Information and Tourism
This underrated Costa Verde region of Spain attracts surprisingly few foreign tourists. It is true that Cantabria isn't guaranteed quite so many rain-free days as in other parts of Spain. That said, a slightly unreliable climate does have its advantages. If there wasn't so much rain, there wouldn't be such a proliferation of lush green scenery.
Arrive in Cantabria by ferry from the English port of Plymouth
and your first view of this Spanish region is its main city of Santander. Much of the city was destroyed during a fire in 1941. What is left today is mostly modern architecture and a busy commercial port, which doesn't waylay most tourists for very long.
Consequently, many visitors to Santander tend to have a bite to eat in the city and head straight to the Peninsula de la Magdalena - with its impressive 19th-century palace. Others favour the nearby beach resorts, which offer beautiful sandy strands and long stretches of dunes.
If Santander's beaches prove to be too busy, which they usually are in the height of summer, then it pays to head west further along the coast, where there are some very pleasant seaside towns indeed. Taking low-key tourism to another level, resorts such as Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera have managed to hang on to their traditional Spanish roots, whilst still offering visitors a chance to dip a toe in the chilly waters of the Mar Cantabrico (Bay of Biscay).
Further inland, amidst the dense green forests of Cantabria, are dozens of caves that feature prehistoric rock art, including ancient pictures of bulls, boars and bison. Altamira is the best known of the bunch, although visitor restrictions to the caves themselves are fiercely maintained. Others, such as Puente Viesgo, are much more easily accessible.
The Cantabrian landscape rises to the heights of the Picos de Europa, a favourite haunt of walkers and climbers alike. Within the mountains are great river gorges, some of the oldest monasteries in the region, and an amazing array of wildlife.
Cantabria Information and Fast Facts
- Country: Spain
- Main administrative centre: Santander
- Biggest city: Santander
- Population: approximately 610,000
- Language: Spanish
- Area (land): 2,050 square miles / 5,310 square kilometres
WORLD GUIDES TO CANTABRIA
World Guide to Santander, Spain
Situated alongside Santander Bay (Bahia de Santander), the Bay of Biscay and also the Cantabrian Sea, Santander is something of tourist hotspot. The neighbouring beach resort of El Sardinero is a particular summer highlight.
Map of Spain