Spain’s Green Coast
Join us on this 10-day holiday to Spain’s gorgeous Green Coast (España Verde).
Often overlooked by tourists (and therefore much quieter than the busy South of the country), the Green Coast is a lush natural region in Northern Spain, stretching along the Atlantic coast from the border with Portugal to the border with France.
Blessed with a warm climate, the area is dotted with scenic river valleys and gorges, misty hills and an unspoilt coastline with pristine beaches. The small country roads, interesting architecture, historic towns and villages and traditional cuisine give it an idyllic, rural feel.
For this 10-day holiday we stay in the small seaside resort of Santoña, in a super hotel right on the beach, complete with rooms with a view and a sun terrace to sit on of an evening.
Our thoughtfully-planned trips out include a guided drive through the stunning Picos de Europa National Park (keep an eye out for bears), time to explore the elegant town of Santander – much more than a port – and visits to the picturesque historic towns of Comillas, Potes and San Vicente de la Barquera.
You’ll be able to sample the wine and cheese made in the area, see one of Antoni Gaudi’s most interesting creations, and stroll along beautiful beaches and promenades.
It’s a Spanish holiday you’re sure to remember for all the right reasons…
Your 10-day itinerary:
Day 1: Join your coach for the journey to Plymouth, where we check in to our ferry for an overnight crossing to Santander in Spain. After dinner you’ll have a comfortable cabin to spend the night in.
Day 2: Enjoy breakfast on board – we’ll soon arrive in Santander, and after disembarking we enjoy a scenic drive up the coast to our hotel in Santoña, the Juan de la Cosa Hotel. Once you’ve checked in, the rest of the day is yours to relax.
Day 3: After a filling breakfast, we take you on our first included day trip to discover what the local area has to offer. First we head for the lovely seaside resort of Comillas, where highlights include the stunning beach, promenade and a park inspired by the artist Gaudi.
In the afternoon we drive to Santillana del Mar, a medieval town with stunning architecture. There’ll be time to browse the small shops before we head back to our hotel for the tea-time buffet.
Day 4: A free day you can spend as you please – the beach is on your doorstep, or you could venture into town and sample the local wares.
Day 5: Following breakfast we enjoy an included day trip – this time to the stunningly beautiful Picos de Europa National Park, in the gorgeous Northern Spain mountain range, complete with official guide so we won’t miss a thing.
Day 6: A free day for you to relax in the hotel or explore the area further.
Day 7: Today we drive to Haro in the famous La Rioja wine region, for wine and cheese-tasting. There’ll be some free time in Haro to get lunch and explore the town.
Day 8: Enjoy a day at leisure. Why not stroll along the beach or relax on the sun terrace?
Day 9: After checking out of our hotel we drive to Santander, the capital of the Cantabria region, where our guide will show us the main sights. Highlights may include the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Cathedral, the City Hall, Magdalena Palace (entrance included) and the Cape Mayor Lighthouse.
We go to the ferry terminal after our tour to check in to our return overnight ferry.
Day 10: Enjoy breakfast on board and relax on the ship – we arrive in Portsmouth early in the afternoon, and rejoin our coach for the journey home.
Juan de la Cosa Hotel
Our hotel for this all-inclusive holiday is the Juan de la Cosa Hotel, where we stay for 7 nights.
Enjoying an enviable beachfront location, this comfortable hotel has facilities for you to enjoy on your free days, including an indoor pool and sauna. There is a sun terrace and garden for you to relax in, as well as a TV lounge and games room.
The complex has a bar, café and restaurant, and free WiFi is available in all areas.
The hotel’s comfortable rooms come with an en-suite bathroom with free toiletries, air conditioning and heating, flat-screen TV with Satellite channels, radio, telephone, hairdryer and safety deposit box. Rooms have either a sea or mountain view. There is a lift for your convenience.
Our stay is all-inclusive, and includes breakfast, a tapas or packed lunch, a tea-time buffet and dinner each night. There is a free bar from 11am to 11pm serving local beers, wine and spirits and soft drinks.
Also included are an afternoon cookery demonstration and a music evening.
Our hotel is just a short taxi or bus ride from the main town.
On the coast east from Santander, Santoña is surrounded by a Natural Park of marshlands (an important area for wetland birds), but it is the sea which has shaped its history. Cantabria's major canning port, the town is famous for producing delicious anchovies in olive oil, and its military fortifications date back hundreds of years.
The seaside resort is divided into two areas: the centre, which sits on a plain, and a mountainous area. The town centre has plenty of shops to browse for souvenirs, plus small bars selling tapas made from the fish caught by the town's fishing fleet.
Santoña’s sandy beach – on our hotel’s doorstep – has views out across the bay, and is a pleasant place for a stroll. There is also a nature reserve close to our hotel.
Or you may want to visit the medieval fort, the Fuente de San Martin, where you can get great views of the town and the popular resort of Laredo on the other side of the bay. Also worth seeing is the medieval Castle of San Carlos at the entrance to the bay.
The picturesque towns of Comillas and Santillana del Mar
The historic town of Comillas has some of the most important Art Nouveau buildings in Cantabria, including the Sobrellano Palace and the stunning Arabesque-style El Capricho, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, whose most famous work is the Sagrada Família cathedral in Barcelona.
In the heart of town you can wander the historic cobblestoned streets, browse the interesting shops or just sit in the pleasant square and watch the locals come and go.
Sometimes described as a living museum, because of its many medieval buildings, Santillana del Mar is also nicknamed The Town of Three Lies, since it is neither a Saint, nor flat, nor is it by the sea – as implied by its name!
Often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, Santillana del Mar will keep you enthralled and your camera busy at every turn.
Picos de Europa National Park
The jaw-dropping Picos de Europa is one of the few truly unspoiled areas of the country. You'll see dramatic rocky mountain peaks, small mountain villages, rolling hills of lush vegetation, deep gorges that plunge vertically down into river valleys, sparkling lakes, and magical forests.
The park is full of endangered species including the golden eagle, the European brown bear and the asturcón (a shaggy wild pony). Chamois, a species of goat-antelope, are also common. Due to the total ban on hunting here, these creatures have little fear of humans, so should you be lucky enough to spot one you may be able to get a good photograph!
On the way to the park we stop for a short while in the picturesque coastal town of San Vicente de la Barquera, before driving through the park and heading for the pretty town of Potes, known as the capital of the Picos, where we will have some free time.
Nestled in the Valley of Liebana, which is lush with grapes, cherries and walnuts, Potes is an attractive small town whose houses are built in a mellow golden stone.
Running through the town, spanned by an attractive stone bridge, is a small river, and the area is surrounded by the hills and mountains of the Picos de Europa.
Wine and cheese in La Rioja
The region of La Rioja is famous the world over for its enticing wines and spectacular scenery.
Here we visit the town of Haro, which was built up around wine-making after French grape-growers came to the area looking for a way to escape the pests in their French vineyards. Sheltered by the Cantabrian Mountains, Haro is now considered the wine capital of the area. It is famous for its Wine Festival and wine fight, the Batalla de Vino, where the participants pour wine at each other from buckets!
While in Haro we will be visiting the CVNE Wine Cellar for a wine-tasting session, and the cheesemaker Los Cameros for a guided tour and tasting. CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España, or Northern Spain Wine Company) is one of the most renowned wine cellars in all of Spain, founded in 1879, while the Los Cameros make a variety of cheeses in a traditional way. Both visits enable you to get a real taste of the region!
Santander city tour
Much more than an entry point for visitors to Green Spain by plane and ferry, this elegant town on a curved bay was for many years the resort of choice for Spanish royalty, and today you can visit King Alfonso XIII's summer palace.
The town’s historic quarter houses a group of majestic buildings situated against an incredible natural backdrop of sea and mountains.
The city is brimming with interesting sights, and our guide will help bring it to life. We will see the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Cathedral, the city hall, Cape Mayor lighthouse and enjoy a tour of the Magdalena Palace.
Price includes: Coach, ferry, 9 nights on an inclusive basis plus excursions as shown. Single room supplement.
Points to note;
- All passengers are required to have travel insurance* cover for this holiday full details of the cover we offer can be seen on our website or feel free to arrange cover independently
- Some European destinations impose a modest tourist tax to be paid directly to the hotel by all guests
- Overnight hotels on the outward and return journeys are often motel-style (they might be a lower star-rating than the main hotel) and may not have a lift
- Please be aware holidays that include walking & guided tours may often involve uneven ground (cobbled streets, etc.) and steps, and therefore are not suitable for persons with mobility issues.
- Terms and conditions apply – see website or main brochure for details