The dream road, when the journey matters more than the destination

152 kilometers separate Burgos from Santander on the N-623 road. However, this road is not just asphalt and gasoline, but hides one of the most beautiful car routes in Spain: the dream road (or Carretera de los Sueños in Spanish). Once the fastest way to join the two cities, the dream road has managed to endure over time for its spectacular scenery full of canyons, mountains, gorges and villages full of charm.

A spectacular journey between Burgos and Santander

Pasiegos Valleys dream road

The impressive Pasiegos Valleys, in Cantabria. | Shutterstock

As its name suggests, this road linking the city of Burgos and the Cantabrian capital is a dream route. It has become one of the main attractions for people who enjoy traveling, those known as slow travel. The dream road is made to be enjoyed and to be able to get lost in its fantastic landscapes.

Traveling along the end of the Iberian plateau and entering the entrance to the Cantabrian Sea is a spectacle worth seeing. The natural parks and spectacular landscapes show what, in another time, was the bottom of the sea in a prehistoric planet. Texas-style canyons, parks and nature reserves full of lush forests, architectural sites and countless villages throughout the years.

The dream road is an ideal scenery to travel, by car or motorcycle, in autumn, when the leaves on the trees and the landscapes have that romantic air. In addition, the fact that the recent main roads have made it easier to travel between Burgos and Santander has meant that this magnificent road is not too busy to be enjoyed in all its splendour.

The views through the window of the dream road

Orbaneja del Castillo

Orbaneja del Castillo, one of the villages that can be discovered on this road trip. | Shutterstock

The dream road route starts in Burgos and, already from the first kilometers, you can enjoy some unique landscapes. One of the moments not to be missed to look out the window is the arrival at the Natural Park of Alto Ebro and Rudrón gorges. This dreamlike scenery is formed by large cliffs and meanders. It gives the sensation of visiting the Colorado Canyon in the middle of Burgos. The road, as if it were a river, is winding and making visitors can get into a maze of mountains and cliffs.

Further on, entering Cantabrian territory, we reach one of the greenest and most unique valleys in northern Spain: the valley of Valdebezana. This place serves as an access point to the entire region of Cantabria. It hides in its interior dozens of natural places of interest, as well as charming villages in the middle of nature.

After passing the valley and once the Escudo pass is climbed, the landscape becomes more northern, reaching the Luena and Toranzo Valleys. Then, to the Pasiegos Valleys. These landscapes are announcing the arrival of the sea due to its large green landscapes, its stone houses and its abundant forests and wetlands. It is worth mentioning the typical Pasiego houses adorning the spectacular scenery. The arrival, after a few kilometers, to the bay of Santander, going through the area of Piélagos and Camargo.

The arrival in Santander, after several hours driving between stops and detours becomes a real discovery. In a short time the landscape changes from a stony and inhospitable one, in Castile and León, to the Pasiego fields of the deep Cantabria, crowned with the reward of the Cantabrian Sea.

Key stops on the dream road

Pozo Azul, a great well. | Vanessa Herrero, Wikimedia

However, despite the fact that the dream road is worth the trip by car, the truth is that it has several mandatory stops that will make the trip unforgettable. Some of them are natural areas where you can enjoy the scenery and practice mountain sports. Others are true architectural gems that even preserve remains from prehistoric times.

One of the first stops that should be made is arriving at the Natural Park of Alto Ebro and Rudrón gorges. There you will find one of the most amazing natural pools in Castile and León. The Pozo Azul (blue well), as they call it, is a pool in the middle of the park, surrounded by vegetation and with waters that invite you to swim. In the same area you can also find the Orbajena‘s fountain, a large waterfall 25 meters high. Embedded between canyons and rocks, it leaves the buildings nestled in that landscape. It is one of the most famous photographs of the road.

If you continue the journey by road, on arrival at the Valdebezana Valley, you can make a stop to discover several buildings that are relics of the Romanesque period. In particular, the Porras Castle and the church of San Vicente de Villamezán. At this point you will be in Cantabrian territory and it is also interesting to stop and take a close look at the typical Pasiega huts that dot the landscape. Some of the most attractive are in San Pedro del Romeral, Vega de Pas and San Roque de Riomiera.

Last but not least, for lovers of archeology and history, there is a mandatory stop on this dream road, already arriving at the destination. The regions of Piélagos and Camargo have interesting prehistoric remains such as the caves of Santián, Pendos, Cobalejos and El Mato. As well as the impressive Paleolithic paintings in the area. All this will make that this romantic autumn route has the best ending.

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