Santander Travel Guide
Santander is found in northern Spain and is a combination of green mountain landscapes with white sandy beaches, imposing cliffs, elegant historic mansions, palatial architecture and a wonderful past. So a city to explore!
Santander was the destination with royalty in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This can be seen everywhere as you walk through the old neighborhoods where you can admire imposing buildings with the Magdalena Palace as the icing on the cake. This iconic building is one of the city’s main attractions and boasts impressive views.
It is the largest city in Cantabria with nearly 200,000 inhabitants. The city has a chic and elegant feel and is truly beautiful to stroll through. Cool off for a while? You can do that at one of the many city beaches, such as El Sardinero. It is a wonderful beach and city trip destination.
In this article
What to do in Santander
- Stroll the streets and plop down on one of the many terraces and get a taste of Santander life
- Shop till you drop! Santander is a delightful city for shopaholics. You’ll find cool concept stores here
- Walk to a viewpoint and enjoy stunning views of the city during sunset.
- Sample local tapas and enjoy a glass of sangria
- Visit the city’s largest beach Sardinero
- Visit Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Santander.
- Grab a terrace at Mercado Municipal del Este
- Admire the unique building Centro Botín
- Combine Santander with a visit to the beautiful Picos de Europa or take a trip to Bilbao
Hotspots & food in Santander
- Kaneda, traditional Spanish cuisine
- Daría, nice place with great dishes
- Bruma, Mexican dishes that will make you happy
- Vermuteria de vicio, small tapas bar
- Bar Cuatro Caminos, for cozy drinks
- Amarella Café & Bistró, here you can go all day long
- Espuma the bar, this is where you score the tastiest beers
Best time to travel to Santander
We visited Santander in June and in terms of temperature it was really great. In addition, the city is also nice and quiet. In summer, it can get a lot hotter and busier. Best travel time to visit Santander is from May to September.
Note that on Sundays many places are closed.
Transportation in Santander
It is possible to fly to Santander-Seve Ballesteros Airport from the Netherlands or Germany. The airport is 5 kilometers from the city, about a 15-minute drive on the S-10. There are also cabs and buses that run to town from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Air tickets to Santander are sometimes a bit more expensive, a cheap option is often flying to BIlbao and traveling to Santander from here.
There is also a train station in Santander with fast connections to other cities such as Madrid, Alicante, Bilbao, Valencia, Valladolid and more. The bus station can be found opposite the train station and offers national connections as well as several international connections to countries such as France and Belgium.
If you do travel by car or RV, keep in mind that vehicles are allowed to park in the city for a maximum of 2 hours. For campers, there is a free RV spot with good access to the city.
Which budget do i need in Santander?
- Motorhome site: free of charge
- Hotel: 50 euros per night
- Eating out: 20 – 40 euros (especially if you choose pintxos you won’t spend much)
- Transportation: we paid 1.50 euros for a bus ride. So no money. Public transportation is super well organized and very affordable.
Practical information about Santander
- Santander is so steep in some sections that there are even escalators. If you are by bike, park it at the edge of the center and walk the remainder. Provided you have an electric bike that can easily tackle a big hill.
- Most attractions are located in the city center and are easy to explore on foot.
- Because of the characteristic sloping streets of the old town, there are several stretches of ramps and escalators, as well as a cable car to help you get around.
- While driving, keep in mind that you can park for a maximum of two hours on city center streets
- Download a translate app. During our trip, there were few people who could speak English. Google Translate was really a lifesaver then. Or download duolingo and start learning Spanish. Even better, of course.
- Use the app campercontact or park4night to find the nicest RV sites and campsites
- We have already had 2x per breakdown on the road and were very happy with the ANWB then. This year we even opted for the complete package, since last year we got stuck in Germany for 8 days and spent 80 euros per day on accommodation alone
- Download the foreign affairs app and stay up to date with the latest travel advice
- Attention Orange Travel Advisory. Also, if you travel through an orange area, your insurance can deny charges. If there is an orange travel advisory regarding Corona, the insurance will only not cover costs related to Corona (please check, because this is not the case everywhere).
- Refueling is cheaper in villages. So never fill up your tank on the highway
- If you want to withdraw money in Europe, you often have to pay a small fee to your bank. We recently switched to Knab, which charges no additional fees
- Credit card is really handy to have with you. For example, purchases are extra insured and in some places you can only pay by credit card.
What are nice places to stay in Santander?
Motorhome site Santander
What makes Santander so nice to add to your road trip through northern Spain is that here you have a free RV spot on the edge of the city center. You’re in the middle of the city within a poo-poo. From the RV site you can easily catch the bus. Biking is not as good an idea, as Santander is really incredibly hilly.