Book a hotel in Santander
King Alfonso XIII used to spend his summers in Santander nearly a hundred years ago, and the town is still popular among fashionable “madrileños” who like to be seen sauntering along the El Sardinero seafront with its belle époque architecture. When the sun goes down and the bikinis are cast off, the town also has some great restaurants and a lively bar scene. It’s also a good place from which to explore the pristine countryside of Cantabria.
Santander is an upmarket beach resort where kings have rubbed shoulders with fishermen, and where university students in flip-flops kick back with well-heeled holidaymakers.
The most popular of its beaches is El Sardinero, which, with its fine white sand and elegant architecture, lies a couple of kilometres from the town centre. Playa de la Magdalena, on the southern side of the headland, has a watersports centre while Playa del Bikini is good for snorkelling. If they’re all too crowded, visitors can take a boat over to the long (more...) stretches of sand at Somo.
Away from the seafront, the city centre is lively, especially after dark. Many of the older buildings were lost in a huge fire in 1941, but there is still some beautiful architecture from bygone times. The elegant cathedral has been restored, and there are some interesting museums. For anyone wanting a day away from the urban thrum, Santander is surrounded by Natural Parks. Alternatively, the picture-postcard village of Santanilla del Mar is nearby, as are the prehistoric caves at Puente Viesgo.