To stay in Paradores in Northern Spain is like traveling back in time. In this article, we explain what a Parador is, and how to find and easily book them. Finally, we’ll show you some of the best Paradores in Northern Spain. Let’s get started.
What is a Parador?
Paradores de Turismo de España is a state-owned chain of luxury hotels throughout Spain, from the Basque Country in Northern Spain to Andalusia in the south. A couple of hotels can also be found on the Canary Islands.
The word “Parador” comes from the Spanish verb parar, to make a stop. A “golden stop” along the way, simply put.
History of Paradores
As you probably know, the Iberian Peninsula has a long history with numerous wars, battles, and conflicts. Today, there are many historical treasures left, such as castles, palaces, old mansions, monasteries, and other magnificent buildings, often located in areas with spectacular nature.
Around one hundred years ago the leaders of Spain started thinking about what to do with all these buildings. Just the maintenance costed huge sums, and of course, they didn’t just want to leave them abandoned.
Spain’s chief of tourism got a brilliant idea – and immediately got the approval of King Alfonso XIII. These historic buildings were to be restored and serve as hostels, and the revenue would go to the maintenance.
At the same time, this would benefit tourism and attract visitors to the Iberian Peninsula. In 1929 the first Parador hotel opened its doors in the Gredos mountains outside of Madrid.
How many Parador hotels are there in Spain?
When this article was written, there were 94 Parador hotels across Spain, ranging from 3 to 5 stars. The hotels have been carefully refurbished, following current regulations, to meet high standard with all amenities.
Although most of them are old historic buildings, there are some exceptions. Some Paradores can be more modern, but almost always located in fantastic nature. The hotels – old ones and more modern – sometimes have a pool and spa, where you can take different treatments and just relax.
Staying in a Parador is a great experience – enjoy the beautiful buildings, the luxury and comfort, admire all the historic objects and have a coffee in a lush courtyard.
In this video you can see how one of these Parador hotels can look:
Many of the hotels have amazing restaurants with renowned chefs. The ingredients are mostly local, and the dishes are often classic, but more innovative plates can sometimes be found on the menu. The wine list is also usually really good. Dining at a Parador is a great way to get to know the local cuisine.
Prices and booking
By now you might be wondering if it is expensive to stay in a Parador hotel. The answer is, no, not really. Depending on the room, the region and the season the prices usually start from €100 a night.
If you are over 55 years of age, you can also enjoy discounts during certain seasons or promotions.
In some cases, you can book with “Avios” that can be collected through the loyalty programs of the Oneworld Alliance (with, for example, Iberia, Vueling, and British Airways). This is ideal for visitors that might be traveling a lot and accumulating points.
To find a perfect Parador hotel for your trip, see prices, offers and book directly online, go to the official website.
Car holiday and Paradores
Staying at Paradores during a car holiday in Northern Spain is a great idea. For example, you can spend a few nights in a traditional Casa Rural, a few nights in different Parador hotels, and also find other accommodation.
The Parador hotels are often located outside the cities, in villages or breathtaking nature areas. Travel from Parador to Parador by car and experience Northern Spain at the same time.
On the official website, you can also get suggestions on routes with attractions/activities and see which Parador hotels are recommended. For example, the following route along the green coast from Limpias to Vilalba.
12 magical Paradors in Northern Spain
By now, you know what a Parador is, a little of its history, and how to find and book them. You are probably interested in the Northern part of Spain, so here are 12 tips on some of the best Paradores in Northern Spain:
Parador de Santiago de Compostela
This hotel in Santiago de Compostela is one of the best Paradores in Northern Spain. It is located on the main square of Obradoiro, just on the left side of the mighty Cathedral, which is the final destination of the Camino de Santiago.
The building, which was constructed in 1499 as a pilgrimage hospital, is considered one of the oldest hotels in the world.
Parador de Baiona
In southern Rías Baíxas – on the Peninsula of Monte Boi – you’ll find the Parador de Baiona, which is an old fortress.
Wake up with views over the Atlantic Ocean, soak in the historic atmosphere, go to the beaches, visit the Cíes Islands and enjoy delicious seafood in the evening. This Parador is perfect for a romantic get-away!
Parador de Hondarribia
The Parador hotel in Hondarribia, a fortress dating back to the 9th century, sits beautifully on the Bay of Biscay. Here you will find beautiful arches, thick stone walls, a lush patio and beautiful views of the sea.
The coastal city of Hondarribia is also one of the best destinations in Northern Spain and filled with lively bars, colorful houses, and old traditions. Stay at this hotel and discover the fascinating Basque Country!
Parador de Santillana Gil Blas
In one of Spain’s most beautiful villages, Santillana del Mar, you’ll find this Parador hotel, which is an old palace. Stay here and stroll around the cobbled streets, which are closed for traffic, and discover the historic sights.
Just 2 km outside Santillana del Mar you can also visit the famous paintings in the Cave of Altamira.
Parador de Corias
This Parador hotel, located in the western part of Asturias, is an ancient monastery that has been declared “of historic interest” by the Spanish government.
Just outside the door, you are greeted by a lush valley where the river of Narcea quietly flows by. After a day of hiking, relax in the indoor pool and spa!
Parador de Pontevedra
This Parador is located in the Old Town of Pontevedra and is an old palace. The inside exudes extravagance, and the beautiful city of Pontevedra with its churches, tapas bars, and small squares awaits to be explored outside.
If you are traveling by car you can also visit some of Galicia’s most beautiful beaches in the nearby “fjord”.
Parador de León
Located right on the Camino, the Parador of San Marcos in León is a 5-star luxury hotel. The impressive facade of this 16th-century building is filled with beautiful sculptures. Inside the hotel, there is a library, a monastery, and a restaurant.
Note: at the moment, this Parador is closed for renovation.
Parador de Cardona
The Parador de Cardona in Catalonia is a beautiful medieval castle, which looks out over the idyllic village of Cardona from a huge rock. Experience the castle’s interior with its gothic elements, towers, and thick stone walls. Staying here is like traveling back to the Middle Ages!
Cardona, located approx. 100 km northeast of Barcelona is a great destination that offers a lot.
Parador de Vielha
Are you thinking of visiting the Pyrenees? Then you should stay at the Parador de Vielha, which is found in the beautiful Aran Valley. Have breakfast on the balcony while looking out over the impressive mountains!
In the winter you can go skiing nearby, and during the summer this is one of Northern Spain’s best places for hiking.
Parador de Tui
Just on the Spanish-Portuguese border in Tui, this Parador sits beautifully on the riverbed of Rio Miño. The hotel is an old traditional Galician mansion, a so-called pazo, and a great starting point for hiking and kayaking.
You can also eat amazing in this area, try dishes from both the Spanish and the Portuguese cuisine.
Parador de Fuente Dé
Fancy staying in a place surrounded by spectacular nature during your vacation? If that is the case, then this is exactly the right place for you.
In the middle of the National Park of Picos de Europa, you’ll find this Parador beneath breathtaking peaks. Take the Cable Car up to the massif and enjoy incredible views and fabulous hiking.
Don’t forget to try delicacies such as the stew Cocido Lebaniego, cider, local cheese, and visit rustic mountain villages.
Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada
In the village of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, on the Camino Francés, there is this 12th-century Parador, which used to be a pilgrimage hospital.
Try staying here during a visit to the wine region of La Rioja. Or maybe you are walking the Camino de Santiago? Spoil yourself and get a night in this Parador.
Have you stayed in a Parador in Northern Spain? How was it? Let us know in the comment section below.