Uncover the local delicacies and the local character of Northern Spain

Explore the sights, sounds and tastes of northern Spain on this food-led adventure. Immerse yourself in culture, history and cuisine as you taste local produce at Santa Catarina Market, whip up Catalan specialties in a cooking class and wander the stunning Gothic Quarter. Enjoy the wealth of tapas bars in Logrono, explore the medieval streets and underground wine caves of Laguardia. Venture north to one of Spain’s most celebrated cities, San Sebastian, where beautiful beaches, historic buildings and a thriving food and arts scene bask together under a beaming sun. Experience a traditional Asturian sidreria (cider house) near Oviedo, attend a centuries' old farmers market near the Picos de Europa National Park and devour fresh seafood on the coast in Galicia. End your gastronomic pilgrimage in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.

Barcelona, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


  • Be surrounded by the culture of Catalan cooking (and by jamon hanging from the ceiling) in Barcelona’s many delis
  • Local, fresh produce is at the heart of Catalan food – get a chef’s insight into the best ingredients at Santa Caterina market
  • Logrono is filled with excellent taperias, each with their own speciality, and there’s little better than watching the master of mushrooms at Bar Soriano prepare hundreds of buttery, garlicky wild mushrooms for you to feast on during a tapas crawl
  • Sip a glass of famous Rioja in the unique surrounds of Laguardia – in the centuries old cellars beneath the medieval walled town
  • A walk in the epic Picos de National Park not only gives you stunning views of this Alpine-esque landscape, but also works off the delicious food and up a new appetite
  • Uncover the local specialties of Asturia and Galicia, sampling true Asturian cider poured in the traditional style, and eating fresh Galician mussels straight from the sea in A Coruna
  • Few places know how to do a farmers market better than Potes – it’s been happening here in the same spot since the 1200s


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Hola! Welcome to Spain. Barcelona's quirky character and fabulous Catalan cuisine mixes seamlessly with a groundbreaking art scene, Gothic architecture, superb dining and a non-stop nightlife, making it a city you won't soon forget. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them at this meeting. For those who arrive early, perhaps explore the streets of the old Gothic Quarter, check out the Picasso Museum, wander the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard of La Rambla, or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour. Celebrate the start of your Real Food Adventure by diving straight into the rhythm of Barcelona; sip a locally produced cava in a local bar and if you choose why not continue on a tapas crawl through rustic Catalan dishes. Try traditional satisfying bites likes croquettes, fresh anchovy fillets lightly pickled in vinegar with salt and garlic or chargrilled aubergines with peppers and onions.
This morning, get ready for a truly authentic introduction to Catalan cuisine with a passionate Barcelona foodie and respected chef. Catalan cuisine is strongly based in the Mediterranean tradition, featuring fresh local ingredients like tomato, eggplant, garlic, capsicum. Intensely flavoured fish including sardines, anchovy and salted cod and a myriad of pork products are also celebrated within Catalan food culture. Be sure to seek out favourites like botifarra (pork sausage) or faves a la catalana (broad beans with Iberian ham). Taste your way through the stalls of Santa Catarina Market, a huge trove of local produce beneath a colourful, undulating roof, and pick up some ingredients for a cooking demonstration. Hang out with the locals as they select the best piece of meat, feel for the crispest vegetable and choose the freshest seafood that they’ll transform in to big weekend family meals. Then, whip up Catalonia specialties, perhaps salt cod salad or crema catalana, in the mouth-watering cooking class. Sit down to a leisurely lunch accompanied by a glass or two of wine from the nearby Penedes region. Spend the afternoon exploring the city for the gorgeous local flavours around every corner or get cultural with some Gaudi at the Casa Mila or La Sagrada Familia. A stop at the Cathedral, possibly the most iconic landmark in this city rich with famous sights, is highly recommended. Pre-book your tickets online to avoid the long queues. Maybe get lost in the mysterious alleys of the Gothic Quarter and finish the day with a sip of red wine from a porro – a traditional glass pitcher.
Ride the rails east to the prized vineyards of La Rioja wine region and Logrono (approximately 3.5 hours). The town sits on the banks of the Ebro river and is the capital of Spain’s most renowned wine region. It also boast one of the most distinguished culinary traditions in the county, is home to some of the best tapas bars in the whole of Spain, all crammed into its small medieval centre. Stroll the streets of this favourite stop for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela, a handsome city of medieval fortifications, where much work is being done to restore it to it’s full glory. This evening you’ll go on a walking tour of the Old Quarter, wandering down Calla del Laurel and the 60 or so taperias (tapas bars) that line the way. This is the perfect opportunity to sample the regional delicacies - snack on each bars’ individual speciality, maybe grilled chorizo or wild mushrooms, and wash them down with a glass of the region’s famous red.
This morning you’ll stop past the Logrono market and select some provisions, all grown or made within a few kilometres of town, for a picnic lunch. Then take a local bus (approximately 30 minutes) and go back in time in the historic walled town of Laguardia, perched atop a rock foundation. This is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain. The entire centre of Laguardia is traffic free as underground lies a maze of tunnels and caves, used to make and store wine for centuries. Here you’ll tour Laguardia's wine caves and then enjoy a guided tasting through some of the region's distinct varietals. If the weather’s on your side, stroll through enchanting vineyards and learn what goes on behind the scenes of a winery. Relax with a picnic among vines famous for tempranillo and drink from a traditional goatskin bag. Later in the afternoon, catch a bus (approximately 2 hours) to the stunning seaside San Sebastian, jewel of the Basque country and a city obsessed with food. This is the home of some of the world’s best restaurants, most experimental chefs and a distinct food culture all its own. Take an orientation tour of the Parte Vieja (Old Town), a mix of alleyways wedged between the bay and the Urumea River. This evening why not hit the neighbourhood streets for a txikiteo of pinxtos, a Basque-style tapas crawl that will fill the senses – and stomach – with the unique tastes of the region. Don’t forget to wash them down with txakoli, a slightly fizzy white wine that’s the region’s signature drop.
One of the secrets to the success of San Sebastian’s food is that it’s always been based around high quality, local ingredients in season. When you start with excellent raw materials, the results are always better. The best way to experience this first-hand it to visit the traditional food markets of La Bretxa or San Martin, and you’ll do just that this morning as you collect ingredients for a masterclass in Basque cuisine. In this hands-on cooking class you’ll learn how to prepare some of the signature dishes of the region, and you’ll also taste iconic Basque products including idiazabal, a smoked local Basque cheese, and txacoli wine. The afternoon is free you to explore the town or surrounding area more. Perhaps catch a cable car to Monte Igueldo for some truly spectacular views of this incredible city or take a trip along the winding coast to the nearby small fishing village of Getaria. Maybe discover San Sebastian’s beaches, shops and charismatic streets, or dive into pixtos bars that range from the traditional to the experimental, seeking out some of the nectarous local cider. If feeling indulgent then perhaps treat yourself to one of the local restaurants that’s in the top 20 in the world and their Michelin-starred chefs, where the food is built on the foundation of the region’s traditional dishes but brought up to date with dazzling technique and invention.
Continue east to Bilbao (approximately 1 hour), a city that was revitalised by the arrival of the Guggenheim. Spend some free time visiting Frank Gehry’s iconic sweeping metal building and the artistic treasures housed inside and out. The skyline here has changed rapidly since the arrival of the museum, this industrial city now boasting over 40 landmarks for architecture and design enthusiasts. After lunch, climb by bus (approximately 3 hours) up to the Picos de Europa National Park. The park is not what many people picture as Spain; it’s an Alpine landscape, high, cool, lush and green, with forests, deep gorges through the cliffs, and grassland dotted with photogenic toffee-coloured cows. Covering some 647 square kilometres, Picos de Europa is Spain's second largest national park and spans across the three provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon. The park is made up of the three large massifs - Andara, Urrielles and Cornión. Work up an appetite for tonight’s meal with a walk through this stunning landscape (approximately 2 hours). For dinner, a classic Asturian dish is on the menu. Fabada asturiana is a rich, hearty stew of black pudding, pork shoulder, chorizo and haricot beans (fabada). Enjoy a cooking demonstration followed by your own fabada tasting. Be sure to enjoy your dinner with some crusty bread and a glass of Asturian cider.
This morning take a short trip to the beautiful small mountain town of Potes, nestled in the Picos de Europa National Park in the Cantabria province. Bordered by stunning ancient monasteries, Potes is brimming with centuries of history, and is a quaint tapestry of bridges, narrow winding streets and splendid old houses. You will arrive in time to experience the wonderful weekly food market. With some documents dating the market back to 1291, this is considered one of the oldest markets in Spain. Enjoy a market brunch of Cantabrian products purchased from the stallholders. Depending on the season, you may get to savour locally grown apples, pears, cherries, walnuts, chestnuts and Cantabrian cheeses such as 'Picón Bejes-Tresviso' and 'Quesucos'. On the way to Oviedo, the ancient capital of the region, drive to the charming hillside village of Arenas de Cabrales (approximately 1 hour). Here there’s the opportunity to taste famous Cabrales cheese, a natural blue cheese produced by rural farmers using a traditional artisan method. Enter the otherworldly caves of Arenas de Cabrales and discover the art of making cheese beneath the earth. Next, stop past an Asturian cider house, the traditional drink of the region. It is made from locally-grown apples and has been since the Roman era. Enjoy a glass in the traditional local style, from a bottle held high over the head into a glass at the knee to produce natural carbonation. You will then arrive in Oviedo by later afternoon (approximately 1.5 hours).
Take a guide walk around the handsome city of Oviedo, with its unique personality, quaint pre-Romanesque churches, elegant streetscapes, fine monuments and grand houses built by those who sailed to the New World and returned wonderfully rich. At the heart of the town sits the impressive Gothic San Salvador Cathedral, built between the 14th and 16th centuries and home to a staggeringly elaborate altarpiece. You’ll also enjoy an introduction to wonderful local products of Asturia at El Fontan market, home to excellent fish stalls beneath a canopy of wrought-iron and glass. This afternoon is free for your own exploration. Perhaps take a trip up to the port city of Gijon for fresh seafood and sweet-filled bakeries, or the attractive fishing village of Luanco for a relaxing drink on the promenade. For dinner, consider heading for Calle de la Gascona, which is lined with lively sidrerias (cider houses) serving a wide range of raciones (tasting plates) of dishes like seafood, ox T-bone, local lobster or red sea scorpionfish mousse.
This morning, take a bus to A Coruna in the region of Galicia (approximately 3.5 hours), taking in some of the spectacular Galician coastline. A Coruna is an important port city. Here you will visit the impressive fish market in the Praza de Lugo, learning about the Galician mussel industry from a local seafood expert. You’ll then lunch on delicious fresh mussels at a nearby café (there will be alternate meals available for non-seafood eaters). Then, like thousands of pilgrims before you, end your journey in the capital of Galicia and, for the faithful, the final resting place of the apostle St James (approximately 30 minutes). The beautiful old city of Santiago de Compostela holds many delights within its walls, all overseen by the mighty cathedral. Take a walk around the Old District lit up at night, through the arcaded stone streets, the spacious Praza del Obradoiro and past the Archbishop’s imposing palace. Santiago is home to more than just pilgrims, with the large population of students from the university enhancing the city’s nightlife. Perhaps spend the final night of your adventure in one of the cafes, bars or tapas restaurants in the old town.
You will finish this Northern Spain adventure on a gastronomic high with a morning tasting tour around some of the city's best foodie gems, including the celebrated Mercado de Abastos. Toast the end of the trip with a glass of wine. The Real Food Adventure Northern Spain will conclude at midday. You may leave your luggage at the hotel until the conclusion of the trip. If you wish to extend your stay in Santiago de Compostela, additional accommodation is available. Please contact your booking agent for further information.
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3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Public bus, Taxi, Train, Van
Hotel (9 nights)
Included activities
  • Barcelona - Cava or Vermouth tasting
  • Santa Caterina Market Tour - Barcelona
  • Logrono - Tapas Crawl
  • La Guardia - Wine Tasting
  • San Sebastian - Basque Cooking Class
  • Picos de Europa - Cooking demonstration and Fabada dinner
  • Picos de Europa - National Park visit
  • Potes - Market visit and brunch
  • Arenas de Cabrales - Cheese tasting
  • Oviedo - Asturian Cider House visit and tasting
  • Oviedo - Guided walk
  • A Coruna - Fish market visit and seafood lunch
  • Santiago de Compostela - Market visit and tasting tour


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Trip notes

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Real Food Adventure - Northern Spain , September 2016

Real Food Adventure - Northern Spain , September 2016