Plans for visiting Green Spain for a week or more
We suggest a route from east to west covering the four regions that make up part of Green Spain: the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. The route starts and finishes near two important airports with several international connections: Bilbao, and Santiago de Compostela.
There is also an option to travel through this area on the tourist train. This is the Transcantábrico Train, which connects Bilbao (Basque Country) with Santiago de Compostela (Galicia).
DAY 3: Santander and Altamira in Cantabria
- 1 Donostia – San Sebastián
- 2 Bilbao
- 3 Santander
- 4 Altamira
- 5 Picos de Europa National Park
- 6 Oviedo
- 7 Gijón
- 8 Ribeira Sacra
- 9 Santiago de Compostela
Distance from Bilbao to Santander: about 100 kilometres. How to get there: by car, using the A-8 motorway. There is also a regular train service from the Bilbao-Concordia station to Santander, with journeys taking about three hours. The journey by bus takes about an hour and a half. Santander airport is located less than 10 kilometres from the centre of the city and the port has direct ferries to the United Kingdom.
Morning in Santander
Sardinero beach is a stunning focal point of Santander. You can walk along the beach, enjoying the tranquillity of strolling along the sand and dipping your feet in the sea while heading to the Magdalena Peninsula. You must also visit Magdalena Palace, where you will find a surprise: penguins in their small, outdoor marine park in Santander. Continue walking along the Paseo de Pereda until you reach the other end, where you will see the modern Centro Botín. In about 3.5 kilometres you can discover the essence of the city, with several stately homes and historical buildings such as the central headquarters of Banco Santander. This area also hosts markets and fairs, especially on Sundays. The cathedral is also very close. If you fancy a break, head to the nearby Barrio Pesquero (around Avenida Sotileza) and try the fish of the day or a plate of typical rabas (calamari).
Evening of prehistoric art in Altamira
The Altamira Cave is unique and its cave paintings are considered the most important in the world. The tour includes an extremely detailed reconstruction of the original cave and the Altamira National Museum to ensure the original cave is preserved. The Neocave and the museum are located in Santillana del Mar. Distance from Santander: about 35 kilometres. How to get there: by car, using the A-67 motorway. There are also regular bus services. The nearest railway station is in Torrelavega, 10 kilometres away.
Visit the Neocave and the National Museum of Cave Paintings
Remember to buy your ticket in advance on their website and bear in mind the closing times (May to October at 8 pm, rest of the year at 6 pm, and Sundays and holidays at 3 pm). There is also a slight possibility of visiting the original cave: every Friday five people are chosen from the museum visitors between 9.30 am and 10.30 am, but they must be over 16 years old. At the end of the day, take the opportunity to explore Santillana del Mar, one of the most beautiful villages in Cantabria. A good way to do this is along Calle Río and Calle Carrera, just next to Plaza Mayor and Plaza de las Arenas.
More ideas in Cantabria
- - Feel the sea in seaside villages such as Laredo, Santoña and San Vicente de la Barquera (a route of about 100 kilometres) - Go to the modernist town of Comillas and visit El Capricho by Gaudí and the Sobrellano Palace. It is about 50 kilometres from Santander. - Spend a day surrounded by nature in special places such as the Picos de Europa National Park (for example, going up in the Fuente Dé cable car) and the Cabárceno Wildlife Park (highly recommended for children because they can see animals such as bears and lynxes in semi-captivity).
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