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Discovering the Charm of Cantabria, Spain: A Captivating Destination Awaiting Exploration

Cantabria, Spain is an autonomous region in the north of Spain. Cantabria is located next to Asturias and the Basque Country. On a trip to Cantabria, Spain you will find beautiful scenery, top notch gastronomy, and charming villages to explore. Additionally, the most breathtaking attraction must be the Cantabria coast where you can relax on the picturesque beaches all while enjoying the fresh seafood the Cantabrian Sea has to offer. Let’s take a journey through the region to uncover the charm that awaits!

Santander: The Heart of Cantabria 

Santander Cantabria Spain is the capital city of the region and it is easy to see why. It is recognized as one of the prettiest cities thanks to the dramatic landscape of luscious green mountains and white sand beaches. The city also offers different groups of neighborhoods to discover. There are many things to do in Santander Cantabria that will make your trip one to remember. 

Santander is one of the most beautiful cities in northern Spain.

Top Attractions in Santander

The city of Santander Cantabria was once a vacation destination for royalty which means that the architecture in the old neighborhood is full of majestic and elegant buildings. The most iconic example of this is the Magdalena Palace located at the highest part of the peninsula. Here you can see the city’s crown jewel while overlooking breathtaking views of the sea and the Cantabrian Mountains. Speaking of the mountains, you can also take a day trip to go hiking and explore the natural wonders.

It is located in a privileged environment, surrounded by sea and at the top of the Magdalena Peninsula.

Within the city you can visit the Centro Botin, an art museum known for its unique architectural design that draws people in. The museum showcases a variety of rotating art mediums to capture the imagination and eye of any person. The beaches of Santander are marvelous and conveniently close to the city center. The beaches are characterized by their fine and golden sand. A few examples of excellent beaches are Los Peligros, La Magdalena, El Camello, and La Concha. The beaches directly in front of the city center also are famous for their picturesque sunsets that paint the sky with breathtaking colors. 

A modern and avant-garde building strikingly contrasts with the landscape of Santander’s bay.

Culinary Delights: Cantabrian Anchovies and More

The varied cuisine skillfully combines the products of the sea with the products derived from the land to provide an exquisite culinary adventure that you do not want to miss. The fishing district is the place to visit to try the most traditional local cuisine. Here you can find Cantabria restaurants that serve rabas de calamar or squid tails in English that are the freshest you will ever taste. Cantabrian anchovies, found in abundance, feature prominently in the most traditional dishes as another culinary delight.

It's quite common to enjoy vermouth accompanied by delicious rabas de calamar.
It’s quite common to enjoy vermouth accompanied by delicious rabas de calamar.

The proximity of the Cantabrian Sea and Bay of Biscay is the primary reason for finding anchovies and the people of Cantabria enjoy having the convenience of the sea to enjoy the best anchovies served with olive oil. It is quite typical to find local bars and restaurants serving anchovies as tapas or in more elaborate dishes for the best culinary experience for guests. While Cantabrian fish and seafood are popular, the region’s diverse cheeses are also worth exploring. Cantabria is also well known for its high-quality goat, sheep, and cow’s milk that is used for making products such as butter and strong-tasting cheeses. Throughout the region you will see herds of cattle that live in the mountain landscape with fertile pastures which is the ideal place for cattle and the cultivation of cheese.

Natural Wonders: Cantabrian Mountains and Seas

The natural wonders of Cantabria are seen in the mountains, valleys, and seas. The region is home to captivating destinations, whether dotted along the coast or nestled within the mountains and valleys.

Cantabria’s Coastal Retreats: From Laredo to San Vicente de la Barquera

The northern part of Cantabria is all coastline making it an ideal place to visit for a coastal retreat. Cantabria offers a variety of beaches ranging from city beaches, wild beaches, and quiet beaches.  Here we will explore Laredo Cantabria and San Vicente de la Barquera.

Laredo: A Blend of History and Beaches

The city of Laredo nestles between Santander and Bilbao. The city seamlessly blends enriching history and relaxing beaches. Stroll through the alleyways and streets to find perfectly preserved buildings from the Middle Ages and mansions from the 16th and 18th centuries. On your list of Cantabria things to do you must add the Playa de la Salve, a 5km long beach. Here you can enjoy many water activities like kitesurfing and windsurfing. But don’t worry, you can also just enjoy lounging around the beach and enjoy the warm sun.  

Laredo is a destination that combines beaches and mountains, perfect for hiking.

San Vicente de la Barquera: Where Nature Meets Heritage

San Vicente de la Barquera Spain is a small fisherman city that offers picturesque sights of the coastline and the old village. Here you can explore the heritage of the town by walking through the town’s iconic monuments, churches, castle, and its surrounding wall. This town nestles near the Picos de Europa mountain range and the water. The town is an escape to the past because its heritage has been preserved and celebrated by the locals. Besides the town center, you can also enjoy the many beaches such as Fuentes, El Rosal, El Tostadero, Primera de San Vicente, and Meron. 

San Vicente de la Barquera is one of the historic villages on the west coast of Cantabria.

A Journey Through Cantabria’s Picturesque Villages

Cantabria also offers charming villages and towns, providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities. These places let you enjoy the natural charm inherent in each village.

The Timeless Charm of Santillana del Mar and Comillas

Santillana del Mar Cantabria Spain is a historic town that attracts many visitors every year. This medieval town is home to many historical artifacts such as defense towers and Renaissance palaces. However, the true gem of this place lies in the outskirts of the village – the Altamira Cave, renowned for its prehistoric cave art. History enthusiasts will marvel at the well-preserved drawings and murals on the walls of the cave that have earned it the status of a World Heritage site. It is an absolute must see to admire the masterpieces of early humanity and their creative genius which testifies to the importance of cultural tradition.

West of Santillana del Mar you will come across Comillas Cantabria Spain, a historic and artistic town. The most famous attraction is El Capricho de Gaudi, an iconic building showcasing the talents of Antoni Gaudi and his unique architectural style combined with ceramic wall decorations. The location is ideal once again as it is close to the ocean providing fine sand beaches and a relaxing nature about the town. 

El Capricho is an eclectic and symbolic building, an aesthetic game, with oriental, gothic and mudejar influences.

Suances and Liencres: Unspoiled Beauty Off the Beaten Path

If you’re looking for a more hidden town to visit and explore then you must check out Suances. It’s situated where the rivers Saja and Besaya flow into the Cantabric Sea. The location is perfect if you want to try surfing! 

Suances has an excellent location for you to take as a base to visit the eastern coast of Cantabria.

Liencres, Spain, offers an excellent example of natural wonders, being home to the country’s largest dunes. This locality is essential to the flora and fauna of the area including lovely wild beaches.

Liencres perfect for its spectacular beaches.

Cantabria’s Culinary Scene: A Taste of the North

Cantabria, though a small autonomous region, boasts a rich culinary scene. Its size is no indicator of its gastronomic richness. The seafood here is exceptional, thanks to its proximity to the water. The region’s deep roots and connections with fishermen enhance its culinary offerings. The area is renowned for its love of fresh fish. Among them being the Cantabrian sardines. And the best place to taste the sardines of northern Spain is Santoña. 

Santoña’s Famous Anchovies and the Art of Seafood

Santoña is a famous canning port in Cantabria that is renowned for its specialization of tuna and anchovies in olive oil. The people of Santoña have mastered the art of seafood over the years. They provide quality products that are simple, delicious, and economically friendly. All qualities of the Mediterranean diet. Here you can enjoy the best anchovies in a beautiful environment. 

Santoña has become the world capital of anchovies.

Savoring Cantabria: From Rabas de Calamar to Fresh Sardines 

Cantabria has many positive qualities and reasons to visit. If not for the wonderful landscapes then you must visit to savor the delicious dishes that hold traditional value as well as innovation. Cantabrian dishes take advantage of their privilege of being close to the ocean to enjoy fresh seafood and fish. And they should have every right to enjoy this delicacy! Here you must try rabas de calamar. The fried calamari is a staple just like the fresh sardines. In Cantabria, the fresh taste of the seafood is endlessly appealing. Cantabrians excel in preparing these delicacies, elevating the flavors for a perfect dining experience.

“The queen of the Barbecue and the Grill”. This is how we could describe the Cantabrian sardine.

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