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Captivating Cantabria

  • Plaza Nueva, Bilbao, Basque Country © With the permission of Bilbao Turismo

    Plaza Nueva, Bilbao, Basque Country (C) With the permission of Bilbao Turismo - Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi 22-09-2013 Ambiente en terrazas de la Plaza Nueva © FOTOGRAFO: MITXI
  • Museo del Guggenheim, Bilbao, Basque Country

    Museo del Guggenheim, Bilbao, Basque Country
8 day tour
From £399 per person - minimum 25 passengers


Cantabria: Northern Spain’s Hidden Gem

Cantabria offers splendour in Northern Spain. This sun-soaked coast is bursting with beautiful beaches, soaring mountains and peaceful fishing villages. It’s a perfect destination for relaxing as well as exploring and sightseeing. During your trip, stay at the Gran Hotel Suances, which is in a great location overlooking the sea in the charming town of Suances. Upon arrival, enjoy a glass of sangria and tapas – a wonderful Spanish style welcome! Each evening, enjoy a large buffet with wine during your meal. Furthermore, one evening after dinner enjoy a special cake and toast the evening with a glass of sidra, the local apple cider. Flat and fruity, it is poured from a great height to aerate it and takes a steady hand to pour.

What’s more, you can also enjoy entertainment on selected evenings during your stay! One evening, dance the night away as a pianist plays, and on another night enjoy bingo with prizes! On your last evening, there will be a farewell dance in the hotel’s disco with a complimentary glass of sangria, cava or wine!

A Greatdays Best Seller!

In addition to the entertainment at the hotel, from your base you can easily access many of the famous towns and attractions in and around Cantabria. See the the bustling cities of Bilbao and Santander, as well as hidden gems such as the medieval Santillana del Mar and the prehistoric Altamira Caves. Additionally, head inland to the mighty Picos de Europa mountain range. This national park has spectacular landscapes of lush greenery and jagged mountains. With its stunning coastline, charming towns and beautiful scenery, Cantabria has something for everyone to enjoy!


March - November 2022/2023

Suggested itinerary

Day 1

Depart the UK

Travel down to Portsmouth and board the ferry in the early evening. Depart for Santander.

Day 2

Arrive in Spain

Spend the day enjoying the ferry’s many facilities before debarking in the early evening. Transfer to your hotel in the beautiful coastal village of Suances, your base for the next five nights, in time for dinner.

Day 3

Bilbao and Coastal Villages

This morning, we drive to Bilbao for a walking tour to see the famous Guggenheim Museum, the old quarter and the Gothic cathedral. Once the industrial powerhouse of Spain’s north, and often overlooked by British travellers as they hurried from the ferry terminal en-route to seemingly more glamorous destinations, Bilbao has undergone a major transformation over recent years. Today it is a thriving, bustling, cosmopolitan city, with architect Frank Gehry’s striking Guggenheim Museum Bilbao topping the list of must-see attractions. Wander the ‘Seven Streets’, the original medieval walled part of the Casco Viejo (Old Town). Take the funicular to the summit of Mount Arxtanda for panoramic views over the city and nearby mountains, or see the city from a different perspective with a boat trip on the Nervión river. We then return along the coast, visiting the popular resort of Laredo and Castro Urdiales, a charming, small seafaring village with a wonderful French Gothic-style church.

Day 4

Santillana del Mar and Prehistoric Cave Art

Another remarkable gem this morning as we visit the small medieval town of Santillana del Mar. Sometimes described as a ‘film set’, such is the perfect state of its preservation, the town boasts a maze of cobbled streets, flower-filled balconies and tanned stone and brick buildings. The region is famous for its prehistoric cave art. El Castillo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features 15,000-year-old rock art, hand prints and weird animal and abstract drawings. Nearby is the world-famous Cave of Altamira that features prehistoric paintings of bison, horses, deer and other animals. However, since 2002, to preserve the paintings, visitors only get to see a replica, but it’s a well-presented replica and worth a visit.

Day 5

At leisure in Suances

A free day today to relax in the hotel or explore the town. Suances is a beautiful beach-side town with wonderful sandy beaches around Dichoso Point, a natural harbour with cliffs. It has a rich history dating back to Roman times when it was known as Portus Blendium. Now a major tourist town, it still retains its love of fishing and enjoys an appetite for gastronomy.

Day 6

Picos de Europa National Park

Today, we head into the Picos de Europa National Park, one of the few truly unspoiled areas of the country. The dramatic, jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa mountain range rise well over 8,000 feet. Deep river gorges, sparkling lakes, and forests add to the appeal of this unique landscape. The Park is also home to many endangered species including the golden eagle, the European brown bear and the asturcon, a shaggy wild horse. Our tour takes us to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana where a relic of Christ’s cross is believed to be kept. At Fuente Dé, why not take cable car ride up to the summit? It offers one of the most outstanding views of the Picos de Europa range.

Day 7

Santander and Return to the UK

It’s time to return to the UK. There may be time to visit Santander before boarding the ferry for your return crossing in the early afternoon. In the Old Town visit the imposing Gothic Santander Cathedral dating from the 13th century, and an important stop on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim’s walking route. See the Sardinero beach, visit the Maritime Museum, and take the little tourist train to the Royal Palace of La Magdalena.

Day 6

Arrive in the UK

After spending a leisurely evening and night on board, arrive back into Portsmouth in the early afternoon. Debark and continue onward to your local area.

Alternate idea

Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera

Why not visit the medieval village of Comillas? With its cobbled streets, this important historic and artistic centre is known as the ‘Town of the Bishops’. Here you will also find the ‘Caprichio de Gaudí’, one of the artists few buildings outside of Barcelona and a well visited attraction. Continue to San Vicente de la Barquera, situated in the Nature Reserve of Oyambre. Most of the town dates back to the 13th century and you must see the 15th century bridge, with its 32 arches, once the longest bridge in Spain!

Featured hotel 

Gran Hotel Suances **** – inspected by Greatdays Staff October 2018

A firm favourite with Greatdays’ customers. Situated close to the village centre and the beach, the hotel overlooks the sea. The hotel has a lift, buffet style restaurant, 99 rooms with bath, safe, hairdryer, air-con/heating, TV and telephone. The hotel also features an outdoor pool (seasonal), a bar and café. Free onsite coach parking is possible.

Please note should you wish to sail with Brittany Ferries to northern Spain, it is extremely difficult to get space for groups in July and August due to high demand for individual travellers. Therefore we recommend that you travel outside of these dates to have more chance of securing crossings. Brittany Ferries reserve the right to alter sailing schedules without prior warning. We are holding sailings which correspond to these dates as sailings only operate on selected days. Please contact us for details on the days and routes. 

The hotel does not accept groups in July and August.

For other tours to Northern Spain, please follow the below links for further inspiration:

Little Trains and Boats of the Pyrenees

 Dates Half Twin Single Supplement
October 2022 From £399.00 per person From £155.00 per person
March – November 2023 From £409.00 per person From £167.00 per person

Please note: This tour is not available in July and August.

Price based on exchange rate of £1 = 1.17€. All prices are per person based on sharing a double or twin room and with one free place in a single room, based on a minimum 25 full fare paying passengers. Prices do not include UK coach hire or travel insurance. Dates are subject to availability. Smaller groups can be quoted for on request. Greatdays Holidays Limited is a member of ABTA (Y0380) which means you have the benefit of ABTA's assistance and Code of Conduct. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. Greatdays Holidays Limited has an ATOL licence (4279) and all of our air package tours are protected under this licence. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the Civil Aviation Authority will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any monies you have paid to us for an advance booking. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this tour are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: Our website policy is to use only copyright free images or images which have been authorised to us for free use by the owner. If you consider an image to be unauthorised or to be your property, please contact us immediately and if invalid we will have the image removed. If your image requires crediting or is missing a copyright statement then we will be pleased to add this to the webpage, contact us at

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