Do you want to discover and know the best things to see in Cantabria? Do not leave until you read this article. Here we tell you so you do not miss the most important thing to visit.
We love the north of Spain, surely the same as you. What is it that this area of the Peninsula has to catch so many people? In Cantabria you have an exceptional city like Santander and also beautiful fishing villages, incredible natural spaces, charming towns and unforgettable mountain areas.
If you are a lover of Green Spain and the north of the country, you are obliged to visit Cantabria and here we tell you the essentials.
Cantabria routes for days
To make your visit easier, we offer you different routes through Cantabria depending on the days you have. It is a small community so the displacements will not be very large but you have so many things to visit that the more days you spend in Cantabria the better. That is why we recommend a minimum of 5 days.
In addition, to be close to all the important places, we recommend that you stay as centrally located as possible within Cantabria, such as Santander or Santillana del Mar.
And if you are traveling as a family, we recommend that you read our article with the best things to see in Cantabria with children.
The essential places to see in Cantabria
Santander, the capital to visit in Cantabria
The main city to visit in Cantabria is Santander, of which you must visit its historic center, with important and noble buildings located between the sea and the mountains, the result of its commercial and seafaring tradition that has been forged over the years.
In this area is the Cathedral of Santander, formed by two superimposed temples and rebuilt after a fire in 1941
Nor should you miss Playa del Sardinero, and the promenade and the views of it from the Magdalena Peninsula, where the beautiful palace of the same name is located and which was a royal residence.
The western fishing villages of Cantabria
To the west of Santander we have villas and fishing villages that are worth a visit, each one of them with great charm and also very different from each other. From town to town you can also enjoy its coasts, beaches and cliffs enjoying incredible landscapes.
Comillas, the modernist town
An essential visit is in Cantabria is Comillas, a city associated with modernism. And it is that there are several modernist buildings and monuments that we find in Comillas, such as El Capricho, one of the few buildings that Gaudí built outside of Catalonia.
But don’t miss out on the Palace of Sobrellano or the University of Comillas, as well as many other places of interest.
San Vicente de la Barquera
Another of the most beautiful towns to see in Cantabria is San Vicente de la Barquera, where we can enjoy great views by the sea of the Church of Santa María de los Ángeles, which forms a very special complex with the Castillo del Rey.
As soon as you cross the Puente de la Maza you will begin to enjoy this town where you will also find numerous restaurants where you can taste the best fish and shellfish from the Cantabrian Sea.
Unlike the two previous towns, in Suances we will not find great monuments or historical buildings, but instead you will enjoy spectacular beaches, such as Playa de la Concha, its urban beach, although you will also find other very beautiful beaches nearby.
Even so, it is also worth taking a walk through its urban area admiring its fishermen ‘s houses and peeking out from its viewpoints waiting for sunset to come, since from Suances you have the best.
The eastern fishing villages of Cantabria
If we go to the east of Santander we will also find pretty towns and beautiful beaches, so it is also a very interesting route to visit some of the best places to see in Cantabria.
One of the most popular tourist towns in Cantabria is Noja, mainly thanks to its beaches but also for its fantastic gastronomy. The most famous beach is Trengadin, packed with visitors in summer but also beautiful in winter.
Taking a walk through the streets of Noja is a great option knowing beautiful palaces and churches. From Noja it is mandatory to travel to its nearby surroundings where there are other beautiful beaches and towns such as Isla or Ajo.
If Santoña is known for something, it is for its anchovies. And you also realize that as you approach the city, open the car window and enjoy that smell that comes from the marshes where the best anchovies in the country are raised.
In Santoña you can also make interesting cultural visits due to the great history that the city treasures behind it and that has left an important legacy such as its forts and other constructions.
Laredo, another summer resort
Very close to Santoña, so close that they are one in front of the other in the same bay, we find Laredo, another of the tourist towns that receives thousands of visitors every summer attracted by its beaches and its gastronomy. Many of them are Basque since it is very close to this autonomous community.
Laredo is one of the 4 authentic fishing villages of Cantabria and in it we can enjoy Puebla Vieja, with its streets, palaces and churches as well as spectacular beaches such as Playa de la Salvé.
Finally, in the eastern part we have Castro Urdiales, another very important place to visit in Cantabria. In this jewel of the Bay of Biscay we can enjoy the Church of Santa María de la Asunción and the complex formed by the Castle of Santa Ana and the Old Bridge.
But it is also worth taking a walk through its streets and its promenade enjoying a town that will not leave you indifferent.
The interior of Cantabria
Cantabria is much more than its coasts and fishing villages. Cantabria is also its valleys where we find fantastic towns with great charm and that are worth a visit. The main places to visit in the interior of Cantabria are the following.
Santillana del Mar
It is from the sea but it has no sea. It is neither holy nor plain. Yes, we know the saying. Santillana del Mar is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and strolling through its streets is one of the best things you can do in Cantabria, enjoying its palaces and the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana, its great attraction.
Nearby is the Cueva de Altamira, whose replica and museum is an essential visit as it is just one of the many caves you can visit in Cantabria.
Bárcena Mayor is a town in the interior of Cantabria that is becoming more and more famous and with more visitors, something that possibly impacts its charm, since if something characterizes this town it is the sensation of having stopped in time.
Bárcena Mayor is also located in a privileged natural area, making it a very special visit that we consider to be one of the best things to do in Cantabria.
Potes and the Liébana region
Perhaps the best known inland is Potes, one of the best things to see in Cantabria, a town where time seems to have stopped and a walk through its old town will take you back to another era.
In addition, it is the gateway to the Picos de Europa thanks to the nearby Fuente De, where we must highlight its famous cable car. In this area is also the Santo Toribio de Liébana, a holy place for Christianity and a must-see, especially in jubilee years.
The Liébana region is undoubtedly one of the great wonders of Cantabria.
Liérganes and the legend of the fish man
Located at the entrance to the famous Pas valleys is Liérganes, which also has the title of being one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. It is undoubtedly a great visit thanks to its beautiful streets, its river and the legend of the fish man, which gives this beautiful town an aura of mystery that attracts thousands of visitors.
The natural paradises of Cantabria
We have already talked about the most famous of the Cantabria beaches in the previous section. But it is not the only beach you should visit in Cantabria.
Urban ones like Santander, there is Suances, or any of the fishing villages that can be traveled along the coast.
And outside the cities, we are left with Playa de Langre or Playa de Somo. But there are more beaches that you must see in Cantabria.
Natural Parks of Cantabria
In a region in the north of Spain we could not stop talking about nature and Cantabria is a privileged place to enjoy it.
The Picos de Europa National Park is the most famous of all but not the only one. The parks of Oyambre, Saja-Besaya or the Marismas de Santoña are truly spectacular, although it must also be said that it is not necessary to be officially in a natural park to enjoy the nature to see in Cantabria.
We put the Cabárceno Park among the natural spaces, because this beautiful place, essential to visit with children, is located in an enviable spot where you can admire animals that live in semi-freedom.
You can visit it on foot, by bicycle or by car enjoying not only the animals that you will find on your way but also the botanical routes that you can take and their shows.
You can find more information on the official Cantabria tourism page.