Viamichelin proposes alternative routes from Burgos to Santander. We will not be in a rush and would like to take a scenic route and stop off for a snack/lunch on the way. Do you suggest we take the N623 or N627? Many thanks
Viamichelin proposes alternative routes from Burgos to Santander. We will not be in a rush and would like to take a scenic route and stop off for a snack/lunch on the way. Do you suggest we take the N623 or N627? Many thanks
2 fantastic options here, I'll write you a complete guide to both this evening on here, either way you're going to have a very leisurely, scenic and enjoyable drive, with a great lunch stop, and lots of potential detours! Just one question (private message me this if you want), can you specify which Sunday in September you'll be travelling? I ask as there are some great fiestas around this time too, which might coincide with your trip, one in particular I'm thinking of, which isn't even a detour, it's on one of the roads.
Ooh, sounds exciting. We'll be travelling on Sunday 21st September. Look forward to hearing from you.
Ok, so here goes, it's going to be a long post!
So, along main roads, as you said, you've got 2 options Burgos to Santander, the N623 or the N627/A67/N611.
First option: N623
Now I have to say first of all, that I've not driven the southern part of this for a long time, so can't really comment on things to see, however from Valdelateja north there is loads to see! So here goes, some of this may not be relevant to your requirements, but may be to others who read this post in the future, so please skip over anything irrelevant to you!
Valdelateja - This is a small village, most well known for being the start of a fantastic gorge walk, the Cañones del Ebro, from here to nearby Pesquera de Ebro, taking in a beautiful wooded section of the Ebro gorge, and returning along the top of the gorge with some great views down and through the semi deserted village of Cortiguera. It's a long walk, 5-6 hours or so, but worth it: …wanadoo.es/santacruzdeltozo/…ruta4.htm
Orbaneja del Castillo - This small village falling down the cliff furhter up the Ebro gorge is a must see, it's a very short detour off the N623, along the CA275 (if you're coming from the north a very nasty sharp turn), signposted Escalada/Orbaneja/Polientes. It's just a short way up this road, after Escalada, and you can park either just past the waterfall on the left, or if that's full, keep driving and there's another bigger parking area at the other end of the village. So yes, next to the first parking area is the beautiful waterfall, and steps up to the village, where the mini river runs through, coming straight out of a cave in a rock. If you have a wander around the village (won't take long, it's small) you'll see examples of Moorish architecture too in the windows. There are a couple of bars and restaurants in the village around the central river bit.
Further on up the CA275 - You could continue up this road a bit further to see fantastic El Tobazo waterfall at Villaescusa del Ebro (the next village), a short walk along the path leading down river on the village side, and then a little signposted scramble up to see the otherworldly waterfall (google it), if you're braver, you can continue climbing up to the top of the falls to see the hermits caves at the top, something else, it's like something from the Hobbit. Further on, there is a lovely Romanesque church at San Martin de Elines, there's an excellent rock church at Arroyuelos (normally the guy with the key comes running out to open up for you), Ruerrero is home to the nationally famous Valluco cheese, there is another excellent rock church over in La Presillas in Burgos again, a little trek, but worth it, and you can get inside.
So back on the N623...
Puerto de Carrales - this is the mountain pass you'll go over, lovely wooded pass with some great views of impressive rock formations in the distance.
Arija - if it's a hot day you could detour to Arija, on the Ebro Reservoir, where there are natural beaches and swimming.
Ebro Reservoir - I'm not going to go into this too much here, but there is an excellent circuit you could take around the reservoir, either from this end, or if you end up approaching it from the west, from that side too. Details of this can be found on my blog here: …wordpress.com/2013/…
Good lunch stop here is a quick detour along the north bank of the reservoir to El Puerto de la Población in La Población, great restaurant with lovely terrace overlooking the water and good food: http://www.puertodelapoblacion.es/j/
Back on the N623...
Puerto del Escudo - The next pass you'll go over, taking you down into the beautiful Pasiego valleys. A detour here could be to go via San Pedro de Romeral, signposted off to the right after the Bilbao turn off and before the Reinosa turn off to the left. Windy, wild, mountainous and fantastic views, but a long detour.
After the Escudo, the road winds and winds and winds down and down and down into the valley.
Ontaneda/Alceda - these towns are the biggest towns in the valley, have a very old school but fun spa, a lovely park for picnics, and the best and most famous ice cream palour in Cantabria! Random but true. It's on the main road, just as you're about to leave Ontaneda to the north, you'll see it on your right, it's always open, and there are always cars parked everywhere! Worth a stop, try the famous cheese ice cream, or my favourite, miel con orujo (honey with the local orujo spirit).
As you drive through these towns, and San Vicente de Toranzo, you'll see lots of examples of the huge and impressive, but now sadly derelict, Indianas houses, those who made their money in the Americas and came back to build huge colonial style houses.
Borleña - This small village after San Vicente is home to a fantastic short walk to a fantastic waterfall! As you drive into the village at the bottom there's a parking area and if you then walk up the valley into the woods the track is obvious, about 30 mins each way and a lovely secret spot!
Continue along the N623...
Puente Viesgo - beautiful village, dominated by the River Pas running through it, its fantastic Gran Hotel and Spa, and some excellent restaurants. From the south, when you get to the roundabout after Aes (where there are often speed traps - it's 50), turn right over the river, and access the village from there. You'll come across a small car park next to the wonderful wooden footbridge over the Pas, I'd park here if it's a sunny day and you're up for a little stroll. The river here goes over a weir and is a popular swimming spot, you'll see the Via Verde del Pas bike path, and you can either follow this into the village, or take the more interesting route, which is crossing the wooden bridge, and going directly right into the gaps in the bushes, where you'll come out on the fishermen's path, it's just so pretty I can't describe! It runs along the rocks down to just below the lower bridge, climbing over rocks, it's not for small kids or the elderly for sure, but it's lovely. You'll come out just under the lower bridge, where you can walk back up to the town. Otherwise, as I said, follow the bike path, which will take you past the old station, an old locomotive (this path was once a train line which my motherinlaw can remember using!), and to the town hall and church, and the Spa. Now you've got two options here, either to have a drink and snack on the terrace of the Spa Hotel, open to all and not expensive as you would think, or to have a drink (with free tapas) or delicious but expensive lunch (daily fresh fish from Suances) in the Marques, the restaurant just over the bridge. Then of course you've got Puente Viesgo's biggest attraction, it's famous caves, El Castillo and Las Monedas. These are up the cone shaped mountain behind the village, signposted of course, you'll need to drive up. Stunning, world famous, UNESCO and highly recommended. You'll need to book the day before most likely, which can be done in English here: …culturadecantabria.com/english/castillo.asp
From here I would personally slog on to Santander, either straight along the N623, or quicker following signs to Torrelavega along the N634 after Vargas and getting onto the A67 motorway at Torrelavega to Santander.
Ok, so that's option 1.
Along the N627.
Now this is the quicker way, purely as the N627 Burgos-Aguilar de Campoo is a fast N road, long straight stretches (speed traps in villages) and easy driving compared to the curves of the N623. Burgos to Aguilar is about an hour.
The first section to Aguilar has nothing worth detouring for initially, until you get closer to Aguilar.
Revilla de Pomar - this is off the N627 just after km72, signposted Cueva de los Franceses. Along here you have 2 things of interest, first the cave, which has a visitors centre and is worth a visit, although I'm not sure whether they will do this in English, and further on down the road, right at the end....well put it this way, it ends because it reaches the precipice of the edge of El Paramo de La Lora, with a stunning viewpoint overlooking the south of Cantabria. You really get the idea here that up to now you've been driving along Spain's central plain...and here it ends...abruptly! From here on, you'll climb a bit on the motorway, and then drop down to the sea, and this is where it all starts.
Back on the main road you then reach Aguilar de Campoo, in northern Palencia. This town is a favourite with my parents amongst others! It is overlooked by a ruined castle, which you can walk up to and get inside, and the fantastic rock formations of Las Tuerces (accessible from Villaescusa de las Torres, and a great walk up and around them, great for views and exploring, signposted from the town after you cross the railway NB the road into the town from the north at Villallano has a railway bridge you drive under which floods in wet weather). http://www.topwalks.net/maps/las_tuerces.gif (just do the first bit from Villescusa to Las Tuerces and back - unless you're a climber in which case head straight for Gama and loads of first class climbing routes). Back to Aguilar...yes, it has the remains of town walls and several town gates, has a great central plaza and lovely riverside bars, a fantastic island park for kids, and above the town to the west is the Aguilar Reservoir, drive across the hairy dam to the hairier viewpoint and then onto swimming beaches. We never luck out eating in Aguilar, but it's good for a drink by the river. Aguilar is also famous for biscuit making, you'll smell it! And the huge new Gullón factory you pass as you enter, aside from employing the entire town and surrounding villages, makes one of the most well known biscuit brands in Spain.
From Aguilar there're loads of ways you could snake into Cantabria, either directly along the motorway, along the rather fun to drive (straight with loads of somach jumping humps!) N611 to Mataporquera.
Mataporquera is now known for employing most of the surrounding villages in its multicoloured cement plant (not as awful as it sounds, and essential for the local economy), and being a place where the FEVE and RENFE trains cross. It also has some impressive Menhirs and interesting history.
Now from here you could continue north along the roads mentioned before, or take a little detour for lunch.
If you drive through Mataporquera and up the CA284 you'll come to Casasola. As the name suggests, it's a house on its own, with a car park outside (and the start of a good walk), and is well known locally for having great food. It always looks shut! Don't be put off, go and try the door!! A couple of menhirs up the track on the other side of the road here too.
Then further on is another fantastic restaurant with wonderful views across the valley you've just driven through, La Cuchara de Camesa in the village of Olea. This place is wonderful, they are also wood workers, and keen enthusiasts on the local area. The specialise in local dishes and stews, and also in wild mushroom dishes. Great place! …wordpress.com/2011/03/17/hello-world/
Then you'll continue towards Reinosa, there's a medieval tower and 12th century church in the village of San Martin de Hoyos, and some fantastic beech woods over the pass. Then you'll drive through the village of Villaescusa and its huge quantity of storks nests! And then onto Matamorosa, where you can get back onto the motorway.
Or if you're up for a fiesta...head for Reinosa, as the 21st of September is San Mateo - Reinosa's huge fiesta! On the 21st there is a huge market and cattle market at the top end of the town, full of people, full of traditional singing and dancing, and the procession of floats through the main street at midday. There'll be concerts in the main plazas and tapas huts all over town too. You'll be able to get the full line up from about early September here: vivecampoo.es/especial/fiestas-san-mateo-rei…
Back on the road...
Reinosa to Santander along the motorway is about 50 minutes easy drive. Or...
N611 - you could detour town the very pretty old main road - now all but deserted thanks to the motorway, but with lots of interesting things to see:
Pesquera - This small village has a lovely little tree park, great for picnics, next to parking area just after you go under the thin railway bridge. More interestingly, it also has a fantastic section of Roman Road, 5km to be exact, between here and Pie de Concha, which is a fantastic walk (better done going up from Pie de Concha), but can be visited quickly and easily too, follow signs, and park at the church at the top, then walk down just a short way and voilá! It's pretty impressive.
Besaya Gorge - known locally as Las Hoces de Barcena, this windy section, until 6 years ago the main road and a nightmare, hence totally avoided by everyone now! And now...it's wonderful! You'll find cyclists and its popular with bikers, but it's windy drive down to pretty Barcena Pie de Concha is lovely.
You can rejoin the motorway once you get past Molledo, or continue down more of the gorge until Los Corrales. In Arenas de Iguña there are a couple of curiosities, the strange Greek temple/church at Las Fraguas, and opposite it, the huge English style mansion, set of the Hollywood film The Others, although you can't enter either. Another secret spot and rather long detour along here is the Ermita de San Roman de Moroso, in Bostronizo, follow the signs through the town and down down into the valley, it's a Moorish little church, enchanting picnic spot, bit of a detour though.
From Los Corrales, which is not worth a stop, you could come off the motorway at Cartes, which has a pretty medieval main street, and then head to Santander along the A67 motorway.
You could of course detour to Santillana del Mar, but I'm not going to go into detail about that here. The main detour worth taking off the motorway between Torrelavega and Santander is to the dunes at Valdearenas beach, off the motorway at Boo de Piélagos and heading to Liencres. Fantastic pine woods down to the sea, wonderful huge golden beach, excellent walks in the pine woods and over the dunes, and wonderful coastline of the Costa Quebrada...this may be for another trip though! Pine woods not advisable after dusk, but the beach car park is a popular place to watch the sunset.
So...there it is...mammoth! I could give you a million more detours in between the two valleys too, and in the southern area of Cantabria between the A67 and N623 south of the Ebro reservoir, but I shall restrain myself!!
Any question, fire away!
Wow!! I now have an even greater dilemma - so many options. I'll get out the map and look at all the delightful little villages you have mentioned. The fiesta at Reinosa sounds like something not to be missed though. Just one thing (for now), I also posted the question on the Burgos forum but am not sure how to get your reply copied to that. Thank you so much.
What a helpful and thorough response! Perhaps you could help me out with routing options. We will be driving from Lerma to Cangas de Onis in early November. Wondering what type of more scenic options, combined with interesting churches and a nice stop for lunch might be.
Ok, so the area you're talking about I know a little less, but I think I can provide you with some suggestions!
Lerma itself is great, I don't know if you're staying in the Parador there, but it's lovely, make sure you find the underground tunnels. If you're spending a few days there, let me know, because I can give you some more suggestions for around there too.
So from there, well you would probably go up to Burgos (if you haven't previously visited Burgos, you should, it's only 20 mins from Lerma), and then you've got the option of heading west along the A231 to Osorno, or heading up the N627 to Aguilar, as mentioned in the earlier post. You're basically going to want to connect with Riaño on its reservoir to head north into Asturias and Cangas on the N625 down the lovely Beyos gorge. Riaño is on a lovely position on the reservoir too, I always think its a bit of an oddball town, but its location is lovely for sure.
The question is really which way to go between Burgos and Riaño. Depending on whether you've headed to Aguilar or Osorno. Well as I've said before, I like Aguilar, and I've never been into Osorno, but you can judge for yourself here: osorno.es/files/2011/05/Osorno-Cruce-de-Cami…
Onwards from each place, well onwards from Osorno you have the wonderful town of Saldaña. Now this really is a lovely town, medieval, lots of great places to eat if it were going to be a lunch stop, lovely churches, and the real highlight, the Villa Romana La Olmeda, a few km south of Saldaña, the most fantastic Roman villa remains, the mosaics here, in situ, are just incredible, they should be promoted on a national scale I think. They have been protected by a huge building, which looks a bit odd as you approach, but it's extremely well done, and I'm sure they have provisions for English speakers. Well worth a visit. From there you'd then head up to Guardo, a fairly uninteresting town (the straight roads on maps you can see around here are pretty easy driving, even if they're not main roads), and then to Riaño. If you've got the time (only as it's a long detour), I'd consider taking the LE 2730 via Posada de Valdeon (the other end of the Cares gorge walk at Cain is near here), as the road has some spectacular views of the Picos mountains on a clear day, it is a detour though, windy mountain roads. Places to eat and stay at Posada Valdeon.
So the other option is going via Aguilar, and then Cervera de Pisuerga, which is a nice town, nothing to go out of your way for, but if you're there, park up and have a wander down the streets to your left, the main street (not the one the main road is on, which is pretty ugly) has pretty arcaded buildings, and there's some great storks nests around there too! If you'r picnicing, there's a great picnic area down by the river, initially head towards Potes and you'll find it just there. The road you'll be going along here, the CL626, is a great road too, although it doesn't look as straight as the ones around Saldaña, it pretty much is, easy driving, and absolutely fantastic views to your right of the Cordillera Cantabrica and the Picos mountains (both should be snow topped in November) the whole way along to Riaño, which you'll get to by heading north at Guardo along the P215.
So yes, a couple of options there. If you have any interest at all in the Romans I'd go via Saldaña (check the opening times beforehand though!!), but if you're more into mountain views along the way, go via Aguilar. See what the weather's like on the day too.
Hope that helps!
Oh, also, I've just seen you mentioned interesting churches, well Palencia, the region you'll be going through, has a huge abundance of Romanesque churches, this link might be of interest to you, although don't expect them to necessarily be open. Many times "someone in the village" has the key, ask around if you really want to get in: palenciaturismo.es/contenido/…
After 2 weeks near Oviedo & walking in the Picos we want to stay for a week somewhere before going home from Santander.
I was thinking of maybe 3 days in Burgos & then a smaller historic town on the way back to Santander.
Any suggestions please
Puente Viesgo maybe? From Burgos you can go directly north up the N623, scenic road with one must do stop, Orbaneja de Castillo (for some unknown reason doesn't show up on Google Maps), it's signposted off the N623 on the CA275. Set on the edge of the Ebro river gorges, it's spectacular and worth a small detour. Further on, if it's been raining especially, is the wonderful Hobbitesque waterfall of El Tobazo, keep on to the next village one the CA275 after Orbaneja, Villaescusa de Ebro, park the car just over the bridge there, and walk along the river to your left (downriver) until you get to the falls, they're signposted badly, go up to your right through the field, and climb up to them, spectacular, Google the name and look at the pics. At the top of the falls is a hermits cave/rock church too worth exploring. Further along the road still is San Martin de Elines, which has a lovely little Romanesque church too, and off to the right at the same point you go left to Elines, is Arroyuelo, with another fantastic rock church, there's a guy in the village who has the key, if you hang around the church he usually appears to open it up for you to go inside, worth it! There's another great example of a rock church, a little more of a walk but equally as impressive at Presillas, ask in the town (iglesia rupestre is what they're called in Spanish), and then you can get onto the CA274 somewhere to get back to the main road. There's another very pretty church with an external spiral staircase leading right up to the belfrey at Quintanilla de Rucandio too, on the CA274 just before you get back to the main N623.
Anyway...sorry...I digress!! Back to the base, well yes, I'd consider Puente Viesgo, I've recently done a blog post on this wonderful spa town, it's a great location to visit places nearby, the Pas Valleys, Santillana del Mar, Esles, Santander, Lierganes etc. My post is here: …wordpress.com/2014/… There are of course also world class UNESCO caves there, some of the oldest cave paintings in the world, great bike track with bike hire, excellent spa, lovely river with river swimming, great picnic places, and aside from the Spa Hotel, also quite a few Posadas to stay at, as well as a variety of excellent restaurants for all budgets. It's a great place!
Whilst you're in Burgos, make sure you explore the surrounding area too, 3 fantastic towns make up the circuit that is the Raices de Castilla: http://www.raicesdecastilla.com/ Really worth going to visit those, especially Frias, with its impressive castle and bridge. The monestary at Oña is well worth doing too if you get there at the right time for the guided tour and speak Spanish, you can also walk right the way round the walls of it if you can find the entrance! And Poza has a castle with the most fantastic views across the central plains of Castilla. Also check out the area around Covarrubias, Silos for the Gregorian chanting monks and the Desfiladero de la Yecla mini gorge with its vultures. And of course Burgos itself!!
Actually, there is another large scale detour you could make too, forgot to mention it before, after you go over the pass just after the CA274 joins the N623, you go down the other side through lovely beech woods, and then the expansive Ebro reservoir will spring up below you. There is a circular tour you can do of this, as detailed on my blog here: …wordpress.com/2013/… (from this point, you'd be starting half way round).
Also, if you're interested in walking at all whilst you're on this leg of your trip, let me know, and I can advise. There are some fantastic short and long walks in the area, especially in southern Cantabria and the Pas valleys.