Santander is the capital of the Cantabria region and is one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Whether it is to visit or to live, there’s a huge number of reasons that you cannot fail to value Santander as an Erasmus destination. It is the only city in Spain where the bay points southwards. With a population of 185,000, it is a comfortable and safe city to enjoy both your stay and your studies.
What to see in Santander
The Plaza de Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) is the epicentre of the city and one of the most frequent meeting places for Erasmus students and young people.
The Plaza del Bombo is one of the most charming and popular squares of the city. It is legendary for its Sunday custom of exchanging cards, both from current and old collections.
The Alameda de Oviedo is one of the main leisure and shopping zones of the city. This zone has no shortage of lively bars to try the famous snacks of snails, mussels and squid.
Also, the Paseo de Pereda and its gardens are found in the centre of Santander, in front of the bay, facing the mountains and the beaches of Puntal and Somo. The Paseo de Pereda still has some of its buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, which were not affected by the 1941 fire, making it one of the oldest roads in the city.
Something that you should not forget to do, is to take the funicular that runs 78 metres with 4 stops: Río de la Pila, San Sebastián street, San Roque field and the El Regimiento football field on the General Dávila promenade. The views of the bay are very impressive.
The Cantabrian Sea. One of the great wonders of Cantabria and of Santander, its latitude with this sea of cold and clean waters, but with an enormous natural quality.
Where to go out
For nights out, Santander offers you the most exciting, young nightlife.
The main areas to go out are Puertochico and surroundings (streets Hernán Cortés, Peñaherbosa, Daoiz and Velarde and Bonifaz, Tetuán), Calderón de la Barca (Terrazas del Ferry) and the popular fishing area (Barrio Pesquero) and the Cañadio Square for evening fun.
But one of the biggest attractions, just like other cities in the north, is a tapas tour. Essentially, you can get to know the historic centre of the city, whilst trying out the food. It is a good option for Erasmus students, as you can get to know one another, the city and the best food places all at the same time.
Moreover, the council created its famous programme ‘The Night is Young’ a few years ago. It was made by and for young people who wanted to enhance their weekend evenings with an alternative leisure activity, characterised by being creative, diverse, healthy, free, edgy and run by young people (the activities are run by young associations, young artists, young instructors…).
Culture in the palm of your hand
Living here you will submerge yourself in history, getting to know Cantabrian life through the Caves of Altamira Museum, for example, or visiting the Interpretation Centre of Muralla.
It is really easy to find accommodation here. Normally, the university helps Erasmus students, and there are also associations that can help, such as AEGEE. If you ask in the University Pupils’ Association, I am sure that they can advise you better.
Sardinero is a very famous tourist enclave and area of the city of Santander, a zone which is especially popular during the summer months, because of its vast beaches. Here there is a great number of hotels and family apartments to rent. It is more expensive, but it’s where all the Erasmus students try to find a place.
Albericia is another of the most well-known areas of Santander. Here there is developed sport infrastructure, with facilities to practice many disciplines and sports, such as athletics, football, swimming, rugby, archery etc.
Eating in Santander is a joy, given that the food in the north of Spain is particularly exquisite. But if you want to really get to know the best places according to their areas, here they are:
Central Zone of Santander: for those who prefer tapas or plates for a good price: the’ Conveniente’ y ‘Casa Ajero’ in Cañadio, ‘las hijas de Florencio’ or ‘Casa Lita’ in the Paseo de Pereda or the winebars ‘Javi Quintanilla’ on Bonifaz street are good places without spending a fortune. Also, the portions of patatas bravas, atomic or nuclear (depending on the spice of the sauce) at the ‘Rana Verde’ in Daoiz and Velarde, and around Hernan Cortes and the surroundings there are a multitude of bars, like ‘Don Vito’, ‘Bodegas Mazón’, ‘Bodegas Bringas’… where you can have a snack, portions or toast. To finish the meal, there is nothing better than a coffee in Café Pombo, in the square of the same name, or an ice cream from ‘Monerris’, in the Plaza del Cuadro, from ‘Capri’ or ‘Regma’, in Paseo de Pereda, next to the Plaza Porticada.
Pesquero area and Tetuan street: for fish and seafood lovers, these are the two best areas of Santander: ‘Marucho’, which for me has the best squid and scorpion fish pudding in the city, and the ‘Mulata’, with excellent clams and mussels.
Vargas Street and San Fernando Zone: this is a typical zone to go for tapas or to have dinner before going out on a night out in Santander at a reasonable price. On Vargas street, you will find ‘Gelín’, the self-named King of Squid, with his supporters and slanderers. In San Fernando there is the ‘Bodega la Montaña’, with very good portions. On Burgos street, just off the Plaza de Numancia, el ‘Mesón el Castellano’ serves delicious ham and cheese tapas, and for those who wants to try excellent octopus, go to the ‘Pulperia’ in the Travesia de Vargas.