There’s a wonderful air of tranquillity and exclusivity to Spain’s north that you just don’t get further south. As the masses continue flocking to the usual Mediterranean hotspots, more discerning travellers are setting their sights on Spain’s northern coast, especially with Brittany Ferries now running a ferry service from Plymouth and Portsmouth to Santander. And once you’ve experienced a city like Santander for yourself, you might wonder what exactly the appeal is on the coast.
So if you’re lucky enough to have a trip to Santander on the horizon, here’s a quick rundown of 10 boxes to tick before heading home:
1 – Playa del Sardinero
The Spanish seaside like you’ve never seen it – historic, charming and overwhelmingly beautiful. Playa del Sardinero is a world away from the cramped and crowded beaches of the Cost, though admittedly can get busy in peak season. When the waves are at their best, hundreds of surfers seem to literally pop up out of nowhere!
2 – Plaza Porticada
Sure it’s the most obvious and most photographed of the city’s plazas, but Plaza Porticada is also the place to be. Which counts double when the sun goes down – Plaza Porticada quite simply explodes into life during the evening and has the kind of buzz about the place that’s not to be missed. If the weather’s on your side, spending a whole evening here is a must.
3 – Playa del Magdalena
Leaving plenty of time to revel in Santander’s beaches comes highly recommended – as many of them as possible. The long, golden and undeniably stunning Playa del Magdalena is perfect for families, with calm blue waters and simply outstanding amenities. Plenty of water-sports also spice things up a little, if you’re into that sort of thing.
4 – Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology
On the more cultural side of things, the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology boasts a unique collection of more than 1,200 artefacts – many of which discovered in the surrounding area. For a taste of Spain during prehistoric times, it’s just about the country’s most fascinating museum.
5 – Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico
Or if you’ve a taste for the life aquatic, the Maritime Museum ticks all the right boxes. Much of Santander’s history and heritage is deeply connected with the sea, making it a great place to find out more about the big blue moulded the incredible city of today. If time permits, guided tours come highly recommended.
6 – Jardines de Pereda
There are two reasons why a visit to the gorgeous Jardines de Pereda is a must. First of all, the gardens themselves are simply stunning and make a great place to wander around or spend an hour doing absolutely nothing. Secondly, there’s the glorious seafront promenade that boasts the kinds of eateries you really should think about working up an appetite to indulge in. Seriously – you’ll regret it is you don’t!
7 – Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
Even if churches aren’t usually your thing, it’s impossible not be blown away by Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Both inside and out, the scale of the building and the intricacies of its decorative touches are nothing short of mind-blowing. The 13th century Iglesia del Santisimo Cristo within the cathedral is the city’s oldest church.
8 – Puerto Chico
Back with the beaches, Puerto Chico is the place to head if you’re looking for maximum enjoyment with minimal crowding. Despite being widely touted as the place to head to escape the herds, it still retains a gloriously undiscovered feel and never seems to attract the masses to the same extent as its counterparts. In a word – bliss!
9 – Museo de Artes Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria
It would be a crime to leave Santander without taking in at least one art gallery – the Museo de Artes Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria being the finest by a wide margin. Along with a number of important pieces by Francisco de Goya, the museum also features an extensive collection of works by Cantabrian artists and regularly host special events/exhibitions.
10 – Planetarium
Last but not least, if you’re going to spend a while marvelling at the wonders of the solar system, it may as well be in arguably the finest Planetarium in Spain. Part of Santander Nautic University, it’s a guaranteed hit with kids of all ages and a brilliant way of keeping everyone entertained when the weather isn’t exactly at its best!