Spain Guide


Santander Nightlife

Santander's nightlife is essentially Spanish in character with everything from bullfighting and traditional fiestas to late night music and tapas bars. You'll find plenty of nightclubs here but without the international flavour (and lager lout element) of the big Mediterranean resorts such as Ibiza and Benidorm.

Bar hopping is one of the most popular evening past times with the Spanish who while away the hours in the many tapas bars which pepper the city centre. It's a great way to meet people and the endless supply of tasty morsels such as jamon serrano (cured ham), patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) and local cheeses help to soak up the alcohol as the evening progresses.

The areas of Cañadio and Santa Lucia are particularly good for tapas. Try Rana Verde which has a good selection of traditional Spanish tapas along with sandwiches, burgers and reasonably priced main meals. If you're wondering why the place is awash with frog decorations, that's because the bar's name means "green frog".

Fortified by Rana Verde's first class patatas bravas, hop along to Terminal Sur where you can enjoy a very reasonably priced exotic cocktail on the lively outside terrace while listening to some good rock, funk and soul music.

Agua de Valencia, in the bar strewn district of Perines, is the place for the popular Spanish drink of the same name a Buck's Fizz type cocktail of sparkling wine and fresh orange juice served in litre and half litre jugs. Thirty somethings frequent this bar which stays open till 3am.

There are many excellent restaurants serving home cooked Cantabrian cuisine which relies heavily on fresh fish caught from the rich waters of the Cantabrian Sea. Wholesome and delicious homemade stews, just like grandma used to make, also figure prominently on local menus try the "cocido montañes" (mountain hot pot) which is a favourite local specialty.

Pay a visit to Casa Mariano in the Varga district for traditional and authentic local cuisine in a homely atmosphere with rustic décor. The restaurant is open daily till midnight.

After your meal it's time to head off to one of the many music bars, shows and clubs which will keep all night partygoers busy till dawn. Most of the clubs stay open until 3am and some keep going until breakfast time.

El Rocambole, in Hernan Cortes, is a jazz and blues club with a lively atmosphere. Local bands appear on a regular basis and the entertainment rarely stops before 4am.

El Dragon is at the centre of the gay scene but is a good night out for anyone game for a laugh. The club is fitted out in the style of a medieval castle and the entertainment includes drag shows, comedians and quick change artists.

At the heart of the nightlife zone in Plaza de Cañadio you'll find Canela, one of the most popular bars in town with a varied programme of entertainment including live bands every Tuesday. Drink prices are slightly over the average but admission is free.

The city has several night clubs, some of which don't close their doors until 7am.

Or you might prefer an evening at the famous Gran Casino near the royal palace at El Sardinero. Try your luck at blackjack, roulette, poker or the slot machines. There's also a bar, restaurant and café. The building was used for dances, weddings and theatre during the repressive years of Franco's regime when gambling was forbidden.

The Palacio de Festivales, Santander's premier arts and cultural centre, stages regular events including ballet, classical music concerts and recitals. It also hosts the International Music and Dance Festival in August which is one of the most important events of its kind in Spain.

Numerous local fairs and fiestas take place during the year a great way to enjoy a Spanish style knees up (usually in honour of a local saint although great religious solemnity is not always evident). The biggest celebrations with street parades, music, dancing and fireworks take place towards the end of July and throughout August. Check with the local tourist information office (Oficina de Turismo) in Plaza de Velarde for details.