Perched perfectly on the coast of Spain, Santander benefits from excellent panoramic sea views and perfectly preserved beaches. Thanks to a lively centre and thriving tourism trade from local Spaniards Santander has become renowned as the idyllic beach getaway. There’s also plenty to keep beach-goers busy, with an excellent selection of local restaurants serving up the regions local specialities of seafood and beef dishes.
A wonderful blend of cultural riches and breezy beach living has made Santander a favoured holiday spot with locals for decades. Beachfront Gran Hotel Sardinero (Plaza de Italia 1) has bags of sophisticated style making it the number one spot in town for those looking for luxury. If you'd rather have oodles of old-world ambience, then the grand facade and regal rooms at Eurostars Hotel Real (Paseo Pérez Galdós 28) is also a top choice. Most mid-range and budget hotels can be found around Avenue Los Castros and Calle Calvo Sotelo. Hospedaje Magallanes (Calle Magallanes 22) and Hostal Rocamar (Avenida de los Castros 41) are both charming options.
Vibrantly painted ceramics, leather goods and foodie delights of local olive oil and traditional sabaos and quesada cakes are some of Santander's best buys. To tempt your taste buds with the local sweet treats, don't miss Confiterías Gómez (Calle San José 22). Then walk off the calories with a browse around Santander's excellent markets. Mercado de la Esperanza (Calle El Mercado) is a covered market packed with local foodstuffs, while Mercado de México (Calle Alta) is brimming with art and local leather products that make perfect Santander souvenirs.
Santander is renowned for its seafood and beef dishes so this is definitely a place to splurge on regional fine dining. Tuck into the fish specials at Bar del Puerto (Calle de Hernán Cortés 63) or sample some of the best Cantabrian cooking at El Serbal (Calle de Andrés del Río 7). For cheaper eats, El Machichaco (Calle de Calderón de la Barca 9) serves affordable tapas and seafood mains. To sample Santander’s nightlife, Bodega Cigaleña (Calle Daoíz y Velarde 19) is a fun and friendly tapas bar where you're likely to come for one drink and end up lingering until closing time.
Semana Grande is a fantastic way to fully immerse in local culture. Fireworks, colourful parades, free street music concerts and a whole heap of Spanish fun are rolled into one during this two-week festival. It's a packed hoopla of entertainment and partying with something for everyone.
Feria Taurina de Santander
Running concurrently with the Semana Grande, this is Santander's only annual bullfighting festival. The city's bullring hosts a programme of events featuring some of Spain's top toreros (bullfighters).
Santander International Piano Competition
A fantastic opportunity to experience the wealth of emerging pianist talent, this competition hosts a programme of events that attracts young, up-and-coming local musicians as well as performers from across Europe and beyond.
The Palacio de Festivales Theatre on Santander's waterfront plays host to a series of art events and exhibitions from Spain's leading art galleries in this celebration of the Spanish art scene.
Festival Internacional de Santander
Santander's top event on its cultural calendar is this month-long series of music concerts, opera performances and dance events. Both renowned local and international artists are featured.