A joyful girl wearing a long black coat with glasses and dark hair stands before the grand Palacio de la Magdalena in Santander, exemplifying 'why visit Santander' with its stunning architectural beauty and royal history.

Is Santander Worth Visiting For Tourists? 12+ Reasons to Visit Santander, Spain in 2024

Looking to see if Santander is worth visiting? 

Having immersed myself in its coastal beauty, delicious cuisine, incredible naturescapes, and impressive history, I can attest that Santander is a beautiful and underrated Spanish destination that should not be missed.

From its sun-kissed Sardinero beach to the captivating historic Magdalena Palace, this city captivates and leaves a great impression of the beauty to explore in Spain’s Cantabria region. 

With my experience exploring Santander for 4 days solo, in this post, you’ll discover why Santander deserves a prime spot on your travel wishlist while answering the question: Is Santander worth visiting?

Let’s jump in and see! 

Is Santander worth visiting?

To put it short – Absolutely! There are many reasons to visit Santander, whether to explore the architecture of the incredible Magdalena Palace or to walk the scenic Paseo de Pereda

Though Santander isn’t often mentioned among the most popular cities to visit in Spain, the city dubbed the “Bride by the Sea” offers a variety of activities for all interests. 

From history to maritime culture, nature, and much more, Santander offers this, along with fewer crowds and a less tourist-centered atmosphere, to observe and experience a bit of the local way of life, which is such a breath of fresh air.

Why Visit Santander, Spain?

In the early 1900s, Santander was the favored vacation spot by many, including the Spanish royal family. 

Between its exquisite summers, traditional ocean baths thanks to its proximity to the Cantabrian sea, access to hiking, and fresh seafood cuisine, Santander remains a favored place by locals to vacation and a hidden gem for travelers to Spain.

What is Santander Most Famously Known For?

Santander is most famous for its gorgeous coast, unique architectural gems, from the Magdalena Palace to the Santander Cathedral, historic maritime and prehistorical caves, and stunning green mountains and hills, which you appreciate the moment you begin landing at the Santander airport. 

5 quick reasons why you should visit Santander, Spain

  • Fascinating architecture – Modern, Neoclassical, Neo-Gothic, Civil, and numerous international influences.
  • Rolling green mountains and hills with coastal views of the Cantabrian Sea and Santander Bay
  • Pre-historic culture – caves and ruins 
  • Local delicacies – fresh seafood, hearty soups, and high-quality dairy products.
  • Gorgeous beaches – more than 10! 

The 27 best things to do while visiting Santander, Spain

If you want more inspiration and detailed information on what to do in Santander, keep reading to see my detailed recommendations and other activities while visiting Santander! 

1. Stroll through the Paseo de la Pereda 

Strolling through Paseo de la Pereda in Santander, Spain

Enjoy a beautiful stroll on the Paseo de la Pereda, one of Santander’s most important streets, and take in the city’s action. 

Approximately an 800-meter path that takes you right along the water, you’ll enjoy browsing late 19th-century architecture, parked boats on the dock, the Santander Bay, and much more!

Starting at Santander Cathedral and stretching throughout Puerto Chico (small port), the walking path passes the Pereda Gardens (Jardines de Pereda) and the emblematic Botín Center (Centro Botín). 

2. Get some fresh sea air at Puerto Chico

If you walk the Paseo de Pereda, you’ll encounter Puerto Chico, which was historically where fishermen dropped off their fish and where the center of the city’s fishing industry mainly took place. 

Although much quieter today, Puerto Chico is still a scenic and popular spot in the city. Take in the views of the water, the docked boats, and locals taking a stroll admiring the afternoon and fresh sea air. 

Other sights to look for include the Los Raqueros statue, the Grua de Piedra (La Machina), and the boat tour company Los Reginas. 

Who were the Raqueros?

One of Santander’s most historical landmarks and public statues is Los Raqueros, a tribute to the city’s orphaned children living in poverty.

The story depicts 4 bronze sculptures of 4 young boys. Some are sitting on the dock, some are jumping into the water, and others are standing by. They appear to be naked, which describes their state of poverty. 

One way to make money was to entertain the rich people who passed on a stroll through Puerto Chico and even occasionally stole from them. Adult passersby would throw valuables or coins into the water to see the children jump in after them to entertain the adults.

Although it is cruel and unjust for adults to do this to children in desperate need, the kids made their money and were able to survive difficult times. 

When the city erupted in a fire explosion in 1941, destroying a significant part of Santander, many say that these children were the first responders as many people flew into the water because of the force of the explosion. 

Today, the children are honored, and many locals like to think they are the descendants of these young heroes. 

3. Take a boat trip around Santander Bay

Hop on a boat ride along the stunning Santander Bay

Take your adventures to the water, and enjoy a boat trip around Santander Bay! 

Known as the largest estuary in northern Spain, the Bay of Santander connects to the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. 

With numerous fun boat tours offered to explore Santander Bay, you have options from perusing the bay on a 1-hour city cruise around the bay to taking a boat tour to a local anchovy factory.

If you’re short on time but want to explore Santander from the water, stop by the local boat tour agency, Los Reginas, in Puerto Chico. With swift 20-minute tours and pet-friendly water adventures, each boat departs the dock every half hour. 

⛴️ PRE-BOOK a boat trip around Santander Bay ⛴️

4. Get lost exploring the Magdalena Peninsula

There’s so much to do at Magdalena Peninsula – don’t miss it while visiting Santander!

The magnificent Magdalena Peninsula is located at the northernmost point of Santander and is a scenic landmark that offers a beautiful blend of history, nature, and leisure. 

Occupying 61 acres, the Magdalena Peninsula offers many sights, from the entrance to some of the city’s attractions, including the Magdalena and Bikini Beaches, to the Museum of Man and the Sea

The Museum of Man and the Sea is an open-air museum that honors 9 sailing expeditions made by local sailors between 1966 and 1992. It also has a small free open-air aquarium/zoo called Magdalena Park (Parque Marino de la Magdalena), with fish and seals to observe along the coast. 

However, the main attraction on the Magdalena Peninsula is the iconic Magdalena Palace, with its Neo-Gothic architecture and incredibly breathtaking panoramic views of the Cantabrian sea, islands, and coastal beaches.

5. Feel like a Spanish royal at the Palacio de la Magdalena (Magdalena Palace)

The stunning Magdalena Palace was a highlight for me and many who visit Santander

Built between 1909 and 1911, the Magdalena Palace is a crown jewel and perhaps the most popular attraction in Santander, besides the beaches.  

It was the main reason I wanted to visit Santander for so long. Not only is the architecture grand, its location pristine, with sweeping views of the Cantabrian Sea, but it was also where one of my favorite Spanish series, Gran Hotel, was filmed.

Historically the Spanish residence of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia, today, the palace welcomes visitors, houses a few conferences, and hosts classes for students attending Menéndez Pelayo International University. 

I highly recommend visiting the Magdalena Palace, booking tickets for a tour, and learning about the exciting history of the palace and Santander in the early 1900s. 

💡Pro tip: When booking tickets, you can pre-book them online during high travel season. If you’re visiting during the low-travel season, arrive 30 minutes before a tour and purchase your tickets in person. When I went in January, I had to buy my tickets in person because the system didn’t let me because of low ticket sales for the day I wanted to visit. Luckily, more people decided to purchase in person, so we enjoyed the tour. 

📍BOOK tickets to tour the Magdalena Palace

6. Splash around Santander’s best beaches

Even in January, I spotted people strolling along the gorgeous Santander beaches

If you visit during summer, a trip to the beach is a must! 

  • Playa del Sardinero (Sardinero Beach)
  • El Camello
  • Mataleñas Bech
  • Los Peligros
  • Playa de los Bikinis

Sardinero Beach is the most popular in Santander and covers much of the coast; it’s divided into “two” beaches stretching between the Magdalena Peninsula and the Mataleñas Beach area. 

El Camello Beach is a great option for swimming or sunbathing. It’s also widely known for its natural landmark, a massive boulder with some trees on top, located on the shores.

Mataleñas Beach has beautiful coves, stairs descending to the bottom of the beach, and soft golden sand near a golf course. Though Sardinero Beach is considered one of the most popular beaches, this one is one of the most beautiful!

Los Peligros Beach is another excellent option closer to Santander’s city center. You can see it from the fishermen’s quarter to the Magdalena Peninsula. You can admire the beautiful green mountains in the back as you swim, picnic on the beach, or work on your tan. 

Lastly, Playa Los Bikinis is situated the closest to the Magdalena Palace. Commonly visited by university students, it has soft waves and an overall calm ambiance. If you’re driving, there is a parking lot at this beach and other facilities. 

7. Take a coastal walk and explore Parque de Cabo Mayor (Cabo Mayor Park)

If you’re looking for more scenic walks in Santander, you cannot miss out on exploring Cabo Mayor Park and taking the coastal walk. 

On this walk, make sure to bring your camera because this park is not only gorgeous, but there are tons of other scenic spots to check out, including: 

  • Mataleñas Park
  • Cabo Menor
  • Mataleñas Park Golf Course
  • Mataleñas Beach
  • Ziplines
  • Cabo Mayor Lighthouse
  • Cabo Mayor Lighthouse Art Center 

8. Step inside the unique Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion – Santander Cathedral

If you can, a visit to the Cathedral of Santander is a must to add to your Santander itinerary

See the Gothic architecture of the beautiful Santander Cathedral, the city’s main cathedral in the city center beside the Paseo de la Pereda. Dedicated to the Our Lady of the Assumption

Though due to the fire, the cathedral suffered a huge loss, and only a few parts of the cathedral today are original, while others are mostly modern.

The only original parts date to the 13th century: a few top parts of the church (14th century) and the abbey (15th century).

Though not as ornate as other cathedrals in Spain, the interiors have 3 naves and 3 chapels in the interior and house the remains of Menéndez Pelayo, who was an important Spanish scholar. 

This cathedral is fascinating and different from some of the ones I have seen in Spain because of the drastic mix-up of various influences. Gothic architecture is on one side, and on the other (where you enter to get tickets to go inside), it is entirely modern. 

9. Immerse yourself in Catabrian art at Botín Center

The center of Cantabrian art in Santander and the province

Most widely noticed for its modern exterior architecture, the Botín Center is the city’s (and province’s) premier art center. It offers dozens of contemporary art exhibits and hosts numerous events yearly. 

Located right beside the Paseo de la Pereda, the Botín Center is a great place to visit on a rainy day or if you’re fascinated by art and culture. 

Walk up the stairs to explore the 2 extensive galleries, numerous workspaces, and the awesome roof terrace, which offers impressive views of the city and the Bay of Santander. 

If you’re an art appreciator, this is a must-visit!

📍BOOK your Skip-The-Line tickets to Botín Center

10. Explore a piece of historic Santander at Barrio Pesquero – the Fishing Quarter

Though the fishing quarter was unpleasant to visit in the past, it’s one of the city’s most famous sights today. 

Visitors can walk around, grab a bite, or sit on a terrace admiring the historic buildings that didn’t suffer too much destruction during the fire. 

The fishing quarter is a great place to enjoy seafood and step inside restaurants that offer other traditional dishes, such as Cocido Montañes and Cocido Lebaniego (which I had). A great recommendation for trying local food that is not exclusively seafood is Bodega Fuente Dé. 

💡Interesting fact: Because the fire of 1941 destroyed most of the city, except for the Fishing Quarter, this area is known as Santander’s Old Town. 

11. Dive into the city’s rich seafaring traditions at The Cantabrian Maritime Museum 

A city with a deeply rooted maritime history and culture like Santander deserves to be learned about, and the place to do this is the Cantabrian Maritime Museum. 

The Calabrian Maritime Museum houses multiple exhibits showcasing shipwreck pieces and stories, whale skeletons, the history of the vibrant fishing industry and the fishing quarter, and an aquarium and restaurant with incredible sea views. There’s much to get into and enjoy at the museum. 

Additionally, the museum honors the fishing culture that northern Spain is known for and the ecosystems, natural history, and influence of the sea and beyond. 

💡 Pro tip: When booking tickets to most of Santander’s museums, you can gain free entry if you visit any Sunday afternoon. 

📍BOOK your entry tickets to the Cantabrian Maritime Museum

12. See Santander’s prehistoric findings at the  Prehistory and Archaeology Museum of Cantabria

The Prehistory and Archaeology Museum offers a great look into Santander’s prehistoric relics, findings, people, and more

Santander is also known for its rich pre-history artifacts and ruins, and the Prehistory and Archaeology Museum of Cantabria is the place to appreciate the fascinating finds. 

From items found in caves near Santander to tools dating back to the Paleolithic era, learning about the different species of the time that lived in the area and the social structures of the people who lived during the ancient times, up until the Medieval and Iron age, was fascinating. 

The museum does a great job of breaking down a substantial amount of history, which will surely captivate the attention of all who visit, no matter your expertise on the subject.

📍BOOK your entry tickets to the Prehistory and Archaeology Museum of Cantabria

13. Take up a new skill with a surf lesson 

Santander is known as one of the best places in northern Spain to surf, and with many beaches along its coast, opportunities to surf are abundant, especially for beginners. 

The following are locals beaches recommended by locals to go surfing:

  • Sardinero Beach
  • Somo Beach – perfect for beginners
  • El Puntal Beach – a bit further out, but offers great views of Santander city

📍BOOK a Surfing Lesson in Santander’s Somo Beach

14. Explore Santander on a bike 

The whole region of Cantabria is well known for its scenic paths, which you can explore best by bike. 

In Santander, there are plenty of paths to take whether you’re looking for nature or biking through the city, along the coast, and beyond. 

Whether you rent a bike on your own to explore the city or join a bike tour in Santander, a bike ride through the scenic parts of the city is a must on your Santander itinerary to capture the picturesque beauty. 

📍BOOK your spot on the Santander Guided Tour by Electric Bike

15. Walk the paths at Parque de Mataleñas

Located on the very north of Santander is the scenic Parque de Mataleñas (Mataleñas Park), a large urban park that offers incredible nature, sea views, gardens, great bird-watching opportunities, and access to the Mataleñas Beach and Los Moinucos Beach

Only a 10 minute drive from the Magdalena Palace and the city center, the park is a great spot to visit and enjoy nature. 

If you’re up for the adventure, you can walk from the city center to the park, which is about 1 hour one way. You’ll get your steps in and have multiple breathtaking moments absorbing a significant part of Santander on foot. 

16. Explore the city with a local on a Walking tour

Discover hidden corners and beautiful viewpoints of the city, plus more on a free walking tour of Santander

Sign up for a free walking tour in Santander and get a local perspective on the city, its nature, fascinating history, and local recommendations. 

I signed up for the Santander Free Walking Tour, which was fun and helped me learn about the city’s past with an entertaining local. I recommend it to anyone visiting Santander. 

On the tour that I took, you’ll learn more about the horrible fire that destroyed a large portion of the city in 1941, its important cultural spots, local stories, and history points you won’t hear in any other guidebook, and much more, plus where to eat the best regional dishes!

📍BOOK the Santander Free Walking Tour

17. See the academic richness inside the Biblioteca de Menéndez Pelayo – Menéndez Pelayo Library 

Built in 1915, the extraordinary Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo library is a beautiful space full of Cantabrian culture, academics, and enlightenment. 

Named after the Spanish scholar Menéndez Pelayo, the library today holds around 42,000 books, which include 500+ original manuscripts and 20+ rare pieces of literature from the scholar. 

Housed inside his home, which welcomes visitors, it also offers guests a look into his home and the exterior gardens.

Address: Calle Rubio 6, 39001, Santander, Cantabria, Spain

📍BOOK your ticket to the Menéndez Pelayo Library

18. See the goods on sale at El Mercado De La Esperanza 

See what a day in the life is for locals and vendors in Santander, plus a crash course in local cuisine at the Esperanza Market

In the heart of Santander, you’ll find the historic and lively Mercado de la Esperanza (Esperanza Market) buzzing with daily life and a wealth of local ingredients and food sights. 

Though the stunning exterior is made up of cast-iron details, much like Santander Cathedral, the market was destroyed, and only partial original pieces remain. Most of the market is renovated, with a few remaining pieces, like the original 1904 roof. 

Inside the market, enjoy many local ingredients, fish, cheese, and fruit/vegetable vendors promoting their products to marketgoers, and a variety of colors and lively culture to experience. 

The market is open Monday through Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Thursday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and then it reopens from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM. 

Address: Pl. de la Esperanza, 39002, Santander, Cantabria, Spain

19. Check out the nightlife buzz at Plaza de Cañadío

Are you looking for nightlife action in Santander? Plaza de Cañadío is the place to hit the town on the weekend!

Located near the fisherman’s quarter and across the street from Paseo de la Pereda, Plaza de Cañadío is brimming with life through its dozens of tapa restaurants, bars, a few clubs, and more.  

Because of this, Plaza de Cañadío is known as the most famous plaza in Santander. It is the perfect place to end any sightseeing day and visit the city at night with the locals. 

20. Have some tapas and a drink at Plaza Porticada

No matter the weather, visiting Plaza de Cañadío always has something happening

Near the lively Plaza de Cañadío is Plaza Porticada, a beautiful square surrounded by neoclassical buildings, a small garden in the middle, and a few restaurants and terraces to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

Newly built in the 1950s after the destructive fire, Plaza Porticada is central as it’s also near Paseo de Pereda. You’ll know you’ve made it there if you see a statue of a local war hero, Pedro Velarde. 

💡Fun fact: Some people say that Plaza Porticada is actually called Plaza Velarde, but both names refer to this beautiful spot in Santander. 

21. Unearth Santander’s past at the Old Medieval Walls

A little-known activity you can do while visiting Plaza Porticada is learn about what’s underneath, which are the remnants of the ancient town dating back to 1187 that existed here before Santander was established as the city it is today. 

Visit the Archaeology Center of the Medieval Wall for more insight into this amazing discovery. 

You’ll see remnants of two medieval gates, Don Gutierrez de Escalante and Puerta de la Mar, and other pieces, from ceramics to tools, that indicate what life was like back then in modern-day Santander. 

📍BOOK your entry tickets to the Archaeology Center of the Medieval Wall 

22. Take a peek at war shelters at the Civil War Air Raid Shelter Museum 

Constructed in 1937, the Civil War Air Raid Shelters (Refugio Antiaéreo de Santander) were 114 underground shelters built to help protect citizens in the event of bombs dropping on the city in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. 

Today, you can visit one of the recuperated shelters and follow a guided underground path filled with interesting exhibits of life during this difficult time in the country.

The entrance to the underground shelters, which can easily be missed if you’re not looking for it, is located near Plaza Porticada. Tickets can be purchased online. 

23. Give your feet a rest on a Hop on & hop off bus tour in Santander

Keep exploring the city on the Hop on & Hop off bus tour in Santander, and see everything from El Sardinero Beach, drive down Paseo Pereda, and see the Santander Cathedral from the top of the open-top double-decker bus. 

The best part about a hop-on, hop-off bus tour is that it provides a great way to see the city and transportation throughout the city during the validity of your ticket. 

The hop-on hop-off bus tour has 10 stops, audio commentary, and you can pre-book your ticket online. 

📍BOOK Hop On Hop Off Santander Bus Tour

24. Embark on a day trip adventure from Santander

If you can squeeze in a day trip from Santander – do it! Bilbao is only a little over an hour away.

With multiple buses departing from Santander’s central bus station throughout the day, explore the many bus day trip options near Santander!

Hop on a bus and explore the many charming towns and cities surrounding Cantabria, including a few prehistoric caves.

Some of the best day trips from Santander include:

If you want to explore further, take a day trip to Bilbao from Santander via bus. I’ve traveled from Santander to Bilbao via bus, and I can say that the experience was great. The bus was on time, and the journey was comfortable and incredibly scenic. 

📍CHECK OUT bus day trip plans from Santander

25. Peek at the local Street Art 

Contemporary and classical street art adorn the streets of Santander almost everywhere

One thing I was surprised by about Santander is its street art scene. Whether I was going to the grocery store or into town, there was always a mural or other examples of street art that made me stop and stare for a while. 

The street art dots the city, so look often around the corner and up at the buildings while visiting. 

26. Experience a slice of the Camino de Santiago 

The Camino de Santiago is a very popular pilgrimage throughout the world and is located in Spain. Many paths zig-zag across the country, including the North Path, one of the most scenic Camino de Santiago paths, which passes by Santander. 

Whether you dream of walking the Camino de Santiago one day or never imagined that you would at least be able to walk a sliver of it, now’s your chance in Santander!

The North Path passes right by Santillana del Mar, less than 30 minutes away from Santander. 

27. View the city from above on the funicular

Free and fun – get amazing views of Santander whether you’re going up or down on the funicular

Want to see epic views of Santander, the bay, the surrounding mountain, and nature from above? Don’t skip out on riding the funicular!

Santander is a very hilly city, but thanks to the funicular and numerous escalators, getting around town and admiring the surrounding views is quite a reward. 

The funicular (and viewpoint) is located on a street called Rio de la PIla, and in fact, that is its name. So when you Google it, type in Rio de la Pila Funicular.

The funicular is free, and it runs from 6:00 AM to midnight. 

There is some street art around the area, so be sure to look around. The views are breathtaking! Unfortunately, I got there a little after dark but still saw the lit-up city beautifully as I rode down.

Address: Calle Río de la Pila, 36, 39001, Santander, Cantabria, Spain

Where to try local food in Santander (and what to order)

I tried Cocido Leganiego (pictured left), which is a hearty soup, and saw many bakeries offering fresh Cantabrian milk (pictured right)

Eating is undoubtedly one of the best things that makes Santander worth visiting, thanks to its rich seafood variety and other delicious offerings. 

Some of the typical dishes to try in Santander include:

  • All types of fish
  • Rabas – fried squid
  • Gildas – a typical pintxo comprised of pickled peppers, anchovies, and onion on a stick
  • Cocido Leganiego and Cocido Montañes – hearty stew with garbanzos, beans, chorizo, and other vegetables
  • Marmitako – fish stew
  • Santoña anchovies 

Desserts/ pastries:

  • Sobaos Pasiega – traditional sponge bread 
  • Corbatas de Unquera – puff pastry dessert 

According to locals, the best restaurants to try all of these traditional dishes are:

  • Cadelo (reservation required) – if you’re looking for a Michelin-star restaurant, Cadelo offers a modern take with world influences in their traditional Santander dishes.
  • Abra Sardinero – offers a menu del dia and a great dose of local cuisine.
  • El Machi is perfect if you’re looking to try the best of Santander’s seafood cuisine. Try their seafood paella here! 
  • Peña Candil – fresh seafood, rice dishes, and star dishes like slow-cooked octopus with potatoes.
  • Regma – this place is ideal for dessert, as they have some of the best natural ice cream known throughout the province. 

Things to know when while planning a visit to Santander

Flying into Santander and driving out of Santander were both breathtaking – northern Spain is absolutely gorgeous!
  • Bring an umbrella and waterproof shoes as part of your travel essentials.
  • Pre-book any tours you want to do, and if, for some reason, the website doesn’t let you book (especially local tours and experiences), show up half an hour before the experience starts to see if you can join.
  • Bring comfortable shoes – it’s a lot of walking to enjoy all the beautiful nature, plus some steep hills to walk from time to time. 
  • There is no Uber in Santander, so the best way to get into town is to take the S4 bus outside the airport. 

Where is Santander located?

Santander is located in northern Spain and is the capital city of the province of Cantabria. 

How can you get from Santander Airport to the city center? 

Getting to Santander is easy; just take the S4 bus, which departs every 40 minutes from the airport. The bus costs 4 euros and operates between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM. 

There is no Uber in Santander, but there are other alternatives like Cabify that you can use, but make sure to set it up before traveling. 

Alternatively, you could book a private transfer from/to Santander Airport to any place in the city. 

Other ways to get to get To Santander, Spain

Views of the La Cerda lighthouse from the Magdalena Peninsula


Santander’s airport is Seve Ballesteros-Santander Airport (SDR), only 10-15 minutes from the city center. 

Address: C. Aeropuerto, 39600 Maliaño, Cantabria, Spain


Santander’s bus station, Estación de Autobúses de Santander, is in the city center. It’s very accessible and practical to get to your lodging from the bus station on foot. 

Address: Pl. Estaciones, 39002 Santander, Cantabria, Spain


Santander’s train station is called Estación de Tren Santander, a 21 minute walk from the city center, or a 6 minute car ride. 

Address: Plaza de las Estaciones, 39002, Santander, Cantabria, Spain


Santander’s ferry port is only 11 minutes away (by car) from the city center, so you can also arrive via ferry. 

Address: Calle Muelles de Maliaño, 21, 27, 39009 Santander, Cantabria, Spain

How Many days to spend in Santander?

I spent 4 days in Santander, which was enough time to explore and learn more about this beautiful city.

Based on my experience, 2-4 days is a reasonable time to explore. Still, if you’re there to disconnect and truly enjoy nature, you may want to extend your time in Santander, especially if you’re visiting in the summer. 

When is the best time to visit Santander?

The weather changes quickly in Santander in January, but not all is gloom and doom!

I traveled to Santander in January (Winter). I experienced all sorts of weather—sunny, rainy, and a bit cold, but not cold enough not to explore outdoors and walk around comfortably. Just make sure to bring warm travel clothes and waterproof shoes. 

My local guide shared that summer (July and August) and spring (April and May) are the best seasons to visit, as that is when you can enjoy the stunning beaches and experience warmer weather in Northern Spain, which is much milder than other parts of Spain.

Where to stay in Santander?

Hotels in Santander:

  • Gran Hotel Sardinero
    • Located near Sardinero Beach
    • Rooms with incredible sea views 
    • Close to the Magdalena Peninsula and Magdalena Palace
  • Santemar
    • Very close to Sardinero Beach
    • Rooms with sea and city views 
    • Enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet included in your stay, depending on your booking.
  • Hotel Bahía 
    • Spacious and clean rooms with city views of Santander
    • It is very close to Santander’s best restaurants and other points of interest, such as the Santander Cathedral.
  • Soho Boutique Palacio de Pombo
    • Stay in a historic yet modern hotel in the heart of Santander
    • It’s near all of Santander’s main sights, from Sarindero Beach and Magdalena Palace
    • Highly rated for its hospitality and bilingual staff 
    • A deluxe breakfast buffet is included, depending on your booking.

Hostels in Santander: 

  • Alojamientos Cantíber 
    • Enjoy private rooms or shared rooms with up to 6 other people 
    • This hostel is 15 minutes from Puerto Chico and other different points of interest in the city
    • It’s highly rated for its professional staff, great facilities, and cleanliness. 
  • Santander Central Hostel 
    • It offers rooms with city views. 
    • It is located near all of the city’s significant sites. 
    • You can use its clean, full kitchen, store your items in the safe lockers, and enjoy a complimentary breakfast included in your stay. 
  • Enjoy Santander 
    • Offers clean and comfortable beds 
    • Enjoy bonus facilities like a shared lounge and a beautiful terrace to admire the city’s surroundings.
    • It’s close to Sardinero Beach and other major sights. 

Is Santander Worth Visiting Q&A

How can I best spend 2 days in Santander?

Enjoy 2 days in Santander by exploring its main sights, including Puerto Chico and Santander Cathedral, trying local delicacies, and exploring Magdalena Palace. If the weather permits, visit the beach or take a boat tour around Santander Bay. 

How many days do you need in Santander?

2-4 days is a good range of days to explore Santander. Depending on the season you’re visiting, since July and August are the warmest, and the city is known for its beaches, nature, and surfing, you may want to extend your time to enjoy it to the fullest. 

If you’re visiting in Winter (like I did), 4 days are good to enjoy the museums, visit Magdalena Palace, and eat some of the traditional (and warm) foods known in the region of Cantabria. 

Is Santander a good holiday spot?

It’s worth visiting for tourists who enjoy nature, history, culture, and delicious food. It’s especially perfect for those who want to explore a lesser-known Spanish city that is not overcrowded with visitors. 

Is Santander, Spain expensive?

I didn’t notice Santander to be an expensive city, especially in comparison to other cities like Madrid and Barcelona. 

A coffee and tostada (coffee and toast) cost 3-4 euros, while a menu del dia costs around 14-18 euros. Groceries were also very inexpensive. 

Is Santander, Spain safe?

Yes! I traveled solo to Santander, and as a solo female traveler, I can confidently say that I felt safe. While traveling there, I also met another girl who was traveling alone through the city. 

The city felt safer than major cities like Madrid or Barcelona, and because of that, I didn’t fear (as much) thieves or creeps following me around. 

That said, I still practiced my best safety tips as a solo female traveler, including being aware of my surroundings and avoiding lonely and dark places, especially at night. I suggest you always do the same, no matter where you go.

The Wrap Up – Is Santander Worth Visiting?

So, the question now is: Is Santander worth visiting? After reading this post, I hope you’ve concluded that it is a place to add to your Spanish bucket list. 

From its exquisite food scene, fascinating pre-historic caves, incredible beaches, and world-class monuments, plus many other things to do in Santander, I hope you visit soon to see it yourself. 

I also really enjoyed Santander because, though people visit the city (locals more than international visitors), it has a very local, almost untouched Spanish city atmosphere. 

It’s a great city with lots to do or simply disconnect and enjoy time by the sea. 

To many more moments like this,

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