The capital of Cantabria in Spain, Santander is a famous holiday spot for Spaniards, and these days Brits are getting in on the action too, taking the ferry from the UK. In this post we look at ten great things to do when you get there…

Since the advent of the mini-cruise, family jaunts to Santander are proving more popular with British travellers than ever before. The supremely-popular 3 day mini cruise ferry to Spain that Brittany Ferries run from Portsmouth or Plymouth has opened up a world of incredible exploration and adventure, far beyond the confines of the usual Dover to Calais crossing.

santander-by-ferry

Once again, record numbers of UK families are expected to make the trip to Santander this year, but what exactly are the kinds of cultural delights they go for?
Well, the simple answer is of course that there are more than enough sights, sites and delights to keep any family busy for weeks on end. But if you’re planning to head that way with just a long weekend to spare, here’s a quick overview of the ten top-picks not to miss out on:

1 – La Conveniente

Kicking off with a gastronomic delight is important for one good reason – good food is less a passion and more of a religion in these parts. You can soak up the sensory experience of Santander in a million different ways, but none are better than tasting the local cuisine. At this joint, wooden pillars and high stone walls set the scene for an amazing tasting session, where the region’s hams, sausages, pates and cheeses are the order of the day.

2 – Beaches

The beaches of Santander are just incredible – check out Playa de los Peligros, Playa de la Magdalena and Playa de Bikinis for a true taste of sun-seeker’s paradise. Incredibly well-maintained and flanked by all the amenities and facilities you could ever wish for, you could easily spend a fortnight lounging around on the sands alone!

Down on the beach. Photo credit Wikimedia.
Down on the beach. Photo credit Wikimedia.

3 – Asubio Gastrobar

That’s right, another edible delight on the list already – you’ll understand why food is such a big deal in Santander when you’ve experienced it for yourself. You have to try the pinchos while you’re in Spain and you’ll find no better place to do so than Asubio Gastrobar, where these little plates of happiness are as creative as they are addictive!

4 – Jardines de Pereda

The beautiful Jardines de Pereda – aka Pereda’s Gardens – are more than worth dedicating a little of your time to, especially if you manage to time it with a gloriously warm and wonderful summer evening. There’s a lovely seafront promenade to which you really should bring your appetite…you’ll be upset if you don’t!

Aerial view of the Jardines de Pereda. Photo credit Mirincondelabahia.
Aerial view of the Jardines de Pereda. Photo credit Mirincondelabahia.

5 – Plaza Porticada

It’s probably fair to say that Plaza Porticada tends to be the most visited and photographed of all, but there’s so much charm to every plaza you come across it’s worth seeing as many as possible. Things really come to life at night when the squares explode with night owls and are largely taken over by diners, drinkers and revellers.

Even more lively by night. Photo credit Wikimedia.
Even more lively by night. Photo credit Wikimedia.

 

6 – Palacio de la Magdalena

A definite cultural must-see to add to the list, head to the Península de la Magdalena for a look at a wonderful gift that was actual given to the city by the royal family in 1912. You can take the one-hour tour or just marvel upon it from the outside, either way it’s a winner!

A princely palace. Photo credit Wikimedia.
A princely palace. Photo credit Wikimedia.

7 – Bar Del Puerto

Back to the edibles we go, in this instance to the Puerto Chico waterfront where you’ll find one of the best seafood establishments in…well, most probably in the whole world! There’s a ton of weird and wonderful sea critters on the menu and while it’s far from the cheapest place, it’s money well spent.

8 – Surf Sardinero

When the surf conditions are good (find out at MagicSeaWeed.com), a million and one surfers suddenly pop up out of nowhere and make Sardinero rather on the busy side. Still, if you’re the type that’s either into the wet stuff or fancy trying your hand for the first time, it’s definitely the place to head.

Surf's up in Santander! Photo credit Static Pexels.
Surf’s up in Santander! Photo credit Static Pexels.

9 – Catedral de la Asunción

You really can’t leave for home without at least paying a passing nod to Santander’s cathedral, which is absolutely stunning both inside and out. There are plenty of exhibits on the interior to keep you busy, but again it’s often the external architecture that tends to drop the most jaws.

The town's magnificent cathedral. Photo credit Wikimedia.
The town’s magnificent cathedral. Photo credit Wikimedia.

10 – Get Lost

Last but not least, perhaps the single most enjoyable and highly-recommended thing to do in the whole of Santander is to get lost. Simply put away your map, take off your watch and forget about all sense of order for a while, instead allowing yourself free roam of the gorgeous streets and alleyways to see what hidden gems you discover.

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