Something I personally love in Cantabria, is turning up at a town or village and finding there’s a market going on! Having a browse is such fun, and I sometimes actually plan my trips around markets. There is a great variety in Cantabria, something every day somewhere, and often something special somewhere at the weekend, especially in summer when the Medieval markets do their rounds.
There are weekly markets in most cities, towns and villages in Cantabria, generally consisting of food stalls and market-style clothes stalls. They tend to open around 8/9am and pack up around 1/2pm. Parking can be difficult on market day, and watch out for signs in certain areas if you’re heading for any of these places the day or night before, if your car’s parked where a market is set to take place, it will be towed! Signs will make this clear.
Los Corrales de Buelna, Solares, Unquera
Torrelavega (probably the biggest in Cantabria, in the Mercado de Ganado), Castro Urdiales, Comillas
Colindres, Sarón, Ramales (every 3rd, Voto)
San Vicente de la Barquera, Ampuero, Cabezon de la Sal, Mataporquera, Santoña
Lierganes, Santiago de Cartes (a large sprawling market), Selaya, Vega de Pas
Permanent Indoor Markets
There are several towns and cities which have permanent indoor market buildlings. Santander has 2, the Plaza de la Esperanza with 160 stalls and the Plaza de México, Torrelavega has one (very hidden) and Castro Urdiales has a beautiful one.
The largest and most regular of these takes place in the Mercado Nacional de Ganado (the National Livestock Market) in Torrelavega, every Wednesday morning. It all looks a bit daunting at first glance, but it is perfectly possible for the public to enter and wander around, just be careful you don’t get in anyone’s (or animal’s) way!
There are also livestock markets throughout the year in most towns and villages, especially on their fiesta days. There is an annual calendar of livestock markets published by the Cantabrian government, but the 2013 calendar is not yet online, only the 2012 calendar.
During the summer months there are various medieval markets which visit many of the towns and villages of Cantabria. Again, often these are put on to coincide with local fiestas. They are lovely to walk around and have a browse around stalls selling lots of artesania homemade products, lots of interesting foods and other perculiar items from all over Spain. At the bigger ones, the stallholders dress up in Medieval clothing, and there are often displays and mock-ups. There are also usually food tents with long benches to sit at and get stuck in,these are rather over-priced though, ask for prices before you order to avoid a nasty shock! The biggest of these markets happen in Santander (at the beginning of August) and Torrelavega (in the middle of August, around the 15th), but they are equally charming wherever they are.
There are also several local organisations which put on various interesting local produce markets in different areas around Cantabria. Examples of these take place in Reinosa at the end of July, in the Pas Valley in early May and early August (the exact location changes every year, and in the Val de San Vicente in early August (again, the location changes).