Known as the capital of Cantabria, this charming seaside city is packed with surprises. It's a quaint fishing town with top-notch beaches, picturesque seaside promenades and historical buildings.
One of the best things to see is the opulent Palacio de la Magdelena, which was built between 1908 and 1911 as King Alfonso's summer residence. It has a combination of architectural styles that resembles a traditional English country estate.
1. Los Peligros Beach
Santander is a charismatic port city on Spain’s northern coast. Its natural wonders, graceful mansions, and iconic palatial architecture are all waiting for you to explore.
Start your journey by soaking up the local culture in the area around Paseo de Pereda. This waterfront walkway stretches 800 meters between Puerto Chico and Santander Cathedral.
Its broad streets are perfect for a leisurely stroll. It also features some of the city’s most emblematic 19th-century buildings, including the Botin Centre and Jardines de Pereda.
After a refreshing dip in the sea, it’s time to refuel with some Cantabrian seafood dishes. The best places to eat are in Barrio Pesquero, where you can watch fishing boats bring in their catch. Try rabas or fried squid, bocartes rebozados or breaded anchovies, or cocido montanes (a hearty Cantabrian stew) for a satisfying meal.
2. Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is a great place to explore the city's rich history of fishing and boat building. It is also home to an aquarium, whale skeletons and other interesting exhibits.
In the more than 3,000 square metres of exhibition space you can learn about marine life and how it has influenced the relationship between man and the sea throughout history. Its collection started in the 18th century and has grown over time thanks to the collaboration of important groups.
The exhibition is split into four main sections: 'Life in the sea' (Nature-Marine Biology), 'Fishermen and fisheries' (Fishing Ethnography), 'The Cantabrian Sea and the sea throughout history' (Maritime History) and 'Cutting edge technology against the sea' (Maritime Technology). There are workshops and activities held daily which will help you consolidate your knowledge.
3. El Sardinero Beach
Located on the Cantabrian Sea, El Sardinero Beach is one of Santander's most popular beaches. It draws visitors for sunbathing, swimming and dining on the pristine golden-sand shores.
During the summer months, the seafront promenade is filled with restaurants and cafes. This beautiful spot is also popular with surfers, who can enjoy the wild waves November through March.
A cliff-top walk takes you to the Cabo Mayor vista, offering a stunning view of the city. Besides the breathtaking scenery, you can explore the ruins of a mock-Tudor palace, which is part of the city's history.
A short drive away is the Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno, which is a great place to see wolves, bears, foxes and other wildlife in their natural habitat. The park also features a petting zoo and an aquarium, so kids will love exploring the different animals up close.
4. Church of the Virgin of the Sea
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Church of the Virgin of the Sea is one of the most important buildings in Santander. It is a Gothic cathedral and was built between the 12th and 18th centuries.
Inside, the church has a baroque altarpiece in churrigueresque style and a baptismal font made of white marble. Its interior is also adorned with paintings and ornamental pieces.
Besides the main building, the church has a tower room where visitors can see hymnals, scrolls and other historical remains. From the tower room, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Santander.
A ferry runs all year round from the Estacion Maritima Los Reginas, on Santander's seafront, to Somo beach. It costs 5 euros return and it is a great way to get out of the city and enjoy the natural surroundings.
5. Air Read Shelter
Santander is one of Spain's most stylish and elegant cities and has a long and fascinating history. The city's stunning beaches and a range of top-notch restaurants have helped it to become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, with many repeat visitors coming back time and again.
Those who enjoy visiting museums will find plenty of them here, particularly those in the Porticada and Plaza del Principe areas. Maritime-history buffs will also appreciate the Machichaco ship memorial and the Air Read Shelter, which can be visited to learn about the wartime era when 114 air raid shelters were constructed around Santander. The Botin Center, a new building designed to rival the Guggenheim in Bilbao, is another attraction worth checking out. It's a beautiful modern building that takes its name from the bank that funded the project.