If the party resorts of the Mediterranean don’t appeal to you but you still want a memorable Spanish holiday, visit Santander. The city is nestled in the Santander Bay, an azure paradise stretching across Cantabria’s Green Coast. With such a name, it’s not hard to imagine the lush natural surroundings lining the striking coast. From golden beaches spreading at the foot of rugged hills to lush verdant nature worthy of a fairy tale setting, Spain’s north is a place of unspoilt beauty. But it’s not just the nature lovers who will enjoy Santander’s coastal wonders and hike-rich landscapes.
Self-confessed urbanites and passionate foodies will fall in love with the city’s charming character. Santander has no shortage of historic landmarks, architectural feats and cultural monuments to explore, including the opulent Magdalena Palace and the lively Plaza Porticada square. The food scene is as vibrant as the nightlife, with many gastropubs and tapas bars lining the colourful streets and offering delicious fare.
Though couples looking for a romantic city break will especially enjoy a trip to Santander, the city also caters for families from all shapes and sizes. Unlike many of Europe’s main cities, Santander’s vibe is relaxed, and its urban beaches – though great for surfers and water sports enthusiasts – are safe for the little ones too. And, if you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, no matter how laid back, you can always stay in nearby Liencres. The sun-drenched coastal town is just a stone’s throw away.
Holidaymakers from all walks of life will feel welcome in Santander. Visit in July and August, when various festivals fill it with music and art.
The heart of Santander beats in El Sardinero district. A promenade runs along the stretch of golden beach lapping at the neighbourhood’s feet, offering visitors plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy between soaking up the sun and catching some waves. It is also a cosmopolitan hub, where ornate buildings like the Gran Casino and foodie hidden gems draw you inland. Whether you stay at one of the coastal hotels or just wander the vibrant streets, El Sardinero is a must visit.
Located just nine kilometres away from Santander is charming Liencres. The coastal town is popular with families, as it is home to many beaches, some of which are part of the stunning Liencres Dunes Natural Park. Though those with children will especially love staying in Liencres, there’s plenty of history for the culture vultures to enjoy. Historic landmarks include the Pedraja Castle, which was declared Site of Cultural Importance by the Cantabrian Council. Nightlife is laid back, but you can always head to Santander for something wilder.
Santillana del Mar
Santillana del Mar may include the Spanish word for sea in its name, but the picturesque Medieval town is nowhere near the coast. The striking lush green hills surrounding it definitely make up for the lack of beach – though a short drive will take you to Liencres and Santander should you fancy a dip. It is mostly Spanish tourists who flock to this pretty village, where the famous prehistoric Altamira Cave lives, but Brits looking to experience Cantabria the local way will love it too.
Soak up the sun
13 beaches line Santander’s coast, providing plenty of opportunities to work on your tan or have some fun with water sports. The most popular is El Sardinero beach, which stretches from the Magdalena peninsula to Montalenas. El Sardinero boasts a great selection of cafés, bars and restaurants nearby. Head a little out of the city and you’ll find Berria, a gold brazen sand heaven for surfers. Comillas is for the water sports enthusiasts while Matalenas caters best for families.
Get your culture fix
Santander’s history speaks much more subtly than other Spanish cities’, yet it’s definitely there for those who are listening. Start at the Magdalena peninsula, where the early 20th-century palace and its adjacent gardens given as a gift to the city by the Royal family. Follow up with a stroll down Paseo Pereda, one of the only streets that escaped the fire in 1941, and top it off with a visit to the Festival Palace.
Visit the Cave of Altamira
You can’t miss the iconic Cave of Altamira during your trip to Santander. Located just outside charming Santillana del Mar, the cave is considered the Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric art. Dating back to the Palaeolithic, its vivid charcoal paintings are unique to the area. The realistic renditions of hunting are truly compelling, and the lush surroundings make for great pictures to bring home.
Santander is the foodie capital of Cantabria, if not the whole of Spain. Simple and fresh ingredients are used to create sumptuous dishes, including Spanish classics like tapas and paella. The fish and seafood of the region are one of the best, and its tasty native dishes include cabrito – a goat meat dish – mountain stew and a bocadillo beleno – much like a British cheese board, but better.
There are many tapas bars, bodegas and international eateries to choose from in Santander, but you’ll find an incredibly delicious and completely charming restaurant at the La Conveniente old-style bodega.
Visit Santander and discover the beauty of Spain’s Green Coast. Golden beaches, a vibrant arts and culture scene and tasty food are just some of the delights waiting for you at this urban paradise.
Booking your holiday to Santander with easyJet holidays is the best way to get to this stunning city hassle-free. You’ll also get great deals when you book your flight and hotel together.
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