Day 26-27 Road Trip: Caveman Paintings in Cueva de Altamira + Family Camping in Cantabria

“Tata, can we go to that cave with paintings on the walls?”, our then 7-year old asked. This summer, during the return trip on day 27 of our family camping road trip from Poland to Spain, we finally visited the Altamira cave in the beauty that is Cantabria in northern Spain. So, from the beaches of the French Basque region, we go back to the mountains of Cantabria to check out the pre-historic art of (hu/wo)man. Here’s our visit in pictures along with a quick review of Altamira Camping in a little pueblo called Santillana del Mar.

Excuse the typos…. we’re doing this on the road. 😊

Their kids’ did this over 18,500 years ago. . . and our kids still do it!
This is what the entrance to the original Altamira cave looked like 18,500 years ago (without the protective glass of course).
Up on the ceiling are the caveman paintings such as this one. You will have to look up and absorb the beauty and atmosphere quickly because the museum regulates the flow of visitors with social distancing in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hot-stone-grillled chunks of meat! Aaarrggghhhhh, me. . . MAN!
Makes him (the kids) wonder as he looks up to the ceiling. Mission accomplished, even though my phone camera didn’t take pictures well in the low lighting of the simulated cave.
Bear fur and cave-life 3D projection add to the atmosphere.
And the “Buffalos jump!” (have you heard that song by Franktown/Julien Boire?) and run wild. . . must have been great bedtime stories told in the light of the cave’s fire.
Located further down from the museum is the original Altamira Cave that you can enjoy only from the outside. To protect the cave and the “unique evidence of the creative genius of early members of Homo sapiens” an exact copy of the cave and all its paintings was reconstructed and housed in the museum for modern visitors.
UNESCO put the Altamira cave on the World Heritage List in 1985 and declared it “tobe a unique site of artisitic expression that provided exceptionally valuable information on the Magdalenian civilizations of southern Europe”. I mean. . . just look at these paintings!
Their excvitement fizzles upon learning that this playspace in the museum was closed due to COVID-19. Let’s hope it’s open when you visit!
These boys have not been separated since March 14, 2020 when the strict coronavirus lockdown was imposed in Spain.
A little walk further down is a point in space called “Espacio 1973”–an additional curiosity for the kids and the not-so-little-ones. It is made of reflectors and mirrors surrounded by trees. Also to enjoy nearby are the Landscape of Altamira, a 1924 house, a separate cave of stalactites and the original cave to see from the outside.
The boys’ at work when setting up camp at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.

Where to stay in santillana del mar? try Camping Altamira

Altamira Camping is one of two campgrounds in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain. It is less than 5 kilometers/8-minute drive to the Cave of Altamira. Camping Altamira is kid-approved and family-friendly with its modern sanitary facilities and camping with a view of the Cantabrian mountains.


We areon the road. So, we’ll fill this in later.

In case you’re wondering. . . No, we have not received any form of compensation or freebies or anything at all for reviewing or mentioning this or any others on our blog.  We just do it for the fun of it. 

Waterplay is always a hit, especially with a view of the Cantabrian mountains.

TO DO: What’s to see/do nearby? A charming little village is less than 5-minutes/2.5 kilometer-drive away. It has a huge playground and lovely cobblestone streets in the village center with lots of restaurants and hotels/B&Bs. We thought it’s a bit touristy, compared to similar medieval villages that we’ve visited. And yet, it’s still worth to give it one day visit for slow-go travelers like us to appreciate the village.

Kaj’s job for the day: pumping the mattresses.

What we like about this place? The very clean bathrooms and cleaning areas and, of course, the views.

What we don’t like about this camp site? 

ACCESS. You gotta slow down upon approach to the entrance to the camping site because the ramp is a bit away from the actual sign for the camp. The reception is at the bar around the back.

Reception at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain. Go around the back to the restaurant for service

SHADE. Sufficient shade from grown trees around pitches.

PITCH. How’s the pitch? Soft pitch with no problem sinking tent pegs. Here in Spain, we begin to see less grass and more ground/dirt on the pitches. It’s big enough to fit a 3-person tent, a car and a more for your eating and playing areas.

Our almost-lone tent in the center of the pitch areas at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, northern Spain.

Privacy hedges None. But there’s only one other tent here during our visit in early September and a couple of other overnighter vans

A small but sufficient playground, right next to the pool, of Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Spain.

PLAY. Decent-sizes playground with several playthings. But the play areas are something else… from open fields to small pebble beach access to an excellent waterpark where kids can pump out water to fill a huge pool.

Village center of Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.

PRICE. Hgher than standard at 37.00 euros (including tax) for a family of 4 (2 kids–1 under 5), 3-person tent WITH electricity during end of summer season (early September). But the location and the kid-approved amenities make it acceptable.

SANITARY FACILITIES. Modern, very clean with toilet paper and easy to “Social Distance”. Two entrances to the sanitary facilities.

Super-clean dishwashing areas at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.
Coronavirus/Covid-19 mode of operations at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.
Laundry. Washer. Dryer. Small room that served the purpose.

DINE/DRINKS. There’s a bar/restaurant behind the reception, with outdoor seating … but we’re too poor to try it.

Mostly “locals” or long-term camp residents populate this restaurant/bar at Altamira Camping in Santilana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain.
Squeeky clean during our visit.
Showers with warm water as much as you want.
Slow-down way before you can read “Altamira Camping” on that sign ahead. the entrance is right here to the right.

So, the next time you’re planning your vacation, try somethimg different. GO CAMPING! Your kids would love it.

Next stop: A pilgrimage site.

Crossing into Spain from France on teh XXX paid-toll highway. No border controls. NO COVID-19 checks at this Spain-France border crossing. Notice the writing on the sign–that’s what Euskeri looks like–completely different from Spanish!

2 thoughts on “Day 26-27 Road Trip: Caveman Paintings in Cueva de Altamira + Family Camping in Cantabria

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