Santander is a surprising city located in North Spain, by the Cantabrian Sea, this city boasts elegance and beauty. Here, the sea and the mountains are the protagonists, and that is why they say Santander is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. If you have never visited it, and it is not an exaggeration. Santander has a lot to offer and everyone who visits this beautiful city falls in love with it. The capital of Cantabria is a small city that can be perfectly visited in a weekend or two days, or within a trip of, for example, a week to the Infinite Cantabria that I like so much. If you plan to come visit, follow this compilation with the best plans to see and do in Santander.
Santander is a city that will surprise you for its beauty, and it is not flooded yet but millions of tourists, so it maintains its atmosphere and genuine coastal city that it characterizes it so much. The north of Spain is known for having bad weather, rain wind and cold, especially in winter, so if you want to get sunny days, we recommend visiting Santander in Spring, Summer and Autumn. Even thought, it can also have its charm in winter, and we would advise to do not worry too much about bad weather, there are plans for both sunny and rainy days in the city.
In Santander, summers are comfortable and dry; and winters are long, cold, wet and windy and it is partly cloudy throughout the year. All over the year year, the temperature generally ranges from 6 ° C to 27 ° degrees in summertime.
Arriving to the city is quite easily since it is well communicated both by air thought the Severiano Ballesteros Airport, located 5km from the city, and by sea with Britanny Ferries which connects Santander with Plymouth, Portsmouth and Cork. By land is accessible through the main roads, autovía del Cantábrico and autovía de la Meseta. It also has a train station which connects the city with the entire peninsula).
For more ideas and what to visit in North Spain we recommend visiting Donostia while travelling, and finding some San Sebastian holiday apartments where to stay during your holidays, if you are heading towards the Basque Country. Doing a route through the North of Spain it is one of the best ideas for a trip you can have!
Now, let’s get down to business: we are going to show you some of the best places to visit and do in the city. You can do these activities mostly in two or three days, but also you can select some of them to do in one day.
Visit the Sardinero
One of the first things that you need to when you arrive to Santander is to visit its famous beach. It is the most popular area of the city and the also the most popular coast of Santander. Walking at this promenade will make you admire its views to the bay and the beach of El Sardinero. This beach is located in the urban center of Santander, joined at low tide with Segunda and La Concha, being the northernmost part of the extensive sandy area located between Cabo Menor and the Magdalena Peninsula. It has almost 2 kilometers of fine white sand. For a long time, this beach was a sardine fishing place, hence the name El Sardinero.
El Sardinero began to be known and widely visited from the middle of the 19th century and especially at the beginning of the 20th century. The summer fashion and the healthy benefits of wave bathing attracted many visitors from the Castilian bourgeoisie to this place. Little by little the Sardinero was turning from a place only visited by the residents of Santander to a city-spa, with all the services to offer a wealthy society attracted by the economic boom of Santander, coming from the hand of trade with the Spanish colonies.
This walk begins in the second part of Avenida Reina Victoria and extends to the Second beach of El Sardinero. During this magical tour we highlight several essential stops: firstly, the majestic Gran Casino in the Plaza de Italia which was built in 1916 and it is an example of the Belle Époque, and it remained open until 1939. After going through ups and downs, it was reopened in 2001. Currently, it also has an exhibition hall, cafeteria, and party room.
Continuing with the walk, a little further on, the spectacular viewpoint of the Jardines de Piquío and finally, the Parque de Mesons, which is one of the most popular parks in the cities, especially in summer. It has a large grass esplanade and an artificial pond. The Jardínes de Piquio separate the First and Second beaches of El Sardinero and are the ideal place for a walk. Thanks to its viewpoint, you will be able to contemplate one of the best views of the city.
Following the promenade, the next beach is the called as” the camel beach” named for a rock that has the shape of this animal and is visible when there is no high tide. After her, we arrive at the famous Sardinero beach. You can finish your promenade by going ot the beach and having a nice bath.
Next to the Sardinero we have the Parque Atlántico de las Llamas, a space full of green areas, ideal for resting, taking a walk or doing some type of sports activities. The park also has play areas for the little ones, as well as a restaurant where you can recharge your batteries and relax.
The Sardinero has many beaches and green areas that you can visit. It is a very interesting urban beach, and it will take you most of the day to visit this famous area of the city. Probably the most popular place to visit in summer.
Visit the Grand Casino of Santander
The Gran Casino del Sardinero is the successor to the previous casino, which was located in the same place. The Gran Casino Sardinero is located in one of the most privileged places in Santander and from it you can enjoy an exceptional panoramic view, representing the nerve center of tourism in the Cantabrian capital.
The first casino was built in 1870 and was known for it parties attended by kings and nobles from all over Europe. This was a place where the high aristocracy used to make a lot of parties. The Gran Casino del Sardinero was built in 1916, combining typical casino games with plays, musicals and operas. However, since 1978 it has only been a gambling house.
The renovation took place in May 2012, and it opened a restaurant which is characterized by cooking traditional cuisine with the highest quality products from Cantabria: cheese, meat and fish. In addition, it presents a variety of desserts.
The building, with a neoclassical façade, is one of the most beautiful to see in Santander and the most striking on the El Sardinero promenade.
Cabo Mayor Lighthouse
Continuing with the tour around the city, we can find Cabo Mayor Lighthouse at the end of the city, also one of the most visited places in Santander. The lighthouse was built in 1839 and was special for the development of commercial and maritime activity in the area. Next to the Lighthouse, is the Faro Café Bar, where you can have a few beers on its terrace enjoying the views and observing a landscape of more wild nature. All this but not before marveling at Playa de Mataleñas and taking a walk along the path, a route full of beauty between beaches and cliffs where you can enjoy incredible views of the Santander bay.
The Cabo Mayor lighthouse is one of the best places to visit in Santander, not only for its fabulous views over the bay, but also for the interesting exhibitions on lighthouses that you can see in three rooms distributed between the base of the lighthouse tower and its outbuildings.
Palacio de la Magdalena and its surroundings
The Magdalena Peninsula is one of the most precious jewels of the city of Santander. You will find the main entrance to this large park on the second part of Avenida Reina Victoria. It is a large area, so you can walk around it, or you can get on the famous “magdaleno” train, the tourist train that runs through it. For more information you can visit www.palaciomagdalena.com
The Magdalena Palace was a gift from the Santander City Council to the Kings Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia for their wedding in 1906. The Magdalena Palace was a gift from the Santander City Council to the Kings Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia for their wedding in 1906.
The construction of the palace, paid by popular subscription, was commissioned to the architects Gonzalo Bringas and Javier González de Riancho, and the works were carried out between 1908 and 1912.In August 1913 the kings took possession of the palace, which became a royal summer residence until 1930.
Located in the highest part of the Magdalena peninsula, which presides over the Bay of Santander, it is said that Queen Victoria Eugenia enjoyed being at the Palace so much because its architecture and landscape reminded her of the atmosphere of Great Britain.
Nowadays, the Magdalena Palace houses summer courses and is a popular place to held conferences and events, also, it is open to be visited by the public. There are some gardens and green spaces outside where you can sit and contemplate the views of the Bay.
Ride the funicular to Río de la Pila and enjoy the views of the city
This funicular, inaugurated in 2008, located in the old part of the city, will give you the opportunity to get to know Santander from a different perspective. It has three stops, is free. This train starts at six in the morning and finishes at twelve at night. It will only take you three minutes to get to the third stop, from where you can enjoy exceptional panoramic views of the Bay.
The view is worth it. From above you can see at a glance the entire Bay of Santander, and the most important buildings in the city center, such as the flag that presides over the Banco Santander building, the Cathedral and the Hotel Bahía.
Walk around the Bay
During this tour you will enjoy one of the most beautiful bays in the world. You can start at Paseo Pereda, with its gardens, and get to Puerto Chico passing through the Botín Art Center.
Visiting the Botín Art Center is already an essential in your visit to the city. Here you can also take a boat trip around the Bay of Santander. It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, winner of the Pritzker Prize.Walking through this area will allow you to enjoy the city’s architectural landscape.
In this part of the city you have the option to take a boat short trip around the Bay of Santander. The trip lasts one hour and allows you to see the Bay of Santander. Thus, the traveler can see the island of Mouro, the Magdalena palace, the Sardinero and both shores of the Santander bay. During the journey, there is a guide that will provide guided explanations. It is a recommended option during your stay in Santander.
As you can see, this city offers splendid conditions for walking, whether along the seashore or the e it in the historic center, where you can enjoy the shops and the noble buildings of the city. Santander is also rich in green areas and it is full of parks. The city has grown and expanded respecting its privileged natural environment, and it also offers a lot of places to practise water sports such as sailing, rowing, surfing, and diving. There are also many places to enjoy golf, hiking, mountain biking or even climbing, and all this without even leaving the city. Definitely, this is a city to enjoy.