When planning a trip anywhere, the most important decision you make is where to spend the night. A dream holiday on a secluded island will not make the cut if you are sleeping in a tent the entire time. Luckily, we do not supply tents on our tours of Northern Spain, we provide Paradors instead.
Paradors Northern Spain, a network of exclusive establishments, has been serving the tourism industry here for almost a century and we are big fans.
With a collection of 97 hotels dotted throughout the Spanish countryside, the public company was created to promote the beauty of Spain, protect the historical and cultural heritage of the region and promote the local economy while encouraging tourists to care for the environment. It is therefore no surprise that they are loved by all.
The network of hotels have an average of 65 rooms, which allows for a more exclusive and personalised service, and are located in nine cities declared World Heritage Sites. Actually, more than half of the Paradors are located in monumental settings. Whether you are seeking to explore your curiosities in a historic building or castle, marvel at the architecture in a 12th century monastery or relax and unwind immersed in nature, there is a Parador to suit your every whim.
Paradores de Turismo is committed to the preservation and enjoyment of natural spaces in Spain, which is why most of the hotels are historically old buildings - a place where you can feel the history of Spain oozing from every chandelier - and a chance for the company to maintain Historic-Artistic Heritage and continue its commitment to the natural, economic and historical environment.
You see, this network of hotel establishments has not just perfected preserving historical monuments in Spain, but they have also perfected exclusive, luxurious accommodation that ensures guests feel like royalty, whilst they also contribute to Spanish tourism’s sustainable development. It’s a win win.
With establishments in all the Autonomous Communities (with the exception of the Balearic Islands), Paradores de Turismo is the leading hotel chain for those seeking a luxury, cultural experience in rural Spain.
At Eat Northern Spain, we mirror that ethos. Our main goal since our conception in 2011 was to take our clients on authentic, culinary tours in the Spanish countryside. We pride ourselves on exclusive, tailor-made tours that immerse travellers into the real, authentic Spain and provide once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences. That is why we have been taking clients to Paradors since the very beginning.
With so many establishments, it is hard to choose favourites, but we have selected a handful that would make a stunning tour. Allow us to introduce you to 10 Paradors, located in the countryside of Northern Spain. All could be incorporated into a beautiful tour starting from Madrid, or select your favourites and we can tailor-make an itinerary just for you.
Parador de la Granja
A picturesque town just 11 km from Segovia, the Royal Residence of La Granja consists of two historic buildings: the Infant House and the Civil Guard Barracks.
Both built by Charles III in the 18th century, the original intention for the Infant House was to cater to Charles’ sons, Gabriel and Antonio de Borbón and Saxony.
The Barracks have now been transformed into a modern convention centre, located just 55 minutes from the city of Madrid. With 16 meeting rooms and a capacity of over 600, the venue is bright and comfortable, making it the perfect spot to connect and build relationships.
The restoration of the old Infant House was long and arduous, but resulted in a beautiful hotel in the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains, that celebrates the uniqueness of the original building. This extensive refurbishment has created a spectacular Parador that allows you to fully appreciate how enchanting La Granja really is.
Paradors Northern Spain may be placed in some of the oldest buildings in Spain, but that does not mean guests have to miss out on luxury. Parador de La Granja has modern facilities, including a spa and large, well-equipped guest rooms. Not to mention, it is near the Royal Palace of La Granja, so guests can take in the elegant beauty of the gardens and fountains while enjoying an afternoon stroll.
A perfect location, steeped in history. A stay here will be hard to forget.
Parador de Lerma
Paradors Northern Spain that were once Palaces are our favourite. The incredible 17th century Ducal Palace has been transformed into a striking hotel in the upper part of the city. Parador de Lerma boasts a central courtyard surrounded by columned galleries, elegant interiors and lighting to perfectly set the mood for a relaxed and unforgettable experience (made even more majestic at night).
Treasures ripe for exploring close by: the medieval quarter, Arch, Cárcel Bridge, San Blas Convent, Santo Domingo Monastery, Pasadizo del Duque (Duke's Passage) and former collegiate church of San Pedro.
In fact, the entire area around Lerma is well worth a visit. Covarrubias is a beautiful village close by, with only 640 inhabitants, it was built in the year 987 and may convince you that you are still in the Middle Ages. While the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos is only a 30 minute car ride away and dates back to the 7th century.
A stroll around these areas will see you walking into biblical times.
Parador de Olite
Hidden within the ancient stone walls of Palace-Castle of Olite, the same walls that protect medieval treasures, is the town’s impressive Parador.
Declared a national monument, Paradors Northern Spain cannot be any more exclusive than this hidden gem. A fantastic example of Gothic architecture in Navarre, the palace is home to a number of guest rooms, common areas and stained class windows alongside characteristic medieval features. This contrast of old and new is what makes the location so captivating.
Once immersed within the palace walls of Parador de Olite, prepare to be overwhelmed with a sense of tranquility as you acclimatise to this peaceful oasis.
Beyond the palace is the enchanting town of Olite. Walk through the narrow streets and take a moment to visit Oliva Monastery, where Cistercian monks may be taking a stroll or tour the local wineries, where the Mediterrannean climate provides the perfect conditions for growing grapes.
No trip to Olite would be complete without sampling their exquisite vintages.
In addition, the town holds a Medieval Fair every summer. Decked with banners, shields and emblems. Kings, Queens, Magicians, Wizards, Archers and Jugglers will gather together and transport the city back to the Middle Ages for one magical weekend.
Parador de Hondarribia
Spend the night in a medieval fortress, also known as the Castle of Charles V.
Parador de Hondarribia is as captivating as the town itself. With bare stone walls that frame the courtyard, spaces adorned with arches, coffered ceiling and original wrought iron, the views here go as far as the coast of France.
This Paradors Northern Spain dates back to the 10th century and the remnants of thick, high walls around the town guards the treasures that reside in the old quarter.
Even outside the walls, the seaside village boasts an indescribable beauty, with eye-catching houses and lively taverns. Hondarribia sets a high bar for every other stop on the Bay of Biscay Coast. Whether you are looking to relax on a sandy beach, hike to the top of a mountain or try your hand at a new sport, Hondarribia has it all. Even the golfing enthusiasts among us will be overjoyed with the two courses in town: Justiz Golf and Real Club de Golf.
There are many pleasures you won’t want to miss in life and strolling along the cobbled streets of Hondarribia, to the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, is definitely one of them.
Parador de Santillana Gil Blas
Grand doors open to reveal a stunning guest room with bright, open spaces and a cosy interior that encompasses wooden floors and an elegant traditional décor. Welcome to Parador de Santillana Gil Blas.
Dating back to the 8th century, the town has been declared a national monument and the hotel is not far off. This Paradors Northern Spain includes the Barreda-Bracho family’s beautiful mansion and takes prime position on a square in Santillana del Mar.
The historic town centre is pedestrian only, meaning there will not be any cars spoiling your view of the district’s preserved character. Highlights include: the Casa de la Plaza (House of the Square); the statue Homenaje al hombre de Altamira (Homage to the Man of Altamira); the Casa del Águila (House of the Eagle); and of course the town hall building.
No visit here would be complete without a wander through the main square and a moment to explore the backroads, where this charming Cantabrian town will show its true colours: cobblestones, monuments and houses built centuries ago still standing in all their glory.
Just 2km away in Santillana del Mar Zoo, a perfect day out for those travelling with children (and for adult animal-lovers too).
Parador de Cangas de Onís
The Paradors Northern Spain with the best view. Perched on the banks of the Sella River with panoramic vistas of Picos de Europa National Park is Parador de Cangas de Onís.
This incomparably beautiful spot was once the San Pedro de Villanueva Monastery and has been revitalised into a spectacular hotel with warm, elegant decor and a riverside garden that could make all wedding dreams a reality.
Indulge yourself in this idyllic spot with the very best food and wines, beautiful architecture and spectacular rooms that boast a contrast of stone and wood.
The town of Cangas de Onís also happens to be the ideal starting point for a tour of Picos de Europa National Park, the Covadonga Lakes and the charming coastal towns nearby. The mountains of Asturias are home to white beaches and hidden caves with ageing cheese, while a hiking trail through Cares, a spectacular 12km canyon provides a thrilling morning for the adventure-seekers among us.
Picture postcard scenery doesn’t come better than this region of Northern Spain and the endless opportunities nearby would turn a trip here into one never-ending adventure.
Parador de Corias
Awarded by Condé Nast Traveller Awards as the best non-urban hotel in Spain, Parador de Corias is situated in the beautiful town of Cangas del Narcea, Asturias.
The spectacular monastery turned boutique hotel has been declared a National Historical-Artistic Monument and the building’s archaeological remains can be found in the basement museum. With an original structure that dates back to the 11th century, the views from the guest rooms stretch out to the mountain landscape and Narcea River.
Surrounded by magical forests and rural landscapes, changing colour for each season, this example of Paradors Northern Spain allows guests to indulge in the extensive natural beauty of the surroundings.
The Tuscan-style church boasts a large baroque altarpiece and is well worth a visit, as is the Roman Bridge located next door. The nearby trails will guide you to a number of stunning spots, including the Fuentes Nature Reserve and Muniellos Reserve, where you can go in search of brown bears and capercaillies.
Parador de San Marcos in León
Aptly labelled one of the greatest architectural gems of Leon, the convent of San Marcos has also been lovingly restored into a five-star luxury hotel, Parador de León.
Arguably one of the most important monuments of the Spanish Renaissance, Paradors Northern Spain chose wisely with this masterpiece and the religious and historical carvings on the 100 metre long facade are worthy of a few moments.
The original building was taken down in the 16th century and they began working on the current structure in 1515, which has 41 guest rooms and several event rooms. Paintings, carvings and tapestries fill the public rooms and the restaurant specialises in delicious, local delicacies.
A tour of León would not be complete without stopping by the cathedral (built on the site of the second century Roman baths), the Royal Church of San Isidoro, the archaeological museum and the ‘Casa de Botines’ by Gaudi.
Parador de Santo Estevo
The heroic wine region, Ribeira Sacra (meaning holy river bank), is a uniquely breathtaking landscape in inland Galicia. Home to the Miño and Sil rivers, nestled within the nearby woods stands Parador de Santo Estevo, a former monastery.
Like all Paradors Northern Spain, history oozes from Santo Estevo, which is believed to date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. The building has beautiful examples of baroque and romanesque styles, which can all be easily distinguished in the three breathtaking cloisters: one Gothic, one Romanesque and one Renaissance. It would be easy to spend an evening here, subdued by the peaceful atmosphere and imagining the soft sounds of chanting monks.
Home to 77 guest rooms, each with views overlooking the woods and nearby river, Parador de Santo Estevo also boasts a terrace restaurant, spacious function rooms, beautiful gardens and an exclusive spa.
The surrounding areas offer a chance to escape from the tourist crowds and immerse yourself into the peaceful ambience of the Spanish countryside. There are beautiful rivers to navigate down, picture postcard views, churches and monasteries dating back to the 12th century and magical forests filled to the brim with oaks and chestnuts.
Parador de Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela marks the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route (also known as the Way of St. James) and the beginning of an unforgettable experience in the oldest hotel in Spain, Parador de Santiago.
It is one of the most visited capitals, where millions of pilgrims reach the emblem of their journey and nestled on Obradoiro Square, right next to the town’s Gothic cathedral, stands our accommodation of choice. The most luxurious hotel in the Paradores collection, Parador de Santiago is brimming with a unique blend of history, art and tradition.
Originally built as a Royal Hospital in 1499 to accommodate travelling pilgrims, the building continues to welcome visitors for a truly unique and exclusive visit. What to expect: four beautiful cloisters; elegant rooms that do not skimp on luxury; and an extravagant dining room that offers Galician style fish and meat alongside crème brûlée.
The moment you arrive in Santiago, you cannot miss the magic that fills the streets. Take a stroll through the historic district and marvel at churches, cathedrals and monasteries and the Renaissance Colegio de Fonseca (Fonseca School). Sample the local produce on an early morning trip to the Abastos Market, meet the locals at the beautiful maintained Alameda Park and enjoy the charm of this unforgettable city.
Eat Northern Spain have been tailor-making authentic, culinary tours through remote areas of Northern Spain since 2011. We are experts at sniffing out the very best food and wines, while encouraging our guests to immerse themselves in authentic, cultural experiences. Whether you are looking to visit one Parador in particular for a few days or are seeking a tour encompassing all 10 over a few weeks, get in touch to discover how we can craft a bespoke itinerary based on your particular interests.