See some of the world's oldest cave art, trek through vast natural parks and relax at a seaside resort in this diverse region in northern Spain.
Cantabria is a fascinating combination of landscapes with deep valleys, mountain ranges, forests, green hills and an unspoiled coastline. Find isolated coves and expansive beaches, hike through natural parks, spot wildlife and study ancient cave art. Inside the coastal towns, investigate ancient buildings and museums.
Santander, the regional capital, is a port city built on hills with a historic center and several beaches. Tour the 13th-century Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción and wander through the narrow lanes and plazas of the old quarter. Browse exhibits at the Cantabrian Maritime Museum to learn about the city's seafaring traditions. Relax on the soft sands of Los Peligros, near the city center. Among other popular beaches are La Magdalena and El Camello.
Visit other coastal Cantabrian locations close to the capital, including San Vicente de la Barquera and Castro Urdiales, with Gothic architecture, beaches and the remains of a Roman colony. About 22 miles (35 kilometers) west of Santander is the Cave of Altamira in Santillana del Mar. It is known as the Sistine Chapel of cave art for its abundance of Ice Age paintings. See beautiful depictions of bulls, bison and other animals at the nearby museum, which re-creates part of the cave and its artworks. The cave itself is closed to visitors.
Move inland to explore Cantabria's mountains, valleys and forests. Spot wildlife in Cabarceno Natural Park, with more than 100 animal species, some of them endangered. Look for zebras, elephants, tigers, lions, gorillas and hyenas. Take the cable car from Fuente Dé to the top of the Pico Massif in the Picos de Europa National Park, the country’s first natural park. Hike along marked paths through the park’s mountains and valleys. Select from short and long routes for all abilities.
To experience Cantabria’s spectacular natural scenery and cultural attractions, fly into the international airport at Santander and get around by bus, train or rental car.