Meron Beach, Cantabria

Headwater - Self-Guided Cycling on Spain’s Green Coast

Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 3 reviews >
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Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays
Min age:

Explore Spain's Green Coast by bike

The northern coast of Spain boasts a spectacular green landscape and an appealingly mild climate, making it an ideal holiday destination for the summer months. This moderate rated self-guided trip uses small country roads close to the coast, which provide excellent views of the pretty coves and stunning beaches you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy on your route. Each night you will stay in a different location, including quaint fishing villages, beautiful mediaeval towns or historic city centres. The cuisine in this area is traditional, cheap and delicious, with mouth-wateringly fresh seafood, a plethora of different cheeses, and the opportunity to try Asturias' famous cider in Villaviciosa.


  • Cycle alongside stunning beaches of Northern Spain
  • Visit mediaeval towns and quaint seaside villages
  • Taste delicious traditional cuisine
  • Mild summer weather

Key information

  • 7 nights hotels with en suite facilities
  • 6 days cycling with luggage transfers, 95% paved, 5% unpaved
  • Undulating cycling with some smaller climbs
  • Self-guided holiday. Min. age 12 yrs
  • Countries visited: Spain

What's included

  • All breakfasts included
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All luggage transfers
  • Route notes and maps
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) Compulsory supplement
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request)
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Undulating cycling with some smaller climbs. 95% paved, 5% unpaved

Day by day breakdown
Day 252.0km/32.0miles
Day 332.0km/19.0miles
Day 448.0km/29.0miles
Day 538.0km/23.0miles
Day 645.0km/27.0miles
Day 742.0km/26.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Arrive Santander

    Make your own way to Santander. If you have time we recommend a stroll along the famous El Sardinero beach, to appreciate the timeless belle-époque elegance. Santander is the main city of the region of Cantabria, and offers an excellent combination of beautiful palaces and promenades, old cafes and stunning beaches, along with some of the best of the region's cuisine.

  • Day 2

    Cycle from Santander to Santillana del Mar, with an optional visit to the UNESCO Altamira Caves

    This morning you receive your bikes and set off, taking advantage of the cycle lanes out of the city. You follow the coast into the verdant countryside, eventually reaching the beautifully preserved town of Santillana del Mar, where you will spend your first night. This mediaeval town was developed around the Collegiate church of Santa Maria, and its small size makes it perfect for an evening walking tour.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Ride to San Vicente de la Barquera, enjoying a coffee en route at the pretty town of Comillas

    Take some time this morning to discover the famous Altamira Caves located next to Santillana. Here you will find some of Spain's finest prehistoric art; wonderful 13,000 - 35,000 year old paintings of bison, horses and other animals. Later you pedal to the town of Comillas, an excellent place to stop for lunch and spend some time exploring. Your day of cycling will end in the fishing village of San Vicente de la Barquera where there is an excellent choice of fresh seafood for dinner.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Pedal alongside sandy beaches entering the region of Astutrias; finish in Llanes, a traditional fishing port

    Today, all the cycling is along secondary roads near the coast, with the chance to enjoy some simply stunning beaches along the way. Cycle around the stunning headland of Pechón, which boasts magnificent views. As you enter the markedly different region of Asturias, the route continues between the unspoiled beaches and the backdrop of the dramatic Sierra de Cuera mountains. The beautiful coastal town of Llanes awaits you, with its small mediaeval core and bustling harbour.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Pass through a succession of quaint seaside towns today cycling towards Ribadesella

    Leaving Llanes you will cycle along the coast following a succession of wonderful sandy beaches, pretty coves and cliffs. Your day ends in the small port town of Ribadesella with another stunning beach. Ribadesella's old town has been declared a 'Property of Cultural Interest', and the Tito Bustillo caves nearby house some prehistoric cave art and are well worth a visit.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Enjoy a day of beautiful scenery and delicious local food ending in Villaviciosa

    This morning you will cycle past orchards; this is the area where much of Asturias' famous cider is produced. 'Sidra', is the traditional drink of Asturias and is made from locally-grown apples. It has been produced here since ancient times and is the perfect beverage to enjoy during the warm days of summer. Even more beautiful beaches and estuaries will eventually take you to the quaint town of Villaviciosa.

  • Day 7

    Cycle along small country roads following the coast to Gijon, with its lively food and drinks scene

    Your final day of cycling is along small country roads that hug the coastline, as you head to your final destination: the small city of Gijón. Gijón has emerged from its industrial past and has given itself a facelift with pedestrianised streets, parks, seafront walks, cultural attractions, and a very lively food and drinks scene.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Gijon

    The trip ends after breakfast in Gijón. Make your own way to the airport (either Asturias or Santander) or  spend some more time in this lively city.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts included.

You should expect great value for money and delicious traditional cuisine, which takes advantage of the excellent local produce; fresh fish, seafood, vegetables, and lots of meats and cheeses. You are very likely to come across lively street markets which provide an excellent opportunity to try the local fare. Cantabria and Asturias are both regions that celebrate the quality of their ingredients, and menus generally change on a seasonal basis. This is a fantastic area for seafood lovers; you will find crabs, barnacles and squid, with the most famous dishes being hake in green sauce or clam casserole. Meat lovers will not be disappointed - there are a range of mouth-watering stews to sample including the iconic 'Fabada Asturiana'; a rich stew made with typical large white beans. The most common drink available is Sidra (Cider) and this is generally poured by an expert server who raises the serving bottle high above their head to oxygenate the brew before drinking.


Situated on the Atlantic coast this region enjoys warm summer temperatures. Rainfall occurs mainly in April and November. Spring, from March to May, sees a high of 17°C in March, 17°C in April and 21°C in May. Light showers are fairly frequent. Summer, from June to September, enjoys long, hot days made pleasant by cooling sea breezes. The area sees an average high of 23°C in June, 25°C in July and 28°C in August before dropping to 26°C in September. Seawater temperature peaks at 24°C in August. Autumn sees an average high temperature of 21°C in October.

Is this trip for you?

Cycling conditions
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.
Activity Level: 3 (Moderate) 
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Average daily ride: 43km (27 miles).
No. of days cycling: 6
Terrain & route: Undulating cycling with some smaller climbs.
Vehicle Support: A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. On this trip, children should be expected to ride on roads with traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



On this trip you will stay in 3-star hotels and high quality rural accommodation. Highlights include a converted palace, a 17th Century convent and a modern hotel overlooking the San Lorenzo beach. One hotel has a pool and on 5 nights you will be very close to the beach.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2019
    Deborah Parker

    Northern Spain Cycling is fun

    We had a brilliant time. The rating is moderate which I feel is correct. There are a lot of hills and if you don’t like hills this is not the trip for you (we live in Sheffield which is hilly) and I didn’t make it up all the hills. All the hotels were great especially in Santillana da mer . Self guide instructions were detailed and easy to follow. The bikes were good and well looked after we had no problems with them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hotel in Santillana da mer it was great and a real surprise. Good food everywhere

    What did you think of your group leader?

    No group leader self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy the hills
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Alice Bzowska

    Spain's Green Coast is a Gem

    Loved this cycling trip - wonderful routes, not too difficult cycling and excellent food at each location! A lesser-known part of Spain and a great one.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved all of the little towns along the coast. It was inspiring reaching such lovely places after a day's cycle!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take rain gear as this area is known to be rainy/colder than other parts of Spain!
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Oliver Mills

    Peaceful Cycling Along Spain's North Coast

    This was a great way to explore one of the lesser known parts of diverse Spain, taking in beautiful coastal views, great regional dishes and welcoming locals.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving just outside San Vicente de la Barquera when the sun was setting over a stunning and dramatic after a tough day's ride!

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Learn a bit of Spanish as English is not widely spoken in most places. Try all the delicious food, there is menu del día available in most towns. Bring plenty of energy bars for the cycles and be prepared for a few uphills!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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