Stylish, naturally stunning, and rich in cultural heritage; these are just some of the things that best describe the Spanish city of Santander. Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, Santander is not only a metropolis but is also an elegant beach holiday destination.
Situated in the Spanish region of Cantabria, this large city sits alongside the Bay of Santander. Thus, even when you are in downtown, you can still can enjoy a clear view of the bay. Surrounded by rolling lush hills and high mountains, Santander sustains a fairly big population of around 200,000 residents, making it the largest city in Cantabria. The city center would have more finely designed buildings if not for the 1941 massive fire that devoured them. But today, some historical buildings and narrow streets in the old town still stand.
One of these magnificent buildings is the Palacio de la Magdalena (Magdalena Palace), which was built in 1912 to become the summer home of the Spanish monarchy Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia. Aside from its exquisite design, part of the appeal of the palace is its location, which is set in 25 hectares of forested land. These days, the building is being occupied by the International University of Menedez Pelayo (UIMP), which conducts classes in literature, languages and Spanish culture.
Other fascinating palaces and castles include the 16th century Renaissance style Palacio de Pronillo and the medieval defensive fort ruins of Castillo de San Felipe. Santander’s strong religious heritage is very evident in the number of cathedrals and buildings found in the city. Some of the notable ones are the Cathedral de la Asuncion de la Virgen and Iglesia de la CompaoÌa.
Once in the city, don’t miss the chance to explore the picturesque port and the city center, which is also the commercial hub. The main thoroughfare in the city center is called Juan de Herrera, and this runs all the way to Cuatro Caminos, where you can find a variety of shops. The streets parallel to the historic Paseo de Pereda promenade are now populated with bars and restaurants that give character and vibrancy to the city.
The port area is known as the Muelle de Salmerôn, and is marked by a 1900 sculpture called Grúa de Piedra. In the summer, you can take a boat trip from here and explore the entire bay. If you want to stay inland and still have loads of fun, make you way to the casino within the port vicinity. For more choices when it comes to bars and fresh seafood restaurants, drop by the Puerto Chico marina.
And if you think that Santander is blessed enough with the lovely natural backdrop, you will be delighted to know that it also possesses a number of beautiful sandy stretches. One of the best local beaches is the one called El Sardinero. This broad and clean beach, which overlooks the open ocean, first became the playground for the rich, famous and elite in the 1920s. There is not a lot of infrastructure in some of Santander’s beaches, making them great places to just relax and get away from it all even for a couple of days. Other beach destinations in the city include the Magdalena Beach, Camel Beach and Lighthouse at Cabo Mayor.