There is a network of socalled "Centros de Visitantes" in the south of Cantabria, with 6 different and interesting centres to choose from.  For information on all of these, see local Environment Ministery's website, and look for "Red de Centros Visitantes" , including information in PDF on the regular talks and guided walks at the centres.

Observatorio Astronómico de Cantabria

This is Cantabria's only observatory open to the public.  Situated right on the border with Burgos, in the province of Valderredible (the closest large town is Polientes), it is very out of the way and off the beaten track, but definately a must if you want something totally different.  Due to its remote location, perched on the cliff that is the start of the Meseta (the central Spanish plain), and being in a very sparsely populated area, there is very little light pollution, affording wonderful views of the night sky.  Its opening times are as follows, and prior appointment (possible through their website) is necessary:

April-September:

Friday/Saturday/Sunday afternoons 1600-1800

Friday/Saturday evenings 2300-0100

For March/October/November times see the website, they are slightly shorter opening hours.

The observatory is closed to the general public from December to February inclusive.

Astronomers are also welcome to use the observatory, with their own equiptment if desired, but again, prior appointment is necessary.

Website: www.observatorioastronomicocantabria.com

Telephone: 676965003 (from 1230-1400 and 1800-2000)

 

Centro de Visitantes del Monte Hijedo

Also located in Valderredible, in the village of Riopanero, is the visitors centre for this beautiful forested area of southern Cantabria (shared with Burgos).  With a huge diversity in its tree species, including some prime examples of huge yew trees, the forest of Monte Hijedo is well known in the area, and has a beautiful well signposted walk starting from the nearby town of Santa Gadea de Alfoz (in Burgos).  The visitors centre itself contains exhibitions on the importance of the forest in the area throughout history and local customs and traditions.  Opening hours are as follows:

Summer (15 June-15 September)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1400 and 1600 to 1930

Winter (15 September-15 June)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1700

Closed all year Monday and Tuesday.

Email: cvriopanero@medioambientecantabria.com

Telephone: 648191761

 

Centro de Visitantes de los Caminos de la Harina

This visitors centre is located in the small town of Pesquera, on the old N611 main road to Reinosa.  This is now the only flour mill still intact of what was a huge number lining the banks of the River Besaya between Reinosa and Torrelavega.  It has been beautifully preserved, with all its original machinery, creating somewhat of a Heath Robinson affair inside.  Aside from the milling information, it also provides some information about the 5 communication links through the Besaya and neighbouring valley, the Roman Road (calzada romana), the Camino Real, the railway, the old road (N611 commonly known as Las Hoces)and the new A67 motorway with its spectacular bridges.  The ayuntamiento (town hall) of Pesquera has implemented a network of walks to take in all these communication links, see their website for details.  Opening hours of this centre are as follows, and guided tours in Spanish are available throughout the day, contact the centre for information:

15 March-19 December

Friday/Saturday/Sunday 1000-1700

Closed rest of year.

Telephone: 628776798

 

Centro de Visitantes de la Piedra en Seco

Also located in the Valderredible area, in the village of La Puente del Valle (near Polientes), this centre is in an area famous for its rock churches.  It concentrates on the role that stone has played in the area's and Cantabria's development, and includes interactive exhibits and demonstrations.  Opening hours are as follows:

Winter (15 June-15 September)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1400 and 1600-1930

Summer (15 September-15 June)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1700

Closed all year on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Email: cvlapuente@medioambientecantabria.com

Telephone: 648191763

 

Centro de Visitantes del Río Ebro

Located in the village famous for being the start of Spain's longest river, Fontibre (near Reinosa), this centre is located in the large car park above the source.  Focussing on the River Ebro itself, this centre encompasses information on the importance of the river, and its long journey through Spain to the Mediterranean Sea at Tarragona.  Opposite the centre is a new tourist information office with details of a network of walks around the area (Campoo), one of which starts at the visitors centre, information can be found here. There is also a restaurant/cafe in the car park for visitors (and more in the village).  Opening hours of the centre are as follows:

Winter (15 June-15 September)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1400 and 1600-1930

Summer (15 September-15 June)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1700

Closed all year on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Email: cvfontibre@medioambientecantabria.com

Telephone: 626263696

 

Centro de Visitantes del Embalse del Ebro

After its journey through Reinosa, the River Ebro becomes the spectacular Embalse del Ebro, due to an ambitious reservoir project from the Franco era.  This reservoir is the first of many along the Ebro, and on its north bank, right on the border with Burgos, is the town of Corconte, famous for its bottled water, its spa complex (actually in Burgos), and the location of this visitors centre.  Located in the town, signposted from the road, and just off the N623 to Burgos (near the Puerto del Escudo), it has exhibits on the reservoirs history, the use of its water, and water consumption in general.  It has interactive exhibits, and on the top floor is a bird observation station, with telescopes.  If this is of interest to you, the nearby bird centre, the Centro Ornitológico del Embalse del Ebro, in the town of La Poblacion, further along towards Reinosa, may also be of interest.  It often combines with the beforementioned visitors centre in Fontibre to offer a programme of events and guided walks on weekends throughout the year and everyday in summer.  For information see here.  Opening hours of the Ebro visitors centre are as follows:

Winter (15 June-15 September)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1400 and 1600-1930

Summer (15 September-15 June)

Wednesday-Sunday 1000-1700

Closed all year on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Email:  cvcorconte@medioambientecantabria.com

Telephone: 648191762

 

Please be aware, this network of visitors centres is one of many in Cantabria.