows you to print tickets, which saves time as you can go straight to the bus with your print out, but as Movelia has not yet integrated all bus companies into its network, this service cannot be relied upon.
- Madrid - Segovia
- By Bus: 1h15 (6€ with La Sepulvedana
- By Train: 1h15 (5.50€)
- Segovia - Avila
- By Bus: 1h with Auto-Res (price: 5.30€)
- By Train: No train
- Avila - Salamanca
- By Bus: 1h30 with Auto-Res (price: 6€)
- By Train: 1h (8€)
- Salamanca - Santiago de Compostela
- By Bus: 6h (22€ with Dainco)
- By Train: No train
- Santiago de Compostela - A Coruña
- By Bus: 1h (4€ - use local buses)
- By Train: 1h (3.50-5€)
- A Coruña - Oviedo
- By Bus: 6h (19€ with Alsa)
- By Train: No train
- Oviedo - Leon
- By Bus: 1h45 (7.50€ with Alsa)
- By Train: 2h30 (6.50€ - note: there are some quicker trains (saving 40 minutes) that are three times the price)
- Leon - Madrid
- By Bus: 3h30 (19.50€ with Alsa)
- By Train: 4h (22€ - note: there are some slower trains that are oddly more expensive)