Tourist’s guide to Santander in Spain

The city of Santander (Spain) is the administrative center of the Cantabria region, which is located in the northern part of the country. Santander is located on the Atlantic Ocean, on the shores of the Bay of Biscay, and, like most coastal cities, stretches along the coast.

Santander in Spain

The city has a long and rich history: the first mention of it dates back to 1068 (under King Sancho II the Strong), and the year of foundation is considered to be 1755.

The city streets are interspersed with ancient white-marble buildings and modern new buildings, and historic palaces rise among areas with urban landscapes. These architectural contrasts are quite explainable: in 1941 all the wooden buildings in the historical part of the city were completely destroyed by fire, and in 1941-1950 this territory was built up again.

Modern Santander, covering an area of ​​35 km², with a population of 180,000, is a large port in Spain with well-developed infrastructure. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, due to the fact that the royal family began to come here on vacation, this city has become a fairly fashionable resort. Now it cannot be called overpopular, but still many tourists from all over the world come here, attracted by beautiful nature, clean beaches, interesting sights.

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Morning Santander in Spain

Santander Weather: When to Come

Compared to the Mediterranean resorts in Spain, the city of Santander is much cooler, because the local climate is dictated by the influence of the Atlantic. The climate in Santander is mild and very humid. Rains are the constant companions of these places in any season, but especially often they go from November to April.

Weather in Santander
  • In summer, the daytime air temperature does not go beyond + 25 … + 27 ° С, the water temperature in the ocean is kept at + 20 … + 22 ° С.
  • The weather in the first half of September is almost no different from the weather in August, the temperature is + 20 … + 24 ° С. Then, as it approaches winter, in November, the average air temperature gradually decreases to + 13 … + 15 ° С.
  • It gets colder in winter, the average daytime temperature rarely drops below +10 ° С. And with warm winds, rains and storms come.
  • In spring, the weather is not stable, temperature differences reach maximum values. Average indicators: + 13 … + 19 ° С. In place of rains and strong squally winds come warm sunny days.

When to come! High season, when beach holidays are in full swing, in Santander from the second half of July to the end of September. And winter, when storms rage in the Bay of Biscay with a clear sunny sky, is considered the best season for surfers. Those tourists who travel to Spain to get acquainted with its sights, the city will be interesting at any time of the year.

Beach holidays in Santander

Santander has 12 beaches, stretching along the Atlantic Ocean for 5 km. This resort has long been known for the fact that its beaches are the cleanest in all of Spain. All of them are with soft light sand, with convenient sand entry into the water. And the water is crystal clear, the bottom is clearly visible several meters in depth.

In each recreation area there are changing cabins, showers, toilets. Sun beds and umbrellas are rented out, but since this service is not very popular, there are not many places for sun beds on the coast.

Compared with the Mediterranean resorts in Spain, the local beaches, even in season, are not too crowded.

Playa primera de el sardinero
Playa primera de el sardinero

Primera de El Sardinero is not just a beach, but a historical attraction belonging to the “golden age” of this resort. Just in this area gathered all the nobles and aristocrats of Spain to rest “on the waters.”

The first Sardinero stretched almost 3 km, along it passes a beautiful promenade, there are several gardens and parks. Even when it is not hot, and do not want to sunbathe and swim, here you can walk and enjoy the sea views or enjoy a meal in one of the many cafes. The location is very convenient, near public transport and parking lots.

Playa del camello

A pretty enough small beach located in a bay in front of the entrance to the Magdalena Peninsula and almost connected to Sardinero.

Playa del camello

The name of the beach was due to a local attraction – a rock, with its shape resembling a camel. You can see this rock only at a certain time: the ebb-tide matters.

Throughout the year, locals, palas players (a kind of tennis born in Cantabria) rest on Camello.

Playa de el puntal

El Puntal is a sandy peninsula to which a small ferry departs every 15 minutes from Centro Botín in the summer.

Playa de el puntal

The beach is large and beautiful, but almost wild. There is no special equipment, there is only one restaurant. This place is ideal for those who like a secluded vacation, who want peace and quiet without people around.

El Puntal has a place where nudists rest.

Playa de matalenas

Matalenas, which can be considered a real natural attraction of Santander, is located on the outskirts of the city, next to the lighthouse. This picturesque sandy beach is located in a cozy small bay, closed on two sides by rocky capes. There is a lot of space due to the fact that the coastal strip is wide.

Playa de matalenas

Important! You need to swim here carefully, as there are undercurrents and often large waves rise. You should always follow the flag: green – you can swim, yellow – there are waves and it is better not to take risks, red – you can’t swim.

The only drawback of Matalenas is that you need to go down to it on a steep, albeit absolutely safe staircase of 150 steps.

Going to Matalenas for the whole day, it is advisable to take food and drinks with you so that you do not have to go up the stairs to the restaurant once again. By the way, the toilets are also upstairs; there are none on the beach itself.

Playa de los bikini

Bikinis Beach is a very small stretch of coast surrounded by a breakwater on one side and a rocky cape on the other. The territory is equipped and not crowded.

Playa de los bikini

The name Bikinis has developed historically: in the early 1970s, foreign students were the first in the city, and in all of conservative Spain, to sunbathe here in a bikini.


There is something to see in Santander. These are historical buildings, ancient churches, museums of different orientations, magnificent nature in the vicinity.

Botín Art Center

Centro Botín, opened in 2017, is one of the city’s most modern attractions.

The building, designed by Lorenzo Piano, is considered an architectural masterpiece. It consists of two blocks resembling floating ships, interconnected by steel and glass bridges. This building is located near the sea and rises above it by 20 meters. The facade of the building is covered with sparkling ceramic hemispheres (280,000 pieces), reflecting the color of the sky and sea.

Botín Art Center

On the ground floor there is a restaurant, which offers beautiful views of the bay. You can also take the elevator to the roof, admire the scenery of the entire area and take panoramic photos of the city of Santander.

Centro Botín is not just a tourist attraction, but also a Center for Contemporary Art with exhibition halls and galleries (their total area is 2500 m²), in which various art exhibitions regularly change.

Practical information

Botín Center is open:

  • October-May – from 10:00 to 20:00;
  • June-September – from 10:00 to 21:00.

On Mondays, with some exceptions, a day off. There are weekends and holidays.

Botín Art Center inside

You can view the calendar of events, clarify the cost of tickets and the work schedule on the official website:

Attraction address: Muelle de Albareda, Paseo de Pereda, s / n, 39004 Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

Maritime Museum

The museum is small but very interesting. The collection presented here has been collected for more than 200 years by the Maritime College and the Royal Experimental Station operating under it. All exhibits are divided into several thematic sections.

Maritime Museum
  1. “Life at Sea” – the exhibition is dedicated to marine life. A lot of various exhibits, among which the most interesting attraction is the skeleton of a whale. There is a huge aquarium, inside which a special glass tunnel for visitors has been laid. Around the tunnel and the people in it, stingrays, sharks, and other marine life swim.
  2. “Fishermen and Fisheries” – this exhibition is dedicated to the history of the development of fishing in northern Spain.
  3. “Cantabrian Sea and History” (geographers of Spain call the Bay of Biscay the Cantabrian Sea). The exhibition tells the story of seafaring in this part of the Atlantic. Among the most interesting exhibits are realistic models of ships of various eras.
  4. “Advanced Technologies and the Sea” – this exposition is about the modern shipbuilding industry.

Important! Museum exhibits are prohibited from photographing. Photo and video shooting are allowed only in the hall with an aquarium, but due to the darkness, the pictures are of poor quality.

Maritime Museum inside

You can climb the roof of the museum, there is a special terrace. From a height a beautiful view of the picturesque bay and floating ships opens.

Practical information

Children under 5 years old can see museum attractions for free, and on Sundays from 14:00 all visitors. At other times, entry is paid:

  • for adults – 8 €;
  • for children 5-12 years old – 3,50 €;
  • for pensioners over 65 years – 5 €.

Museo Maritimo del Cantabrico is closed on Mondays, on other days it works like this:

  • May-September – from 10:00 to 19:30;
  • October-April – from 10:00 to 18:00.

The Maritime Museum is located on the shores of the bay, by the beach of Los Peligros. Address: Av. de Severiano Ballesteros, s / n, 39004 Santander, Cantabria, Spain.


In the IX century, the monks brought to this land the relics of the holy martyrs Emetria and Celedonius – this marked the beginning of the construction of the Abbey of the Holy Bodies, in the church of which the relics were stored.


In the XII-XIV centuries, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built on the site of the abbey – the attraction that can be seen now. Initially, in the XII century, a church was built for the relics of Saints Emetria and Celedonia – it was erected on the foundation of an old church. And a hundred years later this temple was used as the foundation for the construction of a second church, the upper one. The whole building turned out to be monumental, more reminiscent of a fortress: powerful thick walls, a belfry in the form of a watch tower.

The lower church now serves as a crypt for the storage of holy relics. A unique attraction has been preserved in one of the naves: fragments of the walls of an ancient temple with a drainage system.

In addition to the lower and upper churches, the complex includes a pretty courtyard (cloister). Now there is a fountain, before that there was an orange garden, and several centuries ago there was a city cemetery.

From outside you can see this landmark of Santander in Spain for free. Entrance inside is paid – 1 €.

The cathedral stands on a natural hill, address: Calle Somorrostro, s / n, 39002 Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

Royal Palace on the Magdalena Peninsula

Just a few minutes by bus or a short pleasant walk on foot – and you can find yourself on the Magdalena Peninsula. You can drive to it by car, but there can be problems with parking.

Royal Palace on the Magdalena Peninsula

On the Magdalena Peninsula, in its very center, there is a famous attraction: the royal palace of the same name.

It all started in 1861, when Queen Isabella II began to go to rest on the water in Santander. All the aristocrats of Spain followed her example, and her grandson, King Alfonso XIII, decided to build his summer residence here. So in 1912, the Palacio de la Magdalena appeared.

When the monarchy was overthrown in 1930, the university was located in the palace building. It was here that foreign students studied, showing bikinis on the beach of conservative Spain.

At the end of the 20th century, the palace was restored, and now conferences and congresses are being organized on its premises, and even wedding ceremonies are being held. Everyone can visit this attraction and see all its splendor.

Royal Palace on the Magdalena Peninsula inside

Around the Palacio de la Magdalena there is a picturesque park with sculptures and replicas of ancient ships. Across the territory, among numerous flower beds, pedestrian paths are laid and convenient benches are installed. There is a small zoo with penguins, sea lions and seals.

The park offers wonderful views of the city, the lighthouse, the bay. There are a lot of points where you can make excellent panoramic photos in memory of Santander and Spain.

Important! The walking route is indicated on the map, which is at the entrance to the park. If it is difficult to get around an area of ​​25 hectares, you can take a tourist train for 2 €. The ride in a circle lasts about 20 minutes.

Practical information

Entrance to the territory is free, open from 8:00 to 22:00.

Entrance to the palace is possible only with a guide, 45-minute excursions take place at strictly scheduled times and exclusively in Spanish. Price 3 €. Schedule of excursions can be found at

Attraction address: Av de la Reina Victoria, s / n, 39005 Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

Cabo Mayor Park
Cabo Mayor Park

Cabo Mayor Park is one of those natural attractions of Santander in Spain, where beautiful hiking trails are laid. The route begins at the Sardinero beach, then it goes along the coast through the Matalenas park, then next to the small beach Molinucos, and goes directly to Cape Menor, to the lighthouse Cabo Mayor. During the walk you can admire the carved coastlines, green fields, the ocean.

Important! You have to be very careful: there are no fences on the edge of the cliffs, and the grass can be slippery.

Accommodation in Santander

Although the city of Santander is small, there are many hotels in it. But in the summer tourists come here for a beach holiday, and at other times business travelers come: Santander is a business city in Spain, conferences and other events are often held here.

Hotel in Santander

Important! Since there are always many visitors to this city, accommodation must be booked in advance in any season, especially in August.

It is logical that coming to a beach vacation, it is better to settle as close to the coast as possible. Such accommodation options at this resort are offered by hotels, and there are very few private apartments and they are quite expensive. There are hotels along the entire coast, especially a lot of them near the Sardinero beach (the prices here are the highest).

In winter, spring and autumn, when proximity to the sights becomes more relevant, it is better to stay in the historical center. There is a good selection of hotels, there are also private apartments.

Estimated cost of a night in the summer months:

  • double room in a hotel 3 * from 40 € to 175 €, but most often it is 80-130 €;
  • apartments with one bedroom, living room and kitchen – from 50 €.

How to get to Santander

The most convenient option is to fly to Spain, Madrid or Barcelona, ​​and from there get to Santander.

From Madrid

To travel from Madrid, from the Madrid bus station, you can take a bus with Alsa: the journey takes almost 6 hours, the journey costs 35-50 €. Tickets must be purchased at the box office or on the website of the bus station, or on the carrier’s website:

Alsa Bus

But a more convenient way to get from Madrid is by rail:

  1. At Madrid-Puerta De Atocha Station, you need to catch the Alv train, which operates direct flights from Madrid to Santander. Travel time is almost 5 hours, ticket price is 29-40 €, carrier Renfe Viajeros.
  2. From Sol Station, take the C4 train from Renfe Cercanias to Chamartin Station. The trip takes 10 minutes and costs 5-7 €. From Chamartin you need to go to the Madrid-Chamartin station (distance 116 m), and then catch the Alv train that goes to Santander. Journey time 4 hours 10 minutes, fare 28-35 €, carrier Renfe Viajeros.

From Madrid in this direction there are 7 flights per day. You can find out the exact schedule of railway transport and buy tickets on the website of the Spanish Railways:

From Barcelona

From Barcelona it is more convenient, faster and cheaper to get to Santander with the Ryanair low-cost airline. In time, the flight takes 1 hour 15 minutes, ticket prices start at 20 €.

Ryanair in Santander

Important! In Barcelona, ​​it is better to make a long stopover, as flights are not very convenient and flight delays are also possible.

The airport in Santander is 7 km from the center. From the airport to the bus station at Plaza Estaciones in 15 minutes can be reached by bus. Buses run at intervals of 30 minutes from 6:45 to 23:00. You can take a taxi at the exit of the terminal, the trip will cost about 15 €.

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This article contains only the most important information about Santander (Spain). It remains to add that this city invariably attracts the attention of numerous tourists with a huge number of diverse options for spending time. In this city, every traveler will find something to do.

Prices on the page are for December 2019.

What to see in Santander in one day:

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