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The ferry moors up in the centre of Santander

In addition to 11 scenic beaches, Santander is a cultural city renowned for its seafood, shopping and idyllic gardens.  

Santander is a great gateway to the rest of Spain, whether you’re heading for Barcelona in the east, the southern Costas or the wild coast of Galicia to the west.   Sail into Santander on a car ferry from Portsmouth and the whole country opens up before you.

Where can I drive to?

Some of the Cantabrian coast’s prettiest towns include nearby Comillas, Santillana del Mar, Santona, Castro Urdiales and San Vicente de la Barquera.

The Altamira Cave, famed for its extraordinary prehistoric cave paintings, is 20 miles inland. A replica cave and visitor centre give a fascinating insight into this World Heritage Site.

Madrid is 240 miles away, a four-hour drive via the A67.

Holidaymakers heading down through Spain will find Alicante, 550 miles away, can be reached in a day’s drive (8 ½ hours).

Did you know?

Santander is the only coastal city in northern Spain facing south. El Sardinero’s two beaches are called ‘first beach’ and ‘second beach.’ The first was for the nobility and upper classes, the second for everyone else.

The city’s name derives from Saint Emeterio (Santemter became Santander), a martyr whose head was brought here in the 3rd century.

The arrival of summer is celebrated with the Bonfires of Saint John on 24 June. There are bonfires on El Sardinero’s ‘second beach’ and in the Barrio Pesquero (fishing district.)

Santander’s popularity as a beach resort was sealed when King Alfonso XIII took all his summer holidays here in the early 1900s.

Best of Santander

  • Playa de Covachos is one of the region’s most stunning beaches, boasting white sand and a glistening sea, while vast Playa de El Puntal is perfect for family fun.
  • Seafood and fish are the city’s culinary speciality. Look out for fried calamari (squid), clams, red mullet, anchovies, sea bass and sardines. The fish district (Barrio Pesquero) is a great place to start a gastronomic tour.
  • The Cabo Mayor Lighthouse dominates high cliffs guarding the entrance to the Bay of Santander and has become one of the city’s symbolic landmarks.
  • La Magdalena Peninsula is a beautiful spot, one of the highlights of Santander. It has beaches, a park and a Royal Palace. Sit on a bench and watch the world go by, splash in the waves or stroll among the tamarind trees.
  • The boulevard Alameda de Oviedo is shopping central, with a range of stores, street vendors and bars for a well-earned rest.
  • For all your surf needs – specialist gear or just cool clothes for posing – head to Catz, a sports shop in Hernán Cortes street. Santander has a thriving surfing community and hosts international competitions.
  • Join a section of the northern pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela (in English, The Way of St James) on foot or on a bike. The whole route from the French border is 500 miles, but get a taster here of the fantastic scenery and fine coastal views along the path.

Brittany Ferries operate 3 weekly sailings to Santander from Portsmouth

For more information on Santander visit www.spain.info

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