Cantabria may be a small region but there’s plenty to offer families. The 165km of Atlantic coast is backed by beautiful valleys and mountains, with the Picos de Europa Mountains acting as a natural boundary to the region. Cantabrian society has a fairly traditional outlook, and great importance is attached to family life. The culture is welcoming and families with children will feel very much at home.
For many people, holidays in Cantabria begin at Santander, a fashionable seaside resort with its own international airport and ferry port. It’s home to one of the most perfect family beaches in the region, Mataleñas, as well as the 1.3km-long El Sardinero beach.
You could easily spend an entire holiday in Cantabria exploring the beautiful beaches of the region. Whether your family are into surfing, diving, sailing or windsurfing there’s a beach to try them out on. If you want to get out of the midday sun, why not take a visit to Maritime Museum, on the sea front in Santander, where you can see sharks, sting rays and octopus swimming in the tanks.
A great way to explore some of the region is on horseback, especially if you have horse-mad kids! Try the Aravalle Equestrian Centre, which is 6km from Potes. At Hoz, in the Abiada area are ancient forests perfect for exploring, with possibly the oldest walnut tree in Spain.
For a gentle way to get to the top of the Picos de Europa, take the cable car from the impressive glacial cirque at Fuente Dé and enjoy the amazing views at 1,850 metres. For more information about the Picos de Europa, visit the village of Tama in the Liébana. From here, you can take a signposted walk across the River Deva and continue to Pendes, which is famous for its cheeses. Children will enjoy seeing them being made and the free samples on offer. Whilst you’re near the River Deva, you might want to try your hand at navigating a canoe on the river, and you can book this at tourist agencies in Potes.
West of Santander, you’ll find El Soplao Cave, one of the geological treasures of the world. Colourful rock formations extend through different galleries and there are quantities of amber with fossilised insects that have been dated back 110 million years.
Santander is the usual point of arrival to the region. Ryanair operates to Santander airport and Brittany Ferries to the ferry port.
Family friendly campsites
Noja, Playa Joyel
Nestled between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Camping Playa Joyel is a lovely site with direct access to a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear waters. The site has lots going on with a children's club and underground disco in high season, as well as a fantastic mini farm where kids can meet lots of animals including ducks, goats, pigs and even peacocks. The site is surrounded by wetlands forming part of the EcoPark Trasmiera Nature Reserve with its amazing bird life.