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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diaz

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santillana Del Mar, Spain

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I was drawn to make a day trip to the charming town of Santillana del Mar after discovering its intriguing moniker. Known as the 'Town of Three Lies,' its name is derived from three Spanish words: "Santo," meaning saint, "llana," meaning flat, and "mar," meaning sea. However, the quaint town in Cantabria doesn't embody any of these characteristics, hence its nickname. Despite this, Santillana del Mar is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and boasts a world heritage site. This guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to know for your visit, including transportation, dining options, and top attractions.

Getting to Santillana Del Mar, Spain

Santillana del Mar is located in the northern region of Spain, in Cantabria. It is a mere 30 km (18 mi) from Santander and can be easily reached by car or bus. The most convenient way to get to Santillana del Mar is to take a direct bus from Santander bus station. However, it is important to note that the bus schedules are inconsistent, so planning ahead is advisable. While alternative bus routes are available, the direct route is the simplest, quickest, and most cost-effective option. To ensure a hassle-free journey, it is wise to make your travel arrangements in advance.

Things to Do in Santillana Del Mar, Spain

Santillana del Mar is a charming town with a rich history and plenty of things to see and do. Here are some of the top attractions and activities to consider while visiting:

Cuevas de Altamira

The Cave of Altamira is a must-see attraction in Santillana del Mar and has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. This cave offers a glimpse into the history of prehistoric cave art and provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about the evolution of skills and materials used so long ago. Although the original caves and paintings have been closed since the 1970s due to over-tourism, the replicas on display are just as stunning and you wouldn't know the difference. Make sure to include this fascinating and educational experience in your itinerary while visiting Santillana del Mar.

Ticket Prices: €3 ($3.21) | Free for concessions and students | Free entry on Sundays and after 2pm on Saturdays

Museo de la Tortura

Santillana del Mar boasts several unique and unusual museums, including the Museo de la Tortura. If you have a strong constitution, this museum provides insight into the methods of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition. It's important to note that this museum may not be suitable for all visitors, as the content can be graphic and disturbing. If you're interested in history and have a strong stomach, this museum is worth a visit.

Ticket Prices: €4 ($4.29) | €2,80 ($3 )concessions

Exploring the streets of Santillana del Mar may lead you to discover other museums that pique your interest.

Wander the streets

Santillana del Mar is renowned for its charming, historic streets, which serve as the town's main attraction. The cobblestone roads and stone buildings create a timeless atmosphere, and it's easy to understand why Santillana del Mar is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. The town center is pedestrian-only, providing ample space to leisurely explore. Despite its small size, getting lost in Santillana del Mar is almost impossible. The best way to discover the town is to turn off your GPS and see where your wanderings take you.

Collegiate Church of Santillana

The Collegiate Church of Santillana is a must-visit attraction for those interested in religious architecture and history. The church dates back to the 14th century and is known for its Gothic style and intricate carvings. Visitors can admire the impressive stained glass windows and grand altarpieces and appreciate the detailed stonework throughout the building. The church is considered one of Cantabria's most important examples of Gothic architecture and is an integral part of Santillana del Mar's rich history and culture. Don't miss the chance to visit this magnificent religious site while in Santillana del Mar.

Casas de los Quevedo y Cossío

The Casas de los Quevedo y Cossío are two neighboring houses that have been turned into museums in Santillana del Mar. They showcase the town's traditional architecture and way of life and provide a fascinating insight into the past. The Quevedo house focuses on the history and culture of Cantabria, while the Cossío house is dedicated to the life and works of the famous Spanish writer and poet José Martínez Ruiz, known as Azorín. Both houses are beautifully preserved, with authentic furnishings and decor, making them a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. Don't miss the opportunity to step back in time and learn about the rich heritage of Santillana del Mar.

Museum of Regina Coeli

Housed in a former jail, this museum showcases the history and daily life of the town throughout the centuries. Explore the exhibits, including archaeological artifacts, historical documents, and traditional crafts.

Santillana del Mar Historic Quarter

Take a stroll through the town's well-preserved historic center, filled with cobblestone streets, traditional houses, and beautiful plazas. Don't miss the Plaza Mayor, the central square surrounded by charming buildings.

Where to Eat in Santillana Del Mar, Spain

When visiting Santillana del Mar, Spain, you'll find various dining options that showcase the region's delicious cuisine. Here are some recommended places to eat in Santillana del Mar:

Restaurante El Castillo

Located near the Collegiate Church, this restaurant offers a charming setting with views of the town. It specializes in traditional Cantabrian cuisine, serving dishes like seafood, grilled meats, and homemade desserts.

Mesón Cuevas del Soplao

Situated in the heart of the historic quarter, this cozy restaurant serves a range of local dishes with a modern twist. The menu offers a delightful mix of traditional and innovative flavors from fresh seafood to flavorful meat dishes.

Casa El Rincón de Teté

This family-run restaurant is known for its warm hospitality and traditional homemade meals. The menu features regional specialties such as cocido montañés (a hearty bean and pork stew) and arroz con leche (rice pudding).

Mesón La Villa

Set in a beautiful 18th-century building, Mesón La Villa offers a unique dining experience. Their menu includes a variety of local dishes made with high-quality ingredients, including fresh seafood, Iberian pork, and artisan cheeses.

La Cocina de la Plaza

Located in the Plaza Mayor, this restaurant offers a welcoming atmosphere and a menu that combines traditional and modern culinary styles. Enjoy dishes like grilled octopus, suckling pig, and homemade desserts.

These are just a few recommendations for dining in Santillana del Mar. Whether you're seeking traditional Cantabrian cuisine or modern culinary experiences, these restaurants will provide you with delightful options to satisfy your taste buds.

Cafes + Bakeries in Santillana Del Mar, Spain

When it comes to cafes and bakeries, Santillana del Mar offers several delightful options where you can indulge in delicious treats and enjoy a relaxing break. Here are some recommended cafes and bakeries in Santillana del Mar:

Confitería Tinos

This charming bakery and cafe is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Known for its wide selection of pastries, cakes, and bread, you can indulge in treats like sobaos pasiegos (butter cakes), quesadas (cheesecakes), and traditional Spanish pastries.

Pastelería La Terraza

Situated in the heart of the town, this bakery offers a cozy atmosphere and a tempting array of pastries and cakes. From flaky croissants to creamy tarts, you'll find a variety of sweet treats to satisfy your cravings.

La Vienesa

Located near the Collegiate Church, La Vienesa is a popular spot for coffee and pastries. Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or indulge in their selection of delectable cakes, including the renowned Tarta de Tres Chocolates (Three Chocolates Cake).

Café-Bar El Cantar del Mío Cid

This charming cafe-bar serves a variety of beverages, including coffee, tea, and refreshing drinks. Pair your beverage with one of their homemade cakes or pastries for a delightful treat.

La Tahona del Abuelo

A traditional bakery in Santillana del Mar, La Tahona del Abuelo is known for its artisan bread made with high-quality ingredients. Stop by to pick up freshly baked bread or try their delicious empanadas and other savory snacks.

Café La Plaza

Situated in the Plaza Mayor, Café La Plaza is a popular spot for coffee lovers. Enjoy a cup of aromatic coffee while taking in the picturesque surroundings. They also serve light snacks and pastries to accompany your beverage.

Pastelería del Jardín

This bakery and cafe is known for its beautiful pastries and cakes. From colorful macarons to creamy cheesecakes, their selection is sure to tempt your taste buds. They also offer a variety of gluten-free options.

Panadería Santillana

A local favorite, Panadería Santillana is a traditional bakery that has been serving fresh bread and pastries for years. Their assortment includes everything from traditional bread rolls to sweet pastries and seasonal specialties.

Where to Stay in Santillana Del Mar, Spain

Hotel Altamira

This family-run hotel is centrally located, offering easy access to Santillana del Mar's main attractions. The rooms are cozy and well-appointed, and the hotel features a garden and a terrace. Guests appreciate the warm hospitality and friendly service.

Posada de Santillana

This charming inn is housed in a traditional Cantabrian stone building. The rooms are individually decorated, reflecting the rustic charm of the region. The inn features a garden, a lounge area, and a bar where you can unwind after a day of exploring.

Posada La Casona de los Güelitos

Set in a restored 18th-century mansion, this inn offers comfortable rooms with a mix of traditional and modern decor. The inn has a garden, a terrace, and a cozy lounge area. It's located within walking distance of the town center.

Hotel Zabala

Hotel Zabala offers comfortable and spacious rooms, situated in a quiet area just outside Santillana del Mar. The hotel features a garden, a terrace, and a restaurant serving regional dishes. It provides a peaceful retreat while still being close to the town's attractions.

Hotel Santillana

This modern hotel is located just a short walk from the town center. It offers comfortable rooms with contemporary decor, a bar, and a restaurant serving a variety of dishes. The hotel provides a convenient base for exploring Santillana del Mar and the surrounding area.

These are just a few options for accommodations in Santillana del Mar. Whether you prefer a historic hotel, a charming inn, or a modern guesthouse, you'll find a variety of choices to suit your needs and ensure a pleasant stay in this picturesque town.

Best Time to Visit Santillana Del Mar, Spain

The ideal time to explore Santillana del Mar is from June to September when the weather is warm and vibrant with tourists. Outdoor activities and al fresco dining are popular during this period, but prices may be higher. For a more tranquil holiday, consider visiting in spring or autumn when the weather is mild and crowds are fewer. Even during winter, the town maintains its beauty and allure, with opportunities to participate in local festivals and traditions. Ultimately, the best time to visit Santillana del Mar depends on your travel style and personal preference, ensuring a memorable experience.

Santillana del Mar is a charming and picturesque town that is well worth a visit. With its cobbled streets, stone buildings, and pedestrianized center, it's like taking a step back in time. The town is home to several interesting museums, including the Museo de la Tortura and the Cave of Altamira, and there are plenty of options for dining and enjoying a meal, whether you're in the mood for a quick bite or a sit-down meal. So, whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for a relaxing day trip, Santillana del Mar is the perfect destination.


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I'm Samantha! A photographer and I believe that every picture has a story. As a blogger, I share my travel stories with everyone. I think it's important to document my travels and share my experiences with others. I've been to some amazing places and I've seen some incredible things. I want to share my stories and photos with the world.

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