Cantabria, Spain

The city of Santander is a historical region of Cantabria located on the north coast of Spain. On Ferryhopper, you can find useful information about must-see places, local delicacies, and ferries to Santander and book your tickets easily and quickly!

The Piquío Gardens in Santander

The beautiful palm trees of Piquío Gardens in Santander

Vacation in Santander

Santander is a beautiful city located in the north of Spain, by the Cantabrian Sea. It boasts elegance and beauty with the magnificent Royal Palace of Magdalena. Here, the sea and the mountains are the protagonists. And, that is why they say Santander is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.

The best things to do in Santander include visiting its beaches, parks, and iconic royal palace. After a fire ravaged the historical district of this northern Spain city in 1941, it has become a fine example of combining heritage with modernity. The best time to visit Santander is from May to October.

How to get to Santander

You can travel to Santander by plane or ferry. The Seve Ballesteros–Santander Airport (SDR) is located in Camargo and about 5 kilometers away from the city center. It connects Santander to several destinations with domestic and international flights and you can take a taxi, a bus, or a train from the airport to the city center of Santander.

Alternatively, you can reach Santander by ferry. There are ferry crossings connecting Santander to the UK (Portsmouth and Plymouth). Traveling by ferry may take longer but you can embark your vehicle.

Also, you can book a cabin for a comfortable trip while enjoying the fascinating crossing and the breathtaking views from the ferry’s dock. Therefore, if you're planning to travel by ferry you can find more information about ferry routes and schedules to Santander below.

What to do in Santander

The city of Santander offers a lot of beautiful corners and impressive architecture. Its eventful past and rich history are still evident in the city’s streets and imposing buildings. Start your walk early in the morning from the Paseo de Pereda promenade to see the glassy bay of Santander without the crowds.

Then, head towards the historic marketplace of Santander (Mercado de Esperanza) to buy some fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Enchanted by the strong flavors, odors and colorful stands of the market, you will pass through the city’s old town and you will see the imposing Santander Cathedral very close to the Centro Botin, the impressive arts center being the city’s architectural masterpiece 

Wind your way slowly through the streets and walk parallel to the seafront and go swimming (or surfing) on one of the most popular beaches of Santander, the coast of El Sardinero!

Traditional ceramic tiles in Santander

Traditional ceramic tiles in Santander

Beaches in Santander

Santander boasts long coastlines, impressive rock formations, sandy beaches, and crystalline waters. Explore the best 5 beaches of Santander and enjoy cool deeps in deep blue waters:

  1. El Sardinero beach: it’s the most popular beach in Santander with a long coast and golden sand. Its deep blue waters border the promenade parallel to the beach. Nearby, you can find several restaurants, cafes, and hotels.
  2. Camel beach (Playa del Camello): it took its name after the surrounding rock formations that resemble a camel rising from the sea. It’s one of the most beautiful coasts of the city overlooking the Atlantic Ocean offering breathtaking views of the Peninsula of La Magdalena. Camel beach has crystalline waters and fine sand. 
  3. Los Peligros beach: it is ideal for families as it has shallow waters and many facilities at a close distance. The long coastline has received several times a “Blue Flag” quality award for its clear, calm waters and its golden sand. Near the beach, you can also find a parking lot, several restaurants, and cafes. As it can be very crowded during the summer, it is better to visit Los Peligros beach early in the morning.
  4. Playa de La Magdalena: it’s located close to the Royal Palace of La Magdalena and the beach of El Sardinero. You can enjoy the fine sand, the impressive rock formations, and the restaurants nearby. However, keep in mind that there are no sunbeds or umbrellas available.
  5. Playa de La Concha: it’s a 200-meter-long coast consisting of shallow waters and fine sand. It’s easily accessible with many facilities and spacious parking nearby. 

Sightseeing in Santander

Santander is a welcoming city full of contemporary artistic corners balancing medieval alleys and stunning natural landscapes. The city offers many options from exploring historical sites to visiting museums and amazing parks. Here you can find a list of the top sightseeing in Santander

  • The Royal Palace of La Magdalena, the summer residence of King Alfonso XIII and his family
  • The Centro Botin, an arts center designed by the world-famous architect Renzo Piano
  • The Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor, one of the most emblematic buildings of Santander overlooking the ocean since 1839
  • The Park of Las Llamas (Parque de la Vaguada de las Llamas), one of the largest parks in northern Spain
  • The Maritime History Museum with an impressive aquarium
  • The Gothic Cathedral of Santander, a historical monumental complex built between the 12th century and the 14th century

The Royal Palace of La Magdalena in Santander

The Royal Palace of La Magdalena in Santander

Nightlife in Santander

Santander being a city full of students and young people boasts a vivid nightlife. If you want to enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine, the picturesque Plaza de Cañadío offers many options. Also, you can find many local pubs and bars on Santa Lucia street (Calle de Santa Lucίa) or Calle Río de la Pila for dancing until the early hours.

Food in Santander

With the Atlantic Ocean on its doorstep, it is not surprising that local dishes are based mainly on seafood! Some typical dishes from the city of Santander are

  • rabas (fried crispy squid with lemon)
  • cocido montañés (bean stew with vegetables and chorizo) 
  • queso Nata de Cantabria (local creamy cow's milk cheese)
  • sobao pasiego (sponge cake made flavored with lemon zest and anise liquor or rum)
  • sardines
  • red mullet
  • seabass 

The traditional sponge cake, sobao pasiego

The traditional sponge cake, sobao pasiego

Villages in Santander

The northern part of Spain is full of enchanting destinations that will definitely steal your heart and leave you in awe! So, find here a list of the most charming villages near Santander to explore while visiting the capital of Calabria:

  • Carmona: the beautiful village of Carmona is about 1 hour by car from the city of Santander. As soon as you reach it, you can enjoy a stroll through the cobblestone streets and the cute typical houses with their balconies built according to traditional architecture. It is surrounded by the Nansa valley and stunning scenery.
  • Santillana del Mar: it is situated in a stunning location surrounded by mountains about 30 minutes from Santander. Santillana del Mar is one of the most historic villages in Spain offering breathtaking views. While there, make sure to visit one of the most famous prehistoric paintings in the world, the Cave of Altamira.
  • Liérganes: you can reach the charming town in just 25 minutes by car from Santander. Located in the heart of Valles Pasiegos, it has been declared a site of National Historic and Artistic Interest. Enjoy the impressive architecture, walk through the narrow streets and get to know the legend of the Fishman of  Liérganes. Also, visit the Fluviarium and taste some delicious churros chocolate on a traditional terrace with great views of the river.
  • Bárcena Mayor: the rustic town is a 60-minute drive south of Santander. It is a mountainous village with an amazing landscape, enchanting streets, and delicious culinary delights such as meat stew. 

A traditional church in the village of Santillana del Mar

A traditional church in the village of Santillana del Mar


Here are some useful tips for your stay in Santander: 

  • Visit the local fish market (Mercado de la Esperanza), a beautiful Art Nouveau building to buy fresh fish and find the most delicious fish from stout fish, shells, and crabs to crayfish at the best price. Make sure to visit the fish market especially if it is tuna season!
  • Santander can be pricy, especially during the summer months of July and August. Therefore, it’s better to travel during shoulder seasons as you can save up to 30-40% on your trip costs.
  • Book your accommodation and ferry tickets in advance to get the best price and make sure to arrive at least 1 hour earlier at the port to avoid delays.

The Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor

The imposing Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor

Useful information about Santander

Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria, a lively city with modern and impressive architecture. It has highly developed tourist services and there are things to see and do all year long.

As for the accommodation, you can find many options depending on your style and budget. If you want to go sightseeing, the best area to stay is near the Old Town or near the seaside promenade.

As for hospitals, the general hospital of Marqués de Valdecilla that is also known as Valdecilla is located in the city of Santander.

Important phone numbers for your stay in Santander

Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Santander: 

  • Santander Port Authority: +34942203600
  • Santander Police Department: +34942361015
  • Santander Public Transport Network: +34942211687 
  • Santander Hospital: +34942202520
  • Seve Ballesteros–Santander Airport: +: +34913211000
  • European emergency number: 112

Transportation in Santander

Santander is a great city for walking with a stunning promenade and wide parks. If the weather is nice, you can take a walk around the old town.

However, if you need to use public transport, Santander has a very efficient transportation network. Therefore, you can also get around the city easily by bus. Buses run throughout the city every 15 minutes. Take the bus route 1, 4, 7, 9, 13, or 14 connecting the City Hall to the most popular beaches of the city such as el Sardinero. 

Also, if you wish to take a taxi, you can usually find taxi stands near the train or bus station or near the City Hall.

 A viewpoint of Santander city

The viewpoint of Santander in Spain

Port in Santander

The port of Santander is located on the northern Spanish coastline. The port operates as a cargo handling facility but also as a berth for ferries.

There are many board ferries, cruise ships, and yachts that operate from the port of Santander, carrying passengers to and from the UK. 

Where is the ferry port?

Santander port is in the heart of the city so you can find many shops and attractions within walking distance.

How to get to the port?

You can easily get to the port of Santander by train, bus, car or on foot. The train station and bus station are around a 10-minute walk from the terminal with connections to the Spanish cities of Madrid, Bilbao, Alicante and Oviedo.

If you’re planning on traveling by car you can take the motorways A-67 or S-10 and follow the signs for "Santander".

Is there parking space at the port?

There is a parking space available at the port of Santander that is only permitted for dropping off and picking up. If you wish to leave your vehicle in the parking lot for longer, you should opt for a car park nearby the port. 

Tip: keep in mind that there are parking restrictions throughout Santander for any vehicle over 1.8 meters in height.

Santander ferry: schedules and tickets

The port of Santander can be reached by ferry from the UK (Portsmouth and Plymouth). The ferry company that operates the connections is Britanny Ferries. Here you can find more information on the ferry connections to Santander:

The port of Santander in Spain

The port of Santander in Spain

Where to book Santander ferry tickets online

On Ferryhopper, you can find all available ferry routes to and from Santander on our Map of ferries, compare prices, departure times and book cheap ferry tickets to Santander online at no extra cost.

Santander ferry timetable

View the complete ferry schedule from and to Santander for the upcoming week. Find up-to-date trip information, including departure and arrival dates and times, ferry operators and ticket prices.

Frequent ferry connections

Santander has direct ferry connections to 2 ports :