From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what…
Santander has long been a favourite with the Madrid-set in search of sandy beaches and great gastronomy. Increased air and sea connections mean the city is garnering international attention and it’s easy to see why. Wondering what not to miss when you get here? Here’s our pick of things to do in Santander…
1. See Centro Botin
This brand-new art centre designed by star architect Renzo Piano (who designed the Shard in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris with Richard Rogers) has already won its place in the hearts of the Santanderinos. Its clever design not only offers a stage for world-class art and celebrated musicians but it also opens up a dialogue between the city and the bay which shimmers and dazzles just like the building itself. Take the lift to the top where you have brilliant views of the city and the water. Great museum café looking onto the bay which is run by the two-Michelin starred chef Jesus Sanchez of El Cenador de Amos (located across the bay in Villaverde de Pontones.)
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-8pm (extended opening until 9pm from June through to September). Parking at Alfonso XIII carpark.
2. Visit the Magdalena Palace
King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia (granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Albert) enjoyed the beaches, gardens and views of the bay and is said to have reminded the Queen Consort of her childhood summers on the Isle of Wight. It’s true the palace wouldn’t look out of place on the English coast – although it is the work of two local architects.
Tours of the palace interiors are available year-round in Spanish although access is limited when the International Menendez Pelayo University (UIMP) takes over the building every Summer. The best way to enjoy a tour in English is to hire a private licensed city guide who can reserve a slot with the palace.
Opening times for the Palace vary, so phone 942 203 084 or email for details.
The grounds of the Palace are open from 8am to 10pm at night. Pedestrian access only. Parking just outside the palace grounds. Palaciomagdalena.com
3. Take a Snap of the Raqueros Sculptures
In contrast to the glamour and glitz of the palace and Centro Botin, seek out the wonderfully sculptured figures of the Raqueros beside the Club Maritimo that recall the young boys who used to jump into the water for coins throws by the well-heeled from their boats. These iconic life-like works by local sculptor Jose Cobo act as a reminder of the tough times experienced in Puertochico – the city’s historic fishing port.
Nearest carparking at Castelar Carpark & Alfonso XIII car park.
4. Check out the Beaches
It’s simply not possible to spend time in the city and not experience the famous Sardinero beaches that were first in fashion in the 1850s. Residents dress up in period-costume for a week every year to remember the time when Santander first was in vogue – so if you see boater hats, parasols and demure swimming costumes as you stroll by or swim here, you know what’s going on. If you prefer a different view, a quieter cove or a rural beach, you’ve so much choice. Read about the many Santander Beaches here.
Lots of parking available in the streets near the beaches – although it does get busy in July and August.
5. Experience the Local Gastronomy
If you’ve spent time in the North of Spain before, you’ll know that pintxos are earth-shatteringly good but there’s another way to dine out. When friends and family meet for a white wine or vermouth at weekends, they often order share platters of food called ‘raciones’ which nearly always feature the local rabas (calamari) and you’ll also find lots of mussels, clams, crabs, periwinkles, anchovies, prawns and octopus. Other specials include ‘bonito’ which is a Northern Spanish tuna or a slow-cooked melt in the mouth stew from the region. And yes, you will need a few garden salads, pimientos de Padron or char-grilled vegetables to dilute the protein! Finish up with a local creamy dessert or move on to the coffee and G&T. This is best experienced in the neighbourhoods of Puertchico or Tetuan but anywhere you go, you’ll find these dishes during the middle of the day.
When eating out in the evening, there’s so much choice but we’re always partial to El Riojano Restaurant and Canadio Restaurant which are smart casual (rather than Michelin-star formal) but they execute all the classic Cantabrian dishes with class and style. Both serve tapas and ‘raciones’ at the bar if you’re not able to get a table inside the restaurant.
6. Get Out Onto The Bay
Fresh air beckons and where better than on a boat? If you haven’t brought your own, you can board the tours of the bay departing from the Palacete del Embarcadero (beside Centro Botin) or Gamazo Dock.
During the Summer months you can also hop on the boats going to the Puntal Beach in the middle of the bay where you’ll gain a lovely perspective of the city. For more information Losreginas.com or Santanderbahiatours.com
7. Visit a Museum or Two (or Three)
MUPAC is the name for Santander’s Prehistory Museum – a great space to learn about Cantabria’s amazing caves and its cave art. The subterranean museum space on Calle Bailen is right beside the Mercado del Este marketplace where you can grab a coffee and a snack before or after.
The Maritime Museum complete with aquarium, a 40m long skeleton of the blue whale plus lots of other water creatures and marine body parts in jam-jars too. Great café views and outdoor terrace looking out over the bay.
If you are looking to drive out to a museum in the region, the town of Comillas is just the ticket. It boasts extraordinary architecture featuring one of the few works of Gaudi outside Catalonia. Take a tour of the Capricho de Gaudi in English and visit Sobrellano Palace designed by Joan Martorell plus Camposanto cemetery that is home to a wonderfully carved angel designed by Josep Llimona. The town is like a who’s who of Catalan architecture – and the beach is spectacular also. Continue on to San Vicente de la Barquera for some excellent views of the Picos de Europa and Michelin-star cuisine.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10-2pm and 5pm to 7.30pm (opening extended until 8pm on Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays and every day from May to September). Closed Monday. Park in Pombo Carpark or Alfonso XIII Carpark. Museosdecantabria.es
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (opening extended until 7.30pm from May to September). Closed Monday. Public parking in the area. Museosdecantabria.es/Maritimo
El Capricho de Gaudi
Open Monday to Sunday from 10:30am to 5:30pm. Extended opening until 8pm from March to June and in October. From July to September closing time is further extended until 9pm. No parking at the Capricho but ample public parking in the centre of Comillas. Elcaprichodegaudi.com
8. Shop at the City’s Food Market
Located right behind the Town Hall (Casa Consistorial) the market structure itself is a joy – dating back to 1904. You could almost call it a living museum as so many of the stallholders enjoy sharing tales of Santander’s past and present as you purchase your fish, meat, bread, cheeses and fruit. During the school calendar you’ll find local schoolchildren on market tours purchasing ingredients for a meal they prepare inside the museum – with the help of some of the city’s top chefs.
The most dazzling array of fresh fish and seafood is on show (and for sale) in the market’s basement which opens in the mornings from 8am to 2pm. Upstairs you’ll find wonderful cured meats and cheeses plus the butchers, bakers and more – this space opens from 8am-2pm and again from 5pm to 7.30pm.
If you want to make a visit to this municipal market extra special, why not shop with one of the city’s local chefs who can prepare a meal for you with your ingredients? If you’d like to see and participate in the preparation of your meal, great – if you just want to watch as you sip on a glass of wine, that’s perfect too.
Parking for the Food Market at the Plaza de la Esperanza Carpark.
As you can tell, everything about this elegant city oozes ‘quality of life’. It really is Northern Spain at its best with so few international visitors that you’ll feel like you are carving out your very own little slice of Spain.
When To Visit Santander
The last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August are when the city is truly bustling with holidaymakers. Restaurants and bars are busy and the beaches are too – with the city full to capacity for a week of partying around the 25 July which is known as the Semana Grande. If you prefer to visit the city when it’s less busy, travel in June or September. Because this is Northern Spain, the climate is a lot cooler than in the rest of Spain. Temperatures rarely surpass 30 degrees Celsius (86 in Fahrenheit) in Summer and you may encounter some rain during your time here. Winters are cold with the temperature ranging from 5-12 degrees Celsius in January – that’s 41-54 degrees in Fahrenheit.
Best Neighbourhoods in Santander
Puertochico is the best neighbourhood for eating out – with nearby Tetuan also a good choice for fish restaurants. The best shopping is between Puertochico and the Town Hall where you’ll be tempted by the many local independent stores and the main brands dotted around Calle Hernan Cortes, Juan de Herrera and Isabel II. The beaches run all the way from Gamazo towards the Magdalena Peninsula, along the Sardinero and finish up by the neighbourhood of Mataleñas where you’ll enjoy a scenic cliffside walkway, the Golf Club and Cabo Mayor lighthouse.
Insider Tip for Santander
Because an overwhelming percentage of visitors to Santander are Spanish, you will struggle to find authentic eateries serving meals outside Spanish mealtimes. Sit down to lunch from 2-4pm and dine at night after 8.30pm when the best places are open. Otherwise you’ll be limited for choice. If you are peckish between meals, purchase fresh fruit some a one of the great fruterias, head to one of the many gourmet ice-cream parlours or enjoy fresh churros from the many churro food trucks or churrerias.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64306 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_content] => From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what makes the range of Spanish wines produced so diverse, lively and interesting. Here’s our 101 guide to some of the top Spanish wine regions to help you explore this fabulous country through one of its very finest assets: its grapes.
Spanish Red Wines
RiojaRioja is without a doubt, Spain’s best known red. Stretching away across three valleys – the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental – to the south of the Cantabrian Mountains, it’s a relatively small area that nevertheless packs quite a punch when it comes to global wine production. Some numbers, then: it’s Spain’s oldest wine (with written records dating back to the 9th century); there are more than 600 wineries and nearly 15,000 grape growers spread across 65,000 hectares of vineyards. Made from a variety of grapes it comes in three age classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. All are full-bodied and generally best served with food. One thing to look out for is whether the Rioja was aged in American oak, French oak or a mixture of both barrels, with each having their distinct tastes. A Rioja winery you must visit: Bodegas López de Heredia - in the town of Haro, it's one of the older wineries in La Rioja. By appointment only. More information: Lopezdeheredia.com.
Ribera del DueroThe ‘other’ great Spanish wine beginning with R. Only the best Tempranillo grapes are used to make polished Ribera del Duero wines, and there are many in Spain (and outside) who prefer the, frequently, softer more delicate taste, than that of their cousins from Rioja. Wines from Ribera del Duero are usually 100% Tempranillo and are mostly aged in French oak; they have the same age classification as Rioja (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva). A Ribera del Duero winery you must visit: Matarromera - in the town of Valbuena del Duero, a trip to this winery can also include a visit to their museum, the EMINA Wine Museum. More information: Matarromera.es.
PrioratPriorat is probably Spanish wine’s greatest secret. With a wine growing history dating back to the 12th century, this southern Catalonian region these days produces some of the finest and fullest bodied reds in Spain… of which most people outside of Spain have never even heard. The terrain here is tough (even by Spanish wine region standards), so the vines are forced to search for water in the soil, making yield low - and prices high. The most common grape varieties used are: Garnacha, Cariñena with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A Priorat winery you must visit: Alvaro Palacios - the name that practically singlehandedly spearheaded Priorat's ascent to the summit of Spanish wines back in the 1980s is still one of the leading wineries in the region. More information: Aseuniv.com.
Spanish White Wines
Rias BaixasOn the border of Portugal in the north-west of Spain, the Rias Baixas region of Galicia is cool, green and crisp – not unlike its white wine. The crowning glory of this wine-growing region is Albariño, which is clean, with occasional floral notes, and is absolutely ideal paired with the sublime local seafood. A Rias Baixas winery you must visit: Far from the largest, it's the setting of this family business - in the grand, fortified country house of Finca La Moreira - that makes it one the more atmospheric wineries in Spain. More information: Marquesdevizhoja.com.
CavaFrom the northeast of Spain above Barcelona, Cava is Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. Labelled with brut (dry) or semi-seco (semi sweet), Cavas can be white or rosé, and are usually made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes. A Cava winery you must visit: Dating back to the Middle Ages, this Empordà winery certainly doesn't lack for provenance - and it's got the grand castellated headquarters to prove it. More information: Perelada.com.
SherrySherry is made from grapes grown within Cadiz's ‘Sherry Triangle’ between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria in Andalucia. It comes in sweet and dry varieties. Dry Sherries like Fino or Manzanilla are crisp and acidic, and make for the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood; Oloroso is caramel-like and nutty and goes well with meat, while medium-dry Amontillado is perfectly paired with chicken or game birds. A Sherry bodega you must visit: Bodegas Tradición is not the oldest bodega in the Sherry Triangle by a long chalk (that honour goes to Domecq), but it is one of the most insistent on traditional techniques. More information: Bodegastradicion.es.
RiojaWhite Rioja is made with Viura; sometimes on its own, other times blending with Chardonnay or Garnacha Blanca amongst others. Most white Riojas are young but are still full-bodied to taste.
Malaga WineMalaga has a long and distinguished wine-making history, with wines having been made in the region since the Phoenicians were in southern Spain, before the Romans picked up the baton. British wine merchants were sending Malaga wines back to sweet-toothed Victorians in the 19th-century. These days, made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez grapes, vinos de Malaga are fortified and naturally sweet. Coming in both red and white, they’re at their best served with a ripe local goats’ cheese. A Malaga winery you must visit: Bodega F. Schatz - it's entirely in keeping with the international past of the Spanish wine industry that one of the best wineries in Malaga should have been founded by a German. More information: F-schatz.com.
RuedaThe most commonly drunk white wine in Spain can be just a little disappointing to a new world white wine drinker. The Rueda region is in Castilla y Leon and its wines are usually made with Verdejo grapes. It produces very aromatic wines, often with tropical fruit and fresh grass hints, that’s fresh with just a hint of bitterness.
Things to Look Out For with Spanish WineThere are several wine classifications in Spain, each holding specific criteria. The ones to look out for are Denominacion de Origen (DO), Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa, DOC or DOQ) and DO Pago (only for single winery estates). On the bottle you’ll see the words Joven, Crianza (aged at least 2 years and 12 months in oak barrels), Reserva (aged at least three years with at least 12 months in oak barrels), or Gran Reserva (aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels, and more than three years bottled before they’re sold). Like the sound of these wine regions in Spain and want to experience some of the very best wines they produce? Stay with The Luxury Villa Collection and you can order the finest Spanish wines direct to your villa, or arrange a tasting or tour through our concierge. [post_title] => A Brief Introduction to Spanish Wines [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spanish-wine-regions-guide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=64306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 42015 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-11 15:08:18 [post_content] => Sun and sand: the two things for which Nerja is most famous. And many visitors to the area don't get beyond them. Which is a shame, really, as there's much more to the area than just a great flop and drop break. From wonderful walks to fabulous fiestas and, yes, some of the most beautiful beaches around, we've picked out just a few of the very best things to do in Nerja. Happy exploring.
1. Laze on the BeachThere's a pretty solid chance that if you're after tips for what to do in in the vicinity of Nerja, then a beach day is going to be fairly high on your checklist. Thankfully, there are no fewer than 12 beaches to choose from in and around Nerja. Three of our favourites in town are Playa de Calahonda, Playa de Burriana and Playa El Chorrillo.
2. catch the sunset from the Balcon de EuropaAfter a long, lazy afternoon on the beach, there's only one place to head: the Balcon de Europa. Grab an ice-cream, saunter down to the end of the promenade and watch the sun slowly melt into the Mediterranean. Altogether now... WOW.
3. Be amazed by the caves of NerjaFunnily enough, the sun doesn't even shine in Nerja's biggest attraction. But that doesn't make it any less spectacular. The Caves of Nerja is a 5km complex of caverns that includes the largest stalagtite in the world, some Bronze Age remains and, it's thought, mankind's oldest artwork - which dates back some 42,000 years. Remarkable. (Carretera de Bajada a Playa de Maro, s/n, 29787 Nerja, open 0930/1000-1530.)
4. Go Snorkelling from One Cove to AnotherJust a mile or two to the east of Nerja the sparkling coves of the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo Natural park stretch away. Snorkeling, sea kayaking or paddle boarding (see below) trips set off from Playa Burriana or Playa Carabeo for you to enjoy the crystal-clear sea teeming with sea life.
5. explore the coast by paddle BoardThe beaches of Nerja itself are urban, which comes with the distinct plus side of there being plenty of bars and restaurants on hand to choose from. But running away to the east is a stunningly wild, cove-lined coast that's great for exploring via paddle board. Rental and guided tours are available from Playa Burriana and Playa de Maro.
6. get out to a nearby villageVenture from Nerja and the idyllic whitewashed mountain villages of the Axarquia are within easy reach. Competa, Maro and the lovely Frigiliana (pictured) are some of the most inviting.
7. Eat Fresh Fish Cooked on a BBQ on the BeachEspetos de sardinas - sardines skewered and cooked on a BBQ until they're deliciously tender - are a local delicacy. One of the best spots to try them in Nerja is at the far westernmost end of town in Chiringuito Mauri (Playo Playazo, 29780 Nerja). Best washed down with an icy beer or two, of course.
8. walk the rio chillarEven by southern Spanish standards Nerja is surrounded by some pretty top-notch walking. Soaring above the town are the jagged peaks of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Mountains. For something just a little less adventurous, the most famous walk around Nerja is up the Rio Chillar. You follow a beautiful, ankle-cooling river as it babbles its way down from the hills, discovering narrow ravines, waterfalls and rock pools along the way.
9. Devour Baby squid at El PulguillaOK, so you don’t have to have baby squid - although we highly recommend you do - but you definitely should grab a quick tapas and a beer/wine in this stalwart of a restaurant in Nerja. Elegant fine dining it ain't, but it is a great way to experience a typical Malaga fish restaurant. (Calle Almte. Ferrándiz, 26, 29780 Nerja; 952 52 13 84)
10. View the AqueductThis 19th century aqueduct was built to supply the surrounding sugar cane factories with water. During the summer it's a sweaty 10-minute walk from the centre of Nerja, but (as you can see in the image above) it makes for a spectacular photo opportunity when you get there.
11. Pause for Thought in Ermita de las AngustiasBuilt in 1790 this church is the home of Nerja’s patron saint, Our Lady of Anguish (Plaza de la Ermita, 11, 29780 Nerja). It might not be the grandest of churches, but it is a lovely, cool little spot to catch your breath in for five minutes or so on a hot summer's afternoon.
12. Plan a Trip Around a FiestaNerja is in Andalucia. Which means, inevitably, it's a place that's serious about letting its hair down every once in a while. The five festivals that Nerja goes for in a big way are Easter, Carnival (February), San Isidro (May), Virgen del Carmen (July 16th) and the Epiphany (5th January). Nominally religious they may be, but trust us, they're also really just a good excuse to P-A-R-T-Y.
13. See Authentic FlamencoNearby Velez-Malaga has one of the most vibrant flamenco scenes in Malaga province, thanks to the efforts of local flamenco-cultural initiative, Flamenco Abierto (Flamencoabierto.com). So if you want to catch some real flamenco, as opposed to the tourist nonsense that's so often served up, the Peña Flamenca Niño de Vélez on a Friday evening is the place to head.
14. Eat at SollunBefore opening this lovely little restaurant in Nerja chef Juan Quintanilla helped put Skina in Marbella on the Michelin-starred map. As soon as you sit down, though, it's clear that Sollun is an even more personal project. If you choose to work from the short menu, the chef himself will come out of the kitchen and recommend what's particularly good that day. The tasting menu is a thing of beauty: it features a selection of dishes with a heavy local focus, each paired with a suitable wine. (Calle Pintada, 9, 29780 Nerja; 653 68 94 52) Like our pick of things to do in Nerja and looking for more recommendations on the Costa del Sol? Have a browse through a few of our favourite Marbella day trips. Alternatively, if you're after a beautiful country villa nearby, check out our Axarquia luxury villas collection, here. [post_title] => Things to Do in Nerja that You Just Can't Miss [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-to-do-in-nerja [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-01 08:13:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=42015 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) 1