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Santillana del Mar travel guide

About Santillana del Mar

Santillana del Mar in Cantabria is often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, a medieval town of stunning architecture close to the incredible Altamira Caves, which are filled with some of the world's oldest and best preserved prehistoric art in the world.

Named after St Juliana whose remains reside in the town's stunning church, the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, Santillana del Mar has a rich history that is visible in every inch of the town. The entire town is a registered National Monument whose medieval architecture is some of the most important still standing in Spain, including the Torre del Merino and Torre de Don Borja, two towers that were built as both military edifications and as homes of the nobility. Wander through the cobbled streets of medieval mansions, or why not head out of town into the countryside and discover the palacios and villas of the rich amongst the lush green of rural Cantabria?

Just 2km from Santillana del Mar are the Altamira Caves and the Museo de Altamira where you can discover the paintings of bison, and other animals in the Neocave, a state-of-the-art 3D reconstruction of the original caves. In town, there is also a Museo de la Tortura (the Museum of the Inquisition), containing their instruments of torture, for those with a strong stomach.

Whilst in Santillana del Mar, you cannot miss the opportunity to try some delicious local produce from the cheese shops or buy some locally made pottery and other souvenirs from the gift shops here. Gastronomic specialities include bizcochos, small pastries best enjoyed with a glass of milk and sobaos pasiegos, a buttery cake flavoured with anise liquer. If you feel the need to work off some of these tasty snacks, the Natural parks of Oyambre, Peña Cabarga and Saja-Besaya are all nearby.

Why visit Santillana del Mar

  • Museo de Altamira
  • Colegiata de Santa Juliana
  • Food and Drink
  • Medieval Architecture


  • Country: Spain
  • Region: Cantabria
  • Province: Cantabria
  • Population: 4,000
  • Coordinates: 43.391078,-4.109402

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

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Nearby places of interest


A small village just a few minutes from Santillana del Mar, Ubiarco has the closest beach to the town, the Santa Justa, and it is a truly spectacular coastline of rugged cliffs and sandy beach.


Popular for its many sandy beaches, Suances's famous Los Locos beach is filled with tourists in the summer. Perfect for surfing and many other sports, the town and beaches have previously played host to international volleyball competitions.


Explore the beautiful twin towered church of red stone and the Cistercian monastery where the monks produce the town's famous cheese. Nearly surrounded by mountains and with greenery and beaches too, Cóbreces has mix of all landscapes to discover.


The extraordinary landscape of this seaside village with the mountains of Picos de Europa in the background, perfectly frames the incredible architecture within. El Caprichio is a majestic building designed by Antoni Gaudí and has an orientalist feel to it. There are also many interesting medieval buildings in the town centre around the Plaza de la Constitucion.

Natural Parks

A region of lush greenery, rolling hills and majestic mountains, Cantabria's natural parks really are areas of outstanding natural beauty just waiting to be explored. The Caberceno Natural Park is around 30 minutes from Santillana del Mar, a conservation park that is home to a hundred species of animals from across 5 continents as well as being full of trails and picnic areas for a great family day out.

Santillana del Mar's top attractions