Extending from the Pyrenees Mountains border with France to the Atlantic Ocean, this
400-mile area should be labeled "Hidden Spain". Northern Spain is truly one of the least known areas to Americans and brims with gems that slightly more adventurous travelers seek mountain peaks and national parks, the first examples of human artistic expression in the Caves of Altamira, the magnificent fjords of Galicia and the fervor of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela. Of course, the rich green foliage and plentiful rain helped to give "Green Spain" its name.
Green Spain consists of the Northern top of Spain. Here is where the Moors who took over Spain for 800 years did not succeed. The Romans and Christians won their land and kept it. Therefore, a tourist will find many Roman ruins and many small museums with fantastic relics. This northern part of Spain is almost 450 miles across the top of the county. And, yes, it is "green". Due to the location north of the upper mountain range, moister from the seas make the land very green and fertile.
The most famous regions are the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia in the far northwest corner of the country. This area is one of the holiest places in Christendom. St. James stories are everywhere. From the time of Christ to this very day, thousands of pilgrims from all faiths and all languages walk to path across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela where St. James is believed to be buried.
Galicia is more Gallic in character. Many people from Ireland emigrated to the northwestern tip of Spain.
While in the far northeast corner, Basque, you will find more of a French influence.
If you have the time or are going back a second time to Spain, you must visit Northern Green Spain. There are very few tourist, great food (seafood) fantastic wine (mostly white), small village hotels/inns and plenty of history. Bilbao hosts the famous Guggenheim Museum. This is a must to see.
The landscape is so different than the rest of Spain. It does rain a lot so take rain gear.