Head to Northern Spain for cheap holidays in 2012

Looking for new destinations for cheap holidays in 2012? Why not explore some of the secluded beaches and fabulous fish restaurants of Galicia in the north-west of Spain? You'll avoid the tourist hordes and enjoy some spectacular scenery.

Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies from London Stansted to Santiago De Compostela in the heart of Galicia. A search showed availability on outward fares of £22.99 and inward fares of £47.99. If you book well in advance you may be able to find fares even lower than this, although remember that Ryanair charges extra for baggage, check-in, credit cards and EU levies.

From the airport hire a car and head for Galicia's astounding coast, a ragged Atlantic fringe of inlets, estuaries and spectacular cliffs. Visit Finisterre, the point that the Romans thought was the end of the world, where the lighthouse warns ships of the treacherous waters of the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death)

Further south the idyllic Cies islands seem almost tropical. This is a bird sanctuary reached by boat trips from Vigo on the mainland, in strictly limited numbers. There's a glorious crescent of pale golden sand to enjoy, or you can scuba dive among the clear waters on the Atlantic shore.

All of this coastline is famous for its shellfish, and for Galicia's signature dish, pulpo a feira, or boiled octopus. Delicate and tender, it is served with a sprinkling of paprika on traditional wooden plates. Wash it down with a glass of the crisp local albarino white wine.

For a truly wild Galician beach, seek out the  last strand on the southern shore of the Cangas peninsula, the Praia De Melide. Sheltered by its lighthouse and wooded dunes, it's a place to treasure.

Prices, certainly by comparison with the south of Spain, make this a place for relatively cheap holidays in 2012. It might be the year to discover a whole new favourite Spanish coast! Check www.turgalicia.es for more suggestions.

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