Top Things to do in Santander with Kids + 2024 City Break Guide

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Are you thinking of visiting Santander with kids? Santander is the perfect spot for a getaway, filled with plenty of attractions and activities that are sure to keep the little ones entertained. From beach days to exploring historical architecture, Santander has something for everyone. Here’s our complete guide to visiting Santander with Kids

visiting santander with kids

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Is Santander Family Friendly?

Santander is an ideal destination for families, with plenty of attractions and activities to keep the kids entertained. The city boasts a vibrant atmosphere, with lots of restaurants, cafes and shops to get a bite to eat or pick up a few souvenirs. Santander is a safe and friendly city with plenty of attractions for children of all ages.

Where is Santander Located?

Santander is located on the northern coast of Spain, in Cantabria. The City sits along the Bay of Biscay and has stunning views of the mountains and beaches that make up this area.

Santander is about 1 hour, 10 minutes drive from Bilbao and four hours from Madrid by car, making it a convenient spot to visit if you are travelling in Spain. It’s also well connected with other European cities, making it easily accessible by train or plane.

Top Things to do in Santander with kids: Kid-Friendly Attractions and Hidden Gems

Santander is the perfect family destination, with a host of activities, landmarks and attractions that will keep both kids and adults entertained.

#1 The Cantabrian Maritime Museum

The Cantabrian Maritime Museum is the perfect attraction to visit with kids. It is located in Santander’s former prison and provides a unique look into Santander’s maritime history.

The museum is interactive, so kids can learn about the region’s fishing industry through fun activities and exhibits.

#2 Jardines de Pereda

Jardines de Pereda

Santander is home to the beautiful Jardines de Pereda, a public park that boasts stunning views of Santander Bay.

The gardens are filled with lush plants and walking trails, making it a perfect place to spend the day. Kids can explore the winding paths, hop on a bike or play in the playground. There is also plenty of local wildlife to spot, such as birds and squirrels.

#3 Santander Aquarium (Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico)

Santander is home to one of the largest aquariums in Europe, boasting many species of marine life from around the world.

Children can enjoy interactive exhibits and activities such as feeding fish and touching starfish. They can also explore a fun pirate ship playground or learn about Santander’s local sea life in an educational tour through the aquarium.

#4 La Alberca de los Niños

If you have younger kids, visit the popular La Alberca de Los Niños playground. Your children can run around and play games like hopscotch, swing on swingset, or take a ride on the carousel.

#5 Explore the Santander Beaches

El Sardinero Beach, Santander
El Sardinero Beach, Santander

 Santander is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Spain, and they are perfect for kids.

The city’s main beach, El Sardinero, offers a wide range of activities, including sandcastle building, volleyball, and boating. Families can enjoy nearby attractions such as the Santander Lighthouse or dip in Santander’s crystal-clear waters.

 Playa de Mataleñas is Santander’s best-kept secret and is perfect for families with young kids. Here, the waves are calm, making it ideal for swimming.

#6 Magdalena Palace

Magdalena Palace

The Magdalena Palace is the largest royal residence in Santander and one of the must-see attractions for families. Visitors can explore the palace grounds, which feature beautiful gardens, centuries-old sculptures, and a stunning view of Santander Bay. Kids will love playing in the palace playground or touring the royal apartments.

#7 Parque Cabo Mayor

The Parque Cabo Mayor is Santander’s largest urban park and is perfect for families. Here, kids can explore Santander’s botanical gardens, ride on a boat around Santander Bay, or try their hand at windsurfing.

Several playgrounds are scattered throughout the park so kids can let off some steam. The park is also home to Santander’s famous Castillo de la Mota, a medieval castle that provides spectacular views of Santander Bay.

#8 Puerto Chico

purto chico, santander with kids, things to do in santander
Image by Skaja Lee

Puerto Chico is Santander’s quaint fishing village and a great family spot. Visitors can explore the harbour, eat some of Spain’s freshest seafood, or take a leisurely stroll along Puerto Chico’s cobblestone streets.

#9 Santiago Church and Tower

The Santiago Church and Tower are iconic Santander religious sites in the heart of Santander’s old town. Kids will love exploring the rich history through the stunning architecture of this 17th-century church and its adjacent tower.

The tower also offers breathtaking views of Santander, making it a must-see!

#10 Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno

Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno, santander with kids
Image by Tuscascarurales

The Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabárceno is an animal sanctuary 20 minutes outside Santander. Some of the park’s wildlife like wolves, bears, deer, eagles, vultures and more. Kids will also love encountering different animals up close in the petting zoo or checking out the aquarium for a glimpse into Santander’s aquatic life.

#11 Santander Cathedral – A Cultural Heritage Site

santander cathedral
Image by James

Santander Cathedral is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture that dates back to the 14th century. Visitors can explore the stunning interior, admire its colourful stained-glass windows, or take a guided tour to learn more about Santander’s history and culture. Kids will love exploring the cathedral’s spooky underground crypts or playing hide and seek in its spacious hallways.

These are just some of Santander’s many exciting activities for families travelling with kids. Santander is an unforgettable destination full of fun and adventure for the whole family!

Best Day Trips from Santander for Families

if you’re looking to explore beyond Santander’s borders during your city break, there are plenty of great day trips from Santander:

The Santoña Marshlands

Santoña Marshlands is located an hour outside Santander and offer stunning views of the Atlantic coastline and its wildlife. Here, visitors can take a boat ride on the marshlands to explore its beautiful scenery while looking out for different species of birds that inhabit the area.

Kids will love spotting different kinds of birds, such as flamingos and herons, and taking a picnic on Santoña’s sandy beaches.

Santoña is also home to various water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding, so the whole family can enjoy an outdoor adventure!

Santillana del Mar

santilla de mar
Image by Santiago-Lopez-Pastor

Santillana del Mar is a picturesque medieval town just 9 miles from Santander and a perfect destination for families to explore, with cobbled streets and beautiful plazas.

The town also has several museums that appeal to kids, such as the Colegiata de Santillana, where visitors can learn about Santander’s history and culture.

Kids can also enjoy shopping in Santillana del Mar’s souvenir shops for unique gifts and trinkets to take home.

Santillana del Mar Zoo

For younger kids, Santillana del Mar features a zoo with an array of animals, such as lions and tigers, elephants and rhinos. The zoo also has a variety of interactive activities like pony rides, boat rides and mini-train rides.

Kids can learn about Santander’s local wildlife in the educational exhibits or participate in the special animal shows held daily.

Best Places to Eat in Santander with Kids

Santander has something to offer for all kinds of taste buds. Santander is sure to satisfy even the pickiest eaters, from tapas bars to seafood restaurants. Here are some of the best places to eat in Santander with kids:

El Horno de Santoña: El Horno de Santoña serves delicious pizza and pasta dishes made using locally sourced ingredients. Kids will love the variety of pizzas and pasta they offer. At the same time, parents can also enjoy a selection of Spanish wines from their wine list. View on TripAdvisor >>>

La Taperia del Puerto: La Taperia del Puerto is located on Santander’s seafront and features fresh seafood cooked to perfection. Their kid-friendly menu includes dishes like fish fingers, paella and fried calamari. With its stunning views over Santander Bay, this is a great place to enjoy a meal with the whole family. View on TripAdvisor >>>

How to Get to Santander

Santander is easily accessible from the UK and other major European cities by air and rail. Here’s everything you need to know on how to get to Santander:

By Air: Santander has its own airport, located just 4km outside the city’s centre. There are direct flights from London Stansted and Manchester Airports in the UK and cities like Paris, Brussels, Madrid and Barcelona. Find a cheap date for your flight below:

By Train: Santander can be reached by train from major Spanish cities like Madrid or Barcelona. The high-speed AVE train takes around 3 hours 30 minutes from Madrid and 5 hours 45 minutes from Barcelona. Get your train tickets here >>>

No matter which way you choose to travel, Santander is easily accessible and the perfect destination for a family city break!

When is the Best Time to Visit Santander

Santander is a beautiful city that can be visited all year round. However, the peak tourist season runs from May to September, when temperatures are at their highest and Santander’s beaches are in full swing.

Summer: Temperatures in the summer can reach up to 25°C. Santander in the summer is perfect for those wanting to enjoy a beach holiday with the family, as it has some of the best beaches in Spain. However, it’s important to note that Santander can be crowded and more expensive during these months.

Winter: Santander is much quieter during the winter months, so that it can be a great option for budget-friendly city breaks. Temperatures reach an average of 10°C, and Santander is much less crowded, so it can be a great option for those exploring Santander away from the hustle and bustle of the summer months.

Getting Around Santander

Santander is a fairly small city, so getting around Santander is straightforward. Here’s what you need to know about how to get around Santander:

Walking Around Santander: Santander is a very walkable city, meaning that most of the main attractions and sights are within walking distance of each other. This is a great way to explore Santander with kids, as it allows you to take in the sights and sounds of the city at your own pace.

By Public Transport: Santander has an efficient public transportation system, with buses, trams and taxis all available. Santander also has an extensive network of bike paths, so it’s easy to explore Santander by bike if you prefer.

No matter which way you get around Santander, exploring the city with kids is straightforward.

Plan Your Trip to Santander with Kids

Ready to plan your Santander city break with kids? Santander is the perfect destination for a family getaway – so why not start planning your Santander trip today?

Book Your Flights to Santander >>

Get your train tickets here >>>

Find Family Friendly Accommodation >>>

Or Find the Perfect Holiday Home on Vrbo >>>

Find Tours and Activities >>>

Santander with Kids FAQs

Is Santander wheelchair friendly?

Santander is incredibly accessible by wheelchair users, with most attractions accessible by ramps or lifts.

Are there good beaches in Santander?

Santander is home to two great beaches: Playa El Sardinero and Playa de la Magdalena. Both these beaches have beach volleyball courts, playgrounds and restaurants, making them the perfect spot for a family day out!

Do I need a visa to travel to Santander?

Generally, visitors from the EU do not need a visa to visit Santander. However, if you are travelling outside of the EU, you should check with your local embassy for their specific visa requirements.

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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.