Cantabria’s laid-back villages, mighty mountain ranges and striking coastline offer up a different side to Spain. Tucked away amongst steep valleys, this is the ideal destination for school groups looking for a taste of country life.
With these top 10 free things to do, charming Cantabria can’t fail to captivate your students… without breaking the bank!
1. Centro Botín – Santander
The latest addition to Santander’s cityscape is the Centro Botín. Located on the waterfront, this art centre’s striking design sets it apart. Live like a local with a stop at the centre’s café – the place to be. Whilst admission applies for entry into the galleries, access to the rest of the building is free of charge.
2. Capricho de Gaudí (external viewing)
Famous for his extravagant architecture, Antoni Gaudí left few reminders of his creations outside Catalonia. The stunning 19th century Capricho de Gaudí is one of his most elaborate works, and one that’s certain to inspire your young linguists. The exterior is highly decorated with ceramic bands of sunflowers and leaves. Entry fee applies.
3. Jardines de Pereda
Located in the heart of Santander’s old town are the pretty Jardines de Pereda. Named after 19th century writer José María de Pereda, her works are depicted throughout the park in bronze and stone statues. You’ll feel a world away from the city’s hustle and bustle as you meander along the park’s pathways and stroll down the promenade overlooking the coast.
4. Mercado de la Esperanza
Spain’s markets are always a colourful and lively affair – and Santander’s Mercado de la Esperanza is no exception! Located in the city centre, just behind the city hall, this market is at the very heart of Santander life. Showcasing the local traditions and diverse produce, students can practise their Spanish as they stroll amongst the stalls picking up souvenirs.
5. Santillana del Mar
Take a step back in time with a visit to the coastal town of Santillana del Mar. Visitors to this medieval town have plenty to explore! Wind your way down the quaint cobbles streets lined with terracotta-roofed houses and admire the perfectly preserved buildings. A visit to the nearby National Museum and Research Centre of Altamira is not to be missed (admission fee applies).
Set high amongst the hilltops is the attractive town of Comillas. The town’s striking Modernista architecture, cobbled streets and small fishing port make it the perfect spot to discover a true taste of Spain. Students will love taking some time out on Comillas’ charming beach.
At the foot of the Picos de Europa, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, is the small town of Potes. Find your feet in this historic town as you stroll along the picturesque streets, admiring the medieval buildings, churches and traditional squares. For breathtaking views, head to the Infantado Tower.
8. Picos de Europe
Offering up remarkable mountain scenery is Picos de Europa. There are photo opportunities aplenty as you take in the stunning views across the rocky peaks, turquoise lakes and deep valleys below. For the more energetic, explore the park on foot along one of the hiking routes, or take the cable car (fee applies) and admire the scenery from the viewing platform.
9. Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is every bit as famous for its architecture as its art. The museum’s dramatic, shimmering façade catches the eye and makes this a must for any visitor to Bilbao. The perfect spot for a selfie! Entrance fee applies.
10. Take a walk
The best way to explore a city is on foot, so pick up a map and find your feet in Cantabria’s big cities – Santander and Bilbao! Follow your nose and stumble upon sights around every corner. Start by taking a stroll along Santander’s beaches or checking out the popular shopping streets. Alternatively, discover the museums, architecture and artwork and Basque cuisine Bilbao is famous for.