Santander city on the Northern coast of Spain is home to 13 beaches – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg as the region of Cantabria boasts another 80 and each is prettier than the last. We’ve shortlisted 14 beaches to whet your appetite for the golden sand and refreshing waves amidst the green countryside that is so sought after by Spanish holidaymakers!

1. Los Peligros Beach in Santander

The closest Santander beach to city centre makes for a great stroll from Puertochico’s bars and restaurants. Take the Maritime Walkway beside Centro Botin and walk past Gamazo’s viewing platform to the beach. This stretch of water is wave-free and there’s a safe swim area protected by a floating platform and barrier which is perfect for young swimmers. Views of the bay and the Puntal sand bank are wonderful. You’ll also find a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) activity centre nearby. Ample parking. Retire for a drink and food to the modern Caseta de Bombas Bar & Restaurant at Gamazo.

Caseta de Bombas Restaurant, Calle Gamazo, 39004 Santander, Cantabria. Tel: 942 74 26 68.

2. Magdalena Beach in Santander

Magdalena Beach in Santander

Fabulous white sandy Santander beach that’s reached from Los Peligros beach or a slip-road by the Royal Tennis Club. Excellent views of the bay and the modernist sailing school on Isla de la Torre. Parking nearby.

3. Los Bikinis Beach in Santander

Inside the grounds of Magdalena Palace – the former Spanish royal summer residence – you’ll find a charming beach with wonderful views of the mountains and the bay, plus extensive parkland for picnics and strolls. There’s an excellent playground with a slide down onto the beach. Handy snacks and drinks at the Caballerizas Café which was the stables for the Royal Palace. Ample parking at the entrance to the Palace.

4. Camello Beach in Santander

Playa Camello, Santander

Named after a rock formation in the shape of a camel which has been partially eroded over time, this stretch of Santander’s coastline is very popular with families who enjoy exploring rock-pools. Views here are of the open sea and the Magdalena mini-zoo. Here is where you’ll get to see and hear a traditional game of ‘palas’ being played by 2-3 players using wooden racquets. Parking by the beach.

5. La Concha Beach in Santander

Right alongside the Sardinero Beach, the Concha is popular with swimmers all year long. You’ll find great views of the Sardinero beaches and the open sea. After your swim, retreat to the BNS bar with its year-round outdoor terrace for tapas and adjoining Balneario restaurant for more substantial meals and amazing panoramic views behind glass. Use the carparking by Playa del Camello.

Balneario de la Concha Restaurant, Av de la Reina Victoria, 46, 39004 Santander, Cantabria. Tel: 942 29 09 19.

6. The First Sardinero Beach in Santander

First Sardinero Beach in Santander

The most fashionable Santander beach during the 19th and 20th centuries as evidenced by the grandeur of the Casino and many belle-epoque buildings. Great views of the bay and the elegant Piquio Gardens. Dozens of bars and cafes in this area and long lines of people waiting for the eternally popular Regma ice-cream kiosk. You’ll find lockers, deck chairs, parasols and surf gear for hire. Parking in the area. After your swim, try a vermouth with local squid at the outdoor terrace run by Atalaya de Mayte behind the Gran Hotel Sardinero. For something more formal, jump in a cab or walk uphill along Calle Duque Santo Mauro to Restaurante Deluz.

Atalaya de Mayte Restaurant, Av. los Infantes, 95, 39005 Santander, Cantabria. Tel:942 50 39 06.

Deluz Restaurant, Calle Ramón y Cajal, 18, 39005 Santander, Cantabria. Tel:942 29 06 06.

7. The Second Sardinero Beach in Santander

The choppier of the two Sardinero beaches – you’ll find plenty of teenagers with surfboards and body boards and on quieter days kite-surfers too. There’s a playground and you’ll find lots of beach volleyball on the go also. Great views of Mouro Lighthouse. On the other end of the beach, you can talk a cliffside walk around the peninsula with amazing views back down onto the Sardinero also. (Take the steps from behind Cafeteria Coronna on Calle Gregorio Maranon, 1.) Lots of bars and cafes service this Santander beach including a few informal restaurants built right on the edge of the beach – perfect for seafood platters served with garden-fresh salads and a refreshing beer or glass of red, white or rosé.

8. Molinucos Beach in Santander

A favourite for the best views of Mouro Island and lighthouse is the very charming Molinucos Beach. Park or walk to Mataleñas Park and take the steps down to this Santander beach. It’s a tiny cove so do go early to enjoy the place to yourself.

9. Mataleñas Beach in Santander

The jewel in the crown for many Santanderinos who rate this as their favourite Santander beach. You’ll need to walk down some steep steps so this isn’t for the faint-hearted. If you are driving, follow signs for Forestal Park (a zipline activity centre great for kids and teenagers) and park when you see the ice-cream van. Climb down to steps and dive into the secluded turquoise waters. If you’re looking for refreshments there are a few restaurants nearby and the views from the lighthouse café are wonderful, especially at sunset.

Ready to leave the city of Santander? Here are 5 more great beaches in the Ribamontan area closeby Villa Bahia.

10. Somo Beach in Ribamontan al Mar

Somo Beach

Huge long strand with high waves that are great for surfing and bodyboarding. You’ll find a real surfing vibe in the entire Ribamontan area but especially here in Somo with plenty surf shops and atmospheric bars, diners and restaurants. The Surf Café in Somo on the waterfront is great for drinks and light snacks. Drive to Magnolia in Suesa for meals and more.

Magnolia Suesa Restaurant, Calle Calabazas, 26, 39150 Suesa, Cantabria. Tel: 942 50 43 06

11. El Puntal Beach in Ribamontan al Mar

El Puntal Beach

This sand bank offers wonderful views of the city, the Palace and the entire bay – without the crowds. You also have a wonderful vantage point of all the sailing action and get to witness the Brittany Ferries ferry navigate the very narrow channel beside the beach! Two open-air beach bars serve snacks, seafood, salads and lunches during the Summer months – El Puntal Tricio is the one nearest to the jetty. If you’re travelling by car, you can either drive into Santander and park at the Alfonso XIII carpark (by Centro Botin) before alighting on the passenger ferry or drive to Somo, park at the beach or by the pier and walk the 2km from Somo Beach out onto El Puntal itself.

El Puntal Tricio Beach Bar, Calle el Puntal, Tel: 619 109631. Chiringuitoelpuntal.tricio

12. Loredo Beach in Ribamontan al Mar

Wonderful views of the mountains and the city of Santander as well as the bay from this beach where a horse-racing derby has taken place on the sand every July since 1957. Surfing is very popular here also and you’ll find a few surf schools to hire boards or take a class. If you need a snack after catching a few waves (or a swim) you’ll find a few cafes in the town.

13. Langre Beach in Ribamontan al Mar

Great cliff walks and benches with views up over the beach where you’ll see many Camino de Santiago walkers take a break from their trek to admire the views. This is a quiet beach with very few facilities by the water – so drive onto Somo or Loredo for shops etc but the cliffside drama makes a visit here worthwhile. Make sure to walk to the viewing point on the western side of the beach. Parking at the top – which gets busy in high season so go early and avoid the crowds.

14. Galizano Beach in Ribamontan al Mar

Galizano Beach

More rustic and less built-up than many of its neighbouring beaches, Galizano is a charming cove with a beach bar operating in the Summer months. Choppy waves and open sea but lots of rock pools for the smaller members of the family to explore. Park in the nearby carpark and take the charming wooden platform bridges to the beach. The mini-market in Galizano village is handy for picnic essentials.

During the Summer season, Somo’s Curros&Co on Calle Isla de Mouro, 4 is a perfect place to pick up picnic treats for all the Ribamontan beaches. In Santander head for the delis such as Mantequerias Cantabras on Calle Joaquín Costa, 47 and Diferente on Calle Joaquín Costa, 28 (near the First Sardinero). Gastrobars in the city centre will also be able to organise tapas, wines and even Spanish paellas or tortillas to go with delivery options available.

Ben Cooper

A head-over-heels hispanophile, Ben is a one-time travel editor at Rough Guides, DK Travel, ELLEuk and Red Online.

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