As you make your way along the northern coast of Spain to San Sabastian, the sites of Butron Castle (Castillo de Butron) and the Hermitage of San Juan (Ermita de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe) should be double-starred on your map as must-see items.
(See also What to Wear in Spain to Look Like a Local.)
Butron Castle is not like any of the other castles I have seen in Spain due to its fairy-tale Bavarian style, location in the middle of nowhere, and complete abandonment. When I say Butron Castle is in the middle of nowhere, I am not kidding. We thought Google Maps had lied to us and we were just hopelessly lost in the Spanish countryside (still not a bad place to be). Luckily, we espied the towers peaking over the tree tops and headed in that direction. We wound up on some dirt road that brought us in from the back but the point is we made it! It was completely beautiful and completely eerie. I frankly cannot believe that you can just drive right up to it. (Tip: Don’t be a afraid of a dirt road that leads in the direction you want to go.)
The Hermitage of San Juan (Ermita de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe)
I sometimes feel this hermit had the right idea… Regardless, this Hermitage makes for great pics of the islet and the coast. We parked at the “Mirador de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe” and made the mile+ walk down to where you then begin the climb to the hermitage. Big mistake, huge. (Tip: Park at the Gaztelugatxe restaurant to cut out like a couple miles and an hour’s time out off your pilgrimage. Trust me, you will still build up a sweat on your climb.)
Sites of San Sebastian, Spain
As we drove along the northern coast to San Sebastian, there was panoramic view after panoramic view that we just had to stop at and be soothed by the view and the fresh ocean air.
Before we headed inland for the night, we decided to make one last side stop in San Sebastian. The Iglesia de Santa Maria and the boardwalk are definitely worth a stop to stretch your legs and grab a gelato.
Where to Stay the Night
After a day road tripping to Butron Castle, the Hermitage, and San Sebastian, we headed inland to stay in Pamplona for the night. We chose to stay at the AC Hotel Cuidad de Pamplona as it was within walking distance to the sites in Pamplona, is part of the Marriott group, and was cheap at <$100 a night including parking. Fortunately, this hotel was one of the hits, rather than misses, for AC Hotels in Spain. It could have been the upgrade to a suite, the speedy internet, or free mini bar but we liked it enough to stay there another night on our circuitous roadtrip. (You can use my Marriott referral link to get a jump start free nights with up to 10,000 points.)
For the Day Before See Travel Tips for Cathedrals Beach in Northern Spain
For the Next Day See Travel Tips for a Day in Pamplona, Spain.