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'Budget' Michelin tour: What to see and where to eat (northern Spain)
Friday, October 6, 2023 @ 10:19 PM

WHEN the summer reaches its hottest weeks, the idea of cooler climates suddenly becomes more attractive. And although Spain generally cannot offer temperatures similar to northern Scandinavia, not everywhere in the country sees the mercury pushing the 40ºC mark in July, August and September.

Northern Spain's rugged greenery is in total contrast to the landscape of the Costas and islands. This picture shows part of Cantabria's coast, between Comillas and Santander (photo: Samantha Kett/Dawn Dear)

These months are the ideal time to head for mainland Spain's northernmost regions – the ones where the thermometer drops into double figures below zero on winter nights, and where you need thermal underwear and the heating on even in early autumn.

You'll be treated to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe – and be prepared for all your pre-conceived ideas about what Spain looks and feels like to be blown away (literally, in the more exposed rural areas at high altitudes, where it can get a bit blustery at times). Palm trees and cacti belong in the south, on the Mediterranean, and on the islands; Spain's north is an endless carpet of green and gold, closer in appearance to Switzerland, France, Ireland and the UK than to the sun-drenched beaches of the summer holiday brochures.

If you've read our previous two articles on 'budget Michelin tours' in the south, east and islands and in Madrid and inland Spain, you'll know that wherever in the country you travel, you'll be near a major global attraction or a lesser-known hidden gem - or both – and a top gourmet restaurant you can actually afford to eat in.

That's because the Michelin 'Bib Gourmand' section is made up of award-winning restaurants with a maximum price per head of €35, based upon three courses, dessert included, and one drink.

Fine dining doesn't have to cost a fortune if you're near a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant (photo:

So, if you just have one course and a drink, you can dine Michelin-style for even less.

A number of these eateries are also hotels, which takes some of the organising out of your trip for you.

Given that you're unlikely to travel hundreds of kilometres across Spain purely for the dining-out opportunities – great though they may be – our comprehensive three guides offer you an overview of what to see and do in every part of the country, and where to get a 'Bib Gourmand' meal nearby.

Although if none of the regions featured here are cold....


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