Seafood paella in pan © Shutterstock

Famous northern Spanish food

Revel in the exciting Spanish flavours in these dishes and stews from the coastal towns and mountain regions of the country's beautiful northern regions...

Galician food


Galicia is known for its love of octopus in cooking, in fact, it has dedicated restaurants called pulperías that specialise in octopus dishes and you'll find some are family-run affairs that have been owned for generations.

Galician cuisine's most famous dish, pulpo a la gallega (in Spanish) or polbo á feira (in Galician) can be found at restaurants and pulperìas across the region and especially along Galicia's stunning coastline.

Dinner table with plates of pulpo á fiera © Shutterstock

Dinner table with plates of pulpo á fiera

Galician octopus is boiled in a copper cauldron until tender, then the tentacles are chopped up with scissors and sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and paprika.

A simple but tasty no-fuss dish, it's usually served with sliced boiled potatoes, called cachelons, and bread. Enjoy it with a glass of red wine like the locals do.

Basque cuisine


Nobody does bar food quite like the Basques do. Basque food is renowned for pintxos. You might be familiar with tapas but the Basque Country has its own unique version called pintxos.

Usually a variety of toppings skewered to a piece of bread (pintxos is the Basque word for 'stick'), Basque pintxos are the highlight of its many bars. San Sebastian is known as the capital of pintxos but you'll find them in bars all across the region.

Plates of tapas on a restaurant bar © Shutterstock

Plates of tapas on a restaurant bar

With traditional pintxos and increasingly gourmet versions, Basque bars compete for awards for the best pintxos so they really do pride themselves on it. Take a tour of several bars wherever you are staying and try a couple of different pintxos in each one.

You'll find locals doing exactly the same thing before heading home or to a restaurant for their evening meal. Although with so many delicious pintxos on offer, you might be too full for a meal afterwards!


A classic Basque meal that originated on board the many tuna fishing boats that set sail from the region's harbours. Made with tuna, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes, the secret ingredient in this traditional fish stew is the choricero peppers.

A bowl of marmitako from the Basque Country © Shutterstock

A bowl of marmitako from the Basque Country

Traditionally cooked in a marmita pot (a type of metal pot with lid) which gives the stew its name, it's a dish you'll see on many menus in the north of Spain.

Food of Asturias


Asturias' signature dish, often just known as fabada, is a stew made with large white beans (usually faba beans), bacon or ham hock, morcilla black pudding and chorizo sausage.

Dish of fabada asturiana © Kike Llamas, Asturias Turismo

Dish of fabada asturiana © Kike Llamas, Asturias Turismo

Cooked in an earthenware casserole dish and often seasoned with saffron, this warming stew is generally served with more pieces of bacon, chorizo and morcilla on the side.

Food of Picos de Europa


From the mountains of the Picos de Europa, comes a hearty stew that really does taste of the flavours of the mountains. Cocido montañes is rustic fare designed to fill you up on a cold day in the mountain air.

Cocido montañes from Cantabria © Shutterstock

Cocido montañes from Cantabria

White beans are the base of the stew in a stock made with onions, garlic and paprika, and then there's a wealth of pork products to add meaty flavour - bacon, chorizo, morcilla, ham, pork ribs and even pig's ear feature in a truly traditional bowl of cocido montañes! Soak up the juices with some crusty bread.

Famous favourite across Spain


You'll find paella in restaurants all across the country but it's originally from Valencia. And this is where people go wrong when they think traditional paella means seafood.

Paella Valenciana is the traditional dish for which the city of Valencia is renowned and it is made with chicken and rabbit (definitely no seafood!)

Seafood paella in pan © Shutterstock

Seafood paella in pan

You'll probably encounter it in northern Spain filled with the delicious shrimps, mussels, clams, scallops and more that are caught all along the coastlines of the north.

If reading about some of the amazing cuisines to be tasted across northern Spain, hasn’t got you looking for a holiday there then we don’t know what will! Sail away with Brittany Ferries and explore Spain and all of it’s culinary delights.

Feel inspired? Holiday with confidence with Brittany Ferries. Our 2021 selection of ferry-inclusive package holidays come with free Covid-19 cover and free amendments too.