What to do in Santander, Spain

The beautiful seaside city of Santander has a lot to offer to visitors. Excellent beaches, a lively city center, interesting museums, beautiful gardens and nature preserves, etc. Follow our tips and suggestions and make the most of your time in Santander.

Here is a quick list with some of the most important monuments and places to visit in Santander:

Gardens and promenade of Pereda

Start your visit to the city enjoying a walk by the sea. Stroll along the Pereda gardens from Plaza Alfonso XIII. The gardens were build on the old city port in honour of the local writer Jose Maria de Pereda whose statue by Coullaut Valera stands in the gardens. In your walk you will come accross some of the most famous buildings of Santander such as the Palace of "la Compañia Transatlantica Española".

Beaches of Sardinero and gardens of Piquio

In the northern part of Santander you will find the beaches of Sardinero, spreading from the Peninsula of Magdalena to Mataleñas. The Sardinero beach is divided in two parts separated by the gardens of Piquio. The first beach spreads along 330 metres while the second occupies 1000 metres. "El Sardinero" has become a popular zone of the city, traditionally known as one of the most elegant beach resorts of the Spanish coast. This neighbourhood was developed during the 19th century as a new tourist centre of the city.

The gardens of Piquio, built in the 19th century, stand between the first and second beaches of El Sardinero. From here you will be able to see the peninsula and famous Palace of Magdalena.

Peninsula and Palace of Magdalena

The famous gardens of Magdalena are located in the bay of Santander in a peninsula also known as "La Magdalena", besides the beaches of Sardinero. The Royal Palace of la Magdalena was once a residence for kings and queens who came to the city for their beach holiday. It was built by González de Riancho and Gonzalo Bringas with a mixture of British and French styles. This is a privileged area for relaxation and contact with nature. During the summer the palace houses the famous summer courses of the International University Menéndez Pelayo, a forum for students and outstanding specialists in the most varied fields of knowledge.

In the park of Magdalenda there is also a small zoo where you can see penguins, seals and some other sea animals as well as three galleons with which the Cantabrian sailor Vital Alsar crossed the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

The palace of "La Magdalena" and its gardens were declared Cultural Heritage site in 1982.

Beaches of Santander

There are several beaches in the city, most of them centrally located and well comunicated by public transport. The beach of Peligros, close to the Reina Victoria avenue, is a small beach (200 metres) and in spite of its name ("peligros" means dangers) has quiet waters.

Besides the Peninsula of Magdalena you will find two more small beaches: beach of Bikinis and beach of Madgalena.

The beaches of Sardinero are actually composed by four beaches. A bit further away from the city centre are the beach of Molinucos and Mataleñas close to the lighthouse of Cabo Mayor, a zone with beautiful cliffs and sights. In most of these beaches you can practice fishing.

Cathedral and city centre

The Cathedral of Santander "Nuestra Señora de la Asunción" is located in the city centre. It was rebuilt after the fire of 1941 which destroyed most of the building (see history of Santander). The Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the Santander, dating from the 13th century. Especially worth seeing are its clauster, the tomb of Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo and the crypt of "el Cristo" under the main chapel.

Opposite the cathedral is the square "Plaza Porticada" with several official and government buildings. This is a bussy area where you can do some shopping, for example on the lively commercial streets of Arrabal and el Cubo. From here you can walk to the square "Plaza del Generalísimo" where you will find the town hall and the modernist building of la Esperanza market. Follow your walk across the city centre and get to the Art Museum.

Close to the city centre are the fishing port of Santander and Puerto Chico port. The port is surrounded by several maritime buildings.

Gastronomy of Santander

Santander is located between the sea and the mountains and has a mixture of both in its gastronomy. Typical dishes from the sea are "rabas" (fried squid), "bocartes rebozados" (whitebait), and fresh shellfish. There are also excellent meat dishes such as cocido montañés (a stew made of beans, meat and cabbage) and traditional desserts like "quesada" (cheesecake), "sobaos pasiegos" (sponge cakes) and "corbatas" (puff pastry cakes).