A visit to the points of interest of Santander including Magdalena Palace, Magdalena Peninsula, Gran Casino del Sardinero, Santander Bank, Centro Botin, Beaches of Santander, Santander Cathedral before taking the bus to Bilbao

What to see and photograph in Santander

Santander is a city in northern Spain which is famous for its bank.  It’s the capital city of the Spanish region of Cantabria.  Notable points of interest in Santander are;

  • Magdalena Palace
  • Magdalena Peninsula
  • Gran Casino del Sardinero
  • Santander Bank
  • Centro Botin
  • Beaches of Santander
  • Santander Cathedral

Santander is a cruise and ferry port so visitors are often here for a day.  If you are visiting overnight hotels are good value compared to other Spanish cities.

Magdalena Palace

Magdalena Palace, Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander, Spain

Magdalena Palace is known in Spanish as the Palacio de la Magdalena.  The palace was built in the early 20th century for the Spanish royal family.  The palace and the Magdalena peninsula were exclusively used by the royal family.  In fact the Magdalena peninsula was a gift to the royal family from the city of Santander.  In 1977 the palace and peninsula were sold back to the city of Santander.  The palace is now used for conferences and meetings.

It’s the most visited site in Santander.  Santander is not such a popular place so you’ll be able to take beautiful pictures of the palace without people in them.

Magdalena Peninsula

3 galleons, Magdalena Peninsula, Santander, Spain

The Magdalena peninsula is an interesting place to walk around.  Of course the thing to see on the peninsula is the Magdalena Palace.  You will see wonderful views of the oceans and surrounding bays.  There are beaches surrounding the peninsula.  If you are visiting Santander with kids, they will love the peninsula.  A notable point of interest on the peninsula are the 3 galleons.  These galleons were used by the famous Cantabrian sailor, Vital Alsar.  Vital Alsar used these galleons to sail from Spain to Mexico.  He should open a website called ‘Only by Boat’!

Santander Bank

Santander Bank, Santander Spain

If you were to mention Santander to a friend they would think you were talking about a bank.  In the city of Santander you would expect to see a grand Santander bank.  The Santander bank building doesn’t disappoint.  Through the grand archway of the bank is Porticada Square.  There is no historic old town of Santander as it was destroyed in a fire in 1941.  Santander had to be rebuilt and Porticada Square became the main square and center of the city.  The square is also called Pedro Velarde Square.  It’s named after a famous Cantabrian liberator from the 19th century.

Centro Botin

Centro Botin, Santander, Spain

Centro Botin is an example of modern architecture on the Santander promenade.  The Centro Botin was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.  It is built on stilts so it does not block the view of the sea.  You may ascend to the roof which gives wonderful views of the bay and city.  Inside there is an art gallery and wonderful views from the huge windows.

Gran Casino del Sardinero

Gran Casino del Sardinero, Santander, Spain

The Gran Casino del Sardinero is a grand casino as the name suggests!  Back in the day its clients included royalty.  The building you see today is over 100 years old and is one of the grandest in Santander.  It’s located in the Plaza de Italia.  If you walk to the center of Santander via Paseo Menendez Pelayo you’ll see many more grand buildings and mansions.

Beaches of Santander

Beaches of Santander, Spain

Santander is perfect for beach lovers.  Being located in the north of Spain it doesn’t get too hot either.  There are beaches within walking distance of the center.  The beaches are located on each side of the Magdalena peninsula.  One of the beaches is called Bikini Beach!

Santander Cathedral

Santander Cathedral, Santander, Spain

Santander has its own Gothic cathedral.  The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and was built on top of what was Santander Abbey.  You can take a good reflection shot of the cathedral from the pond in front of it.  It would be better to take this shot at night or early morning.  This would guarantee there were no people sat around it enjoying their tapas.  Around the cathedral you’ll find many high street shops and restaurants.  A good value tapas bar I can recommend is 100 Montaditos.  A beer which goes well with the climate of Santander is a Cruz Campo Glacial.

How to get from Santander to Bilbao by bus

Bus from Santander to Bilbao, 90 minutes

The bus from Santander to Bilbao takes around 90 minutes.  The buses are direct and you can book online.  You could walk into the conveniently located bus station in the center to buy your ticket to Bilbao.  The buses leave roughly every half hour so you won’t have to wait very long.

Bilbao to Bordeaux by bus