Situated in the north coast of Spain, bordering the Basque Country on the west, Cantabria is a region of high summits and green valleys that reach the fine sand beaches and the cliffs over the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital city is Santander, just 100km from Bilbao airport.
Its natural beauty is the main asset of the region but Cantabria offers as well a rich architectural legacy and beautiful coastal towns. Hikers and cyclists can enjoy the Natural Parks, such as Cabarceno and Picos de Europa. The wide sand windy beaches are perfect for surfers but also other sea activities. It is also the perfect destination for geology and caving lovers, thanks to the 9.000 underground cavities, among which the 10 prehistory caves declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
What is the best way to discover what Cantabria has to offer to companies that chose it for an upcoming MICE trip? We hope this post will give you some keys.
Cantabria’s capital is an attractive city with natural beauty, excellent gastronomy and rich cultural life. The city lays around a large natural port (used already before Roman Empire times) with spacious green areas and large golden sand beaches. Considered one of the most elegant and beautiful north Spanish cities, framed by the beach and mountains, Santander is a combination of palatial buildings and fishing tradition just few kilometres from two natural parks.
What to do in Santander? Besides the traditional cultural city routes, Santander takes advantage of its natural surroundings to offer active programmes to visitors. The fantastic beaches call to action: surfing, paddle surf, sailing, kayaking or seafood collection routes. On land, bike routes offer a different way to discover both the city and surroundings.
Central coast area
This area covers the stretch between Miengo and Comillas and a large number of superb high quality beaches are its main attraction. Some beaches are surrounded by rural landscapes, other have good access and offer tranquillity and, all of them, are wide extensions of golden fine sand. The villages and small towns around are rich in history and monumental heritage: Santillana del Mar, Altamira and Comillas are some of the best known spots.
Surf, paddle surf, diving, snorkel, sailing, kayaking, bike and e-bike routes, canyoning, guided routes in the mines … are some of the activities this beautiful coast stretch is ready to offer.
East Santander, we find the area that concentrates most beaches, both urban and wild. One of its features is the fishing tradition, which still exists and counts with an important boat fleet that supply artisan factories where tuna and sardines are cured and transformed into prestigious preserves. Two maritime reserves offer visitors de possibility to practice birdwatching. It is the perfect area for gastronomic tourism, with visits to anchovy canning factories and cheese making workshops.
Situated in the interior of Cantabria and surrounded by high summits, Liébana has an important landscape value. It is a traditional rural destination that preserves the authenticity of its small villages and of its culture. It is divided in several valleys, being Val de Baró the most visited one: a cable car connects the valley with a viewpoint 1000m high from where there is a fantastic view over Picos de Europa peaks. Historic heritage is mainly represented by monasteries and medieval churches, being Santo Toribio one of the four holy places of Christian pilgrimage.
Trekking, hiking, fauna observation … are some of the most practiced activities by visitors. Combine it with canyoning, kayaking, eco-routes, horse riding, 4x4 routes, visit to cheese making workshops or visit to traditional Orujo liquor distilleries.
We continue with more gastronomy experiences. The three Pasiegos valleys are connected with each other since ancient times through the mountains that divide them, thanks to the migration of its inhabitants: the “pasiegos”. When we imagine Cantabria, we see green valleys, vast pastures, small villages and reserved people. Well, Pasiego Valleys is exactly this. Villages as Liérganes, Villacarriedo and Selaya are good examples of historic and artistic declared sites. Furthermore, we can find caves with paintings dating from 30.000 years ago.
The valleys are also home to artisans that produce one of the most traditional sweet products from Cantabria: the sobaos pasiegos, a sponge cake prepared with the wonderful Cantabrian butter. Besides this traditional product from Pas Valley, the area is well known by the quality cheese produced: a visit to a cheese workshop can be a nice experience, combined with a visit in one of the few local wineries.
A high ecologic value is the main characteristic of this area. Situated between the coast and mountain chains, it includes two protected natural reserves and two valleys. One of the main attractions we can find is El Soplao, a unique cave considered one of the wonders of geology.
A visit to El Soplao cave is one of the must-do in Cantabria. Discovered in the early 20th, it is considered to be a true speleology paradise. In addition to its enormous geological value, the Cave and its surroundings contain an exceptional industrial and archaeological heritage, with more than 20 km of tunnels. The mining activity has also left its mark on the outside: derricks, calcining furnaces, washing facilities, workshops, etc. The mining work was dedicated to the extraction of blende and galena, two of the best ores for obtaining zinc and lead, respectively.
Another point of interest are the villages of Tudanca, Carmona, Puebla Vieja de San Vicente de la Barquera and Bárcena Mayor, where traditional architectural details are fully preserved. The coastal town San Vicente de la Barquera is perhaps the best known and is also a stage in the St Jaime Pilgrim Way.
The area also invites guests to try nature and active sports, such as river descends by kayak, rafting, canyoning and surf.
Cantabria, a region to discover through its nature, heritage and gastronomy while enjoying fantastic views over the ocean from its palatial hotels or just enjoy the quietness of its greens valleys in one of the real spa & thermal hotels. A place where everything from a relaxed stay to an active program is possible.
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