Spain Guide


Santander Car Hire Spain

You may decide to hire a car for some or all of your stay in Santander so you can explore the beautiful Cantabrian coastline and countryside. The region has a good network of country roads which will enable you to reach even some of the most remote spots in the area.

Just 15 kilometres from the city you'll find the Cabarceno Nature Reserve, in the district of Villaescusa, with a large safari park. More than 500 species can be seen here including lions, elephants, zebras, bears, camels and kangaroos.

To the south west of Santander lies the beautiful Picos de Europe National Park which is well worth a day trip. The scenery in these unspoilt mountains and valley is breathtaking. Stop off en route at the mountain village of Potes where you'll feel as though you've stepped back in time as you explore the ancient streets, towers, bridges and houses bearing the local coat of arms.

The nearby sanctuary of Santo Toribio dates back to the 6th century and houses the "Lignum Crucis", said to be the largest part of the cross of Jesus to have been preserved.

Bird and nature lovers should head east along the coast to the marshes of Santona, a coastal wetland and nature reserve which is the main site for wintering birds on the north coast. The best time to see migratory birds here is between September and May. A huge variety of birds shelter among the marshes and puffins, razorbills and guillemots can be seen on the open sea and around the cliffs of the Buciero mountain.

There are many prehistoric cave painting to be seen on the area, among the most famous being the Caves of Altamira to the west of the city. The paintings, in the deep recesses of caves far out of the reach of the destructive forces of wind and water, have undergone little change since their creation between 11,000 19,000 years ago.

Be warned, however, that the caves are fiercely protected and only 25 people a day are admitted. The best way to ensure entry is to request written permission in advance from the Altamira Museum in Santillana del Mar.

If you can't get into the caves, the village of Santillana del Mar is well worth a visit itself with its cobblestone streets and delightful medieval homes.

For art lovers, a trip to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, 116 kilometres east along the coast, is an absolute must. The spectacular museum, a masterpiece in itself, houses some of the world's greatest art treasures by legends such as Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Dali and Warhol.

These are some of the questions you'll want to ask before you book a hired car :

  • Does the company offer "no quibble" insurance to cover such things as collision damage and theft? Is unlimited third party insurance and basic personal accident damage for the driver and occupants included?
  • Will you have to pay an "excess" charge in the event of an accident?
  • Will you have to pay the local IVA tax (Spanish VAT) of 16% or is it included in the price?
  • Does the company give a commitment on the quality of its cars are they, for example, all under a certain age?
  • Are "extras" such as roof racks and child seats available and included in the price?