If you want to see the rural beauty of Spain, head to the north coast and go into the region known as Cantabria. The landscape is stunning. It’s easy to get to with various airlines such as Ryanair flying to Santander – a major city in northern Spain. So, what sort of thing can you expect to see?
If you love beaches and being near the sea, you have the windswept coastline at Oyambre. The bay is deep and set between two old towns – San Vicente de La Barquera and Comillas. Oyambre is also within a protected nature park, so you won’t be facing any high rise flats on the shoreline here! The Picos Mountains form a beautiful frame for this enormous golden beach, which is protected from the elements at one end by an estuary, making it an ideal spot for younger children. It’s an exceptional coastal area and a good surf spot too, if the conditions are right. Winter or summer, this is a beautiful beach to visit.
Comillos and Cabezon
One of the regions' oldest settlements, Comillos it has retained its old town – and has a fine old castle high up overlooking the town and the bay, which has its own fishing harbour.
There’s some exceptional buildings here too – a great find is a visit to see Gaudi’s mind blowing designs on the Capricho Monument and the Palacio de Sobrellano. Cabezon is known for its Cantabrian Festival – an all day fiesta with bands, regional food and best of all, when night falls the street parade includes the farm animals, which enable the farmers to retain their way of life!
The View From Above
The Picos de Europa – the Mountains of Europe - are fantastic! You can take a cable car 1800 metres up the mountains at Fuente De to the Mirador del Cable. Once you have recovered from the shock of its almost vertical journey up the mountain, you can walk to the Refugio de Aliva which is about two and half miles along a designated path. If the walk down seems just too much to contemplate, you can get a jeep ride to take you back down to the valley floor.
If you love wandering through old towns, visit Santillana del Mar, a village with more than its fair share of seriously big, ancient houses. A visit here is on route for a trip to the caves of Altamira – where the cave painting are thought to be the best in Europe. The caves are protected now, but the town is very proud of its ancient heritage - check out the gift shops for copies of the drawings.
Valle de Pas
The valley is special to the spanish - it's where many still go for their annual summer break. And it's easy to see why. Its magnificent countryside, good food and pleasant climate, is complimented by lots of local colour and history. If its all a bit too rural for you at Puenta Viesgo you can find a rather good spa – so if getting your hiking boots on isn’t for you, you can enjoy the luxury of being soothed, massaged and pummelled in some rather wonderful surroundings!