Santander, Spain cruises
Your guide to Santander.
The palm-studded gardens of Pereda, the Royal Palace of Magdalena Peninsula and the architecturally astounding Centro Botin gallery are among this Spanish city's treasures. Soak up the midday sun against the soundtrack of waves lapping the sand at El Sardinero; salivate over the day’s fresh produce glistening on the stalls at Mercado de la Esperanza and don’t miss your chance to explore the ethereal World Heritage caves of otherworldly Monte Castillo.
A day in Santander can be as action-packed or as laidback as you’d like it to be. The city has a great outdoor lifestyle, with expansive sand beaches, outdoor dining and ample green spaces sun-seekers will adore, but its inside attractions hold equal sway. From visionary artworks in the futuristic Centro Botin gallery to the furor of fresh foods being hawked at El Esperanza market and the infinitely impressive Royal Palace (found on the Magdalena Peninsula on Santander’s outskirts), there’s much to see, experience and explore on a port call to this vibrant Spanish city.
Eating and drinking.
Sumptuous seafood straight from the sea, aromatic stews and tangy mountain cheeses are among the regional delicacies to savor in Santander. As the capital of Spain’s Cantabria region, the city’s gastronomic scene is diverse and eclectic, melding modern fusion kitchens with traditional stalwarts that have kept local appetites sated for centuries. Calamari slices (or rabas) is a city-wide favorite found throughout Santander and delicious as a tapas on a warm summer’s day. Plaza Porticada-Pombo is an area famed for its tapas restaurants, while some of the oldest and most atmospheric eateries in Santander can be found in Castilla-Hermida or Barrio Pesquero.
From intimate cellars selling gourmet wines to markets offering leather goods and Spanish fashion and beauty brands, Santander isn’t short of places to shop. You’ll find a large concentration of retailers, both independent and some more familiar, along the main Alameda de Oviedo boulevard in the center of the city and also in Calle Burgos, whereas the popular Spanish department store of El Corte Ingles lies a little further out on the city’s outskirts. Several markets offer the chance to browse artisanal wares by local makers, while arts and ceramics shops selling native Spanish pottery are also widespread throughout the city.
Heading out of Santander opens up the beautiful World Heritage-listed caves of Monte Castillo, of which two (El Castillo and Las Monedas) are available to access through a guided tour. As well as the beauty of centuries-old rock formations, each cave is artfully adorned with decorative depictions of animals, handprints and engravings believed to date back to 11,000 BC – making these among the oldest cave artworks in Europe. The stalactites and stalagmites adorning each atmospheric chamber are an equally impressive sight to behold, and a tour here really does inspire the feeling that you’ve somehow fallen through time to a long-forgotten world.