International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

Culture Corner

<small>View Santander, Spain in a larger map</small>
Santander's famous Sardinero beach

What's Santander Like?

The region of Cantabria has been inhabited since ancient times, as evidenced by cave paintings and prehistoric remains that have been uncovered in the area, but the city of Santander itself dates back to about the time of the rule of the Roman Empire. During this time, Romans took root in present-day Santander, established a harbor, and named the settlement "Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium".

The development of modern Santander dates back to the 19th century, with the birth of a flourishing middle class and the increase of trade in the Cantabrian region. The city became a summer tourist destination due to the lack of industrial activity, its privileged location at the edge of a beautiful bay and its more than five kilometers of beaches.

Santander is best known for its natural surroundings, peace and quiet, renowned quality of life, comprehensive social and cultural provision, extensive local services, its varied transport and communications infrastructure and its mild climate all year round. The city's year-round cultural life is intensified during the summer months by the activities organized by the Universidad Internacional Menendéz Pelayo, the International Music Festival, the City of Santander Piano Contest, as well as various theatre and dance events.

Region and Population

Santander is the capital and largest city in the Cantabria region located in Northern Spain and tucked between the Cantabrian Mountians and the Bay of Biscay in what is know as "Green Spain". Santander's beaches, moderate climate, unique history, extraordinary landscape, and ample outdoor activities boost the 200,000 population during the summer months. Here inhabitants and tourists alike flock to the city's sites and locales to taste first class seafood, partake in the lively international festivals, discover one the finest collections of Prehistoric artifacts, and to tour the Spanish Royal family's summer residence, Palacio de la Magdalena. In this city that was founded in 1755 and served as a crucial port city during Spanish exploration, history, nature, gastronomy, and art are all found sidled next to some of the most excellent beaches Spain has to offer.


Santander is renowned for its mild, though sometimes rainy, climate. Winters in Santander are brisk; summers are warm.

Average monthly highs and lows (degrees Fahrenheit) and rainfall (inches) in Santander:

Avg. Rainfall5.

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