If you want to get to know Cantabria, don't wait any longer! This beautiful green land has a lot to offer: mountains, some of the most beautiful villages in Spain, natural parks, beaches and gastronomy that will take your pain away. So that you discover this beautiful land at your leisure, we have prepared this five-day car route through the essential places of Cantabria. This plan includes 4 nights in a central hotel in Santander and tickets to the Cabárceno Nature Park and the Fuente Dé cable car, where you will enjoy spectacular views of the Picos de Europa. With this route you will not only get to know Cantabria but you will also have enough time to enjoy its restaurants, bars, walks and shops without stress. You set the beats! So if you are thinking of traveling to the north alone, as a couple, with family or friends, Cantabria is your holiday destination.
The best itinerary for you to discover the essentials of Cantabria
Accommodation in a central hotel in Santander
Entrance to the Cabárceno Nature Park
Entrance to the cable car of Fuente Dé
Hotel pick-up and drop-off service
Other tickets not mentioned
Umbrella or raincoat if you travel in the rainy months
Warm clothing if you travel in winter
If you want to add transport to get to Santander, if you need a rental car in Santander, if you want to add or remove days from the proposed experience or if you want to customize your trip, do not hesitate to contact us and we will find the option that best suits you.
Once you arrive in Santander by car, we recommend that you leave your bags at the hotel and head to Santillana del Mar. Another option would be to start by exploring the center of Santander, but we recommend that you leave it for last, since you are staying there. Santillana del Mar is only 30 minutes by car from Santander. It is a beautiful cobbled municipality in which the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana is located. Walking through its streets and visiting the collegiate church will not take you more than an hour, depending on whether you want to stop and have a good sobao or quesada con leche or buy something in its souvenir shops. When you finish visiting this town cataloged as one of the most beautiful in Spain, the next stop will be the Altamira Museum, a few kilometers from Santillana del Mar. This museum is a must-see as it replicates the cave and the cave art of Altamira, now closed to the public. The visit will take about 40 minutes since, in addition to the Neocave, there is an exhibition of Paleolithic tools and utensils.
When you leave the museum, if lunchtime approaches, you can stop by Yuso, a nearby municipality that has good restaurants with traditional menus. In the afternoon, on the way back to Santander, stop in Suances to see the coast and take the famous photo with the letters of the municipality at the Quinta del Amo viewpoint. Back in Santander, leave the car well parked until tomorrow and take a walk along the seafront promenade that includes the beautiful Centro Botín building, the Pereda Gardens and the Raqueros statue in Puertochico. Going up the stairs of the Botín Center you can get fantastic views of the Bay of Santander. If you like art, you can contact us to manage your entrance to the interior since access to the upper floor by the exterior stairs is free and free.
To end today, you can go to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the Cathedral of Santander and the Plaza Porticada. If you are looking for a place to dine, in the center you will find a wide variety of restaurants.
If you don't have time to visit the Altamira Museum on the first day of your arrival, don't worry as you will pass through that point several times during your car trip through Cantabria.
The ticket is purchased at the museum itself and the price is very modest.
The visit to the Altamira Museum is accessible for people with reduced mobility.
If you haven't had breakfast or you feel like doing it again, in Santillana del Mar there is a small cafeteria-bakery open since 1912: Lorenzo Fernández Bakery. As soon as you enter you will see a showcase full of sweets, among which are the famous sobaos from Pasiegos, quesadas and Unquera ties. We found it by chance on our visit to Santillana del Mar when it started to rain and we decided to go in for a coffee while it died down. Quite a hit!
Santander has a great gastronomic offer, where its restaurants and bars stand out where you can Alternar, which is what the Cantabrians call going from place to place with friends eating a small dish and having a drink.
You will find these shops and establishments along the Plaza de Cañadío and on Hernán Cortés, Daoiz y Velarde and Santa Lucía streets. These streets are linked and are full of very lively bars and terraces with a great culinary offers. Do not miss their seafood dishes, among which the squid rings and anchovies stand out. If you like potato omelette, their speciality is with Cabrales cheese and they are delicious. Of course, don't forget to try the fabulous Cantabrian cheeses and, for dessert, their quesada pasiega.
The Cabárceno Nature Park is only about 20 minutes by car from Santander. Once you get there, you will have to show your ticket at the box office at the access point. The visit to the park is by car where you will make different stops at the viewpoints that are well signposted and have a place to park to take photos and observe the animals in semi-freedom: giraffes, elephants, rhinoceroses, bears, pygmy hippos, reptiles, hyenas, lions... This ticket includes a full-day visit to the Cabárceno Natural Park and a cable car ride to see the park from the air. The visit usually lasts about 6 hours, depending on how long you spend taking pictures and if you are traveling with children.
In the afternoon, you can go to the beautiful town of Liérganes, on the way to Santander and just 20 minutes from Cabárceno. This municipality has a river and a beautiful stone bridge, the Puente Mayor, where you will find the statue of the fish man. We recommend that you get lost in its cobbled streets and, if you have time, sit down to have chocolate with churros, just like a local! before returning to Santander.
The Cabárceno Park is not a zoo or a conventional park, but a large area of 750 hectares in which 1,000 animals live in semi-freedom. This means that, excluding the fact that they are fed by the park staff, the rest of their instincts continue to be free, so it is not unusual to see the males fight during the mating season or to see baby elephants that have been born in the park. . Also, did you know that what is now this beautiful park full of animals from five continents, was an old mining operation? The beauty of the karstic landscape will take your breathe away
If it's time to eat, you can do it in the restaurants inside the park or outside it. We recommend that you eat outside the park as it is cheaper and you will find fewer people. Don't worry if you haven't finished the visit because with the ticket you can leave and re-enter on the same day as long as you show your ticket.
Restaurants outside the park are very close, right next to the elephant area. you will find an A la Carte and a traditional menu option which usually include the famous mountain stew.
The Fish Man statue in Liérganes is made in honor of Francisco de la Vega. According to legend, this young man was swept away by the river and it was believed that he had irretrievably drowned. Five years after his disappearance, some fishermen from the Bay of Cádiz fished him out of the sea with their nets. The man-fish, as they called him, had survived all this time in the sea and had even grown scales on his skin. The fish-man had forgotten to speak, the only thing he could say was "Liérganes", the name of his town where he was returned and where he lived until the end of his days.
The first stop today will be the Fuente Dé Cable Car. To get there by car you will do it through the Desfiladero de la Hermida, a beautiful road where you can contemplate the Picos de Europa. When you arrive at the Fuente Dé Cable Car, park your vehicle in the dedicated car park. With the ticket you can go up the cable car to a height of more than 1,823 meters and in 4 minutes you will have reached the upper station where you can contemplate the Picos de Europa or have a hot drink in the cafeteria. There is also a well-signposted hiking trail going down, but keep in mind that it takes more than 4 hours... That depends on your time and your desire.
When leaving Fuente Dé, if you When lunchtime approaches, it is a good time to stop at one of the restaurants that overlook the road and try the typical Lebanese stew of this area.
Just 18 minutes by car, you will have reached Mogrovejo, a small town cataloged as the most beautiful town in Spain. where Heidi's movie was shot, an Indian adaptation to Bollywood cinema. This municipality can be seen in 15 minutes since it is tiny. Leaving Mogrovejo, go to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. He is on his way to Potes and has to his credit a valuable relic, the Lignum Crucis. Specifically, the largest that any other Christian monastery or temple has. Admission is free.
After visiting the Monastery of Santo Toribio, a place of pilgrimage, the next stop will be Potes, a beautiful mountain town, the favorite of many travelers. As soon as you arrive you will see the Torre del Infantado, park there and continue the walk on foot. The church, the stone bridge and its little streets invite you to do so. In this town you will find shops with typical local products and souvenirs.
To end the day, return to your hotel in San Vicente de la Barquera, a 45-minute drive from Potes, rest and get ready to go to dinner at one of the charming restaurants by the sea.
The Lignum Crucis is a relic highly valued by Christians as it is a piece of the cross where Jesus Christ died. In fact, Lignum Crucis comes from Latin and means "wood of the cross". Although there are several Lignum Crucis relics around the world, the one in the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana is the largest preserved, even more than the one in St. Peter's in the Vatican, which is why it is a place of pilgrimage for travelers from all over the world who deviate from the Camino de Santiago just to be able to contemplate it. Whether you are a believer or not, the truth is that there are several historical sources that corroborate that this relic belonged to that time, not only because it appears in several historical texts but also because science, through the analysis of wood, has been able to conclude that it belonged to that time and place.
Lebaniego stew is one of the typical dishes of the Liébana valley, in Cantabria. A hearty dish that takes away the cold and gives you the energy you need for the whole day. This stew is made up of chickpeas, potatoes, collard greens or cabbage and different beef and pork meats (chorizo, black pudding, bacon, ham bone) and is accompanied by an intensely flavored noodle soup. If you go to Cantabria in winter, you can't stop trying this unique dish that will leave you feeling like new. Of course, take it easy because there is a lot of it...
When you leave Fuente Dé and on the way to Mogrovejo, you will find Los Llanos restaurant. We stopped by chance to recharge our batteries on a cold and rainy day and it was a fantastic choice. The establishment is a stone house over 100 years old that has a lovelyfireplace. Most of its clientele are from Cantabria, so you will enjoy a 100% authentic traditional meal.
Today it is recommended that you start your route early, around 9 am because before arriving at Comillas, you will pass through the Redwood forest of Cabezón de la Sal, the only one in Europe. The route is circular and is done in 30 minutes so it will not take much time but if you do not want to run into many visitors, it is better to go early. The itinerary continues with a visit to the beautiful town of Comillas, its famous Capricho de Gaudí and the Palacio de Sobrellano. The visit to this town will take you half a day as it has a lot to offer. At the entrance of the village, you will find a large free parking lot. Just in front, you will come across the beautiful Palacio de Sobrellano and the chapel-pantheon of the architect Joan Martorell. Start your visit by going to the Sobrellano Palace ticket office where you will be informed about the next guided tour. The entrance fee is very modest and the explanation of the interior of the palace and the Marquis of Comillas is most interesting. you will understand the history of the entire municipality and the great milestones that were achieved. The visit lasts about 40 minutes. If you do not want to go inside, although we strongly recommend that you do, access to the palace gardens is free. From up there you can see fantastic views of the Pontifical University and the giant Angel sculpted by the Marquis of Comillas and located in the Gothic cemetery of the town, facing the sea. The next essential visit is the Capricho de Gaudí, a modernist building designed by the great architect Antonio Gaudí, one of the few outside Catalonia. It is striking for its green tower which looks like a fairytale. The entrance is purchased on the premises and it is a very curious house. Beautiful, but impractical, a real folly! Once you leave the building, you can go to the fountain of the three spouts, in the center of Comillas, where you will find different restaurants where you can eat a menu or rations. If you feel like eating fish or good seafood, then save it for your next stop in San Vicente de la Barquera. Also, take the opportunity to do some shopping in the small stores in the area and, if you feel like it, before leaving this town you can go to the gothic cemetery and the coast in the car.
In the afternoon, it is time to follow the route to reach the fishing village that made the famous David Bustamante known, of which you can see photos in some of its establishments. In any case, San Vicente de la Barquera is a beautiful village that together with its colorful boats, its lighthouse and its monuments, make it a fantastic destination. As soon as you arrive in San Vicente, you will see the Puente de la Maza and how the tide goes down at sunset to the point that the bottom is in sight and the boats stop floating. In the surroundings, you will find the Castillo del Rey, the facade of an old hospital, the Church of Santa Maria de Los Angeles and the medieval walls from where you can see some great sunsets.
Finally, it is time to return to Santander, if you arrive in time for sunset, you can go to the coastal town of Suances, which is on the way.
On the road, bordering the sea is where the vast majority of restaurants in San Vicente de la Barquera are located. Here the term "alternate" is used a lot to go from place to place tapas.
If you are looking for a more elegant restaurant where you can have an aperitif, a drink or dinner, in the lighthouse you will find the chicest establishment in the area, the Ostrería San Vicente.
Like a good fishing village, its fish and shellfish are its forte. Here the term "alternate" is used to mean to go from place to place tapas. Among its portions, the razor clams from San Vicente de la Barquera stand out, somewhat smaller than the ones we are used to but very tasty, the bocartes (boquerones), the clams and the scallops. If you like cheese, we recommend that you ask for a portion with the typical cheeses of the area. They are great!
To drink a bottle of good Cantabrian wine, we tried the Micaela, an Albariño ideal for fish and shellfish, we loved it.
On this last day, it's time to say goodbye to Cantabria. Take the opportunity to make some last-minute purchases and take some sobaos and quesadas home. You will surely miss it! If you have time, you can go to Sardinera beach, just a few minutes from the center of Santander.
Have a good trip
If you travel by plane, remember to be at the airport at least 2.5 hours in advance, especially if you have to return the rental car as you may find queues. It's better to be early than late!
This ticket includes access to the Cabárceno Nature Park and a ride on the cable car. It allows you to enter and exit the park on the same day.
The ticket for the Fuente Dé Cable Car includes the round trip to the Top station.
If you have any questions about this experience, if you want more details or if you want to customize your trip, don't wait any longer! Contact us and we will help you tailor your trip.
Contact us if you need to add flights, rental cars, transfers or events to your trip. We will solve all your doubts and we will help you finalize your reservation.