Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to…
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] => 139603 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_content] => Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to see and do for our guide to hidden Andalucia...
If the bird's eye view of the inside of the cathedral looks spectacular, then to cap it off you emerge outside with 360-degree rooftop views of Malaga. [email protected]
Visit Malaga Cathedral's Roof
The top tip of Lindsay Gregory, Director of The Luxury Villa Collection: “Stroll around Malaga historic centre, take a hammam at Mammam Al Andalus and finish with cocktails at a rooftop bar.” https://malaga.hammamalandalus.com/en/
RELAX IN A HAMMAM
A rather lovely town with a Moorish fortress complex and no fewer than 30 churches. Don’t miss having tapas in the impressive Plaza de los Escribanos.
Meander in Antequera
Just outside Antequera, these are some of the largest and most complete megalithic structures in Europe. Museosdeandalucia.es
Visit Three 5000-year-old Dolmens
The ruins of a 9th-century church carved out of rock are the highlights of a larger fortified town complex. Anything 9th century and still standing is incredible in our books.
Wonder at a 9TH Century Church – Bobastro
A house with a garden in the Albayzin (the oldest part of Granada city) is known as a Carmen. These Carmens look out towards the Alhambra Palace, often have wooden balconies, plant-filled patios, babbling water features and decorative tiles.
Nose Around the Carmens of Granada's Albayzin
This 17th-century abbey and college comes complete with holy caves/ancient catacombs. The view of Granada alone is worth the walk.
Visit the Abbey of Sacromonte, Granada
This village has stately houses gripping onto the edge of a gorge, cobbled streets and spa credentials. Our top tip is to escape the summer heat in Granada and visit Alhama – it has a unique microclimate where summer nights cool to a comfortable level.
Take a day trip to Alhama de Granada and its Natural Hot Springs
Once part of several fortifications, the castle that sits on this tiny island dates back to the 13th century.
Find Out the Mysteries of the Island of Sancti Petri, San Fernando, Cadiz
This pristine white village, sitting high on a rocky hilltop, really comes into its own at sunrise and dusk. Aside from the dramatic light, there are lovely boutique shops, great restaurants and, during the summer, look out for their candlelight festival.
Experience the Beautiful Light in Vejer de la Frontera
While it's got a great beach with some decent Atlantic surf, it’s the laidback-hip bar vibe in El Palmar that makes it stand out from other stretches of southern Spain's coast.
Surf and Sip in El Palmar
David, chef at De Tako's top tip is, “One of the best ways to experience a country is through its food and an even better way is to enjoy perfectly cooked food is in an incredible setting surrounded by friends". We entirely agree – hire a private chef at your villa for the ultimate in convenience.
HIRE A Private Chef
One of our top hidden foodie treats in Andalucia is delicious Retinto beef from Cadiz. Much is spoken about fried fish, olives and olive oil, jamón ibérico and Sherry but this meaty option is also a real gastro-standout.
Taste Riotinto Beef
Hire a boat and hit the sea - you’ll almost inevitably come across a pod of dolphins in the Mediterranean.
Take to the Sea – Dolphin Watch
This forgotten about 12th-century arched gateway and wall was the main entrance into Seville, and is certainly off the beaten path.
Puerta de Macarena/Walls of Seville
You'll never have experienced a bar like Garlochí, a homage to Easter in Spain. All year round there's incense burning and procession music playing – they call it the cathedral of bars. Don’t miss their signature cocktail: Grenadine, whisky and Cava.
Drink at a Bar Dedicated to Easter in Sevilla
There’s a succession of beautiful waterfalls running over some interesting limestone formations in Sierra Norte de Sevilla Nature Park.
Wild Swimming at Cascadas de Hueznar in Seville Province
Fiona Flores Watson, Telegraph Travel Writer and Seville resident recommends: “The summer outdoor concerts held in the Alcazar Palace… a magical setting for live jazz, flamenco or classical music by moonlight.” Alcazarsevilla.org
SEE LIVE MUSIC IN THE ALCAZAR PALACE
The castle of Castillo de Almodovar del Rio was built in 740. You can join theatrical tours, do some medieval combat training or spooky storytelling. Castillodealmodovar.com
Visit Highgarden, the Tyrell’s House in Game of Thrones
Manni Coe of Toma & Coe Tours' top tip is: “One of the most consistently excellent restaurants I know in Andalucia is located on a little-known street, in the little-known town of Lucena. It's called Tres Culturas and it's also a handy stop off en-route to Cordoba." Tresculturasrestaurante.com
TRAVEL TO EAT AT TRES CULTURAS
In the Sierra de Cazorla natural park this castle was built at the start of the 16th century. A beautiful monument in an even more beautiful part of the world.
Marvel at the Castle of Iruela, Jaen
The colours of autumn over the vast landscape of rural Huelva is the perfect way to disconnect. Local people flock here to experience the change of the season.
Reconnect with Nature and See Autumn in Aracena
This breath-taking beach near the charming village of San Jose feels like another world.
Genoveses beacH in Cabo de Gata, Almeria
A bit of a cheat but do a tour…
Our top 5 are: Most unusual is in Segura de la Sierra in Jaen province: this square bullring is the old courtyard of a castle and was built in the 18th century. Ronda bullring is the second oldest and the biggest. Seville bullring is the oldest; Antequera's is famed for appearing in Madonna’s Take a Bow video; Mijas has spectacular views and is simply charming. Archidona usually erects a bullring inside its eight-sided main square during the summer season. Like this and want to know more about visiting southern Spain? Check out our 50 things to do in Andalucia and our guide to the five best cities to visit in Andalucia [post_title] => Hidden Andalucia [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hidden-andalucia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=139603 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133379 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_content] =>
See Andalucia through its Bullrings
(As of Nov 2020)Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2020. As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it's like in southern Spain is needed.
What restrictions are there in southern Spain?Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment. As of 25th October there is a curfew between 22.00hrs and 07.00hrs. Further restrictions have been put in place to limit the movement of people outside their municipalities. Face coverings must be worn at all times if over 6 years old, other than:
- People playing sports do not have to wear a mask whilst engaged in the sporting activity.
- Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
- In the sea or swimming pool.
- In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
Do I have to wear a face covering?The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor and outdoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.
Are restaurants open?Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times.
Are Beaches open in Andalucia?Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit. The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.
Are tourist sights open?Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.
Does a face covering need to be worn while driving?When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.
What’s the general mood in southern Spain?Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was and is not on the cards at the moment. However, long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It's really business as usual with the some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.
What is State of Alarm and What Does it Mean?The phrase state of alarm sounds very official and, well, alarming however, it is really just an administration step for the government and helps regional governments put in place restrictions. This phase allows the government (if necessary) to limit the movement of people at specific locations and times, temporary use private industries (such as private hospitals), limit the use of services and ensure the supply of necessary goods and services. In 2020 during Covid19, the state of alarm has meant limiting the movement of people between different provinces and curfews been implemented (from 23.00-06.00hrs). In no circumstances does state of alarm mean visitors aren't permitted to travel back to their home country.
Air travel – Is it safe?So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place. Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” - the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour - can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground. Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some. As from October 2020 if traveling from Europe or the UK:
- You must complete a health control form - which includes a HCF - a negative PCR test within 72hrs of your arrival to Spain.