The striking Picos de Europa rise up in Cantabria’s west and if you don’t make trip to hike its toothy peaks, the range makes a striking backdrop for every sunset over Santander Bay. Eating and drinking are Spain’s favourite pastimes and Santander is no exception, but locals like to work up an appetite to truly appreciate local flavours and they do it in the rain as well as the sun.
Hiking Near and Far
An elegant and easy amble along the long promenade, Paseo de Pereda runs along the bay from the ferry terminal past the yachts and launches in the Puerto Chico all the way to Los Peligros, the first of the urban beaches. For a more energetic morning hike, hop on the local Regina ferry across the bay past the Seve Ballesteros designed golf course in his home village of Pedreña to the sandy peninsula that is Somo. Follow Somo’s dune-lined beach eastwards past Cantabria’s largest island and ramble along the long cliff-top path to Langre, where kestrels and seagulls soar and wheel at eye level. For a more intrepid day trip, travel east (about an hour by bus) to the town of Santoña where the circular route around Monte Buciero takes in lighthouses, defensive forts and a rather palatial prison complex. Thick forest and sheer cliffs set off the area’s incredible vistas.
Back in Santander, the peninsula of Magdalena is home to a lighthouse, small zoo, excellent adventure playground and Alfonso XIII’s summer palace, now the luxurious halls of residence for some very lucky language students. A long wander to Santander’s furthest lighthouse at Cabo Mayor, past the elegant sands of Sardinero Beach and another golf course at Mataleñas, is another incredible introduction to the wild wonders of the Cantabrian Coast.
Messing About on the Water
Of course, if you prefer work up an appetite in the water rather then around it, simply rent a boat and join the Spanish Olympic sailing team plying the clear blue waters of Santander’s wide blue bay. Many of Cantabria’s beaches, including those at Somo and Santoña, have good breaking Atlantic swells that entice surfers from near and far while the often windy weather also makes Santander a favourite for the kite and wind varieties too. Club Náutico La Horadada on the cusp of two of Santander’s finest urban beaches, Los Peligros and Magdalena offers sea craft for hire all year long.
On Your Bike
All the listed walks except Santoña’s can be curtailed by bus and you can always hop on one of the numerous and free bikes offered across Santander. All you need is a credit (or debit) card to leave a 150€ deposit from the automated bi-lingual machines. Maps and further information can be found at the Tourist Office in Santander’s Jardines de Pereda (tel. 942 203 000).