7 Tourist Sites In Santander, Spain To Experience Unforgettable Autumn – Bay of Biscay 1

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Port of Santander, Spain

Due to its excellent harbor by the Bay of Santander (an inlet of the Bay of Biscay), Port of Santander is a very important dockyard for Castille and trade with the Americas. Unfortunately, many of the trading activities at the Port of Santander has been lost during the great fire of the city in 1941. Today the port is still active not only in cargo handling and oil discharging but a regular ferry service to the United Kingdom is also managed.

About the Bay of Biscay:

Gigantic waves of the Bay of Biscay pounding at the walls of Faro de la Isla de Mouro (Mouro Island Lighthouse). This uninhabited island lies close to the Bay of Santander near the city.

First thing first, let me tell you about the Bay of Biscay. This is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean and south of the Celtic Sea. It is a very delinquent body of water that borders the western coast of France to the northern coast of Spain. While Mediterranean Sea generally delivers balmy weather and relatively calm waters, Bay of Biscay is very rough. For it is home to Atlantic Ocean‘s fierce, violent storms. High, swelling waves occur here like that in Amami Oshima, Japan that sank off the Gulf Livestock 1 last September 03, 2020. They are very long sloping waves, about 20 ft. high but strong gale winds from North America to Europe make them more bigger and steeper. If you are a sailor, just by hearing the words from your captain : “Boys, tomorrow we’ll be sailing at the Bay of Biscay” is just enough to make you nervous and pray hard. It is a rite of passage but then also rewarding when you make it (with the ship) safely to the harbor. And this good, seasoned Pinoy seafarer “weathers the storm he cannot avoid and avoids the storm he cannot weather.” Now that I am done with sailing I never falter in attending Mass every Sunday to thank God for delivering me safely from all those perils I’ve encountered. For the Bay of Biscay is just the start of all the other perilous journeys to come. And in all those navigation, I always sought the intercession of St. Nikolai (St. Nicholas de Tolentino), patron saint of sailors. That’s why I always attend his feast day every year in gratitude to his protection.

Bride of the sea, Santander:

Up here in “green, northern Spain” is the “bride of the sea”, Santander. This is the capital of the autonomous region of Cantabria. It has been an important part of the Roman Empire until it lost its power. During the Middle Ages, Santander emerged as an important center of cultural and social life. By the 12th century, King Alfonso VIII of Spain made this city a summer holiday area. Later on, in the middle of the 18th century, Santander earned its city hood. But tragedy struck at the end of the 19th century when a steam ship exploded in 1893 at its harbor by a dynamite explosion, killing its citizens by the hundreds. Coming to terms from this tragic incident, Santander was the “belle epoque” in the early 20th century when King Alfonso XIII (of Spain) and Queen Victoria Eugenia (from the UK and granddaughter of Queen Victoria) made residence at the area in 1913. For a period of 22 years, they lived at Magdalena Palace. It is now one of the tourist destinations of the city. Another tragedy would fall again in Santander when a fire gutted the city in 1941 for two days. Undaunted by this misfortune, the people and its local leaders rallied together to rebuild their city into one of the prettiest seaside towns of northern Spain.

After battling with the massive waves of Bay of Biscay for 2 days, we arrived at the Port of Santander one October morning in 1995 via the Knock More tanker. With its numerous woodlands and mountains of exceptional beauty found in Spain, autumn is the best season in this country. Santander, which is in the middle of azure waters and verdant green mountains, where the Bay of Biscay meets the Picos de Europa (European Peaks) is an amazing place to see nature’s display. This is one fantastic city to witness the leaves change their color in the fall season. Let me show you 7 tourists sites to experience unforgettable autumn in Santander, Spain.

Peninsula de la Magdalena

A stunning 70-acre spit of land famous for its natural beauty of cliffs, manicured gardens and well-maintained woodlands – that is Peninsula de la Magdalena. A tourist site in Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn. It is also the site of the historic Magdalena Palace. This was an English-style summer residence of King Alfonso XIII from 1913-1931. However, under the Franco regime, Magdalena Palace became a part of the International University Menendez Pelayo. But in 1982, the palace was declared a national monument and the university moved to another location. Peninsula de la Magdalena has also a mini zoo, 3 mini-galleon ships on display which has been used by the Cantabrian navigator Vital Alsar Ramirez, 2 beach resorts (La Magdalena Beach and Bikini Beach) and a lighthouse. It is situated near the opening of the Bay of Santander, just opposite the little Mouro Island. J

Magdalena Palace

Jardines de Piquo

Postcard perfect Jardines de Piquo, a tourist site in Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn. Designed by Spanish architect Ramiro Martinez and opened in 1925, it divides a walkway and the 2 beaches of El Sardinero in Santander. Absolutely a remarkable garden to sit by, relax and enjoy the views by the sea. It is well worth to spend some time when you are in Santander especially at autumn time. The leaves burst into a myriad of colors which is a sight to behold.

Picos de Europa National Park

A perfect example of Atlantic ecosystem and a tourist site in Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn is the highest peak of the Cantabrian mountains – the Picos de Europa National Park. Declared as a national park in 1995, this area which is a favorite of hikers and mountain climbers is a masterpiece of rivers, beech forests and peaks. During the Age of Exploration in Spain, these chain of mountains were the first land seen by sailors returning from the Americas, “the peaks of Europe” meaning that they have reached home. From then on in Santander they were called Picos de Europa. One comfortable way to see the stunning view of Picos is by taking the Fuente De cable car. In just 3 minutes, it will take you up to 1,823 meters above to witness its spectacular autumn scenery. Cradled by the foot of Picos de Europa National Park is the little charming village of Potes. It is considered one of the prettiest towns of Cantabrian region. In autumn the foliage of Picos evokes a lovely setting for Potes. There is a trail between Potes to the adjacent village of Fuente De for the cable car ride. Potes also boast a monastery Church, Santo Toribio de la Liebana. This monastery claims to have in their keeping the largest fragment of Christ’s cross. It is framed inside a silver encasement.

The village of Potes at the foot of Picos de Europa.
The largest part of Christ’s cross being kept at Monasterio Santo Toribio de Liebana in Potes,

Santillana del Mar

It’s a living museum and one of Spain‘s most treasured cultural jewel in Cantabria – the medieval village of Santillana del Mar. A tourist site about 30 kms. from Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn. Surrounded by the verdant Picos de Europa, it has perfectly preserved its antiquated heritage. The cobbled streets are lined with attractive “casonas“. These are mansions of the town’s noble families. Their doors bearing their families’ coat-of-arms with their balconies draped in beautiful flowers. They also have a monastery which keeps the relics of their town’s patron and namesake Santa Juliana. During her lifetime, this saint from Asia Minor was believed to have refused her virginity to her husband. A pedestrian-only town, a stroll at Calle de Las Lindas (Street of Beautiful Ladies) may not come up to your expectations but it is perfectly a street of beautiful mansions from the 14th-15th centuries, all in their original, perfect structure.


An old Roman bridge over the Miera river and overlooking by two small hills known as “the breasts of Lierganes“, this is the setting of Lierganes which is about 10 kms. from Santander. Declared as a National Historical Interest in 1978, Lierganes is arguably a classical town and a tourist site near Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn. The 16th century Roman bridge over Rio Miera and the Raneda Palace, both of medieval architecture are the points of interest in this tiny village. Sheltered in a lush green valley in Cantabria, when you go down by the small hills into this town, you just can’t help but admire at this adorable village. It also needs to be explored by walking (cars are not allowed into this town), stopping now and then to appreciate at the graceful stately homes or take your selfies with the historic houses as your background. There are cafes in the area where you can relax, have a drink and try their “pinchos.” This is the version of the “tapas” and a unique gastronomy of Santander.


Cabarceno Natural Park

It used to be an open-pit mining site but restored to natural beauty of its karst landscape. Cabarceno Natural Park is both a natural reserve and zoo which is located 17 kms. south of Santander. It is home to more than a hundred trees and animal species threatened by extinction from the 5 continents of the world. Its views of lush foliage nestled between the hills give the animals a chance to roam in their natural setting. Cabarceno Natural Park is indeed a popular tourist site near Santander, Spain to experience unforgettable autumn. A 2-km walkway offers visitors to a sightseeing chance of all the animals.

Route of oaks, walnuts, birch, alders and hollies at Cabarceno Natural Park.

Paseo de Pereda

An 800-meter promenade at Puertochico (old town of Santander that survived the 1941 fire) and the Santander Cathedral is Paseo de Pereda. Aside from being lined with 19th century buildings, this area is also famous for its garden, Jardines de Pereda. Named after the Cantabrian novelist Jose Maria de Pereda (1833-1906), this park with its different types of trees and flowers has a monument of the novelist. And around his monument are sculptures that represent scenes of his writings. In the heart of Santander, Spain Paseo de Pereda is definitely a tourist site to experience unforgettable autumn. Here in the city’s old quarter, you will enjoy the peaceful ambience of this colorful leafy lung. Truly a calming respite from the busy city center.

Jardines de Pereda, a calming respite in the heart of Santander’s old quarter.

Urban cool? No. Amazing old town? Hmmn, maybe? Neither both but in autumn it is one of the best seasons to visit Santander. For aside from summer’s heat that have cooled, this city comes with an enchanting panorama of yellow and russet leaves. This city deserves your visit. The smell of crisp, autumn air and the postcard-perfect streets will give you one of the fantastic feelings in the world. A trip to Spain’s “bride of the sea” Santander in autumn will haunt you for a lifetime. Hasta entonces y buena suerte.

Reference: Wikipedia