Santander, Cantabria

Santander is a port city in the Cantabria region in the north of Spain, known mostly for the bank of the same name that was founded there. It’s not a typical tourist destination, but has a lot to offer the visitor in the form of fresh seafood and great beaches in and around the city.

cliffs, santander, faro mayor

Cliffs, close to Faro Mayor lighthouse. All photos by Lucy Moretti Design.

A lot of Spanish coastal cities have beaches nearby, but few have the beach an easy walk from anywhere. Santander has several beautiful beaches just a few minutes from downtown. Playa del Sardinero, Playa del Camello and Playa de la Magdalena are all worth a visit. If you want, you can cross the bay to Playa del Puntal (the boat goes to Somo, a little village) which is enormous and much less busy.

playa del puntal, somo, cantabria

Playa del Puntal.

The typical foods are rabas (fried pieces of squid), chipirones (small squid, usually grilled with onions and peppers), and interestingly Spanish omelette stuffed with ham and cheese, shrimp, baby eels or other delicious things. It’s also a good place to havepinchos. They’re not quite as good as Basque Country pintxos, but they’re abundant and cheap.

rolling hills, santander, cantabria, spain

The region of Cantabria is small, and known for its rolling green hills and beautiful beaches, there are several other places worth visiting around Santander: Sanitllana del Mar and Laredo spring to mind. Also nearby is the Cave of Altamira, site of the first cave paintings ever discovered.

The center of Santander is busy and full of shops, and there are plenty of nightlife options if you’re into that sort of thing.

The negatives: the people are somewhat snobbish and unfriendly (just like at home in Madrid) and not terribly used to foreigners. The weather is not incredible either: it frequently rains and is often cloudy, but doesn’t get particularly hot in summer or cold in winter.

Here are some more articles about Spain.


How did I end up in Madrid? Why am I still here 12 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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