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.
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).
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.