The well-maintained Magdalena Peninsula is the city's most attractive area for a pleasant walk, enjoying the views over Santander's two scenic bays, and taking some memorable photographs. The Magdalena Castle is located here, too. There is a small animal corner with live seals and penguins.
This yacht club on the Playa de la Magdalena beach offers a wealth of water sports for the active beach-goer, including windsurfing, surfing, sailing, water-skiing and canoeing. Courses in multiple water sporting activities are offered to beginners (from body board to kayaking).
Check out the magnificent caves at Puente Viesgo (24 kilometres from Santander), where stalactites and stalagmites stretch among incredible prehistoric paintings. The village itself is also worth a look around. Tours start at the visitor centre 1.5 kilometres above the village.
The impressive collection contains 41,500 volumes gifted to the town by writer and thinker Menéndez Pelayo. The building right behind the historic (early 20th century) library used to be the former home of this celebrated scholar; it reportedly once came very close to being accidentally burned down.
This one-kilometre loang boardwalk stretches from the Estación Marítima (Ferry Station) to Puerto Chico, and features several points of interest including the Palacete de Embardadero and sculptures of the raqueros – children who used to dive naked into the sea to gather coins thrown by passers-by.
The beach across the bay from Santander is much-loved for its soft sand and relative tranquillity. There is a surf school on the beach, too (Escuela Cantabra de Surf, Calle Isla De Mouro, 12). The best way to get there is by regular boat service run by Los Reginas on the Paseo Marítimo.
This beach is the largest and most popular in Santander. It is divided into three parts: the Playa de la Concha to the south, the Primera Playa, and the Segunda Playa to the north. A short walk from the Segunda Playa is Cabo Mayor lighthouse, which perches on picturesque, towering cliffs.
Enjoy a day trip to this sensationally pretty nearby village 26 kilometres west of Santander. Santillana del Mar is a historic Spanish town with some interesting architectural treasures. To get there, take one of the Autobuses La Cantabria buses from the main bus station in Santander.
This museum of modern and contemporary art features works by Goya, including his portrait of Fernando VII, and Zurbarán, as well as lesser-known modern pieces. There are more than 225 pieces including paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, video creations and sound art.
This extensive natural park is home to animals such as brown bears, elephants, tigers, gorillas and lions (to name a few). It is a beautiful area and the park is huge so visitors usually drive between the animal enclosures. There are also some restaurants and cafés around the park.
Discover Santander from an open-top bus. Hop on and hop off at your favourite points along the route to make the most of your experience. The entire journey takes about 60 minutes (or as long as you choose to make it). The starting point is by Rotonda Hotel Bahia.
Forestal Park is an adventure park with fun outdoor activities, located in a pretty setting in the woods. Here you can slide down 220 metre-long zip line, cross some rope bridges and walkways, and simply enjoy an active day outdoors with pursuits available for the whole family.
The area around Cabo Mayor lighthouse is a spectacular sight to behold - on stormy days, waves scenically break against the cliffs leading up to the lighthouse, and exceptional tranquility ensues on those when the seas are calm. Entry to the lighthouse is free of charge.
If you find yourself by Calle de la Pila, do take a quick (a mere 3 minutes) ride up on the funicular to the Mirador Rio de la Pila, from where spectacular views over the city below and the ocean waters unfold. The ride is free of charge, and the compact cabin designed to hold up to 8 people.
The Puerto Chico (or "little port") is one of Santander's liveliest areas, with a waterside promenade and several curious statues set on it. Once a busier port, Puerto Chico is still home to sea vessels coming in and out. Come here for people-watching and taking in views of the scenic bay.
The compact, yet informative museum details the history of Cantabria from the metaphoric "beginning of time" (when the area first became populated by prehistoric people) in an engaging, interactive manner. Explanations are provided in both English and Spanish.
If you are craving Japanese food, this restaurant might be something for you. The well-presented food is prepared with high-quality fresh ingredients and the prices are very reasonable. Enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine - sushi, tempura dishes, and fried rice with shrimps.
The very popular waterside tapas/pinchos restaurant only offers standing room, but is worth a drop in regardless - the mere array of tiny snacks on offer is a curious sight in itself, and trying some is certainly highly recommended. The bar is a venue popular among locals in-the-know.
As the name reveals, this one is an Italian restaurant that serves pizza (and not only - the menu lists antipasti, salads, pasta, etc.). The highly qualified chefs have ample experience when it comes to Italian food. If you are craving something sweet, there is a tempting menu with homemade desserts.
This family-owned Mexican restaurant is located in the city centre, close to major tourist attractions and shopping areas. The menu features authentic Mexican fish and meat dishes such as chicken enchiladas, quesadilla and tuna-stuffed peppers. Order an authentic Mexican beer to go along.
El Serbal is an elegant restaurant that serves north Spanish food with a modern touch. Dishes are prepared with market-fresh ingredients to satisfy the most discerning of palates. Try the tasting menu with wine pairing. The menu features dishes like roasted ox sirloin served in port-wine sauce.
Casa Setien is a restaurant and gastro pub under one roof, a longstanding establishment that goes back over 70 years. The menu is varied and dishes rather creative, with unusual flavor combinations on offer. All ingredients are locally-sourced. Seating on the pleasant terrace available.
This restaurant has gotten some great reviews and is claimed to be as good as it gets with regards to service, food and drinks. Service is superb, and a plethora of dishes are available for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. The establishment enjoys great popularity, so do book in advance.
El Diluvio is a popular gastrobar whose main draw is the excellent selection of small "pinchos" at incredibly affordable prices. Try the miniature hamburgers, choose from 6 different tortilla varieties, or select a pincho with your topping of choice - from shrimp and chicken to vegetables.
To enjoy a quintessential Spanish dessert, try the very popular waterside chocolateria Valor. The menu features, of course, freshly-made churros (long, deep-fried sticks of special dough) with hot chocolate to serve as a dip. The menu also features other desserts, such as pancakes and tea cakes.
Located directly on the city's main promenade, Suizo is a local institution and longstanding cafe with a view. It offers outdoor seating and serves great value breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and very decent coffee. Prices are more than reasonable, so an outing here will certainly not break the bank.
El Obrador is a bakery with over 20 years of experience. It offers a wide range of products prepared in a traditional manner and offering unique flavours. Here you can buy freshly baked breads, pastries, cakes, doughnuts and much more. Please note there is no seating area at this place.
La Gallofa is a wildly popular local bakery and cafe chain, a perfect spot for a breakfast or coffee break. The sheer array of breads, pastries, and cakes may prove overwhelming to some, but the agony of choice is certainly a small price to pay for La Gallofa's unbeatable quality/cost ratio.
The center of it all with regards to nightlife, the Plaza de Cañadío is a bustling town square that really comes to life at night, when crowds pour into the many small bars around the perimeter. Pick a standing table for some banter with the locals, and be ready to stay well into the wee hours.
The bar's elaborate, Prohibition-inspired interior stands in stark contrast to the vibes of most other Santander bars. Marvel at the curious pieces found within its walls, enjoy the two areas with different music styles played and try the not-so-prohibitionist cocktails from the bar menu.
This waterfront venue on la Concha beach in el Sardinero is one rather popular with students and local party-goers. Music beats fill the air till dawn, when guests often choose to end the night by taking a dip in the ocean. Live music shows are hosted frequently.
Enjoy live music, stand-up comedy and have a good, well-crafted drink at this nightlife venue - one of the most popular for those looking to dance the night away after most bars in towns close. Music played ranges from rap to rock, electronic, and even folk and Celtic (depending on the night).
A lively evening venue, Loft is an elegant, busy bar great for a night out socializing and dancing in the later hours. Its central location in one of Santander's main party areas makes it an easy stop on a weekend bar-hopping route. Gin-tonic is the bar's signature drink, with 120 gins available.
This is not a place to go for a formal meal, but a lively joint that is popular with young clientele grabbing a bite before embarking on a long night out. La Rana Verde is famous for its patatas bravas, but also serves hamburgers and sandwiches. Located by the Cañadío bar district.
A local bar scene classic, the Caribe is a great spot for a very low-key evening drink. Its location in el Sardinero just behind the Casino is hard to miss - pick and choose from the multiple varieties of gin on display behind the bar, or order one of the many "copas" with snacks to go along.
The venue's underground quality attracts party-goers in-the-know, an alternative crowd that fills the trendy space of this culture and music club almost nightly. Live bands perform here regularly, weekends being booked for a show or two most of the time. Wednesdays are reserved for Latin music.
If trying your luck at roulette or one of the card games sounds more like your kind of fun, do check out Cantabria's finest casino located right across from the city beach. The elegant venue offers not only endless gambling, but also excellent dining at the in-house restaurant.
Moondog is a bar on the classier side, attracting a slightly older clientele (aged above 30 or even 40, on average). Serves quality drinks and places special emphasis on playing good music (DJs hosted frequently for that reason). The bar is especially known for its well-crafted cocktails.
This covered market is housed inside a late 19th-century building on the street just behind the Ayuntamiento, aptly named Calle El Mercado. Here you can join the locals browsing stalls selling freshly caught fish, local cheese and sausages, as well as fruit, vegetables and flowers.
The store's remarkable social initiative deserves recognition - it aims to provide employment for citizens over 50 years of age unable to find work, and offers a unique, high-quality product typical of the region - deli items such as cheeses, preserves, and jams all packed in elegant gift boxes.
For unique, non-generic local souvenirs, try the Santander es Mundial gift shop. No tacky fridge magnets here, but unique T-shirt and bag designs, as well as other local souvenirs bearing the name of the nautical city. Greta spot to pick up souvenirs for friends and family.
The nationwide department store chain enjoys a well-deserved good reputation. The Santander installment is located a short drive outside the city center. Apart from a large hypermarket, it contains a multiple-screen cinema, as well as a wide selection of local and international brand stores.
Those with a sweet tooth will certainly be delighted to find out that Santander is famous for its sobaos and quesada cakes. One of the best places to buy them is Gómez Pastelerías, which has five branches in the city including at Calle San José, 22, Calle Honduras 2, and Calle Cádiz 7.
Santander Airport is located five kilometres from the town centre. A bus runs between Santander’s main bus station and the airport. It departs every 30 minutes from 7am to 11pm, the first bus at 06.40. +34 942 211 995 www.transportedecantabria.es Taxis leave from outside the terminal building. Radiotaxi: +34 942 333 333 www.radiotaxisantander.es Car rental companies are represented at the airport.
Buses run throughout the city every 15 minutes. You can take buses number 1, 4, 7, 9, 13 and 14 that run from the city hall to El Sardinero beach stopping at Plaza de Italia and Piquio Gardens. You can also take bus number 15 which runs from RENFE train station to El Sardinero beach. Santander Bus Station is located on Calle Navas de Tolosa. There are two bus companies that link Santander with other destinations: ALSA is for long- and short-haul destinations. www.alsa.es La Cantábrica runs services mostly for destinations within Cantabria. www.lacantabrica.com There are two train stations. FEVE runs regional trains, while RENFE trains normally go to further away destinations. www.renfe.com +34 942 240 202 (RENFE) www.feve.es +34 942 211 687 (FEVE)
Santander has 16 taxi ranks from where you can pick up a cab. Central locations include outside the Banco de Santander on Paseo de Pereda 22, outside the Correos on Avenida Alfonso XIII, on the Plaza de las Estaciones, and at various places along Vargas, General Dávila, and Juan de Herrera. Radio Taxi: