Santander, Spain Sardinero Beach, Santander – Image courtesy of Pedro Lopez/Wikimedia

Santander Honeymoon Guide

Explore wide boulevards, ancient squares, tree-lined gardens and waterfront promenades that are perfect for walking in this ancient and lively city.

Relax on one of the resort's golden-sand beaches, then relax with friendly locals in one or more of the numerous tapas bars, atmospheric old wine bars, cafes and restaurants that line the city streets.

Discover the elegant beachside suburb of El Sardinero and visit the lighthouse at nearby Capo Mayor for panoramic coastal views and cliff-top walks.

Best Beaches in Santander

Santander offers newlyweds a choice of several Blue Flag-certified, golden-sand beaches that sit just a short walk or bus ride from the centre of town.

The best beaches in Santander, include…

Playa Sardinero, Santander

Playa Sardinero

Dig your toes into the soft golden sand of this 1.3km-long beach that stretches beneath a tree-lined park and promenade.

The beach sits beneath the elegant El Casino de Santander, and is separated from neighbouring Playa de la Concha by a picturesque hilltop garden.

Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for the disabled. The nearby promenade is lined with restaurants, tapas bars and hotels.

Playa de la Concha, Santander

Playa de la Concha

Unwind on this small, 250m-long golden-sand beach that sits beneath a beachfront promenade.

Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for people with disabilities. A range of bars and restaurants can be found nearby.

Playa El Camello, Santander

Playa El Camello

This wide and gorgeous, 200m-long golden-sand beach nestles beneath a small park and stretches between rocky outcrops and the verdant Peninsula de la Magdalena, a wooded bluff overlooking the entrance to the harbour.

Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for people with disabilities. A choice of bars and restaurants are a short walk away.

Playa de la Magdalena, Santander

Playa de la Magdalena

Relax on the golden sands of this 900m-long beach that sits on the eastern side of the wooded Peninsula de la Magdalena and between Playa de los Bikinis to the east and Playa los Peligros to the west.

Playa de la Magdalena faces an offshore island, Isla de los Ratones. Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols, sun loungers and boats for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for people with disabilities. A range of bars, restaurants and hotels are just a short stroll away.

Playa de los Bikinis, Santander

Playa de los Bikinis

Sunbathe on the golden sands of this 250m-long beach named for the ladies who first dared to wear the two-piece bikini swimsuit during the later years of the Franco dictatorship.

Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for people with disabilities. A choice of bars and restaurants are a short walk away.

Playa Sardinero, Santander

Playa los Peligros

Unwind on the golden sands of this free-fringed beach lapped by sheltered waters and facing the long strand of Playa del Puntal.

Facilities on this Blue Flag beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, toilets, lifeguards and ramps for people with disabilities.

Playa Molinucos, Santander

Playa de Molinucos

Escape the crowds of Playa Sardinero at this tiny pocket of golden sand that nestles beneath tree-covered cliffs and the fairways of the Matalenas Golf Club.

There are no facilities on this beach, which is easily reached on foot along the seafront walkway from El Sardinero.

Playa Mataleñas, Santander

Playa Mataleñas

Escape to this rarely crowded beach located over the headland from Playa Sardinero.

The 100m-crescent of golden sand faces a long inlet framed by soaring cliffs, topped on the east side by a golf course and to the west by green fields surrounding the lighthouse of Capo Mayor.

Swim in the sheltered waters or follow cliff-top trails for scenic vistas. Pack a picnic, as facilities on this lovely beach include only toilets and showers. The beach is accessed by a steep track and staircase.

Playa del Puntal, Santander

Playa del Puntal

Take a boat trip out to this long finger of golden sand jutting out from the eastern side of the Santander Bay, opposite Playa de la Magdalena.

Pick your own spot to sunbathe amid the sand dunes on this 1.5km-long beach that continues along the coast to rocky headlands at Playa de Lorado. Go kite surfing on the northern side of the beach and swim in the sheltered waters of the southern side.

Pack a picnic, as facilities on this lovely stretch of sand are non-existent until you reach Playa de Lorado, some 2km further along the coast.

What to do and see in Santander

Stroll around the verdant Peninsula de la Magdalena, a wooded parkland surrounding a former royal palace that sits on a bluff overlooking two of the city’s best beaches: Playa del Camillo and Playa de Los Bikinis.

For an alternative perspective, view El Sardinero’s belle epoque architecture on an hour-long cruise around the bay.

Admire paintings and etchings by Goya, as well as works by other Spanish artists of the 16th to 20th centuries, at the eclectic Museo Municipal de Belles Artes. The museum also houses literary works by Menéndez y Pelayo, Santander’s most illustrious author.

Wander stone-flagged floors inside the fortress-styled 13th century Gothic Catedral de Santandar, built atop Roman ruins and housing the 12th century crypt of Menéndez y Pelayo.

Ponder both Roman and prehistoric artefacts dating back 15,000 years at the Museo Regional de Prehistoria y Arqueologia de Cantrabia, including objects and photographs from the Cuevas de Altamira.

Enjoy a flutter at the belle epoque Gran Casino del Sardinero and take a day trip to one of Spain’s most famous national landmarks – the perfectly preserved medieval village of Santillana del Mar, just a 30-minute drive from Santander.

Nearby are the Altamira Caves, famous for their prehistoric paintings. Come in August for the outdoor International Festival of Music and Dance, a lively event held mainly in the Old Town.

Must-see attractions near Santander, include…

Santillana del Mar, Santander

Santillana del Mar – Discover one of the finest preserved medieval villages in Europe.

Stroll the cobbled streets of Plaza de Ramón Pelayo (or Plaza Mayor) and Calle de las Lindas (Street of Beautiful Women), lined with stone buildings and towers dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Wander through the ivy-covered cloisters of the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, an 800-year-old cathedral housing the crypt of Juliana, the village's patron saint.

Inside, see sculpted capitals depicting biblical scenes and admire treasured artefacts that include 1000-year-old documents and a 17th century silver altarpiece.

Come for a day or stay at a choice of hotels, including the 4-star Parador de Santillana Gil Blas, which occupies a former 400-year-old palace crammed with antiques, chandeliers and wooden-plank floors.

Santillana del Mar is located 34km from Santander.

Altamira Caves – These famous caves shelter some of the finest prehistoric paintings ever discovered, dating back to the end of the Ice Age. Sadly the caves are now closed due to damage caused by bacteria brought in by so many visitors.

However, the nearby Museo de Altamira offers a perfect replica of the cave, complete with realistic reproductions (created by computerised digital-transfer technology) of the horses and bison, painted in vivid reds and blacks.

The Altamira Caves are located around 2.5km from Santillana del Mar.

Puente Viesgo – Head to the Cueva del Castillo and Cueva de las Monedas to see prehistoric drawings of bison, deer, bulls, human stick figures and hands that are thought to be 35,000 years old.

The 16th century village of Puente Viesgo is located 28km from Santander.

The Costa Verde– Explore the rugged green coastline of Asturias by hire car. This rocky coastline is indented with picturesque fishing villages and tiny golden-sand beaches, and is one of northern Spain’s major sightseeing attractions.

The Costa Verde stretches from San Vicente de la Barquera to Gijón in the west, around 145km in total.

Where to stay

Santander offers a good range of honeymoon accommodation options including: the elegant and luxurious Hotel Real, overlooking Playa de Magdalena from its panoramic hilltop position; the charming beaux art-inspired Hotel Central; and the all-suite Palacio del Mar, with its post-modern décor and beachfront location.

Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about hotel accommodation in Santander at TripAdvisor.

Best time to honeymoon in Santander

The best time to visit Santander is from June to September when the average temperature is 22°C (72°F), rising to 30°C (86°F) in July and August.

Autumn and spring temperatures range from 12°C (53°F) to 16°C (60°F).

Sea water temperature during summer averages 20°C (68°F).

Getting to Santander

Santander is located 116km (72mi) northwest of Bilbao and 393km (244mi) north of Madrid on the Costa Verde, a rugged and green coastline similar to the west coast of Ireland (but with a lot more sun).

The most convenient route to Santander is by air to Bilbao Airport (BIO), followed by a bus or taxi.

A frequent bus service connects Bilbao Airport to the city centre, taking 20 minutes. From Bilbao to Santander takes a further 1 hour 15 minutes by taxi or car.

From some international destinations the most convenient route to Santander is by air to Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), followed by a connecting flight to Bilbao Airport (BIO).

By bus, Bilbao to Santander is 1 hour 20 minutes, hourly, and 5 hours 45 minutes from Madrid.

By train, Bilbao to Santander is 2 hours 55 minutes, with multiple stops.

By ferry, Santander is serviced twice weekly on the 24 hour voyage across the Bay of Biscay from Portsmouth, England.

More information about how to get to Santander

More about Santander…

Latest update: Santander: 9 December, 2019

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