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Photo of Barcena Mayor (Asturias and Cantabria region)
Barcena Mayor hotels best prices

Visit Barcena Mayor

Barcena-Mayor is said to be the oldest village in Cantabria. It sits in the mountains of Cantabria inside the Saja Reservation. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of Spain.

Explore Barcena Mayor

Barcena Mayor is a medieval village and is is the only village in the Saja Reservation. At one time it was very difficult to access the village but now the road to the village has been improved and it is now one of the most visited towns in the Cantabrian interior.

The village is so well preserved that it has been declared a historic artistic site. Cars are not allowed in the village except for residents which adds to the feeling of stepping back in time in the village. As you walk around you can hear the bells of the cattle walking around the countryside surrounding the village.

The houses of the village are lovely stone houses with the wooden balconies typical of the region. With its cobbled streets and mountain backdrop it really is very pretty.

Whilst here visit the 12th  century chuch of Santa Maria and the old Rectorial houses.

Barcena-Mayor is popular with walkers and there are a number of hiking trails out from the village. The trails lead out through the beech and oak forests of the Saja-Besaya Natural Park.

Whilst here you can buy some delicious local products such as cheese, honey and wild boar salami. There are also a couple of restaurants in Barcena Mayor and so you can stop and enjoy lunch before heading back.

If you are visiting be aware that whilst the road is of decent quality the height of the surrounding mountains means that dusk draws early and you may wish to be back down the mountain when this happens.

Places to Visit Nearby

Exploring the roads and trails of the beautiful mountaineous countryside is a pleasure. It is found to the east of Potes which is another attractive village inland in the area. Skiers will wish to head to the slopes of the Alto Campoo ski-resort and the caves and spa at Puente Viesgo are another popular destination.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Asturias and Cantabria guide.

See also: 

Map of Barcena Mayor and places to visit


Barcena Mayor places to visit

Alto Campoo

Alto Campoo

Alto Campoo is a small ski resort in the Picos de Europa. It is particularly suited to beginner and intermediate level skiers.

Alto Campoo guide
Puente Viesgo

Puente Viesgo

Puente Viesgo is a lovely village in a beautiful setting and has some excellent caves full of stalagtites, stalagmites and lots of prehistoric paintings.

Puente Viesgo guide
Altamira Caves

Altamira Caves

Some magnificent pre-historic art is in these UNESCO-listed caves. The wonderful paintings are amongst the best prehistoric paintings in the world.

Altamira Caves guide


Comillas is a very good resort which has lots of Modernista buildings including the El Capricho designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Comillas guide
Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar is perhaps the highlight of a visit to this part of Spain. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.

Santillana del Mar guide


Take a step back in time as you wander around this lovely old town. An excellent base for visiting the Picos.

Potes guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Asturias and Cantabria

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