The approach to SAN VICENTE DE LA BARQUERA, 12km west of Comillas, is dramatic: marooned on both sides by the sea, the town is entered via a long causeway across the Río Escudo, the Puente de la Maza. Local lore maintains that if you manage to hold your breath all the way across the bridge, your wish will come true. Inland, dark green, forested hills rise towards the Picos de Europa, strikingly silhouetted as the sun goes down.

The town itself, a thriving fishing port with a string of locally famed seafood restaurants, is functional rather than pretty, with not all that much left of its historic core. If you’re looking for a beach, there’s a good sweep of sand fifteen minutes’ walk away, across the causeway on the east side of the river and flanked by a small forest.

A hot climb up from the modern town soon brings you to the remnants of the hilltop medieval town, which despite its intriguing setting and spectacular views turns out to be somewhat humdrum. At either end of the ridge, you’ll find an impressive Renaissance ducal palace (Tues–Sun 11am–2pm & 5–8pm; €1.40) and a sturdy Romanesque-Gothic church, Santa María de los Ángeles. The latter, at the highest point, holds a famous reclining statue of the Inquisitor Corro, born here in 1472.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

27 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook