Travel With Me Through the Unknown Spain

Beautiful towns you won’t find in any catalog

Carmen Ballesteros


Roadtrip around world heritage locations not advertised abroad — Screenshot from Google Maps by the author

We have a wedding in Potes! — I happily said to my husband.
Where did you say?
It’s in Cantabria, close to Picos de Europa. It’s gorgeous!
I’ve got no idea of what you’re talking about.

It wasn’t the first time we had this kind of conversation. But this time we were going to do something about it.

My husband is from Scotland. When we met in Uruguay, I loved his efforts to learn Spanish and how open-minded he is. He had traveled all around the world.

As a tourist, he visited the most typical cities of Spain: Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, and Seville. He also went to the Basque country with his Basque friends. The rest of the Spanish geography was a blurry stain on the map.

I can’t blame him, those famous cities are fantastic, and they sell well abroad. When traveling, as soon as I say “I’m from Spain,” I receive many appreciative looks from other travelers saying, “I love Spain, I’ve been to name-any-of-those-cities-here.”

But Spain is not just Madrid and the Mediterranean.

It’s one of the top tourism destinations globally and the third country with the most UNESCO world heritage locations, with 49 designations, just behind China (56) and Italy (58).

And yet, it remains unknown for most of the world.

Where mythology, magic, and history weave.

The wedding was a perfect excuse to plan a big road trip around the country. The North is full of mystical creatures and fables. Stories that combine real history and dreams. It’s the perfect place for dreamers like me.

For centuries, lessons were passed through stories around the fire. Storytellers were the reporters of the era. We love a good story. We were designed to learn through tales.

On our way to Potes, we’ll go to other places like Teruel, Albarracín, Calatayud, Pamplona, Tudela, Burgos, Santander, Avila, Salamanca, and so many more. I am looking forward to revisiting these places, but this will be the first I’ll write about it.



Carmen Ballesteros

Anthropologist, traveler and entrepreneurs coach. Serial optimist. Editor of (where travelers & cultures connect)