Things to do in Santander

Things to do in Santander

Santander, the capital of Cantabria on the Atlantic Ocean in northern Spain, is a seaside city that still thrives on fishing, but also has an incredible fin de siècle grace and a natural landscape. The beaches are also top-notch and are right on your side if you find Spain’s the Mediterranean Sea too hot in summer. It is what brought Spanish royalty to the early 20th century when King Alfons XIII chose Santander and his more moderate climate for his summer residence.


Explore the best things to do in Santander:


The beaches

The city of Santander and the province of Cantabria have some of the best beaches in the north of Spain. Here we find beaches that fully evoke the scents and videos of the sea. They are beaches with fine golden sand, pristine and ideal for relaxing from everyday stress. Located in the bay of Santander, Playa de la Concha is considered the most famous city beach in all of Spain. Santander Bay (9 km long) has a beautiful boulevard, surrounded by a white balustrade (carved in marine motifs breathtaking. Admire stunning views here. Many beaches are located in idyllic places such as the beaches of Valdearenas, Somocuevas, Matalenas and Sardinero.
Magdalena Park
For much of the city’s history, this green peninsula has been militarized at the entrance to Santander Bay. In the Napoleonic Wars, in 1812 there was a fierce battle between the British and the French for control of this point and the small island of Mouro, visible in the mouth of the bay to the east. Later, the entire peninsula was gifted by the city to King Alfonso XIII at the beginning of the 20th century, pine groves took place for the firearms, and a beautiful park was created. Now it holds major public events such as the summer party “Santander Music” in August, and there is even a mini-zoo here with seals and penguins.


The Caves of Altamira

Probably the most remarkable cultural legacy, with the most famous paintings, from the prehistoric (palaeolithic era) of seventeen painted caves depicting mammoths, wild boars, deer and bison. People are not drawn, but human hands. The cave, about 300 meters long, contains 150 prints, in the colours ocher, red and black. These caves were discovered in 1879 by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola and his daughter Mary. The paintings are made with natural polychrome pigments that have been preserved since the Quaternary era.


Cabo Mayor

To see the Atlantic Ocean in all its fury, all you have to do is travel to this headland just past the typical suburbs of Santander. The Cape Lighthouse was built in 1839, and it was fully automated in 2001, so the lighthouse keeper’s home was turned into a public art gallery. After parking at the lighthouse, climb the grassy path to the cliff, with a photogenic landscape in every direction, such as the golden bay at Playa de Mataleñas or over the hills on the east side of Santander Bay.


Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar is a medieval village (4,000 inhabitants) and one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It is located about 30 kilometres from Santander. It is a living museum and can only be visited on foot. In the ninth century, the monastery of Santa Julian arose in the village, which was expanded in the twelfth century with the prestigious church of Santa Juliana, the first and one of the functional exponents of Romanesque art in Cantabria. This village had times of great economic wealth, and around the church and its beautiful monastery, a village centre has developed with large mansions and palaces. The towers of Merino and Don Borja are among the oldest buildings in the village, and on medieval cobblestone streets, take a walk back in time past beautiful houses and buildings from the Middle Ages.

Santillana – Old houses


Cathedral of Santa María de la Asunción

Santander’s Gothic cathedral is much more subdued than the most celebrated Spanish cathedrals, with a sleek, almost austere Gothic design dating from the 1100s to 1400s. It was to be reconstructed in the 20th century after the civil war and the Cabo Machichago disaster in 1893, when a steamship laden with dynamite exploded in the harbour, claiming 590 lives. The monastery is a part that changes little, and that restores its trapezoidal layout from the 1300s. The lower Iglésia del Cristo is also original, with solemn Gothic vaults and a glass floor through which you can see the remains of the Roman settlement of Portus Victoriae.


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