Santander is the capital of Cantabria in Atlantic northern Spain. Santander is a seaside town that still earns a living by fishing, but also has graceful grace and natural scenery. The beaches are also second to none if you find the Mediterranean Sea of Spain too hot in the summer.
At the beginning of the 20th century, King Alfonso XIII chose Santander and its more temperate climate for his summer residence. For most of the city’s history, this green peninsula was militarized at the entrance to Santander Bay. During the Napoleonic Wars in 1812, a tough battle took place between the British and French for control of this point and the small island of Mouro, visible at the mouth of the bay in the east.
Later, the entire peninsula was donated to the city by King Alfonso XIII at the beginning of the 20th century, pine groves replaced the positions of guns, and an elegant park was set up. Nowadays, large public events are held here, such as the Santander Music Summer festival in August, and there is even a mini zoo with seals and penguins. When King Alfonso chose the highest point of the Magdalena Peninsula as the place for his summer residence, he changed Santander overnight. The city for some time not only became a royal court, but also began to attract the Spanish bourgeoisie and turn Santander into a tourist center.
The palace is a mixture of styles reminiscent of an English manor. Currently, the palace is part of the University of Santander, and on weekends guided tours take about 45 minutes . The cliff tops and oceanic perspectives are the main ones here, but the former stables with the Tudor layout are the best part of the tour.
El Sardinero, withdrawn from the ocean, between the Magdalena Peninsula and Cabo Menor, is a pair of golden sandy beaches, the length of which is more than a kilometer. The waves are moderate and extend quite far so that the children are safe while remaining in shallow water. Near the beach there is a promenade with balustrades and a resort with majestic air of the turn of the century.
It is embodied in the Gran Casino, which has existed here since 1916 and has been joined by luxury hotels.
A good way is to rent a bike for a couple of hours, stopping by the gazebo in the Parc de Mataleñas at the far north end. Cantabria is part of Spain with great prehistoric activity. The world-famous cave paintings in Altamira are located near Santander, although the original cave is closed to the public for conservation. But in this museum you can explore the Paleolithic artifacts found on the archaeological sites of the region, including the ritual staff found in the El Pendo Cave, as well as art supplies, stone tools and carved horns and bones.
There are also reproductions of these incredible 15,000-year-old paintings of bison and horses. Collections date back to medieval times, and the oldest over 100,000 years. Santander’s gothic cathedral is much more understated than the most vaunted Spanish cathedrals, with a sharp, almost austere Gothic design dating from between 1100 and 1400. Some reconstruction was needed in the 20th century after the civil war and the disaster in Cabo Machichago in 1893, when a steamer with dynamite exploded in the port, claiming 590 lives.
The monastery is the part that has changed very little, retaining its trapezoidal layout from the 1300s. Lower Iglisia del Cristo is also original, with solemn Gothic arches and a glass floor through which you can see the remains of the Roman settlement of Portus Victoriae.
In the 1880s, Spain moved its royal institute of marine zoology and experimental botany to Santander, and this, together with a former attraction dedicated to the royal shipyard in Guarnizo, became the forerunner of the modern maritime museum. You will learn about the natural and human history of the Cantabrian Sea, including the fishermen who continue to make a living from these waters, and you will see an aquarium with fish, stars and sharks that live off the coast of Santander. One of the most interesting sections is devoted to various technological advances that continue to develop in the field of underwater research and exploration.
El Puntal is a city's flat beach : a sandbank that overlooks Santander Bay, 4.5 kilometers from Somo on the eastern lip.
In summer, a boat runs from the port to El Puntal, and after that you can freely walk along the dunes and relax on the beach all day.
If you are with young children, the southern side of El Puntal has calmer waters and is suitable for children. From this side, distant views of the mountains beyond the bay also open. The north side is more open to the ocean and attracts people of all kinds of water sports, but especially surfers. When the tide comes, this park on the cape between the two beaches of La Sardineri is almost washed by the ocean, and is a favorite among families and couples to meet and wander. In summer, you can buy ice cream on the promenade and relax next to palm trees and flower beds while the ocean is noisy below. It is also wonderful at night when the gazebo on the edge of the cape is lit up and you can look back at the chic resort buildings along the coastline.
To see the Atlantic in all its rage, you just need to go to the cape, which is located outside the northern outskirts of Santander. The cape lighthouse was built in 1839, and in 2001 it became fully automated, so the lighthouse keeper's dwelling was turned into a public art gallery.
After parking at the lighthouse, you can choose a grassy trail on top of a cliff with photogenic landscapes in any direction, for example, in the golden bay at Playa de Mataleñas or through the hills on the eastern side of Santander Bay.
Away from the beaches, Santander's promenade is very convenient for pedestrians, with a chain of wide walking paths. Paseo de Pereda has two paths; one under the rows of plane trees and illuminated at night by wrought-iron lamps, and the other at the edge of the water.
Near the walkways there are beautiful 19th-century apartment buildings with a cafe where there are outdoor seating areas on the sidewalk.
At the western end is Jardines de Pereda, a forest park on reclaimed land, where thousands of starlings nest from September to March. The park and Paseo commemorate Jose Maria de Pereda, the famous 19th-century Cantabrian author. Near the marina is this coastal area where Santander's fishermen used to live before they moved to Barrio Pesquero in the west.
Puertokiko has gained a younger and more vibrant atmosphere in the past few years.
On a few rows of narrow streets and stairs there is a hospitable group of bars and restaurants, and you went down to the water to see where the small fishing boats blend in with more upscale pleasure yachts. The landscape is also amazing , because this way you can lie back on a bench for a few moments and look at the dark green hills beyond Pedrena on the other side of the bay.
Near Paseo Pereda, you can catch one of the Los Reginas ferries and take a cruise on the Santander Bay, which is amazingly beautiful.
A return ticket for an adult costs less than 5 euros, and if you do not get off at stops in Somo or Pedrenia, the journey will last about 45 minutes.
If you like to play golf , then you can get off at Pedren on the incredibly picturesque Real Golf de Pedreña golf course, between the bay and the Cuba River.
In summer, a ferry is also the best way to get to El Puntal for a day on this superb beach.
Santander has the largest central market in Cantabria, and if you rent an apartment in the city, you can find the grocery store Mercado de la Esperanza. Even if you do not plan to buy anything, the market guarantees a visit to its beautiful architecture with a large iron and glass hall, completed in 1904 and included in the list of “historical monuments”. As in all the best Spanish food markets, these are fruit, vegetable and fresh ocean fish stalls. For a souvenir, you can take a can of real Cantabrian anchovies, which are known throughout Spain.
In the green hills 20 minutes south of Santander is a zoo .. It is located on the site of a former huge mine, occupying more than 1900 acres, in a stunningly beautiful environment of meadows and deciduous forests. Walking 20 miles along the roads, you will pass aviaries with various kinds of animals, both local and exotic. Thus, you will see wild boars and Cantabrian brown bears in one part, and then lions, cheetahs, elephants and gorillas.
All these animals live in captivity, so you can observe behavior that is closer to what you see in their natural habitat.
Santander has Santander International Airport, which is 5 kilometers to the east.
You can use the bus, the city has a bus station.
Or by train, Santander Railway Station is located in the southwestern part of the city, which is located very close to the center.