Northern Spain, including the provinces of Asturias and Cantabria, is often referred to as ‘Green Spain’ for its lush landscapes - a stark contrast to the drier terrain for which the south is recognised. We invite you to join us in exploring this beautiful area, taking in pretty medieval villages, the stunning mountains of Picos de Europa National Park and a picturesque coastline of rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, easily accessible from your hotel. The list of highlights also includes visits to an incredible house created by Antoni Gaudi and the exceptional Azpeitia Railway Museum with a journey on an historical steam train.
6 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Fly from London Heathrow Airport on a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Bilbao. On arrival we transfer to the Gran Hotel Suances (4T) in Suances, located in Spain’s lovely Cantabria region and our base for the next six nights.
Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa National Park is a popular mountain range with hikers. It cannot claim to be Spain’s highest mountain range but it is certainly the country’s most beautiful and unspoilt national park, and is recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We have included a journey on the Fuente Dé cable car, ascending 753m alongside a sheer cliff. The views are truly spectacular from the natural balcony at the summit and an interpretation centre at the top will help you to discover the flora, fauna and the many endangered species of the area, including the golden eagle and brown bear. On our return to the hotel we stop at the small medieval village of Potes, a beautiful setting with various stately homes and ancestral mansions, plus the fortified Torre del Infantado which has been the regal property of Lord of Liebana - brother of King Henry II, a prison, a town hall and now a museum.
Santillana de Mar - Comillas
Santillana de Mar is a preserved medieval village, with most of its houses built between the 14th and 18th centuries. We take a guided tour of this pretty, living museum to view some of the most notable religious monuments and houses owned by rural nobility. We can also find the Museum of the Altamira Caves that displays an exact replica of the prehistoric Altamira Caves - featuring bison, horses, deer and mysterious signs that were painted or engraved into the cave walls over 9,000 years ago. We continue to Comillas to view El Capricho de Gaudí, a wonderfully quirky, striped summer house, adorned with sunflowers - one of Antoni Gaudi’s earliest works, and one of only a few existing outside Catalonia. Customised touches include panelled ceilings and windows that depict animals playing musical instruments. In the garden, you will find a bronze sculpture of the architect, contemplating his creation.
Today we travel to Santander to board a train to Liérganes, a town of National Historic-Artistic Interest and a rich heritage developed by the rise of gunnery factories here in the 17th century. We take a guided walk along its cobbled streets to learn of the sites which earned the town its status, including the Cuesta-Mercadillo, known as Rañada Palace, and the church of San Sebastian. We return to Santander on the train, passing lovely green landscapes, and then by coach to Suances to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
This morning we head to Azpeitia to visit its Railway Museum, which offers an unparalleled insight into railway history. More than sixty completely restored trains, from steam locomotives to urban tramways and merchandise carriages, fill this museum, as well as collections of memorabilia that include uniforms and railway clocks, to complete the tale of the railway’s evolution over the last 150 years. The experience is completed with a ride to Lasao on an historical steam train. On our way back to the hotel, time depending, we will take a short stop at Bilbao, a modern city constantly evolving with innovative projects, including the visionary Guggenheim Museum.
Spend today at leisure in the beautiful coastal town of Suances, a popular destination in summer months for its wonderful sand beaches. Maybe take a walk to the rugged peninsula of Punta del Dichoso.
Day 7 Suances - Bilbao - London
We transfer to the airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow.