Cantabria has much in common with its neighbor Asturias. Like Asturias it is another region of “Green Spain,” and is largely composed of picturesque rolling hills of grazing livestock down to its seaside cliffs. A history of resistance to the Romans and Moors is also shared, before being a part of the Christian push back against the Muslim encroachment. And like Asturias it is host to a series of beautiful beach coves, comely villages, and the limestone rocks of the mountains are full of caverns – more than six thousand of them, including many with prehistoric art. Indeed, the greatest collection of paintings of them all, those of the caves of Altamira, are to be found in the region.
The tourism scene is somewhat more over-exploited in Cantabria than in its western neighbors, and it is difficult to find a free hotel in the summer, especially along the coast. The main city along the seaside is Santander, which is a classical and pretty place fashionable for genteel getaways with miles of uplifting sandy beaches. As with the entirety of the North Coast, the accessibility of the undulating interior from the coast, and vice-versa, is one of the main attractions, meaning a seaside swim and mountain hike can easily be combined in a day. The village of Potes, with a host of Swiss style chalet hotels in the surrounding area, is a beautiful base from which to explore the Picos de Europa, and from which to access the cable car that runs from nearby Fuente De to the heart of the mountain massif some eight hundred meters above.
Specialities in the region are mostly either seafood or dairy, with special mention going to their cheeses and a couple of dairy sweet treats: a pudding named quesada, and a buttery sponge knows as sobaos. In the highlands they have their own version of a hearty mountain stew, bean, cabbage, and pork stew cocido montañes.