Five Must Do Activities in Santander, Spain

Special Contributor(s): Chloe Nicola

As a beach town with a plethora of activities, landscapes, and food, choosing your first activities in Santander can be a difficult decision. Luckily, my experience in Santander can point you in the right direction! I studied abroad in Santander as part of the Semester in Spain program in the Fall of 2019 and am thrilled to be sharing my experience with prospective students. The recommendations below represent some of my favorite memories in Spain, a country of great beauty, history, and flavor!

#1 – Visit Vacanze Romane gelato shop immediately!

This gelato shop was a staple for my friends and I while we stayed in Santander. No matter the occasion–post-beach, after class, or returning from a weekend trip–the fruity, scrumptious strawberry (fresa) gelato never disappointed.

#2 – Find a secluded beach!

Don’t get me wrong–Sardinero, Peligros, and Camello are all great beaches and places to enjoy paddleball, volleyball, surfing, or just lounging after class. However, I recommend heading off the beaten path at least once to get in a nice walk and find another beach along the beautiful Cantabrian coastline. You can still access these beaches via paved sidewalks and stairs but there will be less people around for you to let your energy out and enjoy the water without worrying about rogue surf boards (speaking from experience here). Not to mention the views will blow your mind!

#3 – Give yourself a stomach ache at a chocolatería!

The hot chocolate we know and love here in the United States does not measure up to the thick and rich chocolate of Spain. Unlike coffee shops at home that sell hot chocolate mostly as an option for kids, chocolaterias dedicate their business to just making chocolate and churros for customers to enjoy. And don’t expect to rush out the door with a to-go cup! Chocolaterias are sit-down establishments meant to be a relaxing opportunity to enjoy a treat with friends. Will you get a stomach ache? Probably. Will it be worth it? Yes!

#4 – Sign up for Erasmus (international student) trips!

Joining the Erasmus student club provides you with a great way to make friends at the Universidad de Cantabria. Organized by Spanish students at the university, the Erasmus club organizes trips in Cantabria and neighboring states for any international students. My absolute favorite trip was a kayaking adventure in the community of Asturias. When studying abroad, I found it eye-opening and beneficial to befriend students beyond my group of American friends and Eramus was a great way to do so!

#5 – Visit another Spanish city!

While technically not an activity in Santander, be sure to take advantage of the numerous opportunities to travel in Spain via plane or bus. Santander has a regional bus station and airport with affordable national and international destinations. While Spain certainly has a national culture, exploring regional differences widens your perspective of the country. My friends and I traveled to Bilbao, Madrid, and Sevilla–all wonderful destinations with unique cultures! Sevilla, however, has a special place in my heart with its beautiful mudejar architecture and flamenco performance. Students of history would also enjoy a visit, as Sevilla still houses all of Spain’s colonial records in the Archive of the Indies museum, which rotates some spectacular documents and exhibits.

If you want to learn more about Chloe’s program, Semester in Spain (Santander), click here!