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North West Spain Road Trip: A Unique Coastal Trip to Galicia


880 km



Recom. Days

Culture, Adventure

Trip type

Carlos Peñalba

Freelance travel writer and photographer who has lived in London and New York. He spent 18 months backpacking throughout Asia. His travel memoir The Year I Became a Nomad narrates his Asian adventures.

North West Spain Road Trip Itinerary: Bilbao to Porto

North West Spain Road Trip map itinerary

Google Maps

Head on a North West Spain road trip, an experience bound to be special. Spain's Atlantic coast is full of charming fishing villages and unspoilt beaches. Besides, food in Northern Spain is renowned for being one of the best in the country without being expensive. 

As your campervan heads west from Bilbao alongside the rugged coast, you’re greeted with views of the brave sea to the right and green mountains to the left. No buzzing Mediterranean coast here, but instead a rewarding combination of unspoilt nature, quaint villages, and historical sites.

For travellers looking for a unique trip, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia are the regions of Spain most promising.

If you're looking for an amazing end to a North West Spain Road Trip then this golden coastline is a must
Pick-up in
Bilbao Depot

San Vicente de la Barquera, a typical fishing village

San Vicente de la Barquera is one of Cantabria´s most beautiful villages. It’s a historical fishing village located next to the green slopes of Oyambre National Park. 

The village’s old quarter has been declared a Historical Site. San Vicente’s famous estuary of sandy beaches makes an ideal first stop on this North West Spain road trip

Pick up your campervan in Bilbao and drive west to San Vicente through the excellent free A-8 motorway. Spend half a day visiting Santillana del Mar, one of Spain’s oldest and better-preserved villages.

Santillana is just 40 km away from San Vicente, and besides its charming stone houses, it’s mostly known for the Altamira Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Halfway between the two villages, Comillas is worth a short visit too. It’s a charming aristocratic villa set on rolling hills that shelter a secluded port and a beautiful beach.

Famous architect Antonio Gaudí built a modernist palace in Comillas, known as El Capricho (The Caprice). Kids will love its fairytale architecture.




Recom. Days

Main route





You can find Indie Campers RV rentals in more than 40 different cities and destinations across Europe.


Forestal Park Bilbao

Climb rocks and walk ropes before driving off

Santillana del Mar

Village of cobbled streets and medieval marvels


Old aristocratic villa with stunning architecture

Eat at

Las Redes


Good seafood, local institute

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Estación de Autobuses


Waterfront parking lot with motorhomes

Stay at

Parking las Hazas

Motorhome parking in Cobreces with facilities


Enjoy the Coast and Mountains of Ribadesella

The province of Asturias is famous for its wonderful landscapes. Ribadesella is a small coastal town ideal for exploring not only the coast, but also the nearby mountains. 

Picos de Europa National Park is less than an hour away, and offers several hiking routes suited for all fitness levels that start from the Covadonga Lakes.

Ribadesella is a great spot for enjoying the beach, strolling around its old streets, or kayaking on the Sella River.

From San Vicente de la Barquera, get back to the A-8 motorway and continue your North West Spain road trip until you meet the Ribadesella exit. The fishing village is split in half by the Sella river delta, forming the spectacular Santa Marina beach. 

Ribadesella´s old flamboyant architecture reminds us of the times when it was a buoyant town thanks to the Indianos, returning emigrants who had made their fortune in the Americas.




Recom. Days

Main route





You can find Indie Campers RV rentals in more than 40 different cities and destinations across Europe.


Cangas de Onis

Gateway to the mountains, don't miss its Roman bridge

Covadonga Lakes

Two glacial lakes surrounded by stunning scenery

Eat at

Sidreria el Tarteru


Typical local cider place

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Calle Marqueses de Argüelles


Public parking next to the river

Stay at

Ribadesella Motorhome Parking


Campervan area, 5 spots available


Amazing hilltop views in Castropol

Castropol is an enchanting fishing village that overlooks the river Eo’s estuary from the top of a hill with splendid views of the river mouth. The Eo’s Estuary is a protected nature reserve for its marine ecosystem, as it’s one of the most important wetlands in Northern Spain.

Located on the Northern Route of the Way of St James, Castropol is the last village of Asturias before this North West Spain road trip enters the Galicia region.

Just a few minutes away to the north of Castropol, Playa de Peñarronda is a gorgeous wild beach the shape of an elongated shell, a round rock in the centre lending the beach its name.

Across the bridge over the Eo River sits Ribadeo, Galicia´s very first town. From there, head west just 15 minutes in your campervan to reach one of Spain’s most famous beaches, Playa de la Catedrales (Beach of the Cathedrals). While pretty around the clock, visit the beach during low tide to fully appreciate its natural arches and caves.




Recom. Days

Main route





You can find Indie Campers RV rentals in more than 40 different cities and destinations across Europe.



Old Galician town just across the bridge

Playa de la Catedrales

Magnificent cliffs and picturesque sea caves

Eat at

Meson La Santina

Great views of the estuary

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Town center


public parking across town

Stay at

Tapia de Casariego

10 km away on the north coast


Wander the sacred streets of Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the Galicia region. The city’s origin is the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the Cathedral of Santiago and final destination of the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage route since the 9th century. 

Santiago’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes thousands of pilgrims and tourists to its well-preserved stone streets every year. It’s a must on any North West Spain road trip for culturalists, historians and travellers alike.

The cathedral is Santiago’s main attraction. Recently refurbished, it’s a stunning piece of architecture, particularly its towers and the Portico de la Gloria, the cathedral’s main entrance.

Because there’s much more to see in Santiago, consider giving your legs a break (and the kids a great time!) by hopping on the tiny tourist train that runs through the hilly town. Santiago is a university town, hence it’s very lively and offers plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.




Recom. Days

Main route





You can find Indie Campers RV rentals in more than 40 different cities and destinations across Europe.


The cathedral

Impressive architecture containing the tomb of St. James

Museum of the Galician People

Colourful puppets, pipe bags, and wooden clogs

Eat at

Abastos 2.0


Next to the food market

Casa Felisa


Beautiful garden

Bico de Xeado


Best artisan ice cream in town

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Parking Catedral


Big parking lot near cathedral

Stay at

Milladoiro Motorhome Parking


Bus to the center every 15 min


Breathe the Galician coast on Illa de Arousa

Your final destination on this North West Spain road trip, the Galician coast is truly unique. Its long and deep estuaries, locally called rias, are not only of extreme beauty but also hold some of the best seafood in the world. Galicia’s long coast is divided between the Rias Altas and Rias Baixas.

Ria de Arousa is one of the main rias in the lower section, and Illa de Arousa, the island at the centre of the estuary, is the perfect place to park your campervan and enjoy this privileged location.

On the southern tip of the island is Carreiron Natural Park, great for a short family stroll. There are some secluded beaches with pristine waters within the park. On the mainland, Cambados is an old town worth a visit.

From there, head south towards another island: Illa da Toxa, one of Galicia´s most famous tourist areas. Visit the nearby Lanzada beach and the O´Grove peninsula for a complete family day out.

Bonus: spend a day in Porto, Portugal before returning your van at the Porto depot!




Recom. Days

Main route





You can find Indie Campers RV rentals in more than 40 different cities and destinations across Europe.



Contemplate the Pazo de Fefiñanes, typical old Galician palace

O´Grove & Illa da Toxa

Take the kids to O´Grove Aquarium

Eat at

O' Triskel


All about seafood

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Parking AC


Parking just after crossing the bridge

Stay at

Camping Salinas


Next to Carreiron National Park

Drop-off in
Porto Depot

210 km

from Illa de Arousa



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