It comes as no surprise that the Spanish royal family adopted elegant Santander as their perfect holiday retreat in the early 20th century with its great choice of gorgeous beaches including fashionable El Sardinero and Playa de la Magdalena - not to mention the tempting restaurants, bars and excellent shopping that make this seaside resort still so popular today. Before you drive off to your holiday destination take a relaxing stroll along the seafront promenade and around the fabulous parks and gardens that are waiting for you as soon as you come off the ferry!
This beautiful region offers plenty of other attractions; hidden coves and pretty fishing ports along the coastline are begging to be explored or head inland to picture postcard villages such as medieval Santillana del Mar or the pleasant market town of Potes.
The dramatic Picos de Europa mountain scenery can be viewed from the Fuenté Dé cable car which sweeps the intrepid visitor up to the peaks but if you prefer to remain on terra fi rma follow the many marked trails by foot or by bicycle through stunning countryside.
Places to visit in Cantabria
The original cave is closed to the public to preserve the colourful, prehistoric drawings of animals such as bison, deer and wild boar. However, there is an excellent replica that can be visited near Santillana del Mar.
Cabárceno zoo in Obregón
Animal lovers can enjoy the many species of wildlife including bears, lions, tigers and elephants which roam in partial freedom in this wonderful natural park.
A small tuna fishing port with a lovely promenade and a little passenger ferry that runs across to the popular seaside resort of Laredo.
It's no coincidence that Santander is one of the most popular holiday destinations with those people who are really in the know - in other words the Spanish themselves.
Santillana del Mar guide
There is absolutely no doubt that Santillana del Mar, just 20 miles west of Santander, is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages anywhere in Spain, probably in Europe.
Things to do in Cantabria
Enjoy a different view of the city and take a guided boat trip around the bay of Santander to see the marine birds and the bustling activity of the commercial port.
The Cueva el Soploa (18k from Panes) is a fantastic cave with some incredible stalagmite formations which have grown in all directions - a true geological marvel!
Within the city of Santander this adventure park offers outdoor activities including zip wires through the trees in a pretty wooded setting.
Food and drink in Cantabria
- All types of seafood including freshly caught lobster and clams.
- Quesada Pasiega, the most popular dessert of the region made from cream cheese, lemon and cinnamon.
- Bocartes a la Cazuela, a starter of baked anchovies.
- Cocido Montañés, a hearty stew made with haricot beans, pork and chorizo sausage.
- Orujo de Potes, a pure but very potent (at least 50% alcohol!) colourless spirit. A milder version is also made in the form of a creamy or sweet liqueur.