Vacation in a northern Spanish town that is set amid spectacular natural landscapes and close to an ancient cave system decorated with Paleolithic art.
With evergreen valleys, ancient forests, waterfalls, green meadows and limestone caves, La Gándara and its surroundings are scenic gems in the heart of Green Spain. Make the town your base for exploring the beautiful Cantabrian countryside in northern Spain.
Go hiking in forests of beech trees and Cantabrian holm oaks in Collados del Asón Natural Park. This protected part of the Cantabrian Mountains is located just west of La Gándara. Enjoy a canoeing expedition on the Asón River, sections of which run through the park. Nearby is the Mirador de La Gándara. From its purpose-built viewing point you can see the waterfalls that are the source of the Gándara River. More hiking opportunities await in the Valley of the Asón and on the walking trails that pass through Astrana.
Drive through Cabárceno Natural Park to see hundreds of free-roaming animals, such as lions, rhinos, jaguars, elephants, Bengal tigers and ostriches. This wildlife area in the mountains covers 1,850 acres (750 hectares) of the Peña Cabarga Nature Reserve.
Discover how ancient peoples adapted to this part of the world when you visit the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The limestone caves are renowned for well-preserved Paleolithic cave paintings, some of which date back to 35,000 B.C. Although the Altamira Cave is closed to protect the paintings, the adjacent museum has a walk-through replica of the cave and reproductions of the paintings. Study artifacts that depict how Paleolithic people used to live.
If you want to explore inside caves, drive south of La Gándara for about 40 minutes to the Monumento Natural de Ojo Guareña. This is a vast complex of karst caves that has guided tours.
Reach La Gándara by flying into Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) away. Make the rest of the journey to the green and mountainous surroundings by bus or rental car.