Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 7 years ago

4 Reasons Why Northern Spain Is Petrolhead Heaven

At the recent Jaguar XE launch, I got a taste of the stunning roads in north-eastern Spain. Here's why I'm desperate to go back...

Remind me later
Jaguar - 4 Reasons Why Northern Spain Is Petrolhead Heaven  - Blog

When a manufacturer launches a new car in Europe, Spain is often the chosen country. Barcelona and the surrounding areas tend to be a popular choice, as do some of the Balearic Islands. So when we got the invite through for the launch of the Jaguar XE, I was surprised to see that our driving location would be in northern Spain.

The launch took place to the south of Bilbao and San Sebastian, stretching down to Estella. As you may have already seen, I liked the car rather a lot, but it was this beautiful region that stole my heart. In fact, I’m now determined to go back for some proper exploration on four wheels. Here’s why…

1. The roads are incredible

Jaguar - 4 Reasons Why Northern Spain Is Petrolhead Heaven  - Blog

Winding mountain passes, hairpins, fast-flowing bends; this region has it all. Some of it is incredibly challenging, but if you drive safely and within your own limits, it’s a hugely rewarding place. The tarmac is - for the most part - nice and smooth, and the scenery is sensational. Winding up the side of one particular mountain - with eagles soaring above and an incredible view stretching off to the side for miles - was a particularly memorable experience.

The bonkers bit of road you see above can be found here, but really, you want to be exploring this whole area. It’s littered with some of the finest roads on the planet.

2. And the roads are empty

Jaguar - 4 Reasons Why Northern Spain Is Petrolhead Heaven  - Blog

Over two days of driving in the area - a Friday and Saturday - I can probably count the times I had to overtake people on one hand. In the UK, I’m used to even the earliest of morning hoons being spoilt by some delightful person trundling along at 35mph in a National Speed limit zone (60mph), but this region seems bizarrely empty. Some of the most incredible roads known to man, and you have them pretty much to yourself. Sounds good, no?

3. The food will blow your mind

Jaguar - 4 Reasons Why Northern Spain Is Petrolhead Heaven  - Blog

There’s even more good news, too: when you need to nourish yourself after a long day of mountain road carving, you’re in for a treat. A big chunk of the road routes we enjoyed are in the Basque Country autonomous community, and Basque cuisine is incredible. Pinchos - a bar snack comprising of delicious toppings secured to a small slice of bread with a cocktail stick - are a particular highlight, and an important part of local culture.

4. Circuito de Navarra is nearby

If - for some reason - you get tired of the local roads, you could always pop by the nearby Navarra circuit for a cheeky track day. It’s a wide circuit with plenty of run-off, so it’s a good place to go if you’re new to track driving.

Where else on the planet do you think is worth a petrolhead pilgrimage? Let us know in the comments!