North Spain: Picturesque Potes is a can’t-miss Cantabrian town

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The picturesque town of Potes in Cantabria, North Spain

The small town of Potes was a natural first stop on our way around the National Park of Picos de Europa, and after just a couple of hours I can say that this Cantabrian beauty is a “can’t miss town” when touring this area.

We arrive at Potes by car on a sunny afternoon after setting out on our North Spanish roadtrip from Madrid. A major contrast to go from a buzzing metropolis to a cobblestoned old town in the mountainous region of Cantabria, where the number of tourist busses we pass nearby tells the story of a popular place. Still we find it to be quiet and peacefull on a Monday afternoon out of the high season.

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The Quiviesa river runs under Puente de San Cayetano

Reaching the old part of the town it’s hard to imagine that this place was burned down during the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt afterwards, because it all looks to be in great authentic shape – offering that magic of a mountain town, with its two rushing rivers spanned by several small bridges. One of which we can overview from the outdoor terrace of the bar on the street above, as we enjoy our “café con hielo” (coffee with ice).

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La Casuca del Puente – a shop that shouldn’t be missed in Potes

The bridge we see is Puente de San Cayetano, that crosses the Quiviesa river, but our attention is drawn to the building on the bridge, which turns out to be a jewel of a shop. La Casuca del Puente roughly translates into something like “The little house of the bridge”, and we enter a world of regional and International specialities ranging from cheeses to cakes, marmelades, chocolates and wines, as well as everything in between.

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The shelves are stacked with regional and International treats

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Drunk sheep on the old wooden beams inside La Casuca del Puente

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A piece of the original floor has been preserved and is brilliantly used for this spot

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Are you looking at me!? La Casuca del Puente is full of lovely details

But more than just products the shop in itself is an experience that shouldn’t be missed, with wooden beams and even a piece of the original floor left in the corner. It’s an old house that used to be the home of two families with many children on few square meters, and which now has been transformed into this unique and atmospheric shop, set right on the river.

It is run by a sweet woman named Mariola, who has moved her life from the South Coast of Spain to the mountains of Cantabria, and who is happy to help visitors pick out the perfect souvenirs from their stay in Potes. The shop was definitely one of the highlights of our own walk through the town.

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A walk down through Calle Cántabra in the heart of Potes

Nearby the shop we follow the winding streets up to Calle Cántabra, which is a narrow pedestrian street flanked by souvenirshops and traditional bodegas, and leading out to the Plaza Capitán Palacios. Here you can do more shopping under the half covered arcade or just admire the view to the medieval La Torre del Infantado, which you can be visited for a view of the town. A towering monument that now houses the city’s council.

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La Torre del Infantado is housing the city council, exhibitions and a viewpoint

We didn’t stay in Potes, but the town offers a good number of options for accommodation, as well as plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy yourself and get a taste of Cantabria. The town is situated just a few kilometers from the National Park of Picos de Europa and attractions like the funicular of Fuente Dé.

SEE ALSO: Go rural in the mountains of Asturias

By Brian Schæfer Dreyer