Discovering Cantabria Spain: What is Cantabria Spain Known For?

Nestled in the heart of northern Spain lies the stunningly beautiful province of Cantabria. Known for its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and mouth-watering cuisine, Cantabria is the perfect destination for visitors looking to experience the best of Spain. Home to ancient caves, rugged coastlines, and rolling hills, this region is a favorite for nature lovers looking to explore the great outdoors.

With a history rich in tradition, Cantabria offers visitors a glimpse into the unique culture and customs of Spain. From its bustling cities to its quaint villages, the province is home to a diverse population of locals who are proud to share their heritage with visitors. And when it comes to cuisine, Cantabria does not disappoint. With a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the region is a food lover’s paradise, offering up delicious dishes like cocido montañes, a hearty bean stew, and the famous sobao pasiego, a sweet pastry that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth.

Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, immerse yourself in local culture, or simply indulge in some of the best food Spain has to offer, Cantabria is the perfect place to do it all. So why wait? Come and discover why this beautiful region is a must-see for anyone looking to experience the best of Spain.

The Geographic Location of Cantabria Spain

Cantabria is an autonomous community located in the north of Spain. It is bordered by the Bay of Biscay to the north, the Basque Country to the east, Castile and Leon to the south and Asturias to the west. Its strategic location has made it an important region since ancient times, acting as a natural passage between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe.

Cantabria has a surface area of 5,321 square kilometers and a population of approximately 600,000 people. Despite being one of the smallest regions in Spain, it is known for its diverse landscapes, rich culture and history, and stunning coastline.

What Makes Cantabria Unique?

  • Cantabria is one of the few regions in Spain that has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Its 200-kilometer coastline is home to a number of beaches, cliffs, and coves, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
  • The region is also known for its green mountainous landscapes, with the Picos de Europa mountain range located in the western part of Cantabria. The valleys, gorges and forests of these mountains provide some amazing hiking trails as well as scenic views.
  • Cantabria is a key destination for prehistoric and Romanic art. The Altamira Cave in Santillana del Mar is the most important prehistoric site in Europe. Its cave paintings are considered one of the greatest examples of prehistoric art. Cantabria’s Romanesque art includes important monuments like the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, Santa María de Lebeña and San Salvador de Cantamuda.

Cantabria’s Climate and Weather

Cantabria’s climate is oceanic, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay. The region has mild, wet winters and cool summers. The average temperature in the summer is around 20°C (68°F) and in the winter, around 9°C (48°F). Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, with October and November being the wettest months.


Cantabria’s geographic location has made it an important region throughout history. Its diverse landscapes, rich culture and history, and stunning coastline make it an ideal destination for tourists. Whether you are looking for outdoor activities, cultural visits or just want to enjoy the nature, Cantabria has something to offer everyone.

Geographic location North of Spain, bordering the Bay of Biscay to the north, the Basque Country to the east, Castile and Leon to the south and Asturias to the west.
Surface area 5,321 square kilometers
Population Approximately 600,000 people
Climate Mild, wet winters and cool summers with an oceanic climate.

Cantabria offers a unique blend of history, culture and nature with a mild, wet climate that ensures the region stays lush and green all year round. This makes it an ideal destination for anyone looking for a diverse and authentic holiday experience.

Famous Landmarks and Tourist Attractions in Cantabria

If you are planning to visit Cantabria, Spain, you will be delighted to know that it is home to several famous landmarks and tourist attractions. Here are a few of the must-visit locations during your trip:

  • Santander Cathedral: This magnificent cathedral is located in the heart of Santander, Cantabria’s capital city. The breathtaking views of the cathedral are considered as the main attraction. It is also known for its eclectic mix of architectural styles from Gothic to Baroque.
  • Altamira Cave: This is one of the most significant Paleolithic cave sites in the world and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cave houses several prehistoric paintings believed to be over 35,000 years old. Unfortunately, the cave is closed to the public, but you can visit the Altamira Museum nearby.
  • Picos de Europa National Park: The Picos de Europa National Park is a magnificent landscape of mountains and valleys bewitching tourists with its outstanding viewpoints, walking trails, flora, and fauna. The park also offers various activities like hiking, rafting, and skiing, making it the perfect destination for adventure and nature lovers.

Gaudi in Comillas

If you are a fan of Gaudi’s architecture, be sure to visit the sleepy town of Comillas, located in the northwestern part of Cantabria. It is mainly known for its Modernist-inspired palaces and buildings constructed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and his disciple, Manuel Ruis de Pereda. These buildings showcase Gaudi’s signature architecture with polychrome tiled facades, iron lattice balconies, and sculptural embellishments. Here is a list of must-visit places in Comillas:

  • Elsie de Wolfe House: This beautiful building was constructed by Gaudi’s apprentice, Manuel Ruis de Pereda. It is known for its intricate ironwork and ornate balconies, making it an essential stop on your Gaudi-inspired tour.
  • Sobrellano Palace: This stunning palace is a masterpiece of Modernist architecture designed by Gaudi. It features Salamancan sandstone, stucco reliefs, and intensely colored tile work that continue to attract tourists from all over the world.
  • Capricho de Gaudi: This is the first building Gaudi designed outside of Catalonia. Built-in 1885-1886, the Capricho is now a museum that displays the development of Gaudi’s style. The building features sunglasses arches and floral tiles that were prevalent in Gaudi’s later work.

Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar is another beautiful town located about 25 km from Santander. The town is famous for its medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and well-preserved buildings dating back to the Romanesque era. Santillana del Mar is a lush green oasis that offers traditional architecture to visitors.

Attractions Description
The Altamira Museum The Altamira Museum is where people who cannot visit the original caves can see the detailed replicas of the original.
Santa Juliana Collegiate The Santa Juliana Collegiate is a 12th-century Romanesque church that is one of the most iconic buildings in Santillana del Mar.
Calle del agua The Calle del Agua is a charming street with a stream flowing under it. The street will lead you from the arch to the plaza where the church is located.
The Regina Coeli Monastery The Regina Coeli Monastery is a magnificent 16th-century building with a beautiful medieval church.

If you’re planning a trip and wanted to experience the beauty of nature, the historical sites, and the hospitality of friendly locals, then Cantabria is the perfect destination for you.

The Unique Culture and Traditions of Cantabria

Cantabria is a region located in the northern part of Spain that is known for its unique culture and traditions. The region’s history, geography, and climate have all contributed to shaping the beliefs and customs of its people. Here are some of the most notable aspects of Cantabrian culture:

  • Gastronomy: Cantabria is known for its abundance of natural resources, which has allowed its gastronomy to flourish. Some of the most famous dishes include cocido montañés, a hearty stew made with beans, sausage, and pork, as well as sobaos pasiegos, a type of sponge cake. The region is also known for its seafood dishes, particularly those made with anchovies, squid, and crab.
  • Literature: Cantabria has a rich literary tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. The region has produced many notable writers, including José Hierro, who won the National Poetry Prize in 1999. In addition, Cantabria is home to several literary festivals each year, which celebrate the region’s cultural heritage.
  • Festivals: Cantabria is known for its lively and colorful festivals, many of which have religious origins. One of the most famous festivals is La Folía de San Sebastián, which takes place on January 20th in the town of San Sebastián de Garabandal. During the festival, locals dress up in colorful costumes and dance in the streets to traditional music.

In addition to these cultural elements, Cantabria is also home to several unique traditions that have been passed down through the generations:

Los Pasiegos: Los Pasiegos are a group of people who live in the mountains near Burgos. They have their own language, known as Pasiego, as well as a distinctive style of dress. The Pasiegos are known for their strong sense of community, and they have managed to preserve many of their cultural traditions despite the modernization of the region.

El Anchoa de Santoña: Santoña is a town located on the coast of Cantabria that is known for its anchovies. The town has a long tradition of fishing and preserving anchovies, and today it is one of the most important centers for anchovy production in the world. Every year, Santoña holds a festival to celebrate this local delicacy, which includes a parade, live music, and, of course, plenty of anchovies.

Festival Date Location
La Folía de San Sebastián January 20th San Sebastián de Garabandal
Semana Santa Varies Throughout the region
La Batalla de Flores August 15th Laredo

Overall, the unique culture and traditions of Cantabria are a testament to the rich history and diversity of this region of Spain. From its gastronomy and literature to its festivals and traditions, Cantabria has much to offer visitors who are interested in learning about its unique cultural heritage.

Popular Foods and Drinks in Cantabria

Cantabria, a region in northern Spain, is known for its delightful cuisine and refreshing drinks. Here are some of the popular foods and drinks in Cantabria:

  • Anchoas de Santoña: This specialty of Cantabria is made with salted anchovies from Santoña. They are often served with bread or as an appetizer.
  • Sobaos Pasiegos: These sponge cake-like pastries are a Cantabrian favorite. They are made with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, and are perfect with a cup of coffee.
  • Cocido Lebaniego: This hearty stew is a typical dish from the Liébana Valley in Cantabria. It is made with chickpeas, meat (usually pork), and vegetables.
  • Queso de Nata: This creamy cheese is made with cow’s milk and has a rich, buttery flavor. It is usually served with bread or crackers.

In addition to these delicious dishes, Cantabria is also known for its refreshing beverages:

  • Sidra: This traditional cider is made from apples and is a popular drink in Cantabria.
  • Orujo: This distilled liquor is made from the pomace left over from winemaking. It is a traditional drink in Cantabria and is often served after dinner as a digestive.
  • Cerveza Artesana: Craft beer is becoming increasingly popular in Cantabria, with several local breweries producing high-quality and unique brews.

To fully experience the flavors of Cantabria, it is recommended to try these foods and drinks at the local markets or restaurants. You can also find many of these products at specialty shops throughout the region.

Food/Drink Description
Anchoas de Santoña Salted anchovies from Santoña, often served as an appetizer with bread.
Sobaos Pasiegos Sponge cake-like pastries made with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Often served for breakfast or with coffee.
Cocido Lebaniego A hearty stew made with chickpeas, meat (usually pork), and vegetables. A typical dish from the Liébana Valley in Cantabria.
Queso de Nata Creamy cheese made with cow’s milk. Has a rich, buttery flavor and is often served with bread or crackers.
Sidra Traditional cider made from apples. A popular drink in Cantabria.
Orujo Distilled liquor made from the pomace left over from winemaking. A traditional drink in Cantabria and often served after dinner as a digestive.
Cerveza Artesana Craft beer becoming increasingly popular in Cantabria, with several local breweries producing high-quality and unique brews.

Whether you’re a foodie or just looking to try something new, the foods and drinks of Cantabria are sure to delight your taste buds.

The History of Cantabria and Its Impact Today

Cantabria, located in the northern part of Spain, has a rich cultural and historical background. It is known for its beautiful scenery, delicious food, and unique cultural traditions. The region’s history dates back to prehistoric times, where many of the ancient cultures left their marks on the region that still remain today.

  • The Cantabrian War – Perhaps, the most well-known moment in Cantabria’s history is the Cantabrian War. The conflict began in 29 BC when Rome declared war on the Cantabrian tribes in the region. The war lasted for a decade, and it remains one of the most important moments in the history of Cantabria. It symbolizes the resilience and strength of the Cantabrian people.
  • The Prehistoric Era – Cantabria has a rich prehistoric past and is known for its many prehistoric caves, including Altamira Cave, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. These caves are famous for their wall paintings that date back over 40,000 years. These paintings depict various animals, including bison, horses, and deer, and are some of the finest examples of prehistoric art in the world.
  • The Roman Era – During the Roman era, Cantabria played an important role in the trade between Rome and the north of Spain. Many Roman ruins still exist in the region, including the remains of a Roman villa near Santillana del Mar. These ruins provide a glimpse into daily life during that time in history.

Today, the cultural and historical significance of Cantabria is still visible throughout the region. Its unique traditions, such as its food, music, and festivals, are a testament to the enduring spirit of the Cantabrian people. The region is also known for its breathtaking landscape, from its pristine beaches to its expansive mountain ranges and forests.

The history of Cantabria has left a lasting impact on the region. Its past has helped to shape the region’s identity and culture, and it continues to influence the people who live there today. From its ancient past to its modern charm, Cantabria is a fascinating destination for any traveler looking to experience the rich history of Spain.

Historical City/Town Historical Significance
Santander The capital of Cantabria, it’s known for its beautiful beaches and unique cultural events.
Cabezón de la Sal A town with historic significance dating back to the Middle Ages. It’s known for its many fountains and historic buildings.
Santillana del Mar An ancient town that dates back to the 8th century, it’s known for its well-preserved historic buildings, such as its Romanesque church and medieval tower.

Overall, with its rich history and cultural significance, Cantabria is a hidden gem in Spain, worth discovering by all those who wish to experience its unique and fascinating past.

Natural Wonders and Ecotourism in Cantabria

Cantabria, situated on the northern coast of Spain, is known for its breathtaking natural wonders and ecotourism. Its diverse landscape features everything from rugged coastlines to verdant mountain ranges, making it a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Picos de Europa National Park: This stunning national park is home to the Picos de Europa mountain range, one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Spain. Visitors can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, or simply take in the breathtaking views from one of the park’s many scenic overlooks.
  • Saja-Besaya Natural Park: The Saja-Besaya Natural Park is a protected biosphere reserve that encompasses a spectacular forested landscape. Activities like hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting are popular here, with visitors having the chance to see Iberian wolves, bears, deer, and other animals.
  • Altamira Cave: This famous cave, located in the town of Santillana del Mar, is home to some of the world’s best-preserved Paleolithic cave paintings. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cave to see the intricate artwork up close and learn about the region’s history.

For those looking to experience ecotourism at its best, Cantabria does not disappoint. The abundant natural beauty of the region can be explored and enjoyed in a number of ways.

Cantabria boasts a wide range of eco-friendly tourism options, including hiking, cycling, wildlife watching, and kayaking. For those interested in more sustainable travel, there are numerous campsites and eco-lodges in the area that offer a chance to enjoy the region’s natural beauty while minimizing one’s impact on the environment.


With its natural wonders and emphasis on ecotourism, Cantabria is an unbeatable destination for those seeking adventure and sustainable travel. Its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and diverse wildlife make it one of the most unique and rewarding regions of Spain.

Pros Cons
– Abundant natural beauty – Limited public transport in rural areas
– Wide range of eco-friendly tourism options – Can be crowded during peak travel season
– Opportunity to see rare wildlife

Overall, Cantabria’s natural wonders and ecotourism opportunities make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in sustainable travel and outdoor adventure.

Festivals and Celebrations in Cantabria

Cantabria, located in the northern region of Spain, is known for its vibrant festivals and celebrations. The region is proud of its traditions and customs, and throughout the year, locals and tourists alike gather to celebrate various occasions, ranging from religious events to cultural festivals.

  • Santander International Festival: Known as the “Festival of Festivals,” this grand celebration takes place in Santander, the capital city of Cantabria. It spans over two weeks in late July, and features numerous events such as concerts, theater performances, exhibitions, and other cultural activities.
  • La Bien Aparecida: This festival is held in honor of the patron saint of Cantabria, the Virgin of Bien Aparecida. It takes place on September 15th every year, and includes a procession, masses, and other religious events in the town of Ampuero.
  • Cosmopuebla: This festival celebrates the culture of the Puebla community, which is made up of immigrants from the Mexican state of Puebla. It is held in the town of Torrelavega every May, and features traditional food, music, and dance performances.
  • Santos Mártires: This festival honors the patron saints of the town of Liérganes, Cosme and Damián. It takes place on September 26th, and includes a procession, a market, and other traditional events.
  • Festival of La Folía: This festival features traditional music, dance, and theater performances, and celebrates the region’s unique cultural heritage. It takes place in July in the town of San Vicente de la Barquera.
  • San Juan: This celebration takes place on June 23rd, and is held in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Traditionally, bonfires are lit, and people gather to eat, drink, and dance throughout the night. This festival is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Cantabria.
  • Los Indianos: This festival is held in the town of La Palma on the day before Ash Wednesday. It celebrates the return of Cantabrians who emigrated to the Caribbean and South America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Participants dress in white and throw talcum powder at each other, symbolizing the wealth of those who returned from the Americas.

The Battle of Flowers

One of the most famous festivals in Cantabria is the Battle of Flowers, celebrated in the city of Laredo in late August. This festival dates back to the 19th century and originated as a simple floral parade. Today, the festival has evolved into a floral battle, where participants throw flowers at each other from floats. The event attracts thousands of visitors from all over Spain and the world, and it is widely considered one of the most beautiful and colorful events in the country.

Date Location Description
Late July – Early August Santander Santander International Festival
September 15th Ampuero La Bien Aparecida
May Torrelavega Cosmopuebla
September 26th Liérganes Santos Mártires
July San Vicente de la Barquera The Festival of La Folía
June 23rd Throughout Cantabria San Juan
Day before Ash Wednesday La Palma Los Indianos

Overall, the festivals and celebrations in Cantabria offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the unique traditions and customs of the region. From religious events to colorful parades and cultural festivals, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

What is Cantabria Spain known for?

Q: Where is Cantabria located in Spain?
A: Cantabria is a region in the northern part of Spain, bordered by the Bay of Biscay to the north.

Q: What are some popular tourist attractions in Cantabria?
A: Some popular tourist attractions in Cantabria include the Altamira Cave, Santillana del Mar, and Picos de Europa National Park.

Q: Is Cantabria known for its food?
A: Yes, Cantabria is known for its seafood, particularly anchovies, and its traditional dishes like cocido montañés and sobaos pasiegos.

Q: Are there any festivals or events in Cantabria?
A: Yes, Cantabria is home to several festivals and events throughout the year, including the La Folía de Carmona, Santander International Festival, and the Batalla de Flores parade.

Q: What outdoor activities are popular in Cantabria?
A: Cantabria is popular for outdoor activities such as hiking in Picos de Europa National Park, surfing in the Bay of Biscay, and visiting the Cabárceno Wildlife Park.

Q: Does Cantabria have any cultural significance?
A: Yes, Cantabria has a rich history and cultural heritage, with prehistoric cave paintings in Altamira, Roman ruins, and medieval churches.

Q: Is Cantabria a good destination for families?
A: Yes, Cantabria is a great destination for families, with plenty of outdoor activities, family-friendly attractions like the Cabárceno Wildlife Park, and beautiful beaches.

Closing Thoughts

Cantabria Spain is a gem of a region, known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history and cultural heritage, delicious food and wine, and vibrant festivals and events. Its mix of outdoor activities, family-friendly attractions, and charming towns and cities make it a great destination for all types of travelers. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit Cantabria on your next trip to Spain!