In Cantabria, as in the rest of the regions of the Cantabrian coast, the best known are usually the coastal towns and their beaches.
Almost everyone knows Santander, the towns in the western part like Santillana del Mar, Comillas or San Vicente de la Barquera, or the towns in the eastern part like Laredo, Santoña or Castro Urdiales.
But towards the interior of Cantabria we also find other towns located between valleys and in the middle of nature that are worth knowing. Here we make a summary of the best you can find in Cantabria.
Bárcena Mayor, where time stopped
Bárcena Mayor is without a doubt the most beautiful town in inland Cantabria and one of the most beautiful in Spain. Here you can also stay in one of the best rural apartments in Cantabria.
Here it seems that time stood still in the Middle Ages, a time from which this picturesque village dates back with typical architecture of the area and that you should definitely visit.
The road that takes you to Bárcena Mayor ends there, as if there were no other place to go and that everyone wanted to end up here.
Because they will not find anything better. And although the town has lost part of its charm due to tourism, strolling through its streets that seem to be taken from a fairy tale is an unforgettable experience.
In addition to the typical mountain architecture of Bárcena Mayor, we must also highlight the Church of Santa María, from the 17th century, and its beautiful baroque altarpiece.
Bárcena Mayor is located in the Saja-Besaya Natural Park, between oak and beech forests, so the options to enjoy nature in its surroundings are endless.
The region of Liebana
Located in the western part of Cantabria, on the border with Asturias, we have the Liébana region, one of the most beautiful in the Community.
The capital of Liébana is Potes, which we have already talked about in another article, so we will focus on the surroundings of this beautiful town and what makes this region unique.
Very close to Potes we have the Monastery of Santa María de Liébana, one of the holy places of Christianity.
The monastery is known for the Lignum Crucis, which is said to be the largest piece of the cross of Jesus Christ that is preserved and is highly visited during the Lebanese Jubilee Year, when the monastery’s Door of Forgiveness is opened to access the beautiful gothic church inside.
Other interesting places to see in Liébana are the small town of Mogrovejo, with just over 40 inhabitants and beautiful architecture typical of the area.
And also the Church of Santa María de Lebeña, a jewel of pre-Romanesque art, the Desfiladero de la Hermida, which connects Potes with the coast, or Fuente Dé and its cable car, the gateway to the Picos de Europa.
The Pas Valleys
It is possible that they are one of the best-known valleys outside of Cantabria thanks to the famous Pas sobaos, but also because of such beautiful towns as Santa María de Cayón, Castañeda or Puente Viesgo, famous above all for its spa.
In Castañeda we also have the Collegiate Church of Santa Cruz de Castañeda, an old monastery that became a collegiate church in the 12th century and with an enviable architecture.
Its location in a little-traveled area of Cantabria means that mass tourism has not reached here, but its architecture and history really make it worth a visit.
Puente Viesgo is much more than its famous spa and it is a town with interesting mansions and palaces and numerous caves in the surroundings with cave paintings from up to 30,000 years ago.
Nature can also be widely enjoyed thanks to the Pas River, the river that gives its name to the valleys.
In any case, in the Valles Pasiegos there are so many places to visit that it is almost impossible to list them here in a few lines, so we recommend that you get to know them in situ.
Reinosa and the Campoo-Los Valles region
Reinosa is another of the towns in the interior of Cantabria that you should visit
It is one of the cities with the most history in the north of Spain and with some squares and mansions that you should not miss out on photographing, as well as its beautiful Church of San Sebastián.
Its history is linked to its geographical position as it is the gateway from the plateau to Cantabria and a trade route for centuries.
But one of the most emblematic places in the region is the Source of the Ebro River, the river that runs the most kilometers through Spain.
It is located in Fontibre, where the visitor center is and Fuentona, where the waters rise and we can find a pillar where the coats of arms of all the provinces through which the river flows are engraved. However, its real source is located on Pico Tresmares, some 1,000 meters higher.
In this region, in addition to numerous charming villages, there is also the Alto Campoo ski resort, one of the most famous in the Cantabrian mountain range.