Top nine beaches to discover in Santander

Historically and culturally, Santander has always been close to the sea and maritime activities. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, a beautiful bay gives the city a charm that is hard to match. The capital of Cantabria has many beaches, all urban, to the delight of both Santanderinos and tourists.

Baños de ola

The interest in the sea dates back to the mid-nineteenth century when doctors of the time encouraged members of the haute bourgeoisie, mainly from Madrid, to take sea baths. This converted Santander into a major resort in the north of Spain.

This seaside activity brought with it a big change in the social and cultural customs of vacationers of the time. More tourists also brought the construction of new buildings and infrastructure. The Sardinero area in particular became an important spot in Santander, especially in the summertime.

In the early twentieth century, sea bathing continued to be fashionable with members of the bourgeoisie and the swimsuit became an essential part of new customs, with very strict standards regarding colours and materials, as well as design. Swimsuits of the time were dark blue or brown, and usually made of wool so that they didn't stick to the body. These swimsuits consisted of two parts: long pants and a blouse. The complexity of these swimsuits prompted the installation of cabins on the beach so that beach goers would be able to change easily. 

It was then that the tradition of Baños de Ola was born. This tradition continues today and is celebrated every year in July with many activities including contests in period costumes, as well as activities for children and shows.

Early last century, seaside activities in the city of Santander were grouped at four main beaches. Today, the beaches of the centre of Santander are nine in number. 

We begin our journey by the three beaches along the Bay of Santander, before continuing to beaches overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

Playa de los Peligros

Los Peligros beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa de los Peligros literally translates to the Beach of Hazards, but the name is definitely not representative of the beach itself. It is a beach with calm waters, and at low tide it is ideal for families with young children. It measures 200 metres long and 70 metres wide. This beach receives a Blue flag for quality every year because of its nearby parking, wooden waterfront promenade, as well as all the services and facilities that surround it. It can be very crowded in the summer.

Playa de la Magdalena

La Magdalena beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa de la Magdalena takes its name from the peninsula on the left dominated by the Royal Palace of the Magdalena. It is located following Playa de los Peligros and measures 900 metres long and 70 metres wide. It is distinguished by very fine sand and also has many facilities.

Playa de los Bikinis

Los Bikinis beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa de los Bikinis is accessible from the Balneario, a bar located at the start of Playa de la Magdalena, as well as from Peninsula de la Magdalena. Opposite the beach is Isla de los Ratones (Mouse Island). This small beach of about 250 metres by 30 metres is surrounded by calm waters and few visible rocks at low tide. 

Playa de los Bikinis takes its name from visitors, from the 60s, that came to the international Menéndez Pelayo University to take Spanish lessons. They went to this beach wearing bikinis, which caused quite a stir in Santander at the time and distinguished this area near the university.

Playa del Camello

El Camello beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa del Camello (Camel Beach) is the first of the beaches that bathe in the Atlantic Ocean. It is also one of the most beautiful and most famous of Santander, with a lovely view of the Peninsula de la Magdalena to the right.

Playa del Camello receives its original name from the rock formations that surround it. When the tide goes out, these rocks show the figure of a camel in the middle of the sea (look to the left in the photo).

Playa de la Concha

La Concha beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

The Playa de la Concha, 200 metres long and 20 metres wide is in fact the start of the first Playa El Sardinero on its south side. Like all the beaches of Santander, it consists of fine sand and has all beach town services. It can be very crowded in the summer, especially by families with children because of the nearby parking, its low elevation and clear waters.

First and Second Playa de El Sardinero

El Sardinero beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

El Sardinero has two long beaches separated by a rocky zone. At low tide they unite to form one sandy beach. The first and second beach of El Sardinero form a long beach of 1350 metres; the first beach is 350 metres and the second beach is 1000 metres. Both are about 80 metres wide.

The first and second beach of El Sardinero form a pretty and popular urban beach, with a pleasant waterfront promenade and many services. It is decorated with the Blue Flag as a stamp of quality.

Playa de los Molinucos

Los Molinucos beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa de los Molinucos is a small secluded beach of only 25 metres. It only exists at low tide. It is located along the boardwalk that goes around Peninsula de la Magdalena and is only accessible by foot using this promenade or from the Mataleñas Park. Because of its isolation, this beach is quiet, uncrowded and offers wonderful views of the Sardinero beach and the city of Santander, as well as Peninsula de la Magdalena and the island of Mouro. It has no services.

Playa de Mataleñas

Mataleñas beach - Santander, Cantabria (Spain)

Playa de Mataleñas is a beautiful beach located in an enclave between Cabo Mayor and Cabo Menor, which form a large protected cove surrounded by high cliffs. It is accessible by foot using quite lengthy stairs, which makes it difficult for people with young children or for the elderly or disabled. Despite its isolation, Playa Mataleñas has many services including showers, lifeguards, parking, etc.