Semana Santa was celebrated last week here in Spain meaning I had a week off work which was the perfect opportunity to do a little bit more travelling. Before heading back to England for 6 days, I took a short but lovely trip to Cantabria on the north coast of Spain. After spending so long in Andalucía, I haven’t had the chance to really explore the rest of Spain. Andalusia is full of so many incredible towns and cities that my time had been dedicated to visiting them first.
I call this blog post “An Unknown Beauty” because before moving to Spain, I had never even considered this region as one even worth visiting, nor had it ever come into my thinking of Spain. Before when I thought of “Spain”, I thought entirely of Madrid and Barcelona which are the normal tourist traps. However, now having visited twice, I have to admit that Cantabria is honestly so beautiful and picturesque that it challenges the charm of any other city or town that I’ve visited. Beautiful, rural, quiet and charming are just some adjectives I would certainly use to describe this region. Aside from the mountains, it reminded me a lot of my home county of Norfolk in the east of England and also of Switzerland where I visited 4 years ago. What seemed like dozens of rural villages were just dotted in and round the valleys of mountains. Cantabria, from the parts I saw anyway, is filled with a unique history and tradition whilst being situated in the midst of some of the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen.
I must admit, it was very useful being shown and driven around by locals (¡Tengo que dar las gracias a Alejandro y su familia por haber hecho esto, os lo agradezco mucho!) as it most probably allowed me to see a side of the region that maybe most aren’t able to. With it being a very rural region, public transport seemed very very limited (to the point where I don’t think I ever saw a bus).
I just wanted to write this blog just to show you and recommend to you some of the great places I visited and the breathtaking things I saw in case you ever do find yourself in Cantabria.
Santillana Del Mar
This was a beautiful, yet tiny, historic town filled with the most quaint little houses. It attracts thousands of tourists every year because of its picturesque buildings and cobble streets. We spent the afternoon there looking around the local church, having a couple of drinks and just strolling around taking in the views and the tranquility. Only residents are allowed to drive their cars through the centre but there are quite a few car parks on the ‘outskirts’. It was perfect to spend a couple of hours of an afternoon. You can also go for pony and horse rides there if that interests you! I must admit, I did go a bit snapper happy in this adorable little town, but can you blame me?
This is certainly not one of the tallest mountains in Cantabria, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Only at a mere 569 metres tall, its views are incredible. It was so nice to drive up (although many were cycling and even walking!) and just to take in the views for half an hour or so. Although it wasn’t the best day for mountain viewpoints, I was still incredibly impressed. There was also a nice little sign showing you how far away you are from other key European landmarks (I had two more to tick off!)
If mountains and historic village just aren’t enough, Cantabria / Santander is also home to some beautiful beaches. We went for a walk along Playa Somo just as the sun was starting to go down and although very very nippy, it was beautiful. The beach is vast and the sunset just made it so much prettier. As you walk along the shore, you can see the Palacio de La Magdalena. The other beach featured in the pictures is in Santander itself .
No, not Faro in Portugal. Meaning lighthouse in Spanish, this place pretty much does what it says on the tin. A lighthouse right by the sea with an adjacent rock face which you’re welcome to climb. The photo of the huge rock in the top left photo is what you can walk along until the very end to enjoy the views there. Definitely worth the visit and I can only imagine how much better the views would be without the in depending cloud.
Another beautiful village I had the chance to visit yet complete distinct from the first. An even smaller village with a population of just under 3,000 people, it is the home to a local legend which tells of a man half-human half-fish being washed up onto the banks of the stream which run through the city. There is only a small little church on top of hill which is well worth the visit (although it was closed when we went). We spent an hour or so just sat by the stream-cum-river taking in the sheer quietness of the town and it was so calming.
I really had the nicest time in Cantabria. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful region of Spain which I’m very glad I had the chance to visit. I’m hoping to make future visits so I can continue to explore it’s many crooks and crannies. Thank you for reading about my travels!
See ya x