You can traverse this green-clad region next to Asturias from north to south in an hour. But don’t. For modern travellers, Cantabria offers a bit of everything. The coastline is a sequence of soft cliffs, beautiful beaches and colourful fishing ports; summer seaside days are perfectly possible (unreliable weather permitting). The inland mountains – sliced up by deep, multibranched valleys connected only by steep passes – are sprinkled with sleepy villages and prove a feast for the eyes, whether you drive the country roads or walk the trails.
Lively capital Santander provides a slice of urban life, with buzzing beaches and bodegas. Santillana del Mar and Comillas entice with their medieval and Modernista trappings. The prehistoric art of Altamira, El Castillo and Covalanas caves is some of the oldest and finest in the world, and Cantabria’s rugged ranges culminate in the abrupt mountain walls of the Picos de Europa in the west.