Cantabria is a territory of exceptional beauty. A place that mixes mountains and coast in a perfect way. An area that you have to see and that we are sure will amaze you, we are sure! We want to show you in this article, where we focus on charming towns in Cantabria. Throughout this post, we are going to show you some of the most beautiful towns in Cantabria. Picturesque villages with a very special charm and in unique places.
From the coast to the Picos de Europa or the Liébana Valley, you have countless towns of great beauty. We invite you to visit the Cantabrian community or, if you live in Santander for example, take a short trip to get to know them more thoroughly.
If you want to visit this beautiful region, we recommend that you do so by staying in one of the incredible rural houses in Cantabria that we have on our rural tourism portal. Without further ado, here we show you a selection of the most charming towns in Cantabria. In total, we have chosen up to 23 beautiful towns that are well worth a visit.
1. San Vicente de la Barquera
Located in the north of Cantabria and being one of the fishing villages par excellence, San Vicente de la Barquera is one of the most charming towns in Cantabria, without a doubt. Its location, in the heart of the Oyambre Natural Park, one of the Spanish natural spaces with the greatest ecological value, has provided incalculable natural values that make this beautiful town included within the so-called “Green Spain”.
San Vicente de la Barquera is not only known for its nature and for its privileged beaches. Its rich monumental heritage, its popular tradition and its great historical importance have made it an obligatory stop within Cantabria, as demonstrated by its old area, declared as a site of cultural interest, in which the Gothic Church of Santa María de Los Angels and bridges, especially Maza, built under the mandate of the Catholic Monarchs in the 16th century.
Listed as one of the most beautiful and emblematic towns in Cantabria, this noble and aristocratic town located on the gentle hills of the western Cantabrian coast enjoys great prestige from an architectural point of view.
This is demonstrated by its many modernist buildings, such as the Sobrellano Palace and its Pantheon Chapel, it’s Pontifical University with its characteristic reddish colour and its wooden coffered ceilings, or “El Capricho”, a clearly modernist palace designed by the famous architect Antonio Gaudí. Like San Vicente de la Barquera, it is part of the Oyambre Natural Park territory, which means that this town has some of the best fine sand beaches in Spain.
3. Santillana del Mar
Santillana del Mar is one of the essential sites on our Cantabrian route. Known as “the town of the three lies”, since it is neither holy nor flat and nor has a sea, it holds the distinction of being one of the towns with the greatest historical-artistic value in Spain. Being one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, how can we not include it in this list of the most charming towns in Cantabria?
In addition to its incredible landscape and its streets anchored in the past, the town has some wonderful buildings, such as the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana and Cloister, the Palacio de Mijares or the Palacio de Viceda, among others.
We cannot mention this beautiful Cantabrian town without looking at its main focus of tourism: Las Cuevas de Altamira. Discovered in 1868 by Modesto Cubilla and promoted by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, who discovered in 1879 the well-known “Sala de Los Polícromos, they have been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. With about 14 thousand years old, it is about 300 meters long in which we find numerous Paleolithic engravings.
Within the municipality of Cabuérniga, we can find other of the most beautiful towns in Cantabria: Carmona. At least we find different reasons to confirm it. First of all, we have to talk about the excellent location of Carmona, in the heart of the Cabuérniga valley, in addition to the excellent degree of conservation of its architectural heritage, which has earned it to be declared a Historic-Artistic Site.
A traditional place, where woodcraft continues to be an activity in the area and livestock continues to be another resource. You will be surprised, above all, by its impressive houses and wooden balconies.
5. Cabezón de la Sal
Its own name refers to the main activity of this town for centuries: the extraction of salt. Being one of the towns with the most history in Cantabria, it was a passing area within the well-known Route of the Foromontanos, one of the busiest paths during the first repopulation of late medieval Castile.
In Cabezón de la Sal there is a varied heritage in which art has a place, with monuments such as the Casa-Palacio de Carrejo, nowadays used as the Museum of Nature of Cantabria, or the Church of San Lorenzo, among others; We also find an important archaeological sample such as the prehistoric site of Cabrojo, dating from the Bronze Age and with sandstone engravings, and an important natural representation with the Saja Natural Park.
Located in the Liébana region, at the confluence of the Quiviesa, Deva and Bullón rivers, this small town of great beauty due to its geographical specialities, since it is located between the four valleys of the region, is known for being one of the most important in the medieval fights between the powerful noble houses of the Mendoza and the Manriques.
“Villa de Los Puentes”, hence its name, you cannot miss the wonderful views offered by the San Cayetano and Jail bridges and which convey the clear medieval essence of the place, as do the Torres del Infantado and Orejón de la Lama, both dating from the 15th century.
7. Bárcena Mayor
Being the only Cantabrian town included within the wonderful natural area of Saja-Besaya and located at the foot of the Argoza river in the municipality of Los Tojo’s, we find the town of Bárcena Mayor, declared a historical-artistic complex, thanks to the fantastic conservation of its old farmhouse, something that is worth considering that it is one of the oldest towns in Spain.
With a rustic and traditional architecture, walking through its historic cobbled streets we can see the medieval stamp of the place, with mountain houses accompanied by wooden balconies and wide hallways, typical of the Fernandina period. All this, of course, surrounded by an incomparable natural setting, abundant in forest and streams of Fuentona. This has earned it to be considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and, of course, to be on this list of charming towns.
In the municipality of Cabezón de Liébana, we can find one of those unknown towns in Cantabria that are incredibly beautiful and full of charm. A town of just 50 inhabitants that has a privileged geographical location. We are talking about Cahecho, which is also known for being the Mirador de Los Picos de Europa.
Among green meadows, this small town appears that has perfectly preserved stone and wooden houses. An idyllic town that you have to visit. Among its monuments, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption stands out, built at the beginning of the 16th century in a Gothic style.
9. Vega de Pas
Located in the southeastern part of Cantabria, Vega de Pas forms, together with the towns of San Pedro del Romeral and San Roque de Riomera, the set of “The Three Villas Pasiegas” established in medieval times.
What is really appreciated in this town are its characteristic “cabins”, stone constructions that were used in the past in a typical way by ranchers to find the best pastures, in addition to its two most characteristic monuments such as the Parish Church and the Sanatorium XIX century of Doctor Madrazo, and without forgetting the town square, from which we can enjoy the typical houses of the area.
Known in some documents by the nickname of “Luarna” and derived from the old family with that surname and to which Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo belonged, this Cantabrian town boasts one of the best urban centres in the community, as evidenced by its declaration as Asset of Cultural Interest and Historic Site, due to the presence in it of the beautiful masonry and stone masonry houses with wrought-iron balconies, dating from the 16th – 18th century, and the typical Lebani houses with the plant open to the outside and interlaced walls of rods.
Among its most striking monuments, there is the Torre de Mogrovejo, from the end of the 13th century, and the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, which has a fantastic baroque altar presided over by the image of La Milagrosa.
11. Viesgo Bridge
On the banks of the Pas river, more specifically in the northern area of the Toranzo Valley, we find the town of Puente Viesgo, a town with great cultural touches thanks to the presence in it for more than forty thousand years of one of the most prehistoric caves important of the national scene. Located in Monte Castillo, they have very visited thanks to their historical wide-line and ocher paintings representing deer, bison and horses.
Another element that attracts the most tourists to Puente Viesgo is its famous spa, which takes advantage of the medicinal waters of the spring and which were declared in 1924 of public utility, as they are widely used by people suffering from cardiovascular diseases or related to the system nervous.
Between the Quejo estuary and the Brusco point, Noja is located, a Cantabrian town that focuses its tourism on its wonderful beaches of fine golden sand and crystal clear waters. Among its best-known beaches, we find Tregadín Beach, characterized by being an ideal place for diving thanks to its wonderful landscape and spectacular fauna, and Playa del Ris, a natural paradise protected by its abundant vegetation and for being an ideal habitat for the local seagull population.
Architecturally, it is not far behind. If you are one of those who like to combine beach tourism with cultural tourism, you will not be able to pass through Noja without visiting the Casonas de los Garnica and Los Velasco, as well as the Victoria Mill, built-in 1629.
Chosen as the most beautiful town in Cantabria in 2016, thanks to its beautification project and actions that harmonize its environment and heritage, Cosío could not be absent from this list. An authentic jewel that is in the municipality of Rionansa and that does not reach 200 inhabitants.
Located at the junction between the Vendul River and the Nansa River, Cosío stands out for its popular architectural heritage. In particular, in Cosío we can find a rich civil heritage, confirming it with three different mansions: the 18th-century mansion, together with its chapel; the Seventeenth-century Casona Blazon de Los Cosío and the Casa de La Panda.
In this town of the municipality of Piélagos, a few kilometres from Santander, the gratifying presence of the Dunas de Liencres Natural Park stands out above all else, formed by two beaches and small coves of great beauty due to their golden sand, crystal clear water and its ideal waves for surfing. Behind these beaches are some of the most important dunes in the north of the country, and there is a mobile dune created by the currents of the coast and another fixed one with a large presence of vegetation such as sand reed or sea thistle.
If this incredible natural heritage that Liencres offers us is not enough, visit its Castle of Pedraja or that of Hercules, the latter declared as a Site of Cultural Interest.
In the heart of Torrelavega’s influence, Cartes attracts special interest due to its architecture full of medieval times and in which monuments such as the Casona de Los Quijano, the 18th century Bridge and the Church of Santa María de Yermo, dated from the 13th century. Its own civil mountain architecture also deserves special mention, with the typical row houses decorated with flowers and shields that make Cartes one of the most beautiful places in Cantabria.
If you cannot visit it during this month of August, try it for September, the month in which the pilgrimage of San Cipriano is celebrated and in which pilgrims move on foot carrying hazelnut sticks in which they bring loads of tasty doughnuts to around the road.
The south of Cantabria has numerous points of interest for tourists. Of that, there is no doubt. Nor of his incredible heritage. Neither of that. One of the best examples is found thanks to the small town of Cervantes, which has 60 inhabitants and is located in Campoo de Enmedio.
Within this well-kept and charming municipality, we find one of the many archaeological sites that exist in Cantabria. Specifically, that of Peña Central, a place where the Roman road was located in the direction of Julióbriga. But not only that, this is where we can see one of the best examples of Romanesque heritage in all of Cantabria. We are talking about the Collegiate Church of San Pedro, declared a Site of Cultural Interest, from the 12th century.
In the central part of Cantabria, Suances stands as the capital of the municipality that make up the five towns that extend through the junction of the Saja and Besaya rivers, which form the mouth of the Suances or San Martín de la Arena estuary.
With an economy based today on tourism, we can divide this town into two strong points: The town, made up of the typical fishing houses located in the upper part of the valley and from where you can see the famous estuary; and the Beaches, such as La Concha, which is the largest, Playa de Tagle, with its wonderful sunsets, or Playa de Los Locos, where it is common to find numerous surfers.
Nestled between the small elevations of Marimon and Cotillamon, Liérganes has one of the most important classical architectures in the area, which has been dated in the 17th and 18th centuries and which has served this municipality to be declared in 1978 as a point of historical-artistic interest, being also included as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain in the last year.
This statement is not surprising with the presence of monuments such as the Palacio de Rañada, the Church of San Sebastián and the Palacio de Elsedo Museum, which make Lierganes one of the most charming places in Cantabria. Special mention goes to the last of them, the Elsedo Palace, which has been considered one of the architectural jewels of the regional geography and which houses works by such important artists as Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Serrano or Miguel Berrocal, among many others.
19. Village of Ebro
One of the major landmarks in Cantabria is the Ebro. This is where the largest river in the entire Iberian Peninsula is born. Since its inception, in Fontibre, various towns grew up alongside this mighty river. Among all of them, we have chosen for this list Aldea de Ebro. In the municipality of Valdeprado del Río. Which is practically uninhabited (9 inhabitants in 2012).
This beautiful town was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest 15 years ago, with beautiful stone houses and wooden balconies. Among its monuments, you can visit its Romanesque parish complex. From the 13th century, consisting mainly of the Dondevilla hermitage. The church of San Juan Bautista.
You already know that the inland towns amaze us. For this reason, for us Tudanca, in Saja-Nansa, has to appear as one of the most charming towns in Cantabria. An essential village to discover that rustic and friendly landscape that this autonomous community draws.
The village of Tudanca was declared a historical-artistic complex in 1983. Where the Casona de Tudanca stands out, built in the time of Felipe V. A truly historical house as it has housed the activity of numerous intellectuals. From Unamuno to Alberti or Gerardo Diego, among others.
Within the same municipality of Cartes. We can find really beautiful little towns that you should see with your own eyes. One of them is Riocorvo, a beautiful town declared a Historic-Artistic Site, bathed by the Besaya river.
And what makes Riocorvo so special? Along its narrow streets, you can enjoy its impressive emblazoned mansions, most of them built in the 18th century. Some of the best examples of these houses are the Casa de las Púlpitos. The Casona de José Velarde or the Casona-Palacio de Los Alonso Caballero.
Liébana is a spectacular region in the interior of Cantabria. Much of its spectacular nature resides in its own towns. This is what happens with Dobres, a beautiful Cantabrian town surrounded by majestic mountains and gorges, you will be amazed!
Located on a hillside, it surprises with the traditional architecture of its buildings, as well as several stately homes. Among its places of interest, the Church of San Mamés stands out, built in the 18th century.
There are towns in Cantabria that ooze history on all sides. One of them is Argüeso, in the interior of the autonomous community, in the Trasmiera region. An ideal place to delve into the history of Cantabria many centuries ago. That you will love, both adults and children.
If you decide to visit Argüeso, surely what strikes. You the most is its castle that is located on the hill. Perfectly preserved and restored, its original structure dates from the 12th century and stands out for its Gothic-style elements. On the other hand, in the town, you can find different stately homes.
The Church of San Juan, from the late 16th century. Similarly, on the outskirts of Argüeso is the Cantabrian Town. The recreation based on ancient archaeological excavations of cabins. From between the 7th and 1st centuries BC. As you can see, in Cantabria you can find numerous charming towns, come and discover them!