Parque de la Naturaleza Cabárceno


This open-air zoo 18km south of Santander is a curious but successful experiment: a free-range home on the site of former open-cut mines for everything from rhinos, wallabies, gorillas and lions to endangered Cantabrian brown bears. You’ll need a car and about three hours to tour its 20km of roadways. Alternatively, enjoy 6km (50 minutes') worth of aerial perspectives from the park's two telecabinas (cable cars).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santander attractions

1. Cuevas de Monte Castillo

6.96 MILES

Of these four World Heritage–listed caves 30km southwest of Santander, two – El Castillo and Las Monedas – are open for 45-minute guided visits (in…

2. Catedral de la Asunción

7.94 MILES

Santander’s serene cathedral comprises two Gothic churches, one above the other. The 14th-century upper church, extensively rebuilt after the 1941 fire,…

3. Centro Botín

7.95 MILES

Santander's newest and splashiest landmark, this ambitious waterfront arts and cultural centre opened to great fanfare in 2017. The futuristic two-block…

4. Iglesia del Santísimo Cristo

7.95 MILES

Two superposed Gothic churches make up Santander’s cathedral. In the lower, older, 13th-century Iglesia del Santísimo Cristo, glass floors reveal…

5. Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo

7.98 MILES

Santander’s art museum offers an extensive eclectic collection spanning the 16th to 21st centuries. Much of it is secondary Spanish art, though you’ll…

6. Biblioteca de Menéndez Pelayo

7.98 MILES

This vast old library with its beautiful wood-lined reading room was built in 1915 to house the 41,500 books bequeathed to Santander by local teacher,…

7. Casa-Museo de Menéndez Pelayo

8.01 MILES

The family home of celebrated local scholar Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo (1856–1912) stands directly behind the elaborate Biblioteca de Menéndez Pelayo,…

8. Jardines de Pereda

8.01 MILES

The pretty, recently refurbished gardens around the Centro Botín are named after 19th-century Cantabrian writer José María de Pereda, whose bronze effigy…