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Santander, Cantabria

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After a week in both Bilbao and San Sebastián I guessed it was time to hit the road and get back on track. I actually only visited San Sebastián as so many people recommended that I do. That meant I headed East from Bilbao when my plan was always to head West. So thanks everyone for screwing up my meticulously planned adventure. It was time to visit Santander!

Getting To San Sebastián To Santander

So after an about turn, I left San Sebastián this morning, briefly stopping back in Bilbao before boarding the ALSA bus to Santander. Being Easter Sunday it was packed. Next to me was a young lad called Rodrigues, a flight attendant for the Spanish low cost carrier Volotea who spoke Canadian English… basically that was very good English with an occasional Canadian style expletive thrown in! Over the 90 minute journey he gave me a brilliant insight into the region of Cantabria and also Santander.

On arrival, I checked in at the lovely Hotel Chiqui at the far end of town. This small welcoming hotel was very nice with an excellent bar, restaurant, immaculate rooms and an infinity pool that afforded views out to the main beach.

I did not hang around at the hotel so headed straight out as I am only here for 24 hours and I wanted to use Rodrigues information and discover the town. That idea was thrown into disarray as just yards from my hotel on the cities signature beach, the Playa del Sardininero, I stumbled across the Red Bull sponsored Racing Santander Ladies Beach Volleyball Doubles team in action. Six hours later I continued my visit of Santander.

What to Expect

The weather was overcast so sadly my photos are not so enticing. Perhaps I need local artist Lorea Hoya to spruce them up! Lorea was on the promenade painting a water colour of the shore. Incredibly by the time I got back to my hotel her instagram showed this very painting ready for sale. I do love watching a talented artist at work!

Santander Town

Santander is not as pretty on the eye as San Sebastián. It is however rich in cultural and historical heritage and in parts is beautiful. The most famous landmark is the Real Palacio de la Magdalena that sits on a peninsula overlooking the city. Its popular to walk up there but today, with the weather not so great and my time limited, I chose just to mooch.

Other key sights in the city include the Centro Botin, a modern arts centre and the Museo Maritime del Cantabrico, a salute to this seafaring region. Two great ways to experience the city are via a hop on hop off bus tour or you can go on one of the boat trips that takes you around the bay including a view of another key attraction, the Cabo Mayor and Parque de Matalenas which is home to a lighthouse as well as a beach, children’s adventure playground and golf.

Santander Royalty

Given the size of the city and the fact my hotel was at the far end of town I took a taxi back. This happened to be none other than Manuel who in his eighties, is still working in town after a lifetime offering a VIP taxi service to the stars. In 1986 he worked in London and picked up Princess Margaret from Kensington Gardens no less.

I loved Manuel – we played Louis Armstrong’s Mack the Knife (one of my faves) on the journey back and he gave a little dance on the steps of the hotel insisting he had his pic for Instagram in front of his new Mercedes. People like this are few and far between these days. God love em!

Pre-Bookable Excursions


I am pleased I visited not least for the volleyball action and to meet Manuel but I am also glad to be moving on this morning to a place none of the locals can give me any information on at all…. this could go very wrong!

For more information on visiting Santander in Northern Spain contact the Cantabria Tourist Office or Visit Spain or contact your local travel agent or tour operator.

All photos were taken by myself and should be credited, if used, to @justonefortheroad 

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