Santillana del Mar: Spain’s “Prettiest” Village

When a Parisian, (from arguably one of the world’s most elegant cities) comes to your town and calls it “the prettiest village in Spain”, their judgement must hold some clout, right? When that Parisian is Jean-Paul Sartre, an author whose words won him a Nobel Prize in literature, what he says surely holds some value. Though opinions are subjective, this Sartre guy was really on to something. Santillana del Mar is indeed pretty, not to mention one of the best-preserved medieval towns that exist in Iberia.

I went to Santillana del Mar for just a few hours after my weekend in Santander. For a small town, it does have some buildings of historic interest, but honestly I went on a whim without researching anything (the horror!) and just wanted to wander around with my camera and walk along its cobblestone streets.

As it turns out, sometimes the best plans are the ones we don’t make. Apparently it tends to swarm with tourists in the high season, but I went in December when there were no crowds. You already know I love low-season travel, and Santillana del Mar was the perfect town to get lost in for the afternoon.

A beautiful doorway in Santilla del Mar

A beautiful doorway in Santillana del Mar

A shop selling ceramic and leather goods.

A shop selling ceramic and leather goods.

A view of the countryside in Santillana

A view of the countryside in Santillana

Lavender plants in Santillana del Mar

Lavender plants in Santillana del Mar

A gorgeous stone house

A gorgeous stone house

The center of town

The center of town

Some of the buildings in the center.

Some of the buildings in the center.

A house dripping in flora.

A house dripping in flora.

La Colegiata de Santa Juliana

La Colegiata de Santa Juliana

Fresh milk for 1 Euro per glass

Fresh milk for 1 Euro per glass

Every street is covered in cobblestones.

Every street is covered in cobblestones.

An old stone wall.

An old stone wall.

How to get to Santillana del Mar:

Catch a bus from Santander to Santillana del Mar. For hours and rates, click the link.

 

Comments

  1. says

    What a gorgeous village! I also like to travel without making too many plans before hand, but sometimes you can really kick yourself if you missed something important then. Some villages that have a strong summer tourist season don’t have everything open if you visit in the winter, did you have this problem at all?
    Katherine recently posted…evening in piazza colonna, romeMy Profile

    • says

      There’s definitely pros and cons to traveling within each season. I didn’t have this problem with Santillana, but then again there weren’t any sites that I just had to see. It’s always a good idea to look up this info before-hand!

    • says

      The only thing I’ve found close this time of the year in Northern Spain have been a few restaurants (it’s typical that they take off the holidays, and some take off all of January too!) Santillana was a gorgeous village and there wasn’t anything closed that I tried to enter.

  2. says

    Christine, you have to come and visit us in the Canaries. Gran Canaria, for example, boasts Artenara where people still live in cave houses and Tejeda best visited when the almond trees are in bloom. What we may lack in architecture, we make up for in setting.
    Matthew Hirtes recently posted…TeldeMy Profile

    • says

      I would love to visit Las Canarias! I didn’t realize that people lived in cave houses there, I thought it was only in and around Granada. Definitely on my list of places to see in Spain!

  3. Joanne says

    I have just signed up to follow your blog. Your type of exploring is very much on the same line as mine. I am a relative newbie to European Travel (in my 50’s) but have major plans to do it for months on end when I retire which hopefully is in the next 2-4 years. My partner Rick and I have booked our first trip to Spain for May of this year. Unfortunately, we won’t be making it to the North this trip. We plan to spend our time in Andulucia Area, Up the coast line and hills in between up to Barcelona. We are going to follow your blog with great interest. You go girl!!

    • says

      That’s so exciting that your retirement is coming up soon! You’ll love Spain, I’m sure. I was living in Andalucía for 3 years, so if you need any advice on where to go, let me know! Enjoy your upcoming trip!

  4. says

    This village is breathtaking! And your photographs are incredible. What a lovely post.

    I’ll be moving back to Spain soon, and Pais Vasco is first on my list of places to see. I’ll be in grad school, so I’m hoping to head up on one of the puentes or longer breaks and see as much as I can. How would you recommend getting around? I’d love to rent a car, but will have to do some practicing on a manual before I leave I guess haha. Any recommendations of easy ways to see a lot of the region in a limited amount of time? Thanks! x

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