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Cantabria is a land that, instead of describing in words; you must know. Its fascinating landscapes, its history, its culture and its people, you can only live it by riding its best car routes in Cantabria.

Magnificent beaches, movie locations, stunning castles, excellent gastronomy, lush peaks and mountains, charming villages and extraordinary people, is part of what you will find on the car routes through Santander.

How to book a car hire in Santander?

If you need a rental car to make the route, here’s how to reserve a car hire in Santander. Whether you’re traveling at Santander Seve-Ballesteros Airport, or traveling on Santander Train Station.

Written this, let’s start our tour of the best car routes around Santander.

1. Car routes in Cantabria: Pedreña

Very close to the center of Santander, just 20 kilometers from the center, is the cradle of true masters of Spanish golf. Its main attraction is the Pedreña Golf Course, a course of great tradition, inaugurated in 1928 that has brought golf professionals of the likes of Severiano Ballesteros, winner of the European Master.

2. Car routes in Cantabria: Torrelavega

Less than 30 minutes’ drive from the center of Santander, you will find the city of Torrelavega, one of the most important cities in Cantabria. The most outstanding temple in the city is the church of our Lady of the Assumption, while the Church of the Virgen Grande and the Palace of Herrero, present architectural finishes that deserve to be contemplated and admired.

If you have an interest in livestock, then you must go to the Cattle Fair held every week in the enclosure of the Jesús Collado Soto National Livestock Market.

3. Car routes in Cantabria: Santillana del Mar

Santander car routes: Santillana del Mar
Collegiate Church of St Juliana – Image by Anne & Saturnino Miranda from Pixabay

Just a 30-minute drive from the center of Santander, is the monumental town of Santillana del Mar, a village that will transport you back in time, directly to the Middle Ages. For its state of conservation, the entire old town is a Historical-Artistic Heritage of Spain.

Its most important building is the collegiate church of Santa Juliana, built in the XII century. For its part, in the convent of Regina Coeli, today home to the Diocesan Museum, you can enjoy a collection of more than 800 pieces of popular art.

The Town Hall building, the house of the Archduke of Austria, the barreda-Bracho house, the tower of Don Borja, the convent of San Ildefonso, and the Zoo; are all monuments of remarkable architectural presence.

Very close to the center, is the Altamira cave or the Sistine Chapel of the Paleolithic, the cave contains a series of paintings and engravings from more than 15,000 years ago; of course declared a World Heritage Site.

4. Car routes in Cantabria: Laredo

Cantabria car routes: Laredo
Laredo, Cantabria – Image by Maria Ortega from Pixabay

A 40-minute drive from the center of Santander, you will find the city of Laredo, a jewel of the Cantabrian with excellent parks and gardens. Among its main monuments are the church of Santa María de la Asunción and the convent of San Francisco.

The beaches are undoubtedly its biggest attraction. Salvé Beach and its long five-kilometre promenade is Laredo’s most visited beach. For its part, El Regatón beach, is another one preferred by visitors.

If you like water sports, in Laredo you have a whole world of possibilities, because here you can go sailing, surfing, windsurfing, diving and jetskiing.

5. Car routes in Cantabria: Comillas

Santander car routes: Comillas
Gaudí’s Capricho – Image by Ekaterinvor From Pixabay

The town of Comillas, located just a 45-minute drive from the center of Santander, holds the title of one of the most beautiful cities in Cantabria. If you are a lover of architecture you will greatly enjoy your visit to Comillas, because the whole city is surrounded by stunning houses. In the square stands the town hall and the parish church of San Cristobal.

The palace of Sobrellano, is the most outstanding building of the architecture of Comillas. The building of the Pontifical University and Gaudí’s Capricho; are two monuments of extreme importance in the city. The Sert House and its cemetery with the sculpture of The Exterminating Angel, is an architectural work worthy of admiration.

6. Car routes in Cantabria: Cantabria Island

45 kilometers from the center of Santander is located the town of Isla, a village that houses an ecopark, pioneer in its genre, monuments and beautiful beaches. The old town of Isla boasts the church of St Julian, the church of St. Basil and the palace of the Counts of Island among its most outstanding buildings.

The island’s biggest attraction is its beaches including Arena Beach and Sable Beach, both with the European Community’s blue flag beach recognition.

7. Car routes in Cantabria: Castro Urdiales

Santander car routes: Castro Urdiales
Castro Urdiales – Image by Ekaterinvor From Pixabay

A 50-minute drive away is the town of Castro Urdiales, a beautiful city that holds several national festivals of interest during the summer and autumn. During your visit to Castro de Urdiales, you should know the Gothic church of Santa Maria and the castle-lighthouse of Santa Ana. Other monuments that are among the most prominent in the city are, the medieval tower of the Templars, the town hall building, the market and the bullring. There are also some houses and palaces of great beauty: the residence of Pedro Velarde, the subtlety house and the architectural complex composed of the palace, castle and observatory of Toki Eder.

The town has several high-quality beaches, including Brazomar Beach, Pedregal Beach, Dicido Beach and the beaches of Oriñón and Sonabia.

9. Car routes in Cantabria: Argoeso

If you are a lover of winter sports, you only have to travel a little more than an hour by car from the center of Santander to reach the town of Argoeso, a small villa that has the Alto Campoo ski resort, with 13 ski slopes and more 3,000 meters of piste that function as a link point. The village is undoubtedly famous for its castle, it is the hallmark of Argoeso.

9. Cantabria car routes: Las Fraguas

Just over 100 kilometers from the center of Santander, it is the town of Las Fraguas. A very unique village, chosen by the Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar for the filming of the disconcerting 2001 film, The Others, starring the Nicole Kidman.

Among the main buildings of the town are st. George’s Church and precisely the Palace of Hornillos, filming location of The Others, a story set on the island of Jersey in 1945 England.

10. Cantabria car routes: Potes

Santander Car Routes: Picos de Europa National Park
Picos de Europa National Park – Image by MargenCero from Pixabay

If you want to enjoy one of the most beautiful areas of Spain, you must go to Potes, just over 100 kilometers from the center of Santander, from there you have access to Picos de Europa National Park, an extension of 550 square kilometers of peaks and mountains of spectacular beauty; from Fuente Dé you can board the cable car so you have a unique panorama of this natural environment.

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Founder of QuarentaCars, marketplace for local car rental companies in Spain and Latin America.

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