Much the largest city in Cantabria, with a population approaching 200,000, SANTANDER is an elegant, refined resort with excellent transport connections. While its setting on the narrow Bahía de Santander is beautiful – from the heart of the city, you can enjoy clear views across the bay to rolling green hills and high mountains that seem to glow at sunset, and superb sandy beaches line much of the shorefront – the city centre lost most of its finest buildings to a massive fire in 1941. Nonetheless, the narrow lanes of the old town, running parallel to the waterfront, still abound in atmospheric bars and restaurants. The local beaches – the best is sandy El Sardinero, facing the open sea a couple of kilometres east – are broad and clean enough for Santander to rival Biarritz and San Sebastián as a favourite summer retreat for sophisticated holiday-makers from the interior. Santander may have a much more bourgeois identity than many of its earthier northern neighbours – and away from the beaches there’s not all that much actually to see or do – but it’s really not a bad place to while away a day or two.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

27 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month