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Visiting Garabandal is easier than it has ever been. 

Visit Garabandal On My Own

Visiting Garabandal on your own without joining an organized pilgrimage is easier than you probably think – even if you don’t speak any Spanish.  

Garabandal is located in the province of Cantabria.  Today Cantabria is well-connected by all modes of transportation but I’m going to focus primarily on air and road travel as these are the most convenient options for most occasional travelers.  Santander does have a ferry terminal and there are also trains but they are a bit trickier to deal with for most people.

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what are the best airports?

Santander Seve Ballesteros Airport (SDR)

Located in the city of Santander about 80km (50 miles) away  Santander has multiple daily connections to Madrid and Barcelona on Iberia.  Generally speaking if your origin is outside of Spain and you're flying to Santander on a single ticket you will fly on Iberia (or an Iberia code share) with a layover in Madrid or Barcelona. This is a usually a solid option but it may not be the least expensive or most convenient.


Bilbao Airport (BIO)

At a distance of about 179km (110 miles), Bilbao airport is farther away but it does offer a few advantages.  Bilbao has regular daily service to numerous international gateways in Europe including Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Paris (Air France), Amsterdam (KLM), Lisbon (TAP) and London (Vueling) as well as Iberia flights to all over Spain.  In my experience, if you're traveling from the US, you are more likely to get a lower price to Bilbao vs Santander because there is probably competition on the route you are traveling. Also, one can get to Bilbao from almost any major city in America or Europe with only a single plane change – not always the case with Santander.   Bilbao airport is definitely worth checking out.


Both Santander and Bilbao have some low-cost carrier seasonal routes to a number of international destinations in Europe but these are sort of hit or miss.  

How do I get from the Airport to Garabandal?



Both Santander and Bilbao are served by all of the major international car rental agencies like Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Enterprise and the like.  That said, the Bilbao airport rental car fleets are considerably larger and more varied. This is particularly important if you are traveling with a family or other group that requires a vehicle with seating for more than 5 passengers:  You are more likely to find 7 and 9 passenger van options at Bilbao than you are in Santander. 


Don’t be intimidated by renting a car in Spain.  The rules of the road are pretty much the same as they are everywhere else.  Even vehicles with automatic transmissions are now commonplace – if you need this feature just make sure you choose this option when you make the reservation.  Thanks to smartphones and Google maps you will have door-to-door directions from the airport to Garabandal (setup international service with your carrier before you leave home).  You’ll also buy cheap car rental insurance before you leave home (more on that below) so if you scrape a bumper you won’t have to worry about that either.  The state of the roads in Cantabria is excellent: wide lanes with good pavement, good signing and safety rails are everywhere.  The roads are nothing like they were back in the 1960s.  There are no toll roads in Cantabria.  Once you get to Garabandal there is a lot at the entrance to the village with free parking.  A rental car really is the simplest way and it will open up a whole world of possibilities that I will describe below. 


In my personal experience, Avis has the best rental car prices in Spain but search around.  If you’re searching on Avis try lots of “AWD numbers” which provide discounts -- see which one gives you the best deal.  Most airline frequent flyer programs have Avis AWD numbers, Costco has an AWD, many credit card companies have AWDs, AAA has one and so on.  Be persistent. The difference in price from one AWD to the next can be hundreds of dollars. 

A word about car rental insurance:  The rental car company provided insurance, while convenient, is usually very expensive.  A couple of alternatives:  


1.    In the United States, often the higher end credit cards (Visa Infinite, MasterCard World Elite and most Amex charge cards) include car rental insurance.  Best to confirm however.

2.    Allianz Travel offers a reasonably priced rental car protector plan you can buy at home before you leave for about $75 per week.


In either case, be sure to decline the insurance offered at the rental car counter or you’ll double pay.


I don’t recommend using taxi service because it’s very expensive for what you get. Plan on spending at least 100 EUR each way from Santander to Garabandal and at least twice that from Bilbao.  Depending on the size of the vehicle you need you might be able to rent a car for a whole week at that price. 

Where can I stay In Garabandal?

Garabandal is a tiny village but there are some good options.  The earlier you book the more choices you have.  In terms of hotels there are a few but I'll highlight Hosteria Garabandal (Full disclosure: unlike all of the other suggestions I make on this website, I do have a close personal relationship with the owner of this business). 


Hosteria Garabandal

This is a small hotel with a few dozen rooms.  The accommodations are simple but comfortable. Guests have the option to take some or all of their meals in the dining room provided a reservation is made in advance. Generally the meals are on a plate-of-the-day basis without menu choices.  The owners speak some English.  Prices start from about 35 EUR per person per day double occupancy for room + breakfast to  68 EUR per person per day including 3 meals per day.


This is a good option for solo travelers or those making a very short stay but for families with children planning to stay a few days I suggest renting a holiday home is likely to be more comfortable and less expensive. 

For more information and reservations contact:  


phone: +34 942 72 71 40

Holiday Homes

There are some great Holiday Homes available in Garabandal but in peak season they go fast.  Here are a few:

1. Apartamentos San Antonio de Garabandal

This is a really nice place. They have 2 apartments which can be rented separately or together to sleep 8 people.  Nicely furnished and decorated. There’s a beautiful private garden with a barbeque grill and outdoor seating.  


Downstairs Apartment  

Downstairs and Upstairs together


2. La Casuca de Garabandal

Another very nicely down rental house which also sleeps 8

3. Airbnb: 2 Bedroom sleeps 6 

4. 2 Airbnb: Bedroom sleeps 4 

5. 2 Bedroom house 

Where can I get food, medicine and other necessities in Garabandal?

Most any necessity can be obtained in the village of Puentenansa which is just 8km (5 miles) away.   There you will find:


Above: Photo of the bakery

Puentenansa also has the equivalent of an “Urgent Care” walk-in medical clinic which is open every day.  


In addition, there is a “supermarket truck” which visits Garabandal twice per week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays, typically mid or late morning.  When the truck arrives he blasts his horn for several seconds (the village is tiny and the horn is audible everywhere) and usually parks near the entrance of town.  He offers for sale items like Pasta, canned goods, soft-drinks, cereals and so on out of the back of his box truck.  Similarly there is also a mobile fish seller who does the same on Fridays.  Obviously the schedule is subject to change so confirm upon your arrival.   

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Santo Toribio de Liébana

The Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana is one of just five places in Christianity that, together with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Caravaca de la Cruz has the privilege of issuing perpetual indulgences.  The monastery houses the Lignum Crucis, the largest known piece of the True Cross of Christ.  The Monastery offers daily benediction and 

veneration of the Lignum Crucis.   About 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Garabandal.

Sanctuary of Santo Toribio

El Cristo de Limpias

Just above the high altar of the 16th century parish church of Saint Peter the apostle in Limpias Cantabria there is a beautiful life-sized Crucifix known as Santo Cristo de la Agonia (Christ of the Agony).  There have been many miraculous manifestations through this Crucifix.  About 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Garabandal. 

Story of the Christ of the Agony at Limpias

Sanctuary of Limpias

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The Sudarium of Oviedo

The Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo houses the Sudarium, sometimes referred to as “the other shroud”. Tradition holds that the Sudarium is the piece of cloth which was wrapped around Christ’s head after his death on the Cross.  About 2 hours away from Garabandal.

What is the Sudarium

Oviedo Cathedral

Fuente Dé

In the heart of the Picos de Europa national park, the Fuente De cable car will take you up to the high mountain top for some absolutely breathtaking views.  Just a few miles away is Potes, a beautiful mountain tourist town with numerous restaurants, hotels, bars and cafes. About 1 hour and 30 minutes from Garabandal.  

Teleferico de Fuente De

Tripadvisor review

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The City of Santander

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Santander is the capital of Cantabria.  It is a beautiful seaside city, with beaches, numerous restaurants and plentiful shopping.  Just over an hour from Garabandal.

Santander Tours site

What else is there to do near Garabandal?

Here are a few nearby Catholic pilgrimage destinations in addition to some tourist attractions of general interest.  

When is the Best time to go?

Everybody likes to go in the summer because the weather is good and if you have children school is out.  It’s a lovely time to go.   However, if you have the option, consider going in September or October.  Airfares and car rental rates drop precipitously beginning in September, there’s much better availability at hotels / holiday rentals and everything is far less crowded.  In September and October the weather is usually excellent in Garabandal with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70s F (20s C) typical of those months. 

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