Updated: February 14, 2023Published: November 22, 2022
Have you ever heard about one of the highest vertical waterfalls in Europe? No? Well, it is in Spain and is stunning.
But, as you are here to know more about the Northern Spanish rivers, I will talk about the waterfall a bit later.
In this article, I will share the essential facts on the main crucial Northern river in Spain and 29 more others found in this part of the country.
It’s important to remind you that there are many rivers in Northern Spain. In this post, I try to mention the most relevant and extended northern autonomous regions.
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What is the main river in Northern Spain?
The longest and main river in northern Spain is the Ebro River, with a length of 930 km, and the second longest in the Iberian Peninsula after the Tagus river.
The source of Ebro river is located in Fontibre, in the province of Cantabria. It flows into Deltebre, in the area of Tarragona, which means that the stream of this Northern Spain river goes eastward towards the Mediterranean Sea.
The Ebro river is also the largest river in Spain and the twentieth largest river in Europe, a category where the Tagus is the eighteenth largest on the continent.
If you want to know everything about the longest river in Spain and its two possible answers, do not miss this article:
The Ebro is the fastest-flowing river in the country, with 600 m3/s. It is also the river with the highest volume in Spain, which means that carries the most water. In addition, its hydrographic basin is the second largest in Spain, with a surface area of 86,100 km2, after the Duoro river, which has a basin of 98 400 km2.
Rivers in Northern Spain
If you look at a Spanish map, you would say that the North is every region over Madrid, and the South would be all the others below the capital. If we frame the map this way, autonomous regions like Castile-Leon, Aragón, and some parts of Catalonia would be considered part of northern Spain. Logical, but that is not how it works here.
Let me explain a bit more.
The Spanish consider that the autonomous regions in the North of Spain are Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, Basque Country, and Navarra. Why? I am not able to give a concrete reason. It’s cultural! If you ask any Spaniards who are the people from the North, they will work for sure mention the reasons above.
Knowing this, I will first mention the streams located in Northern Spain under what the Spanish consider North and their corresponding watershed.
The main rivers in Galicia are the Ulla, Miño, Tambre, and Sil. All of them share the Atlantic watershed. Of the four, the most important one is the Miño River because it is the longest, with a length of 310 kilometers and an average flow rate of 340 m3/s. These rivers flow to the Atlantic between the border of Spain and Portugal.
The main rivers in Asturias are Navia, Narcea, Nalón, Eo (shared with a Galicia), and Sella. Of these five, the Nalón River is the most important due to its length, 153 kilometers, and basin of 4839 km². All of these rivers flow into the Cantabrian watershed.
The main rivers in the autonomous region of Cantabria are Miera, Asón, Nansa, Besaya, and Deva (shared with Asturias). The most extended stream in this list would be the Deva river, with 64 kilometers, but it is shared with Asturias; so, the longest river exclusively from Cantabria is the Nansa river, with 55 kilometers. All of them flow into the Cantabrian watershed.
The main rivers that flow through the Basque Country are Bidasoa, right on the border with France, and the Nervión rivers (shared with Cantabria). The longest body of water here is the Nervión river, 72 kilometers, beginning in the province of Álava, flowing through Bilbao, and into the Cantabrian Sea.
The source of the Nervión River, or Salto del Nervión, is the largest vertical waterfall in the Iberian Peninsula, 222 meters high. It is also one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.
The main river of this autonomous region is the Arga river and then the Ebro. I say “then” because the Ebro goes through seven other areas, including La Rioja, Cantabria, and the Basque Country. The Arga river is 154 kilometers and is also an affluent of the Ebro.
What are all the rivers in Northern Spain?
The table below is a general list of Northern Spain’s rivers, which includes all of the inner bodies of water located in the North of the country, disregarding the autonomous region where they flow.
Rivers in Northern Spain
Map of the main rivers in Northern Spain
This map has the main and more visible rivers in Northern Spain, we decided to curate this map to avoid showing an unclear spiderweb.
Besides all the rivers listed in this article, I want to remind you of ONE thing. The “Salto of Nervión,” the source of the Nervión river, is so breathtaking that it is a MUST-VISIT place in Spain. This stunning waterfall is inside the natural park of Monte Santiago. Walking there from the parking lot takes less than an hour, but the stroll is worth it!
If you want to discover more about this spectacular waterfall and other 10 Spanish waterfalls that will leave you shocked, click on the following article:
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!