Along the stunning Atlantic coast of Northern Spain sits Santander. The capital of the Cantabria region of Spain, Santander is the place to go for delicious cuisine, golden beaches, and immersive history. Santander is a small city with a lot to offer.
Santander, like all of Northern Spain, has wet and windy winters and springs. Visit during the hot summer months if you’re interested in swimming and lounging in the sun. Plan your trip to catch local concerts and festivals.
An historic fishing city, local chefs know how to craft the perfect seafood dishes. The regional cuisine is shaped by the ocean and visitors rave about the fresh fish, shellfish, and octopus.
We have explored Santander and its neighborhoods to discover what the city has to offer visitors. Read our guide to discover the best hotels in Santander. Find the best neighborhood in Santander for your interests and where to stay in each area of Santander.
PuertoChico & Centro
In the center of Santander, just north of the port, lies the neighborhood of Puertochico. This lively neighborhood was once home to many of the city’s fishermen. Now it is known for its charming antique buildings, dating back to the 13th century. This is a creative area, with plenty of modern art galleries.
Puertochico is a busy central neighborhood, so there is always something going on. Tapas bars line the streets, with bar-goers overflowing onto the streets with their glasses of wine. Stop by a seafood restaurant lining the port for some of the freshest seafood you will ever try.
Los Raqueros are beautiful bronze sculptures of orphaned children sitting on the harbor. The Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria is also located in Puertochico. Here you can learn more about the history of this region. Artifacts range from prehistoric times to medieval, telling the story of humankind in Spain.
Palacete del Embarcadero is a beautiful building facing the bay. Temporary exhibits and art installations are displayed here. Centro Botin is an art museum in a futuristic stark white building. Stop by to take photos of the architecture and step inside to see the art.
Where to Stay in Puertochico?
There are plenty of nice hotels in the Puertochico area of Santander. One of the best all-around hotels in Santander and Puertochico is the Hotel NH Ciudad de Santander. This is a modern hotel with clean rooms and friendly staff.
The hotel bar is relaxed and a wonderful place to grab a glass of regional wine. This is one of the best hotels in Puertochico because it’s close to everything. Guests can easily walk to the beach, boardwalk, and historical landmarks. Coming home at the end of a day of lounging on the beach to the central NH Santander is a welcome rest.
Located to the west of Puertochico is the small port neighborhood of Barrio Pesquero. This charming neighborhood is the fishing neighborhood. Now it is the place to go for great seafood restaurants. Enjoy a plate of delicious seafood with the smell of the ocean all around you.
Walk by the harbor and watch the boats come and go. Stroll in the Parque de la Marga to see well-manicured gardens, trees, and plenty of benches to stop and relax.
Where to stay in Barrio Pesquero?
There aren’t many hotels in the compact Barrio Pesquero. Hostal Lucy is a no-frills budget hotel located right across from the bay. Many rooms here have ocean views and the staff are very friendly. Book a room with a balcony so you can enjoy your morning coffee breathing the salty ocean air.
For the price, guests get a lot of value here. If you need a clean place to spend the night that is close to the center, then the Hostal Lucy is the perfect choice.
Cantabria is known for its amazing beaches and Santander is unmistakably a beach city. El Sardinero is the largest and most well-known beach in the city.
El Sardinero is actually two long beaches, each about one kilometer long. The boardwalk is long and busy. Bars and restaurants with bustling terraces dot the way. You can spend all day sipping cocktails and reading your favorite magazines on El Sardinero’s golden sands.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, Santander is also one of the best places to surf. The waters of El Sardinero are great for water sports. There are various places you can sign up for a lesson or rent some gear.
Where to stay in El Sardinero?
Many of Santadner’s most up-scale hotels are located along the beach. There are so many great hotels to choose from, ranging in budget. If you are looking for luxury in Santnder, the Eurostars Hotel Real is the perfect choice.
The Eurostars Hotel is a 5-star hotel and one of the best places to stay in Santander. Be prepared to splurge, rooms here aren’t cheap. If you can afford to stretch your budget, then you will enjoy beautifully decorated rooms, sea views, days being pampered at the spa, and a stunning garden. Guests here are treated like royalty and are never far from the beach.
Península de la Magdalena
Jutting out from El Sardinero is the Península de la Magdalena. This small neighborhood has stunning views of the coastline, two small beaches, and a small zoo.
Locals and visitors alike walk along the loop of the peninsula to see the landmarks and stunning natural beauty. Stroll past gardens, parks, monuments, and the stunning Cerda Lighthouse. The Embarcadero is a beautiful pier that locals like to jump off during high tide. If you don’t like to walk, a tourist train can bring you all to all the top spots.
The Museo de las Carabelas is an interesting open-air museum. Santander has been an important port city for centuries so its naval history is extensive. Look at large replicas of historical boats, including Christopher Columbus’ caravels.
The stunning Palacio de la Magdalena is perched on a hill and looks out over the bay. Built for the Spanish royal family in an eclectic style, it mixes French, English, and Spanish design. The gardens and surrounding landscape is worth the walk. Purchase a guided tour to enter the palace and learn more about its history.
Where to stay in Península de la Magdalena?
The Península de la Magdalena is brimming with landmarks and historical buildings. This means there isn’t room for many hotels. Located right on the border of the Peninsula is the Gran Hotel Victoria.
This 4-star hotel has luxurious and spacious rooms with sea views. The location can’t be beat, guests can walk straight to the beach. Large balconies are the best place to look out over the coastline. Delicious plates are served at the upscale restaurant and bar. Enjoy your dinner in the outside seating area next to the garden.
Spain’s southern Mediterranean beaches may get all the attention, but after reading this guide we hope you consider Santander. This small city is an overlooked destination that is full of amazing natural beauty, especially during the sunny summer months. We hope this guide helps you plan your next trip and choose the best places to stay in Santander.