Easily 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, 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.
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. Joy will be found by roaming the charming streets and stopping off along the way for sangria, tapas and local seafood.
El Sardinero beach is perfect if you wish to swim, surf or simply relax. The soft golden sands and clear waters easily make this beach one of the prettiest in the area. Nearby is Playa de Matalenas, just a short walk away and equally as beautiful.
For a dose of history, visit the Santander Cathedral. This 13th Century Cathedral is also home to the oldest monument in Santander, the Church of El Cristo. Here is also remains of a Roman hot spring.
As with most parts of Spain, the winter in Santander is mild (with exception to the mountains in the south). July to August are the best times to visit, when the weather is warm and the streets are buzzing thanks to the festival season.
Featured Image, Santander Beach © Saiko 3p / Shutterstock