Santander is a small city with a population of about 180,000 and is capital of the comunidad autónoma of Cantabria. It is known throughout Spain for the beauty of its bay and the beaches of El Sardinero, but also for its conservatism. The cost of living is cheaper than in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona, whilst the location and size of the city can mean a good standard of living.
The city centre is largely modern as a fire destroyed much of the medieval city in 1941, however, there are some very charming areas and the council is currently engaged in an extensive programme of regeneration of some of the more run-down areas. At one end of the central area you can find the majority of shops, especially the big chains, whilst at the other end there are more restaurant, bars and small boutiques. The city’s nightlife is concentrated in this area.
El Sardinero is a more residential, seaside area which faces the open sea. In the summer it really comes alive and the beaches become extremely busy. It is a beautiful area and the place to go on a Sunday morning to see and be seen.
Santander is a fairly quiet city, although in summer it really comes alive. However, it has the advantage of being by the sea, but also very close to the mountains. If you love the great outdoors then Santander could be just right for you. Just twenty minutes drive from the city centre you can find lovely, unspoilt beaches and it’s little more than an hour’s drive to the mountains. It’s also only about an hour’s drive (or an hour and a half by bus) to Bilbao, where you can find all the attractions of a big city.
If you’re looking for rental accommodation in the city then the best place to look is near the universities. A lot of people have flats here that they only use in summer as it is within walking distance of El Sardinero, they then rent them out from September to June. You can find accommodation through the Universidad de Cantabria, either by going to look at the adverts there, or by going to the accommodation pages of their website.
Santander is well-communicated; its small airport has flights to Madrid, London and Dublin as well as a number of other internal and external flights. If you’re travelling to Britain, another option is the ferry to Plymouth whilst there are good train and bus connections for travelling around Spain.