2 weeks in van on the Spanish north coast

Our program changed, we begin with the Spanish north coast. We had to start by the north (Irland, UK…), but for lack of heating for the moment we decided to move south. Direction Spain and Portugal! Looking for : warmth, surf and beautiful encounters!

Spanish north coast

Here is our journey from Hendaye, south of France to Vigo in Spain before crossing the border to Portugal!

We will just talk about our favorite spots but of course, do not hesitate to ask us for more info if necessary! 😊

Spanish Basque Country and Cantabria

A/ Playa de Hondarribia, fronting France

The really beginning of the Spanish north coast. Right in front of the French coast (20mins by car). It’s a nice place to spend the night with a equipped van. Facing the beach with a beach shower and not far (10mins walk) a skate spot with ramp and street area.

Sleep in Hondarribia on the spanish north coast, along the beach and have a little skate, Ze Caillou

B/ Zarautz, on the way to Bilbao

Small charming town of the Spanish north coast with a beautiful waterfront. Known for surfing, and with a beautiful bowl of skateboard facing the beach. A restaurant on the waterfront (in front of the skateboard spot) inside a small castillo (castle) run by a great chef, Karlos Arguinano!

Pleasant at least for a drink on the terrace! 1/2h, 3/4h from the center (walking), you can go along the coast to reach the small village of Guetaria, perfect for those who like to walk.

Zarautz beach, known for surf, on the spanish north coast, travel blog Ze Caillou

C/ Faro de machichaco, the light of Mundaka

60 calea arene pelaio deuna 48370
On the way to Mundaka, mythical surf spot on the Spanish north coast, we are looking for a spot to sleep with our van. Our destination is the Machichaco lighthouse on the north coast of Bilbao. To get there, a 2km creepy road, but not insurmountable either. And the site is worth a visit.

Arrival at the foot of the cliff. An impression of an Ireland landscape in Spain, and the light of the lighthouse gives the final touch. Authorized and free, no service and barely 3 or 4 parking spaces. Small hiccup, in the middle of the night some big noises came from the lighthouse for at least 1h.

Irland landscape on the north of Spain close to the mythic surf spot mundaka, machichaco lighthouse

Sleep with a van close to machichaco lighthouse, at mundaka surf spot on the spanish north coast

D/ Bilbao, great city of Spanish north coast

2 artxandamendi videa, bilbao
Ready to visit Bilbao, here is a nice spot to leave your van safely. The funicular parking is not the most glamorous place in Spain, we agree, but it has several advantages. It is free, great location (yes, right next to the funicular at 0.95ct the drive to get to the center of town). Very close to a park with picnic tables. And enjoys a great view of Bilbao, just for that, it’s worth a visit.

Panoramic view of Bilbao from the funicular in north Spain

Bilbao is a city we really appreciated on the Spanish north coast. Lively, we walk with pleasure. Separated by a “Rio”, there are bridges, gardens, pintxos bars (the equivalent of “tapas” in Basque) without missing the Guggenheim Museum … it takes at least 2 or 3 days to enjoy this city of approximately 345 000 inhabitants!

The museum of Guggenheim (16 €)

For contemporary art addicts, it is the top. From our side we spent 2 to 3h to visit the museum, but taking your time you can count the whole day. About us, we were tired, starved to death, and had our lovely dog to pick up quickly. Many rooms with themes or exhibitions highlighting an artist. The temporary exhibition was « Paris, fin de siècle » with Toulouse Lautrec and other artists we love. We were delighted because we are more fond of this type of art than by things too abstract like: thrown paint on black background! 😊

Guggenheim museum website


Cheaper than San Sebastian, you were not disappointed. No special recommendation … we liked to test several small bars to judge different atmospheres and quality tapas! 😊 Great time there !

Discover Guggenheim museum of Bilbao in the spanish north coast on our travel blog

E/ Parque de Cabarceno y pueblo, inexpected place

21 barrio de cabarceno corraliza 39627 Penagos, Espana
Looking for a nice place to spend the night, we find the Parque de Cabarceno. A free lakeside parking, with water and possibility of emptying for campervans. The place is cute (especially if you can park on the lake side).

In addition, a 2 mins walk bring you to the entrance of a animals reserve from all over the world. 30 € /adult but for someone who has never made a safari, it can be well worth it. It is by car (the roads are good) and the ride is 26km. The landscapes are beautiful and we can already see some elephants, buffalos, gazelles from the entrance … It wasn’t not in our budget, too bad, we didn’t expect this on the Spanish north coast.

Parque Natural de Cabarceno website

Sleep with a van in front of the lake of the Parque Natural de Cabarcenos see elefants

F/ Parque Natural de la Dunas de liencres, above everything

Barrio las serreas 39120, espana
Another beautiful place that requires to go through a road that deserves amelioration. Our van parked high on a cliff, we felt like king and queen! Landscapes are sumptuous. A path of 1/2h walk brings you to a really beautiful beach. It is more accessible (5mins) by a parking nearby, but to spend the night, it is nothing comparable. On the other hand, if it is just for surf, it is better to chose the parking.

Have a night with you rvan in the parque dunas de liencreson the spanish north coast

Comillas, a Gaudiesque getaway

At the beginning it was just a stop to work a little. Then we realized that there was a house of Gaudi here. The stop became more interesting! Yes, we can find Gaudi on the Spanish north coast!

G/ Mirador del picu del regolgueru, sunset meeting spot

26 camino fimango alfaro 33590 pimiango espana
Again we were alone to sleep here. A very nice and authorized spot, with a water point. A cement mirador (not very glamour) in the landscape but which permit to admire the sunset from higher. Besides between noon and 2 and for the sunset, it seems to be a meeting spot: lovers, walkers …

Sleep in van at the Mirador del Picu in cantabria in th spanich north coast, adress on our travel blog

Not far away by continuing the road to the right, the Cueva del Pindal (closed Monday and Tuesday) and a small house in ruins, very nice walk. And by walking 20/25mins straight to the sea passing under the watchtower, a superb little creek on the left.

Small creek with turquoise blue waterclose to the mirador del picu del recogeru

Asturia and Galicia regions

A/ Playa de Torimbia, wonderfull

So beautiful that it’s used in a movie!

Camino ballota 33596 llanes, spain
A high spot, overnight stay is allowed but no services. On both sides, a beautiful beach below. But on the left, the beach of Torimbia … beautiful and it is recognized surf spot. It can be reached on foot in 15mins. An iron seat reminds us that this beach was used to shoot « El Abuelo », by the filmmaker Jose Luis Garci.

Beautiful surf beach of torimbia in Asturia on the spanish north coast

B/ Surf at Las Salinas and seafood in Cudillero town

After a well-deserved surf session at “las Salinas” close to Giron, we went to Cudillero. A small town on a slope that overlooks a pretty harbor and especially a beautiful square with colorful houses on a cliff. The place is especially known for its fish and seafood. Not cheap (dish between 20 and 40 €), but fresh and very good. Except this, we have not seen great interest. We slept in our van in the center of the town.

Cudillero harbour in Asturia where you can eat delicious seafood on the spanish north coast

C/ Beaches, always beaches

Unnamed road, 27877 xoves
1st stop of the day at Playa del Silencio. Like the one in Torimbia, we feel like part of a movie. We overlook a turquoise beach with a rocky arch and nobody to disturb you.

Beautiful playa del Silencio, north Spain, on our travel blog Ze Caillou

Then, direction Otur, beautiful beach, and rock faces that seem to create many small caves. No waves so we leave …

Yoga session on the Otur surf beach in Asturia, north spain

After, we went to the famous Praia das Catedrais (easily accessible, and so a bit too crowded for us). 1st and only recommendation, go there at low tide. We did not know it, but at high tide, even if the landscapes remain beautiful … we do not see the arches so known!

Finally we went to the Praia de Esteiro. Shower on the beach, water point, nice view. Not the best spot, but quiet and not far from the beach by foot.

D/ A coruna, big city of Galicia

141 paseo maritimo alcalde francisco vazquez, 15002 acoruna
In order to visit the city A coruna, we parked our Volkswagen T4 in the Coruna aquarium’s parking. By the sea, with a beautiful view on the coast. Not very far from the center by foot (5 to 10 minutes). No service but staying overnight is allowed and seems pretty safe.

A coruna is a pleasant city, seafront, numerous bars and restaurants, especially on the Plaza Maria Pita. Many pedestrian streets and shops of all kinds. Don’t miss the aquarium next door (you can already see seals from the parking) and the Torre de Hercules …

Having tapas on the Maria Pita plaza in Acoruna in Galicia, north of spain

E/ Santiago de Compostela, full of surprises

15705 santiago de compostela, spain
After seeing many brave pilgrims (walkers) walking from the South of France and crossing so many signs “Camino de Compostela” on our road, we could not pass by Santiago de Compostela.

After we parked in the university parking (a 15 mins walk from the center), we went to the holy city.
A ping pong later (yes in the park between the university and the center), we discovered the historical center, full of tourists. Despite that, we are lucky today, it is both:

  • The 40th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars film: Dark Vador’s speech, tribute to past actors on the main square.
  • And a Flamenco concert with Antonio Carmona. Great immersion into a festive and colorful South Spain. The city is pretty, all paved, and we where lucky. I really do not know if we would have liked as much the city without these unexpected surprises.

F/ Surf session on “Das Furnas” and “De patos” beaches

24 rua 4, 36340 nigran, spain

1st surf stop and beaches of the day in Playas das furnas towards Portugal. Very beautiful and large beach, many surf schools.

Afterwards, we continue down to Playa de Patos in Nigran further south. Still beautiful waves, we are more fortunate than last week. There is a water point and a few nice bars a few steps away.

Surf spot of the Playa de Patos close to Vigo in Galicia on the Spanish north coast, ze caillou

Visiting the north of Spain with a dog

We encountered very little problem with Huaca, our animal on the Spanish north coast. Dogs are very well accepted almost everywhere. Ok, we could not visit Guggenheim with our pet (which sounds logic, imagine what would arrive if one of them pee on a Banksi masterpiece…). However, we were able to shop at Decathlon Bilbao with Huaca with a leash without any problems! 😊

Find on our travel blog our posts about our European roadtrip!

Find our latest article “Take a Flamenco class in Spain

You enjoy the sound of our video? Listen the playlist special Spain we prepared for you on our Youtube channel.


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