Views of Santander and the Magdalena Palace from El Puntal beach

Santander, in full sail


A city all about the bay

The promenade in Santander (Cantabria) features enough attractions to deserve a visit, especially since its bay, included in the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World, hosted the Sailing World Championships in 2014. This city, ideal for treating yourself to a few days of beauty landscape, seaside rest and good food, is privileged to house one of the last works of the architect Renzo Piano: the Centro Botín. And almost at the other end of its promenade, another impressive construction: the La Magdalena Palace and its intense green peninsula bathed by the Cantabrian Sea.

La Duna and the Botín Centre

As soon as you arrive in Santander you will notice that the bay is central to the city and its inhabitants. The restructuring of the promenade has led to modern constructions like the Duna de Gamazo. Designed by Alejandro Zaera, this is a stepped amphitheatre structure, ideal for sitting and looking out at the bay, and perhaps one of the many international sporting events hosted by the city, or the traditional traineras (a type of rowing boat originating on the northern coast of Spain).The Centro Botín, on the other hand, represents a new era. As well as giving the city considerable cultural importance, the building by Renzo Piano has led to the modernisation of the area of the Pereda Gardens and around the ferry terminal. Clad with 270,000 pearlised ceramic discs which reflect the light, the Centro Botín has two exhibition rooms, an auditorium, lecture halls, and the Café Centro Botín.

Photos of the Botín Centre

Special beaches

The charms of this small, quiet city include several fine sand beaches, like El Sardinero, La Concha, Mataleñas, El Camello and Los Peligros.Our recommendation: combining an appetiser beside the sea with a stroll along any of Santander's beaches to enjoy the absolute calm of this town on Spain's northern coast.   

First El Sardinero Beach, Santander

From Barrio Pesquero to La Magdalena

Barrio Pesquero is one of the most authentic parts of the city. Alongside the old sailors’ houses and the docks where the fishing boats unload their catch, you can find the most traditional cuisine of the region. The simple setting is made up for by the good quality of the fish of the day, fresh from the market, and the delicious platefuls of rabas (battered squid). From the everyday to the grand. The marina, the yachts in Puertochico, the marble of the Palacio de Festivales, the luxury of the casino, and finally, the Peninsula of La Magdalena. On the highest point of this beautiful natural space, home to sea lions (and even penguins!) is a palace built in 1911, in a mixture of British and French styles, which was the summer residence of the Spanish royal family. These days, as well as hosting conferences, weddings and other events, it holds the popular summer school courses of Menéndez Pelayo International University. Every summer, distinguished academic and political figures come to this institution and galvanise the cultural life of Santander.

Magdalena palace, Santander

Cliffs and golf at Mataleñas

As well as being home to poets in love with its bay (attested by monuments to José Hierro, Pick and José María de Pereda), the city has a special connection with sports, especially golf, thanks to one of the most internationally successful players, Severiano Ballesteros, who was born in the nearby village of Pedreña. Golfers can play in the idyllic setting of Mataleñas, where as well as the golf course there is a simple path along the cliff tops, leading to the Cabo Mayor lighthouse. There you can enjoy a magnificent view, and it will always be sunny, as long as the wind is blowing from the north-east - or so they say. Good luck!

Mataleñas beach and golf course, Santander
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