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Santander Cathedral

Cantabria is a region on the northern coast of Spain. Cantabria unites the best of the interior landscape with the proximity of the coast. The region has a varied landscape where mountains, valleys and coast combine to offer a wide range of possibilities for travellers with a multitude of green tourist routes, adventure tourism and wonderful beaches.


  • 1 Santander — a seaside resort, university town, and main infrastructure hub and capital of the region
  • 2 Castro Urdiales — a popular tourist destination that offers a sports harbour, a fishing harbour and two beaches
  • 3 Santillana del Mar — a picturesque town of with medieval architecture that has become a bit of a tourist trap
  • 4 Torrelavega Torrelavega on Wikipedia — a town on the Besaya route of the Camino de Santiago del Norte

Other destinations[edit]

Picos de Europa National Park
  • 1 Picos de Europa National Park — a popular destination for hikers and trekkers
  • The Soba Valley, where you can see the wonderful waterfalls of the Gándara River and the Asón River
  • Cabárceno Nature Park is 15 km from Santander in an old iron extraction mine, in the town of Cabárceno


Cantabria belongs to Green Spain, the name given to the strip of land between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Mountains, so called because of its particularly lush vegetation, due to the wet and moderate oceanic climate.


The climate is strongly influenced by Atlantic Ocean winds trapped by the mountains; the average annual precipitation is about 1,200 mm (47 inches). Due to the gulf stream, Cantabria and the rest of "Green Spain" have a much more temperate climate than might be expected for its latitude, which is comparable to that of Oregon. The region has a humid oceanic climate, with warm summers and mild winters. Snow is frequent in the higher zones of Cantabria between the months of October and March. Some zones of Picos de Europa, over 2,500 metres high, have an alpine climate with snow persisting year round. The driest months are July and August.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest airport is in Santander (SDR IATA). There are domestic flights, primarily from Madrid and Barcelona, and international flights with Ryanair from London, Dublin, Brussels, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. Other international flights to Bilbao.

By train[edit]

Several daily communications with Madrid and Valladolid on RENFE.

Several daily communications with Bilbao and Asturias on FEVE.

By boat[edit]

Arrival by ferry from UK is also possible in Santander. There is a ferry terminal.

By car[edit]

Arrival by car from Bilbao is via the A8 freeway.

Get around[edit]

Since many interesting places are outside Santander in small villages in the countryside a car is useful. Alternatively public buses are available to larger towns. Frequent public buses are available between Santander and Bilbao. The Alsa company has bus lines between Santander and the main cities of Cantabria.

The FEVE-RENFE lines cross the Cantabrian territory in the shape of a "T". The southern branch goes to Palencia passing through Torrelavega and Reinosa. The east branch goes to Bilbao, passing through Lierganes and Limpias. The west branch is perhaps the most attractive as it follows the course of the river Saja to Cabezon de la Sal and then passes through Unquera until it reaches Asturias.


Cantabria has sea and mountains, it is the ideal place for all kinds of trips. From the tourist who wants to spend his time on the beach where he has to choose from, with fine sand and surrounded by greenery. From Castro Urdiales (next to Vizcaya), to Unquera (next to Asturias) you can visit countless beaches.

If you want to see art, here you can find "the Sistine Chapel" of rock art, the Altamira Caves and Museum in Santillana del Mar. From Mozárabe (Lebeña), the Romanesque (Reinosa), through the Gothic (Castro Urdiales) to monumental buildings of Catalan modernism (Comillas).

If you like the mountains, you are also in the right place, you can visit the Picos de Europa on the border with Asturias.

  • Monte el Castillo Caves
  • Covalanas Caves
  • El Pendo Caves
  • Hornos de la Peña Caves
  • El Soplao Caves
  • Roman spa in Camesa Rebolledo
  • Cabárceno Nature Park and Zoo


You can surf at the beaches of Somo, Los Locos in Suances near Torrelavega and Meron in San Vicente de la Barquera.


Castro Urdiales

Cantabria's canned fish is very famous. If you visit Santoña, be sure to buy its appreciated Cantabrian anchovies, you can find them canned or semi-preserved in glass jars. You will also find bonito del norte and even salads with seafood.

In the inland valleys, craftsmanship is of excellent quality, both in ceramics, fired clay and wood.

In pastries you can find exquisite sweets, such as Corbatas from Unquera, Quesada pasiega, Sobaos pasiegos (in the Pas valley) and Pantortillas de Reinosa among others.

Milk: in its time it was highly appreciated and of excellent quality, but nowadays it is difficult to find fresh milk. In Santillana del Mar in the arcades next to the collegiate church you can taste boiled milk (to avoid health problems) with homemade sponge cake.


Typical Cantabrian cheese[edit]

Of the 11 denominations of origin that exist on cheese in Spain, Cantabria has three that are:

Cantabrian cheese

  • Picón Bejes-Tresviso Cheese
  • Liébana cheese
  • Other Cantabrian cheeses to highlight are:

Campoo de los Valles cheese

  • Cóbreces cheese
  • Lebeña cheese
  • Pasiego cheese
  • Valderredible valluco cheese


  • Unquera Corbatas
  • Frisuelos
  • Custard
  • Calves
  • Polkas
  • Quesada Pasiega
  • Sacristans
  • Sobaos pasiegos

Other typical dishes[edit]

  • Snails to the mountain
  • Lebaniego stew
  • Mountain stew
  • Baked Nansa Salmon
  • Mountain tripe
  • Anchovies from Santoña
  • El Estanque de Gama, Gama (Next to the N634), +34 942104202. One of the most beautiful restaurants in Cantabria. 20 min from Santander towards Bilbao. It is also an elegant cocktail bar in the middle of the Santoña's Nature Reserve Marshes. €20.


Taste the Orujo of the region.


Go next[edit]

If you are coming from the Basque Country the logical continuation is to go to Asturias. Just follow the coastline westwards.

This region travel guide to Cantabria is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!