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Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Blog, Cantabria, Spain | 12 comments

The Best Way To Tour Santander: By Bike

The Best Way To Tour Santander: By Bike

Santander, the capital of  the autonomous community of Cantabria is elegant, full of cozy cafés, and compact enough to explore in a day; making it perfect for a weekend getaway in Northern Spain, or as a base to explore the Cantabrian countryside. Its sights are few, and it’s not particularly famous for anything–but it has gorgeous beaches and was once the summer destination of choice for Spanish royals. Though I didn’t know much about Santander before visiting, I figured if it was good enough for the Queen, I was sure I’d find its allure!

Upon seeing rows of blue bikes throughout the city (offered to locals and tourists alike for laughable prices), a spontaneous bike ride seemed like the perfect way to hit all of the sights while fitting in a great workout to burn off all the tapas and wine I’d indulged in. Here’s the route I took:

Start–Santander Waterfront


Santander waterfront

Santander waterfront

Santander, thanks to the bike rental program through the tourist office, is super bike-friendly and bike paths are located all over the city. I started my route from where I rented: at the waterfront, and snapped this pic of the storm that was on its way out of the city.

Stop: Playa de la Magdalena

Beach house in Santander

Beach house in Santander

Here, you’ll see why Santander’s beaches are talked about so much–while it’s not considered the city’s best beach, Playa de la Magdalena is still a beautiful stretch of golden sand that will have you cursing the fact that it’s not summer yet. Added plus: checking out all of the beautiful beach houses and ritzy summer residences in the area–they sure beat the hotel you’re staying in!

Next Stop: Palacio de la Magdalena

Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander

Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander

Since Franco’s dictatorship in the 1930′s, the royal family hasn’t vacationed here. Not a shabby vacation home, is it? The architectural style of the palace is all over the place: with elements of French, English and regional design incorporated into it.

Explore the sprawling grounds and take in some sweeping views of the coast. This is some serious prime property.

Next Stop: The Zoo!

Santander Zoo

Santander Zoo

Yes, there’s a small zoo in Santander featuring, sea lions, seals, and penguins located right on the beach down from the palace. The best part? It’s free, and the animals are free to come and go as they please…except for the penguins.

Next Stop: Urban Green Space

Biking in Santander

Biking in Santander

This is the part of the ride where you get to sit back and enjoy: take in the beautiful residences that line the ocean-front avenues, stop for a café con leche, or rest your legs (these bikes are pretty heavy!) in one of Santander’s many park you’ll find along the bike paths.

Next Stop: Parque de las Llamas

Parque de las Llamas, Santander

Parque de las Llamas, Santander

You’ll continue through yet another Santanderino park–this one situated on 27 acres with a lake and wetlands surrounding it.

The End: Near the Train Station

A painted tunnel in Santander

A painted tunnel in Santander

Finally–you’ve arrived! Though there are stations to drop off the bikes all over the city, I decided to do almost the complete bike path, and ended up by the train station–just outside the center of town.

To rent a bike for the day, head to any of the bike stations and rent it through the machine (accepts major credit cards). The price for 2013 is a base price of 1.56 euros, a free first hour, and the second hour and each after only 63 cents! After spending all day touring Santander, I spent a whopping 3.50 euros! I couldn’t recommend this service more. More information on bike rentals in Santander: look here (in Spanish)

This post was written by me, and sponsored by a third party.


  1. It’s got some way to catch up the likes of London, but where I live now, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is becoming increasingly cycle-friendly. We even have days of the bicycle which seem to take place very month let alone once a year. Still, can’t understand why people are encouraged to cycle along pavements over the road, though.
    Matthew Hirtes recently posted…Parque San TelmoMy Profile

  2. What an inexpensive way to tour the city! I usually just settle with walking (and end up very tired at the end of the day, hah).

  3. Santander looks beautiful–great post! I can’t believe how cheap it was to rent for the whole day. I’ve always wanted to rent a bike to tour a city; sounds like so much fun!
    Jenna recently posted…A Photo Essay: Washington D.C.My Profile

    • Santander was definitely a pretty city only made more enjoyable by the bike ride! By contrast, the food was a bit on the pricey side, but you can’t have everything!

  4. What a perfectly splendid way to explore a city. :-) I’ve been through Amsterdam by bike, but not any other city. I love this idea. Such a gorgeous place too. :-)

    • Amsterdam sounds like the ultimate in bike-friendly!

  5. What gorgeous, gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing.

  6. itching to head up there! so incredibly beautiful!

    • It has a very San Sebastián feel to it!

  7. Wow, some lovely pics! I was supposed to visit Santander as a day trip from San Sebastian (yes, long bus ride) last year but I was called away to work at the last minute. It’s still on the list and your article has just made it bump up a few places :)
    Caitlyn recently posted…The stories of the River KwaiMy Profile

    • It makes for a great weekend getaway! The Northern coast of Spain is so gorgeous, isn’t it?!


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