A couple of weekends ago, I went on a trip to the northern coast of Spain, about a 2 hour drive from where I live and a 5 hour drive from Madrid. We went to Cantabria, one of Spain’s greener provinces, to one village on the coast and two other a bit more inland. Although beautiful in and of itself, we skipped the capital, Santander, in favor of smaller places.
The first, Suances, was where we stayed in a hotel and it was located right on the beach with a beautiful view.
Although a bit chilly, we were able to go to the beach for a few hours and then went on to another village. Known for its beaches, Suances has little more of cultural or historical interest. It’s a beach town, with a small population during the winter that swells by the thousands in the summer.
The next village we went to was Santillana del Mar, known for its beauty and historical interest. Surrounded by a medieval wall, Santillana del Mar is a tiny village that can be easily seen and walked around in a few hours.
Besides the lovely, ancient streets, it features a colegiata, or collegiate church, impressive in its architecture, especially because of its location in such a small village.
Upon leaving Santillana del Mar and Suances, we stopped for a quick visit at the Mirador de Cortiguera, which had a wonderful view of the river and surrounding area.
Our last stop was Comillas, which has a number of interesting things to see, the first being Gaudí’s El Capricho, a house he designed and only one of three projects he completed outside of Catalonia, where La Sagrada Familia is located. (The other two are the castle in Astorga and Casa Botines in León.)
The house is a spectacular feat of design, featuring sunflowers all over the exterior.
Comillas also has a lovely university located on top of a very high hill, and a park called Parque Guell, although it is of no relation to Gaudí’s Parque Guell in Barcelona. What it did offer was another wonderful view of Comilla and the coast.
The trip back was made through another handful of small (like 20 people small) villages up in the mountains. Cantabria is truly a beautiful part of Spain, often overlooked for more popular regions of Spain like Barcelona, Andalusia, or Madrid, but I strongly recommend it, especially if you’re looking of a relaxing beach getaway with just enough tourism thrown in.