Ferries to Santander, Spain

Santander, on the north coast of Spain, has fewer than 200,000 people living in it.

However, despite its small population, the town itself is vibrant and exciting, with plenty to do whether you prefer an active, adventurous holiday, or one where you can relax and enjoy the culture and history of the place you are visiting.

Speaking of history, Santander has a long and complicated one. It has been occupied since Roman times, with evidence of mosaic flooring being uncovered on many an archaeological dig, and since then it has shifted allegiances and ownership on numerous occasions! Now things are much more settled, and it is an ideal place to go and explore.

Getting to Santander

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Plymouth Santander 1 weekly 19½ hours See prices °
Portsmouth Santander 3 weekly 23½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to Santander sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Irish Ferries Ireland mini cruise from £38pp
  2. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
  3. Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from £10pp each way

Sightseeing

If you’ve never been to Santander before, don’t worry – you’ll soon get into the relaxed and fascinating swing of things.

Palacio Real de La Magdalena

The Palacio Real de La Magdalena garners around 60,000 visitors each year, and if you are in the area you should definitely become one of them. Construction of this magnificent building was completed in 1912, and a year later King Alfonso XIII went to stay there for the summer – and he and his family kept doing so until 1930.

Today you can explore the palace and the gardens on one fabulous day out. Not only will you see beautiful architecture and landscaping, but you will also learn about the history of Santander, and why King Alfonso loved it so much here. The palace sits on its own peninsula, which is full of flora and fauna.

Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno

The Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno is another one for nature lovers. Although located just outside of Santander itself, it is well worth the trip for the chance to surround yourself with nature such as this. Gorillas, cheetahs, wolves, and brown bears are just some of the exciting animals that can be seen here, and with the excellent animal shows from the sea lions and birds of prey, there really is something for everyone. Not only that, but the scenery is stunning too – the park is set in an old iron mine.

Museo Regional de Prehistoria y Arqueologia de Cantabria

For those who prefer to enjoy their leisure time indoors, there is the wonderful Museo Regional de Prehistoria y Arqueologia de Cantabria. This museum showcases the many archaeological finds that have been discovered in the region – since the Romans first settled thousands of years ago.

Here you can use an audio tour to take you around all of the exhibits, and you will learn a little about each one. If you prefer to read the information at your own pace, each exhibit is described in French, Spanish, and English, and is incredibly informative. As a bonus, the museum is open to visitors for free each Sunday.

Puerto Chico

Puerto Chico should definitely be on your list of sights to see whilst in Santander. This marina and fishing port in the town is an exquisite example of idyllic Spanish life, and will capture your heart. Hire a bike, enjoy a stroll along the harbour, dine out on freshly caught seafood or indulge in an ice cream. Whatever you do, relax and enjoy the chilled atmosphere of this little place.

Ermita de la Virgen del Mar

Visiting the Ermita de la Virgen del Mar will gives you a sense of the scale of things in Santander. This is a shrine dedicated to the patron saint of Santander, the Virgin of the Seas. Due to its location, the sea itself has eroded the building, giving it a weathered and beautiful look that can’t be replicated.

This is nature versus humanity as its most basic, and the result is fascinating. The first chapel known to be on this site dates from 1400, but the current shrine was built in around 1690.

Monumento a Los Raqueros

Another of the sights to see when in Santander are the Monumento a Los Raqueros. The raqueros was the name given to the poor children who would wait around the seafront for tourists to throw coins into the water. They would dive in after them, and, if they found the coin, they were able to keep it.

Sometimes the sailors from nearby ships would also join in throwing the coins, but of course these went into deeper water, and although the children always tried, they often did not succeed.

These beautiful bronze figures of four of these boys are stunning, showing them in mid-flight. One is about to dive in to the water itself, two more are sitting, waiting patiently, and a fourth is standing, ready to go.

Museo Maritimo del Cantabrico

The Museo Maritimo del Cantabrico has plenty to keep the whole family occupied for hours. Learning about the maritime history of Santander is a big job, but well set out in this fascinating museum that details everything from the first vessel to the present day.

Even its vantage point looking out across the sea evokes thoughts of naval victories, and inside is just as good as its location. There are various temporary exhibitions throughout the year, as well as some more permanent ones that detail the rise and fall of the maritime history of the area. With re-enactments, knowledgeable guides, and plenty of information on hand, this is a worthwhile stop off on your visit to Santander.

Santander Cathedral

Santander Cathedral is an iconic building, and a beautiful one too dating back around 800 years. This large white structure stands out amongst the other building in close proximity, and invited you to visit.

Despite being almost destroyed by a fire in 1941, there is still much to see, and the fact that the cathedral survived in the state it is in says much for medieval building materials and methods. After exploring the cathedral, sit outside in the lovely square and watch the world go by, enjoy the fountains, and eat some tapas available from the various vans and stalls.

Plaza Pombo

The Plaza Pombo is the archetypal Spanish square, complete with cafes, bars, restaurants, and plenty of places to sit, chill, and watch the world (and the people) go by. Ideal for those who want to take a break from sightseeing (although don’t ignore the beautiful buildings all around you, they are magnificent) and want to rest their weary legs.

For the children, there is even a carousel to keep them occupied. In the summer there is a festival here, and the square is full of stalls and entertainers.

And there's more...

Even if you have been to Santander before, there are some sights and activities you may have missed.

  • The Jardines des Piquio are exquisite, and not only are the gardens themselves beautiful, but the views they offer across the beaches and the sea are wonderful too, and shouldn’t be missed. Here you can follow the walking route so as not to miss anything, and there are plenty of benches to rest on should you need to. Take a picnic and stay all day in this stunning spot.
  • For those with an adventurous side, the Gran Casino Sardinero is the place to go. An impressive building housing an even more impressive casino to give you a great night out; that’s the essence of the Gran Casino Sardinero. The staff is friendly and helpful, so even if you’ve never been to a casino before, there is no need to worry – your questions will be answered. In fact, this is a great place to start your lucky streak! With fruit machines, roulette, different kinds of poker, and card games to suit all levels, skill, and budget, as well as a reasonably priced bar that won’t take all your winnings, this is a fun and different way to spend some time in Santander.
  • For a more artistic day out, the Centro de Arte Faro Cabo Mayor is ideal. This art gallery is especially good if you like seascapes, and lighthouses, as there is an entire section dedicated to these images. Little wonder, perhaps, when the gallery itself used to be a lighthouse! The gallery is free to enter, and enjoyable to visit. Next door is an excellent café from where you can watch the sunset in comfort.
  • More fun and games can be had at Forestal Park. Here you can swing through the trees with the greatest of ease, taking your pick from various high level assault and obstacle courses that increase with difficulty depending on what you are looking to do. Suitable for all ages, this is an adventure park at the highest level. Literally.
  • The Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria is a theatre that puts on some superb shows. This theatre has a varied programme of events, including music, plays, opera, and ballet – and there are children’s shows too, so everyone can have a wonderful time away. No matter what your preference when it comes to the arts, this beautiful and surprising theatre will have something fascinating to show you.

Hotels

Hotels can be difficult things to decide on – so many questions, and so many to choose from.

Santander Budget & Great Value Hotels

For when budget is important, it is, perhaps, even more essential to get it right. These hotels are perfect for those who prefer not to spend a fortune on their rooms.

Hospedaje Magallanes is a basic but really rather lovely little place is ideal for those who want to be out and about more than in their hotel room – and let’s face it, when in Santander out and about is a good place to be. There are single, double, and family rooms available, free Wifi, and private bathrooms. Its location is excellent, and it is close to public transport, so you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest.

Hotel Antoyana is a great budget hotel set within a rather intriguing looking building. A mix of styles, here you can relax and unwind whilst enjoying the staff’s friendly hospitality. Breakfast is included, and for dinner there are some quaint cafes on the same road as the hotel. And although a little out of town, the quirky, cool interior (including suits of armour) and chalet style exterior make up for it.

In the centre of the city lies the surprising San Glorio Hotel. Although perfect for those on a budget, it still retains a certain charm that means guests return again and again.

From this location you can explore everything on foot, giving you the perfect base for finding out what Santander has to offer. Rooms have recently been renovated, so the hotel feels fresh and new, and the restaurant is a definite bonus!

Family Friendly Hotels in Santander

Family hotels can sometimes be hard to find, but not in Santander, where there are a number of excellent places for the whole family to stay comfortably.

Magnificent from every aspect, the family friendly Eurostars Hotel Real has all the amenities you could need for the perfect getaway as a group. Family rooms contain a bed for everyone (no roll aways here), and there is a beautiful pool as well as lovely gardens for the kids to let off steam and the adults to enjoy walking around.

A fixed price menu in the restaurant, a reasonably prices underground car park, and clean, comfortable rooms that can fit all the family make the Santemar Hotel a great place to stay when in Santander. If you prefer to eat out, there are a number of excellent restaurants (as well as the famous casino) within walking distance.

Everyone can stay at NH Ciudad de Santander, even the dog! For a real full family friendly hotel, the NH Ciudad de Santander takes a lot of beating; there is a park nearby, and the beach is within walking distance too. Not only that but the hotel is clean and comfortable with extensive grounds for playing or walking in.

Luxurious Santander Hotels

Luxury can be non-negotiable sometimes. Luckily, Santander has its fair share of excellent, luxury hotels.

The Hotel Bahia de Santander is a beautiful, spacious, comfortable hotel with modern facilities and excellent staff. Here you can truly relax and enjoy your surroundings in absolute peace. The restaurant is top class, and all food is sourced locally.

Elegant and luxurious, the Gran Hotel Sardinero has everything a visitor could want including well appointed rooms, an enviable location, and a restaurant that even the locals clamour to be seated at. Here you can stroll into town or have fun on the beach knowing a beautiful hotel awaits you on your return.

The newly opened Silken Coliseum Hotel is at the cutting edge of modern design and comfort. Situated right in the heart of the city, this is an ideal base for exploring and enjoying. There is parking on site, and even a 24 hour café bar serving you whenever you feel like a quick bite or drink.

Restaurants

Dining out on holiday… it’s something to look forward to whatever your tastes and whatever your budget. For those who love a bit of value for money, these restaurants will suit perfectly.

Il Boccone is a great Italian eatery in the heart of Santander and is bursting with delicious food and authentic flavours. Pop in for a quick snack or a longer lunch (or dinner), and enjoy pizza, pasta, salad, and various breads, as well as some interesting cocktails.

All the ingredients at Zampabollos are of exceptional quality, and absolute freshness. Lovingly put together to create superb sandwiches and extras that will fill an empty belly at any time of the day – you’ll love the extraordinary lengths the staff here go to to get you the perfect sandwich. Hot dogs, pizzas, and burgers are also available, and are all of great quality.

If you are a pizza connoisseur you will enjoy a meal at Pizzeria Vittorio. In fact, even if you’re not an expert you’ll love the food here! This great little place is a little away from the main drag of Santander, and is all the better for it – a true hidden gem, once you find it you’ll want to return again and again.

Treating the family to a good meal isn’t something that we do every day, so when it is time, you’ll want to find a wonderful place to do it. Why not try one of these?

Tapas is a great idea when you’ve got small children to please – they can pick their own dishes, and share everything on the table, so it’s a great way to ensure that not only do they eat their fill, but you enjoy the food as well!

At Bodega La Montana, you can enjoy homemade soup, snacks and beer, or a full dinner – you choose your own menu, and the friendly, helpful staff will be happy to recommend their favourite dishes! For fussy little eaters this is a great way to get them to try new – and delicious – things.

Everything on the menu at Deluz is locally inspired – whether it is sourced in Santander or nearby, or whether it is designed to look like the sea, the sand, the distant mountains, you’ll eat here and have no doubt about where you are or the love that has gone into the food you are being served.

Food such as Cantabrian mussels, pistachio pesto St Stephen, or organic pork pasiego feature on this stunning menu. And as for families, the owners don’t believe a meal is complete without the children round the table!

When you want a sweet treat for the whole family, it’s time to visit Monerris. Sweets and ice cream are the order of the day here, and they truly are sumptuous. Some have named this the best ice cream parlour in Santander, and thanks to its superb ingredients, and excellent coffee, this is a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by as the children enjoy themselves.

Every holiday needs at least one extravagant meal to tell your friends at home about. Luckily, in Santander, there are plenty of luxury restaurants to choose from.

For a true treat, Michelin starred dining has to be the top of the list, which is why El Serbal is such a great choice when in Santander. The impressive menu cooked here includes spring onions in salt with octopus and truffles, roasted foie gras with liquorice tea, and nut stuffed rack of lamb on a potato foam. Soak up the ambience and the experience at El Serbal.

This iconic seafood restaurant serves only the freshest, the most local, and the best, fish and shellfish around. Friendly, efficient, and utterly memorable, La Mulata caters for everyone, and even has menus in Braille – their ethos is that no one should miss out of such exquisite food. Once you’ve tried it, you will understand what they mean.

Restaurante Machichaco El Machi offers tapas with a fine dining twist, so here you have the best of both worlds when it comes to Spanish cuisine. The menu is extensive but don’t worry – the staff here will help you choose if you’re having trouble, and besides, it’s all delicious!

Santander for Families

With its beautiful sandy beaches, its fun activities, and its long history, Santander has something for everyone. Bringing the entire family here is a wonderful idea, and memories will be made that will last forever. Every day of your trip away from home will be different, and every day will be wonderful.

When to Visit Santander

For the best weather, it’s a good idea to visit Santander in the summer, as there is more change of sunshine than rain. If you’re going for more than the climate, however, then there are other times of the year that might suit better.

For example, in August the whole month is given over to the Festival Internacional de Santander. This includes open air concerts and opera performances, and is extremely popular, so if crowds are not your thing then you might want to stay away. If, however, you enjoy the buzz of a festival atmosphere, August is the perfect time to visit!

Handy information

Where you will dock

The Port of Santander is located on the southern fringe of the city itself. It's a very short walk to the centre.

Nearest airport

Santander Airport is located 5 miles (about 8 kilometres) from the port. The only airport in Cantabria, Santander Airport is an international airport with routes to the rest of Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, the Canary Islands, and the UK.

Nearest railway stations

Santander railway station is located a short walk across from the port. The classical building serves as the terminus with services heading deep into mainland Spain.

Currency

The currency used in Santander is the Euro (€). 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Euro coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents coins. Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 values.

The exchange rate is currently around £1 equals €0.00. The rate you get when exchanging currency online or on the high street may differ to this rate as this figure comes courtesy of the European Central Bank. The foreign exchange rate may differ from this so it pays to shop around to get the most currency for your money

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Plymouth Santander 1 weekly 19½ hours See prices °
Portsmouth Santander 3 weekly 23½ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to Santander sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Irish Ferries Ireland mini cruise from £38pp
  2. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
  3. Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from £10pp each way

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