Green Travel Guide to Green Spain -
Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque Country
Words by Ginny Light, photography by Christopher Willan, videography by Richard Hammond and Nigel Camp.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.
Filmed by Green Traveller
Foreword by Javier Piñanes, Director of the Spanish Tourist Office (UK)
Green Spain is unique to the other parts of Spain thanks to not only its temperate oceanic climate and rich green scenery but also with respects to its rich cultural history, unique cultures, and an outstanding gastronomy offering. San Sebastián, for instance, was awarded the Best Food Destination award at the Leading Culture Destination Awards 2018 boasting more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world. Not to mention traditional dishes such as Fabada from Asturias, Cocido Montañés from Cantabria or the extraordinary seafood from Galicia and excellent wines such as albariño from Galicia and txakoli from the Basque Country.
Green Spain has an abundance of activities for visitors to immerse themselves in throughout the whole year, whether it is a bike tour around Bilbao, bird watching at Covadonga Lakes or following in the footsteps of pilgrims on the historic Camino de Santiago. Northern Spain is full of national parks with dramatic coastlines and rolling green hills as well as a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Tower of Hercules, the cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain and Santiago de Compostela.
Green Spain has an unrivalled approach to sustainability and eco-friendly tourism. For instance the Cíes Islands off the coast of Galicia only allow a limited number of tourists to make the crossing so as not to disturb the native wildlife which is unique to the archipelago. There are also impressive conservation efforts in Green Spain such as that of the Cantabrian brown bear, which is on the Spanish Red List of Endangered Species. Dedicated conservation efforts are being carried out in the Cantabria mountain range to protect the estimated remaining 150 bears that call this area home.
Greentraveller’s Guide to Green Spain showcases the very best of this unique area of the Iberian Peninsula that is rapidly becoming a one-to-watch hotspot.
We invite you to discover this beautiful region.
What our writers discovered in Green Spain
Stay, Eat, See & Do
Our pick of places across Green Spain
Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities
Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map
How to travel to Green Spain
There are several ways to travel to Green Spain from the UK
The 'Transcantábrico' "train cruise" runs from Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) to San Sebastián (Basque Country). Renfe Spain Pass is a rail card that can be used on all AVE middle- and long-distance high-speed trains and is valid for one month from the first trip (available for purchase up to six months in advance of travel).
Alsa runs bus services across all four regions (including services to/from the main airports). To fly, the major airports are Bilbao, Santander, Asturias (Castrillón), A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela.
For the carbon emissions of all modes of transport, see Eco Passenger
Getting to the Basque Country
By ferry: Twice weekly ferry crossing operated by Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao.
By train: Main train stations in Bilbao and San Sebastián
By plane: Bibao international airport (12km outside Bilbao city centre); San Sebastián airport (22km outside San Sebastián city centre) also has domestic flights from Madrid and Barcelona.
Getting to Cantabria
By ferry: Twice weekly ferry crossing operated by Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Santander and Plymouth to Santander.
By train: Main station is Santander.
By plane: Main airport is Santander which is 5km outside Santander.
Getting to Asturias
By train: Main stations are Gijón and Oviedo.
By plane: Asturias airport is in Castrillón, which is 14 kilometres from Avilés, 40 from Gijón and 47 from Oviedo.
Getting to Galicia
By train: Main stations are Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Lugo and Ourense.
By plane: Main airports are A Coruña (8km outside A Coruña), Vigo (9km outside Vigo) and Santiago de Compostela (10km outside Santiago de Compostela).
Photographic Highlights of our trip to Green Spain
See all our Spain guides
All photos in this Greentraveller's Guide to Green Spain are by Christopher Willan, which he took on his media visit to Green Spain with Ginny Light (writer) and Richard Hammond and Nigel Camp (videographers) in December 2018.