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Tenerife Coronavirus (COVID-19) Canary Islands Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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The island of Tenerife is the largest of the Canary archipelago–2,053 square kilometres–and it has the shape characteristic of a triangle. The island of eternal spring because of its peerless climate is full of huge contrasts and has a great variety of scenery in the different regions.

A mountain chain runs through its centre fro Anaga to Teno and on both of its slopes there are large, exuberantly fertile valleys, among them especially La Orotava and Gumar. In the heart of the chain there is a gigantic, natural crater, called Las Cañadas del Teide, which is about 29 km across and has officially been declared a National Park. It lies over 2,000 m above sea level.

North of the crater stands El Pico del Teide, a 3,718 m high mountain, which is the highest point in Spain. It is snow-covered in the winter and marks the island with its unique silhouette.

Tenerife has an extremely varied plant life, large, wooded mountains, extensive areas where banana, tomato, potato and other agricultural products are grown.

Its coast is rocky and lined by cliffs in some places, while in others there are beaches with soft, clean sand, which are sometimes black and sometimes golden.

The capital of the island and of the province is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which has 220,000 inhabitants. It is a cheerful, light-filled, modern city on a gentle slope and it is open towards the wide plains in the south.

It is the seat of the military headquarters, La Capitanía General de Canarias, and Santa Cruz is known as a hospitable, cordial city. Beautiful gardens, especially García Sanabria, the Municipal Park, and busy streets make it easy for the visitor to feel at home there.

Tenerife is the largest of the  and is a great place to travel. British, Nordic and German tourists come in their tens of thousands every year to visit its spectacular beaches and lively nightlife. It is also very popular among holidaymakers from the Spanish peninsula, especially during Easter time. It offers lush forests, exotic fauna and flora, deserts, mountains, volcanoes, incredibly beautiful coastlines and spectacular beaches.

Cities

The island can be divided into two regions.

The north

Due to the influence of the northeastern tradewinds, the northern coast tends to be cooler, with somewhat unstable and cloudy, springlike climate. The largest metropolitan areas of the island are in the northeast.

  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife — the capital
  • San Cristóbal de La Laguna  – a  UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Tegueste — Guanche era colonial town, famous for its wines
  • Puerto de la Cruz – a laid-back, more family-friendly resort with the Loro Parque Zoo
  • La Orotava – a stately, beautiful city
  • Icod de los Vinos — famous for its millenary Drago tree, local wines, and the largest volcanic cave in Europe
  • Garachico – a harbour city, partially destroyed and rebuilt after a volcanic eruption in the 18th century

The south

The southwestern coast receives the most tourists – here there are many beautiful beaches, and it is warmer and sunnier than other parts of the island.

  • Playa de las Américas|– with Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje, a city built for tourists
  • Los Cristianos
  • Playa de las Américas
  • Los Gigantes  – popular with tourists and locals
  • El Médano  – a laid back, alternative haven, and one of the windsurfing capitals of the world

Other destinations

  • Teide National Park — a  UNESCO World Heritage List surrounding El Teide, with 3718 m the highest peak on Spanish territory, an active volcano, and most visited natural wonder in the country with over 4 million visitors in 2016.
  • Anaga Rural Park — or Macizo de Anaga protected area redesignated from natural park to rural park.

Understand

A poor, banana-growing region in past decades, Tenerife has been brought up to European living standards since the arrival of mass air travel in the 1960s, which brought industry and millions of tourists each year. Over the decades this has led to many complexes and houses being built, making parts of the island highly urbanized. While part of the EU for political purposes, the island remains outside its customs and VAT area, making high tax goods such as tobacco and alcohol cheaper than elsewhere in Europe. Because almost all goods must be imported, food and clothing in particular are more expensive than on mainland Europe.

Many of the young tourists hang out on the south of the island with older and family tourists choosing Puerto de La Cruz and its environs. On the south side there is consistent summer, little to no wind, and pretty much perfect beach-weather for much of the year though there have been rare instances of cool to cold weather in the Jan-Feb period. Also expect some very wet days for that time of year though most days will still be sunny. There are plenty of hotels, activities and British food and drink.

On the north side of the island you will find more green and vibrant local culture. There is a more Spanish year-round springtime feel. The weather fluctuates a bit more here, but is also mostly pleasant though not as hot as the south.

In between the north and south of the island sits Spain’s tallest peak, the barely dormant volcano El Teide (3718m above sea level). Tours previously allowed people into the crater, but tourists are no longer allowed into the crater for safety reasons.

The local currency is the Euro and most places accept credit or debit cards, which require a chip and PIN. There are many exchange bureaus in the main tourist resorts but not in the Spanish places like Santa Cruz.

Climate

The Atlantic ocean absorbs heat in winter and releases it in summer, granting Tenerife fairly constant temperatures throughout the year, with typically less than 10° difference between summer and winter. In combination with its proximity to the equator, this results in mild temperatures from fall to spring, and hot temperatures in summer (June to September). Fortunately the ocean winds cool the island down, and at higher elevations the temperatures are very mild even when the low laying parts of the island succumb under a scorching heat.

Tenerife receives most of its precipitation during the winter months (November to February), which always falls as rain at sea level and as snow on El Teide.

Talk

The native language is Spanish. In the south English is spoken by everyone with German and Italian common too, but in the north English is spoken by fewer. No big problem should be anticipated regarding communication, though. In the local dialect a soft ‘c’ is pronounced as ‘s’ rather than as ‘th’ on the Spanish mainland, so cinco (five) is ‘sinko’, not ‘thinko’.

Learn

  • At the Don Quijote Spanish school in Tenerife you can take 4-6 hours of courses a day. All courses including beginner courses are taught entirely in Spanish.

Get in

By plane

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Caldera Las Cañadas with Roques de García (left) and TF-21 (foreground)

As an island the usual way to arrive is by air. There are two airports, Tenerife South (Reina Sofia) near Los Cristianos and Tenerife North (Los Rodeos) by San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Titsa buses run from both airports to other towns, though you may have to switch routes. They stop around midnight and start again around 05:00-06:00.

  • Tenerife Sur (Reina Sofia).  Named after the current Queen of Spain this is by far the busier of the two airports. Flights from various UK airports are available through EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook. Flights from the Spanish mainland are offered by Iberia, Air Europa, and Vueling. There are also flights from Germany offered by Ryanair, Eurowings and Condor among others. There are many other destinations apart from those mentioned here. 

By boat

Trasmediterranea run a weekly ferry from Cádiz which takes two days.

There are also ferries to the other Canary Islands, going to Gran Canaria from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (about €80 return) and La Gomera from Los Cristianos.

Get around

By car

A rental car is the best option for discovering the remote regions. There is a wide selection of companies, ranging from budget to premium. Renting a car straight from the airport can cost you as little as €100 a week. When choosing one of the cheapest companies (like Goldcar), make sure to understand the terms & conditions, since there may be hidden fees or tricks. Such as petrol refill fee at the time of return, or mandatory insurance to be paid at pickup.

If you only own a debit card (not credit card), for example autoreisen allows rent without deposit – because the car is almost fully insured (and thus a bit more expensive). The car return is then as simple as dropping the keys at the office.

Driving the roads

The roads are in good shape, even the ones high up in the mountains. But be aware that there is always the possibility of fallen rocks blocking the road, especially on roads carved into the mountains. The highways around the island are toll-free and mostly limited to 120 k/h. Regular roads range from “normal” to “twisty and narrow” in Anaga, and around Santiago del Teide. Everything called “Calle” or “Camino” in the rural and residential areas is likely to be very narrow and potentially steep and curvy.

Satellite navigation

Tenerife is building many new roads including some major routes. As of 2019, your rental car’s built-in navigation system may still be missing some of the newer main roads. As of 2013, TomTom maps covered the majority of the island and had many points of interest (current status unknown). Garmin used to be not accurate, current status unknown. Google Maps appears to be fairly complete in terms of major roads in 2019.

Whatever base map you choose, be aware that blindly following the route determined by your navigation software may well turn into a little adventure on its own. Especially when going up or down the Teide through inhabited areas (e.g. La Orotava), they have a tendency to prefer the direct Caminos over the longer, but faster and way more comfortable main roads. The official speed limit there usually is around 30 km/h, but unless you’re a local who knows all the turns by heart, you’ll probably be crawling along carefully in 1st gear more often than not. It is without doubt a good idea to critically review the proposed routes before you go, and make sure to stick to the main (numbered) roads as far as possible.

By bus

Buses on Tenerife are called guaguas. TITSA buses cover most of the island and the buses are fairly frequent. A BONO travel card is a good idea if you intend to spend some time travelling on the buses as they can save 50-70% on journey costs. Only one card is needed by any number in a group and can be bought at bus stations as well as some tobacconists.

By train

A tram line operates between Santa Cruz and La Laguna; the BONO card is valid there.

What to see and do

Nature sights

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El Teide

Located in the middle of the island, at 3,718 m, Teide National Park is the highest mountain not just in the Canary Islands but in all Spain. The cable car goes up almost to the summit (and the summit itself just an hour of hiking away), and there are fantastic views from up there provided there are no clouds. Do get informed on the Teide National Park article if you plan to visit (permissions, etc.).

Cueva del Viento – one of the biggest lava cave systems in the world.

botanical garden just above Puerto de la Cruz.

Drives

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Narrow mountain roads leading to Masca village

There are some wonderful drives all around the island. There are long winding mountain roads with breathtaking scenery but they might be challenging for less skilled drivers. Popular destination is Masca village located about 1 hour drive north of Los Gigantes (parking spaces are very limited). For those who do not rent/own a car in most resorts there are companies organizing coach trips there.

Culture

Santa Cruz de Tenerife has a number of museums and an art gallery. Also a space museum and planetarium on a small scale near La Laguna.

In February there is a huge fancy dress parade by locals which is said to be third in size after Rio and Notting Hill carnivals.

Visit the beautiful old towns of La Orotava and San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the latter being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the best spots in the world to observe sky – Teide Observatory – provides guided visits.

What to do

  • Teide Observatory (Observatorio del Teide), TF21Astronomical observatory on Mount Teide at 2,390 m altitude, operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. Opened in 1964, it became the first major international observatory with telescopes from different countries being installed because of its superior observatory conditions. The observatory consists of multiple buildings, some of which can be visited on guided tours. 

Whale and dolphin watching near Playa de las Américas.

Water Activities

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Hermitage of Saint Michael in San Cristóbal de La Laguna

Tenerife is a favoured destination for scuba divers, with numerous dive operations of all qualities and nationalities. The waters round the island are diveable throughout the year, with the temperature varying between 18 degrees in January to around 25-26 degrees in August. Go around the harbour wall in Puerto de la Cruz for fantastic volcanic rock formations, or feed the stringrays at Las Galletas for something a bit different.

Water sports are available in the south including surfing, wind surfing, speed boat parashooting and jet-ski. Nowhere seems to rent canoes.

Of course many visitors just want to spend their time on a beach or by the hotel swimming pool. Playa Americas beach is black volcanic sand but Los Cristianos is yellow imported sand. The black sand feels the same as the yellow but is not as pleasing to look at to many. Beaches often have sun-loungers with parasols available to hire for the day, but if you are doing this for a few days it is probably better to just buy a parasol and some beach mats.

Hiking

Tenerife is an excellent destination for hiking. There are routes for anyone, from leisurely one hour strolls to extremely strenuous full day hikes in demanding terrain with either a huge ascent, descent or both. There are several books describing hiking routes, such as two Landscapes of Tenerife books from Sunflower Books, one covering the northern side and the other covering the southern side. It’s a good idea to get a guide book before you go to Tenerife, as they might be difficult to find there.

These are the most interesting hikes:

  • A demanding hike up to the summit of Teide National Park (and /or Pico Viejo) is possible.
  • Probably the most popular (and somewhat crowded, compared to other Tenerife treks) path – Masca valley. Starting at Masca village, going down all the way to a beach, in-between massive cliffs. Taking the hike uphill requires at least water supplies, in case of high temperatures.
  • Barranco del Infierno (Hell’s Ravine). Close to Adeje popular with hikers, you need to book to go on the walk. There is little to see but vegetation on this walk and a tiny waterfall at its end.
  • Punta de Teno (There are some hike paths available from roads towards El Palmar). The most western point with excellent views. Also accessible by car via TF-445 – however as of January/2019, the road is closed Thursday to Sunday (and bank holidays), 10:00-19:00. At such times, bus 369 from Buenavista is available. On any given day, the road may be closed due to wind or rain..
  • Bosque de EsperanzaMirador de Ortuño24/7A paradise for hikers, the Boque de Esperanza forest is both mysterious and untouched by mass tourism. Its narrow mountain roads, great hiking trails, twisted fairytale woodland landscape, and breathtaking views are worth a visit on their own. Free.
  • Roque del CondeOne of the most prominent mountains on the south coast. A few hours hike from the nearby Arona village goes through a relatively big canyon of Barranco del Rey and at top provides good views to all sides (unless mist builds up)
  • Parque Rural de Anaga — a fantastic place to go hiking. In Cruz del Carmen you can find the visitor’s center where you can get information about the park. Don’t forget go to the Pico del Inglés}} viewpoint where you can see a beautiful view of the island (if the weather is good). From La Laguna you only need fifteen minutes in car to arrive to the border. While the park itself is relatively small, the roads are very winding – multiply the time navigation suggests by factor of 2. Road from La Laguna to Chamorga takes approx. 1:45 – 2 hours. Hiking is possible in many places, however some areas require a permit to enter. Permits have to be booked online in advance – official information in Spanish: El Pijaral trail, Monte de Aguirre Zone). A very incomplete list of treks follows:
    • Chamorga – 7 Roque Bormejo. A round trip starts at a picturesque village of Chamorga, goes through mountains, along the shore (grand views!), a lighthouse Faro de Anaga, Roque Bormejo village and back up through a valley Camino de Roque Bormejo.
    • A relaxing walk (almost flat road) to Cabezo del Tejo viewpoint through a (often) misty forest.
    • Roque de Taborno (“Matterhorn of Tenerife”) – a few hours trek around a picturesque mountain. The path crosses a cliff for a few meters, beware if you are easily scared of hights.
    • Other places are TagananaRoque las BodegasAlmáciga (black sand beaches).

Cycling

Tenerife attracts a large number of cyclists all year around. Whether mountain biking or road biking, Tenerife has plenty of beautiful roads and dirt tracks. If you want to avoid the hassle of bringing your own bike, you can rent bikes on the island, for example in Las Americas or El Médano.

Cycling is hard to do casually although bikes are available to rent, the coastal roads are busy and there is little room for bikes except often in the gutter. However if you like cycling up hills there are plenty of steep roads to climb as soon as you leave the coastline. For those less fit, one tour company offers a car trip to the top of El Teide with a cycle down, no pedalling required.

Attraction parks

There are good attraction parks.

  • Loro Parque Zoo — a large animal park famous for its parrots and orca shows.
  • Jungle Park — well worth a visit, the bird of prey show is a must.
  • Siam park — opened in 2008, this is a fantastic water park, created by the owners of Loro Parque – and it has been beautifully designed, like a modern Lago Martianez! Look out for the 2 metre high artificial waves.
  • Aqualand — a water park.

Buy

Santa Cruz has a big market by the station on Sunday mornings, and a local picturesque market Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de África (open daily until 14:30). Las Americas has one Thursdays and Saturdays and Los Cristianos on Sundays and Tuesdays.

Keep in mind that almost all goods with the exception of fish and fruits must be imported, so buying clothes or electronics is neither economical nor ecological. In addition, the quality of hardware such as cameras and binoculars sold in gift/souvenir shops or by street vendors is questionable.

Eat

Local taverns are called guachinches, typical for the Canarias and particularly common on Tenerife and Gran Canaria. They serve their own wine accompanied by homemade traditional food, often grilled fish or roasted meat. Stews of all kinds are very common and only cost a few euros for a portion.

Fish is a large part of the local diet with restaurants that allow you to choose a fish from their selection (often hand caught) which they will cook for you. Black potatoes called Papas arrugadas are served unpeeled, wrinkled and crusted with salt ready to be dipped into a local sauce.

As in the rest of Spaintapas are eaten a lot with local specialties including garlic sauces, fried beans and squid. Typical Spanish meals such as tortilla (potato omelette) and paella (rice dishes) are common too.

Fast food is becoming increasingly common on Tenerife, catering to younger demographics and tourists. Restaurants with international cuisine (Indian, Chinese. ..) are abundant in larger cities. Especially in the south of the island, there are plenty of restaurants serving exotic foods such as hamburgers, pizza, fries, etc. There are 15 McDonald’s including some on the beaches. In touristic hotspots such as Playa de las Américas, menus are available in numerous languages ranging from English and German to Russian and some Scandinavian languages, making it very easy to choose even if you are not familiar with the local dishes’ names or don’t understand Spanish.

Drink

The nicest bars are found in Puerto de la Cruz, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, and in the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They serve a wide variety of locally produced beers, wines, and liqueurs. The best wines also originate from the north of the island, where cultivation of the malvasia grape variety has a long tradition since export began in the 17th century. 50% of Canary wine denominations originate from Tenerife. In addition, countless wines are produced in house by guachinches in small quantities, often as mixtures of red wines with fruity wines.

Beers produced on the island are also widely available, most notably Dorada (gold) and Reine (queen), although their taste is not particularly special. Because of the size constraints (arable land) on the island, the entire production is consumed domestically, so you won’t find these beers anywhere else.

The abundance of fruits also yields a variety of liqueurs and other drinks with high alcoholic content, most notably banana liqueurs.

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A barraquito, local coffee based on condensed milk and espresso

The coffee Barraquito (also called barraco) is a Canary specialty and very popular on Tenerife and on La Palma. It is served in a small glass, with a base of condensed milk, espresso, and a shot of Licor 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres). It is often served after the meal, finished with cinnamon and lime zest.

The south of Tenerife has a ‘booze scene’ reputation, with Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos providing ample locations for those that enjoy 24 hour clubbing and drinking, with clubs charging between €10 and €25 entrance. The drinks available are the same as the rest of Europe (predominantly British) with prices being slightly less than those of continental Europe. Better alternatives are found in the north of the island, especially in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, where there are no entrance fees and drinks have a higher price/quality ratio.

Where to stay in Tenerife

Camping

Wild camping is prohibited in Tenerife. Along with a few commercial campsites, there are free comunal campsites called acampadas. The acampadas are usually in the inland, usually above 1000m altitude, they have water and toilets. To sleep at one free acampada, you have to book the night in advance from the town council (cabildo). Unfortunately, the website is only in Spanish, very slow and sometimes down.

Your are a guest of the island and are allowed to spend a night in a wonderful campsite for free: to show recognition, take care to leave the place as clean and tidy as possible before leaving.

Stay safe in Tenerife

Around people

Tenerife is generally a safe place to visit but as always, beware of pickpockets. Do not take electrical devices, credit cards or large amounts of cash to the beach if you plan to leave your goods unattended while swimming. Walking alone late at night in certain suburbs is not advisable, although the inner parts of town aren’t problematic. Take note that when walking through Playas De Las Americas there is a lot of clubs round here and some drunkenness in the night hours. Taxis are widely available, and not too badly priced.

Camping and sleeping at the beach is only permitted at allowed zones. Doing so in frequented beaches may lead to arrest.

Many, many shops on the island selling electrical and optical goods as well as cameras. You may think you are getting a bargain from these smooth talking salesmen but you aren’t. You will overpay for something you could buy cheaper at home and even cheaper off eBay. Your goods may be faulty. Your guarantee will probably be worthless. Your video camera may be SECAM which means a B&W picture in the UK (PAL). These shops are everywhere in the tourist areas and so many people have been cheated by them for so many years. Also, beware of places that sell video games (mainly for the Nintendo Game Boy or DS) as they are usually bootlegs.

If you are holidaying in Tenerife you are probably going to be approached by “scratchcard touts” whose main aim is to part you with several thousand pounds for worthless contracts for time-share apartments. This view is backed up by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading who suggest that every year 400,000 UK consumers fall victim to these scams in destinations such as Tenerife, the Costa del Sol and Gran Canaria. On average each victim loses more than £3,000. Bogus “scratchcard touts” offer cards that will always be a winner, but to collect their prize, people need to attend a lengthy presentation and are persuaded into signing a contract for an “exclusive” club on the basis of false claims as to the price, range and quality of holidays available. The OFT’s is advising people to ask three simple questions: can you take away the contract to consider at your leisure? Is everything you were promised in the presentation in the contract? Do you know exactly what you are getting for your money? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then simply walk away.

The other main irritant on Tenerife are the Lookey Lookey men who try to sell you sunglasses, watches, jewellery and other cheap knick-knacks known as Lucky Luckies. They are quite harmless and generally don´t mean to cause trouble, they are just trying to make a living, but a firm NO generally works!

Natural hazards

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It wouldn’t have been safe to have been in the path of these pyroclastic rocks at La Tarta when they were molten, but now they are a beautiful sight

Tenerife is a volcanic island. The latest outbreak was 1909 from the El Chinyero vent in the northwest part of El Teide. On geologic time scales this is very recent, and although El Teide is currently dormant, it is considered to be an active volcano. However, it is constantly monitored very closely so that an upcoming eruption would hopefully be detected well in advance.

Falling rocks are a constant issue in many parts of the island, and you will often find paths, beaches or even roads temporarily or permanently closed due to the danger.

The sun is extremely strong this close to the equator so use plenty of high factor sun cream and do not sun bathe between midday and three o’clock (this is when the beaches are busiest anyway). Remember that the sun is even stronger up in the mountains, even though it may feel cool and breezy.

There are no scorpions or snakes to worry about. Mosquitoes can bite at night, especially away from the coast, but they do not carry malaria or similar diseases.

Go next

  • La Gomera – a hiking paradise – is only 1 hour away by ferry.
  • Gran Canaria island is 2.5 hours by ferry.
  • La Palma and El Hierro islands are also accessible by ferry.

esEspañol

Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Spain

Malasana-Chueca Coronavirus (COVID-19) Madrid Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Malasaña and Chueca, as well as Conde Duque and Salesas, are neighbourhoods in northern central Madrid.

Understand

Malasaña used to be a not-so-privileged residential neighbourhood. Starting from the 1980s Movida madrileña period, however, it has been populated by the city’s young, creative, hip and artsy crowds. By day, it is a paradise for those shopping for second-hand or street fashion, artisan craftwork and young designers’ stuff. At night, the pavements are occupied by tables of bars and restaurants as well as people just spending time with friends.

Conde Duque is a smaller neighbourhood directly to the west of Malasaña. Its character is pretty similar, perhaps a little quieter. Located near the university campus, its population is quite young and studentish, too. It is named after the Conde-Duque (i.e. “Count-Duke”) barracks, an 18th-century former military compound-turned-cultural centre.

Chueca has a similar background like Malasaña (maybe a tad more bourgeois), but has built its reputation as Madrid’s gay district. Of course, that does not mean that straight people were not welcome. Indeed, most restaurants, hostels and nightlife venues cater to a general public, not a specifically gay one. Apart from that, this area has a high concentration of antique shops.

Salesas is the small neighbourhood inbetween Chueca and the posh Salamanca district.

The official name of the admistrative barrio that contains Chueca and Salesas neighbourhoods, is Justicia as the Supreme Court of Spain and the Court of Accounts are seated here. The Spanish Ministry of Justice is in nearby Calle de San Bernardo.

Get in

Image of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideChueca and Malasaña are just 1–2 km north of the central Puerta del Sol square and 3 km north of Atocha (Madrid’s main station for intercity trains). They can be reached with several metro lines. Stations Gran Vía (lines 1, 5), Tribunal (1, 10) and Bilbao (1, 4) are located along Calle Fuencarral that is right inbetween both districts. Noviciado (2) is between Malasaña and Conde Duque, and Chueca (5) of course in the middle of the eponymous district. San Bernardo (2, 4) and Alonso Martínez (4, 5, 10) are near the northern tip of Malasaña and Chueca, respectively. Plaza de España (3, 10) and Ventura Rodriguez (3) are on the western rim of Conde Duque, Colón (4) at the northeastern corner of Salesas.

What to see and do

  • Museo de Historia de Madrid (Museum of History of Madrid), C. Fuencarral, 78 ,   Tu-Su 10:00-20:00This museum is dedicated to the history of Madrid from 1561 to present. Much of the history is explained by referencing exhibited paintings depicting people or events from the time, so it is also an art museum. Several maps and models (including two large ones in the basement) show how Madrid grew since the 16th century. All exhibits are explained in both English and Spanish. Free.
  • Plaza del Dos de MayoCentral square of the Malasaña neighbourhood. It was named after the 2 May uprising of 1808 against the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. A monument in its centre honours the leaders of the uprising who were executed. The monument is Malasaña’s symbolic landmark that is pictured on Malasaña postcards, on the label of Malasaña beer and other local merchandise.
  • Palacio Longoria (Longoria Palace), Calle Fernando VI, 6 / Calle Pelayo (metro Alonso Martínez). Exceptionally ornamental art nouveau building, erected 1902–03 for the banker and politician Javier González Longoria. It was designed by the Catalan architect Jose Grasses Riera and is considered to be one of the most important and beautiful examples of Spanish modernismo. Today, it houses the Spanish society of authors and editors. It can only be visited from the outside, but you may cast a glance at the entrance hall and staircase.

What to do

  • Cuartel del Conde-DuqueC/ Conde Duque, 11.  Box office: Tu-Sa 17:30-20:30; exhibits: Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 17:30-21:00, Su and holidays 10:30-14:00This former military building now not only serves as a venue for musical, dance, and theatrical performances but also hosts contemporary art exhibits. Tickets for performances are also sold online.

Buy

  • 1 Calle Fuencarral (between metro stations Gran Vía and Tribunal). The high street that is right inbetween Malasaña and Chueca, is the main shopping and promenading route in this part of Madrid. The 500-metre long strip between Gran Vía and Calle Hernán Cortés is closed to motorised traffic which makes it ideal to stroll along. Fuencarral itself is mostly lined by branches of well-known international fashion, cosmetics and accessory chains. Have a look into the side streets on either side if you are looking for something more individual.
  • Mercado de FuencarralC/ Fuencarral, 45Centrally located shopping centre.
  • Time CapsuleC/ Belén, 7 (Chueca). Tiny, high-quality antique shop. The friendly owner is well aware of the worth of her hand-picked gems, so do not expect a bargain! Current offers are published on the shop’s website and instagram.
  • Flamingo Vintage KiloC/ Espíritu Santo, 1.   Monday – Saturday 11:00-21:00Great assortment of vintage fashion that is sold by weight.

Eat

  • Mercado de San IldefonsoCalle de Fuencarral, 57Su-W noon–midnight, F Sa noon–1AMStreetfood market on Fuencarral street, right in the middle of the Malasaña-Chueca area. 15 different stalls offer arepas (cornmeal griddlecake), brochetas (skewer), tacostapas, ham, meats, wine, beer etc. Between late-May and early-June an international street food festival is celebrated.

Budget

  • Antigua HueveríaC/ San Vicente Ferrer, 32 (Malasaña).  Tu-Th 20:00-23:00, F 20:00-24:00, Sa 13:00-24:00, Su 13:00-16:00The very best huevos rotos (‘broken eggs’) and croquetas. Cheap, beautiful and delicious! The chicken-adorned tiled front dates from the 19th century. Mains €8-14.
  • Cervecería 100 Montaditosmultiple locationsDailyPopular nationwide chain that offers 100 different types of montaditos (small sandwiches). Great place to go for a cheap drink and bite to eat.
  • Home Burger BarC/ Espíritu Santo, 12 (Malasaña).  M-Th 13:30-16:00 20:30-24:00, F Sa and holidays 13:30-17:00 20:30-24:00, Su 13:30-17:00 20:30-23:00THE place for serious hamburgers. Americans will feel at home!
  • Home Burger BarC/ Silva, 25 (Gran Vía).  M-Th 13:30-16:00 20:30-24:00, F Sa and holidays 13:30-17:00 20:30-24:00, Su 13:30-17:00 20:30-23:00A second branch of the same concept.
  • Tapería de MalasañaCalle Corredera Alta de San Pablo 8.  08:00-02:00Taperia with lunch room out the back. Reviews mixed about the tapas but great place for lunch; they do a great Cocido Madrileño and the house wine is more than acceptable (although served somewhat cold). Menu del dia €11.

Mid-range

  • La Cocina del Desierto (Al-Jaima), C/ Barbieri, 1 (Metro: Chueca).  Daily 13:30-16:00 21:00-24:00This dark, cave-like Moroccan restaurant has some of the best North African food in the city. The seating is at low Moroccan-style tables and the calm, mellow atmosphere makes you feel like you’re far from the bustling center of Chueca.
  • Lamucca de PezPlaza de Carlos Cambronero, 4 (Metro: Noviciado) ,   Su-W 13:00-01:30, Th 13:00-02:00, F Sa 13:00-02:30Nice designer restaurant popular within the 20s-30s crowd. Good music, cool people, even better food and cocktails. The kitchen opens in the afternoon.
  • La Panza es Primero (Cocina Mex-Mex), C/ Libertad, 33 (Metro: Chueca) ,   Daily 13:00-01:00This is a small, usually crowded, friendly Mexican restaurant with good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Sample some of their tacos and super-cheesy chilaquiles.
  • Restaurante La BarracaC/ Reina, 29 ,   Daily 13:30-16:15 20:00-23:45Recommended for paella if a more authentic experience is sought. €40+, €50 (meal for 2 with drinks).
  • Restaurante SiamC/ San Bernardino, 6 (Metro: Plaza España or San Bernardino).  Daily 12:00-16:00 20:00-24:00Beautifully-decorated with a tranquil atmosphere, the food is reasonable and offers a pleasant departure from Spanish fare, if so desired. Most mains between €8 and €12.

Drink

As becomes a real hipster quarter, Malasaña boasts its own, eponymous brand of craft beer that can be bought in local delis.

Tapas bars

  • El TigreCalle de las Infantas, 30 (Metro: Gran Vía / Chueca).  Su-Th 12:00-01:30, F Sa 12:00-02:00Probably the most well-known tapas bar in Madrid, a must do. Don’t get frightened by how crowded the bar is and go in anyway. This is one of the most lively places in the city! Get beers, big glasses of wine or un mini de mojito and get free big plates of tapas every time you order. Very affordable.

Cafés

  • Café ComercialGlorieta de Bilbao, 7 (Metro: Bilbao). Opened in the 1880s, this is the oldest cafe in Madrid, and has been run by the same family since the early 1900s. There’s a modern internet café upstairs, but the downstairs remains traditional.
  • Pastelería La DuquesitaCalle Fernando VI, 2 (metro Alsonso Martínez).  Monday to Friday 8.30AM-8.30PM, Sa 9.30AM-8.30PM, Su 10AM-8.30PMLong-standing confectionery (established 1914), offering excellent tartlets that are not only delicious but also look picture-perfect. They are also sold to take away. Tartlets 5–6 € a piece.
  • Café GijónPaseo Recoletos, 21 (Metro: Banco de España or Colon). A historic literary cafe. The outdoor terraza is nice in the summer. 
  • Café Restaurant El Espejo (El Pabellón de El Espejo), Paseo de Recoletos, 31 (Metro: Colon).  Daily 09:00-01:00 (café); daily 13:00-24:00 (restaurant)Opened in 1978, but looks much older. Has two divisions: a more casual café and a restaurant. Good food and very crowded during lunchtime. Café: €14-15 (midweek set menu), €19-20 (weekend set menu); Restaurant: set menu €11-17.
  • Libertad 8Libertad 8 is an iconic coffee shop and bar located on Libertad del barrio de Chueca, in Madrid. Opened as a coffee shop in 1975, ever since then it’s served as a stage for artists and singer-songwriters (known as cantautores). It’s become one of the most important spaces for songwriters, with frequent concerts by Pedro Guerra, Rosana, Ismael Serrano, Luis Pastor, Tontxu, Andrés Suárez, Lichis, Carlos Chaouen, or Kiko Tovar.

Bars

  • AreiaC/ Horteleza, 96 (Metro: Chueca).  Monday to Friday 16:00-03:00, Sa Su 14:00-03:00Very cool chill out bar decorated with deep colours in a Moroccan style. Dark and inviting. The seating includes cushions on the floor, traditional tables and chairs, or if you’re lucky, grab the four poster bed at the back. Drinks: €7 before 22:00 and €8 after 22:00.
  • La Via LacteaC/ Velarde 18 (Malasaña, Metro: Tribunal).  Su-Th 20:00-03:00, F Sa 20:00-03:30A swingin’ bar where you can twist the night away with local hipsters.

Clubs

  • DemodeCalle Ballesta (At the back of Gran Via, closest metro may be Tribunal/Gran Via). From 00:00 to 04:00AMCool electronic sounds for 20s-30s. Free.
  • El Junco Jazz ClubPza. Santa Bárbara 10 (Metro: Alonso Martínez). From 23:00 to 05:30AM weekdays, to 06:00AM weekendsSmallish venue, starts the night with live jazz, later on morphs into relaxed night club. Not cheap (once inside, beer still €5.50, mixed drink €8.50), so attracts older crowd than others nearby. €6 with beer, €9 with mixed drink.

Where to stay in Madrid/Malasaña-Chueca

Budget

  • Hostal Jemasaca-Palma61Calle de la Palma 61 (metro: Noviciado) ,   Breakfast (coffee + pastry + juice) is included in price and it’s served in a cafe near hostel. The nearest metro station is Noviciado. The room includes own bathroom and TV. Quiet and clean basic hostel. Double room: about 50e/night.
  • Hostal San MartinCalle Concepción Arenal 4 (Metro: Callao).  Small, clean guest-house on the 4th floor. Ideally located just meters from Gran Via, with great staff and free wi-fi. All rooms have sink & shower, but most share bathrooms. Singles: €30-36; Doubles: €42-48.
  • Hostal MH FuencarralCalle Fuencarral 10 3º (Metro: Gran Via).  Centrally located, all rooms include bathroom, TV, free wi-fi, air conditioning, central heating, laundry and baggage storage facilities. Rooms with kitchen, washing machine and fridge are also available. Single: From €30.
  • Hostal VisaC/ Pérez Galdós, 7 (metro: Chueca).  Simple, clean and secure. Central location close to Gran Via. Friendly staff. Single €30+.
  • Hostal AsunciónPlaza Santa Bárbara, 8, 2º D (Metro: Alonso Martínez) ,   Check-in: 13:00 to 00:00, check-out: 11:00Simple but clean, on 2nd floor of building. Staff speak excellent English, very friendly. Reception open 6:00 to 00:00, but no curfew, guests get access code to front door. Good free WiFi. Doubles €55.

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Spain

Santander Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cantabria Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Santander is the capital and also the largest city of the province of Cantabria in Spain. The city is known throughout the United Kingdom for its bank of the same name.

Understand

Santander has some 180,000 inhabitants and is on the ocean. It features a small historic center and a handful of beaches. Its most famous tourist attraction is the Magdalena Palace which was used as a summer getaway of Spanish royalty.

  • Tourist Information (Oficina de Turismo municipal), Jardines de Pereda, s/n. ,  fax+34 942203005 from Sep 16 until Jun 14 Mon to Fri 8:30AM to 7PM, from Sep 16 until Passion Week Sat and Sun 10AM to 7PM, from Passion week until Sep 14 10AM to 7PM every day, from Jun15 until Sep 14 from 9AM to 9PM every dayM. Mm. M. M,,

Get in

By plane

  • Santander – Parayas, Aeropuerto Internacional de Santander (in the municipality of Camargo, 5 km East of Santander) ,  fax+34 942 202152 mostly domestic and charter flights; international flights from London, Dublin, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt(?), Paris, and Amsterdam

Ryanair fly from Brussels, Berlin, Rome, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona and Tenerife (all year) plus Weeze, Malaga, Dublin and Milano (summer schedule only).

Iberia offers daily flights to Santander from Madrid and Barcelona and weekly flights from Alicante, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia, Paris, and Amsterdam.

Taxis from the airport to Santander are about €20. The taxi stand is in front of the terminal building.

You can also hire taxis with English speaking drivers at the following tel. +34692240616, you can ask for the price of your trip (airport to the centre for €15) and make reservations. Credit cards are accepted.

The Alsa city bus (tel 942211995) to Santander Bus Station (Estación de autobuses) departs daily at 6:30 and 6:50AM and then every 30 minutes from 7:15AM until 10:45PM from directly outside the arrivals terminal (€2,50). Duration of the journey: 10 minutes. If you go back to the airport from the bus station you can buy the tickets on the ticket machine inside the bus station.

Santander Airport has direct access to the motorway A8 Santander – Bilbao.

By bus

ALSA operates daily bus services to Santander from Galicia, Asturias, Pais Vasco, Extremadura, Castile-Leon, Zaragoza, and Barcelona; and weekly services from Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The trip from Madrid takes about 5 hours (about €30) and the trip from Barcelona takes about 9 hours (via Zaragoza).

There are about 20 buses per day from Bilbao to Santander, journey time about 90 minutes. Single ticket €6.71, return €12.75 (December 2020).

Bilman Bus offers daily bus services from [ , Alicante, Cartagena, and Murcia.

For more information see the  Santander bus station (Estación de Autobuses de Santander)   with timetables from and to all destinations available.

By train

RENFE operates daily train services from Madrid and Alicante to  Santander station (Estación de Santander) with stops in the main cities on the way (Palencia, Valladolid, Ávila). Trains leave from Madrid Chamartin Station at 7:40AM Mon to Fri, 1:30PM, and 6:05PM daily. The trip from Madrid takes about 5-6 hours (~€35).

Feve offers daily train services from Bilbao and Asturia to Santander .

By ferry

You may also wish to take a ferry from Plymouth, England to the  Santander ferry terminal. The journey time is approximately 24 hours each way, and is an interesting journey, although you may wish to resist having a large meal too soon after departure from Plymouth if you are unused to sea travel as the Cantabrian Sea can be extremely rough.

Britanny Ferries operates two sailings a week from the UK to Santander from mid-March to October, on Wednesdays from Portsmouth and on Sundays from Plymouth, average sailing time hours. operated by the modern MV Pont Aven. From November until around December 20th and from Mid-February until March only the Plymouth – Santander service is operated with MS Bretagne, journey time 24 hrs. There is no service from around December 20th until mid-February.

By car

from France

Santander is 150 ml (246 km) from Biarritz, 272 ml (437 km) from Bordeaux, 327 ml (537 km) from Toulouse, 583 ml (937 km) from Marseille and 685 ml (1103 km) from Nice.

from Spain

Santander is 517 ml (832 km) from Alicante, 443 ml (709 km) from Barcelona, 173 ml (279 km) from León, 243 ml (399 km) from Madrid, 630 ml (1014 km) from Marbella, 226 ml (364 km) from Salamanca, 474 ml (763 km) from Santiago de Compostela, 155 ml (250 km) from Valladolid, 314 ml (505 km) from Vigo and 249 ml (401 km) from Zaragoza.

from Portugal

Santander is 848 km (527 mi) from Lisbon and 405 ml (648 km) from Porto.

Get around

Image of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideBy foot

Santander is reasonably small. The distance from one end of town to the other are some 6km (4 miles) and can be walked in 2 hours along the coast road. Within the city center everything is within walking distance (15min walking).

By bus

Public buses are available at reasonable prices. Each journey costs € 1.10 (more for journeys out of the city proper, or you can save 40% by buying a 10-journey ‘Bonobus’ at a ‘Tabaco’ shop). A 10 journey Bonobus ticket costs € 6 (December 2020). Specifically, buses can take you to the main beaches some 2-4km (2m) from the city center. Timetables and map for download: 

  • Hop On Hop Off Bus, tel 800-750-2859 departs from the Cathdral daily at 10.45 and 11:25AM, 12.00 noon, 1.15, 1.55, 4.45, 5.20, 6.00 and 6:35PM, with stops at Pasea Pereda, Museo Maritimo, Palacio de Festivales y Planetario, Palacio de la Magdalena, Casiono/Playa de Sardinero, Faro de Cabo Mayor, Matalenas/Campo de Golf. Estadio, Universidad, Avenida Valdecilla, Cuatro Caminos and Barrio Pesquero, the entire journey which takes around 75 min. Internet rates: for 24 hours $21,95 per adult, $10.95 per child (5 to 15), for 48 hours $24,95 per adult, $11.95 per child (5 to 15) plus $3.95 “processing fee” per order. No refunds! Children under 5: free of charge. Explanations given in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Japanese plus a commentary for kids.

By taxi

Taxis are widely available throughout the city.

  • Radiotaxi : tel. 942333333. Tariffs: Mon to Fri 6AM to 10PM, Sat 8AM to 3PM minimum € 3,15 plus € 0,78 per km, luggage € 1,17, waiting time € 15,52 per hour. Mon to Fri 10PM to 6AM, Sat midnight to 8AM, 3AM to midnight, Sun and public holidays: minimum € 4,00 plus € 1,02 per km, luggage € 1,50, waiting time € 20,23 per hour (2020)

By bicycle

The city offers bicycle rental, for a very low price, at a number of locations around Santander (Jardines de Pereda, El Sardinero, La Magdalena). Bikes are loaned for the day, so get in early to avoid missing out.

What to see and do

  • Palacio de la MagdalenaLa Magdalena, s/n ,  fax+34 942282689 Summer residence of the Spanish King from 1913 until 1930.

Museums

  • Prehistoric and Archaeological Museum of Cantabria (Museo de Prehistoria y Arqueología de Cantabria), Casimiro Sainz 4.  from Sep 16 until Jun 15 Tue to Sat 9AM to 1PM and 4 to 7PM, from Jun 16 until Sep 15 Tue to Sat 10AM to 1PM and 4 to 7PM, Sundays all the year round from 11AM to 2PMAn impressively well curated and presented museum focused on the ancient history of the local Cantabria region. All items are presented in Spanish, French and English, and there are a significant amount of video and interactive displays. More than 1000 objects are displayed with a Neolithic focus, though the collection ranges at least the Paleolithic through Roman and medieval periods. €5.
  • Maritime Museum of Cantabria (Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico), San Martín de Bajamar s/n. ,  fax+34 942281068 Oct 1 until Apr 30 Tue to Sun 10AM until 6PM, May 2 until Sept 30 Tue to Sun 10AM until 7:30PM, closed Mon, Jan 1, Good Friday, May 1 and Dec 25adults: €6, children from 4 to 12: €4, senior citizens over 65: €4, tourist groups: €5 per person.
  • Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino), Calle de Jerónimo Sainz de la Maza.  Jun 15 to Sep 15: Tue to Fri 6 to 9PM, Sat 11AM to 2PMIn the lower floor of the bullring, in the western part of the city, near the Plaza de México, with bullfighting memorabilia, posters, photos and paintings, and colourful suits of bullfighters from all over Spain admission free.
  • Municipal Museum of Arts (Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes), C/Rubio, 6 ,  fax+34 942203125 from 16 Sep until 14 Jun: Mon to Fri 10AM to 1PM, 5.30 to 9PM, Sat: 10AM to 1PM, closed Sat afternoon, Sun, from 15 Jun until 15 Sep: Mon to Fri 11:15AM to 1PM, 5.30 to 9PM, Sat: 10AM to 1PM, closed Sat afternoon, Sun,Principal art museum of the region with s remarkable collection of paintings and sculpture from the 15th to 20th centuries, from Italian, Flemish and Spanish schools and a painting of King Fernando VII by Goya admission: free.
  • Biblioteca Menéndez PelayoC/ Rubio 6.  Mon to Fri 9 to 11:30AM. guided visits every 30 min.
  • Museo del Faro de Cabo Mayor (exhibition of the painter Eduardo Sanz).  Jul and Aug Tue to Sun 11AM to 1:30PM, 5 to 9PM, rest of the year:11AM to 1:30PM, 5 to 8PMThere’s an art gallery and a strange collection of lighthouse images from popular culture–on everything from matchboxes to liquor bottles. admission free.
  • Colección del Ateneo de SantanderC/ Gómez Oreña, 5-1º ,  fax+34 942360520Salón Social and Cafetería: 9AM to 1PM, 4 to 9:30PMadmission free.
  • Colección del Parlamento de CantabriaC/ Alta 31/33.
  • Colecciones y Patrimonio de Caja CantabriaC/ Rubio 6.  Mon to Sat 9AM to 1:30PM, Tue and Thu 4.30 to 9PM except Jul, Aug, closed Sat afternoon and Sun.

Old Town

Churches

  • Cathedral – Catedral de Santa Maria de la AsunciónPlaza del Obispo José Eguino y Trecu s/n.  Mon to Fri 10AM to 1PM and 4 to 7:30PM, Holy service at 11AM and 6:30PM, Sat 10AM to 1PM and 4 to 8PM, Holy service at 11AM, 5 and 8PM, Sun 10AM to 1PM and 5 to 9PM, Holy service at 12AM, 1.30, 5 and 8PM. The cathedral cannot be visited during services, guided tours free of charge in July and August.
  • Iglesia del Santísimo CristoC/ Somorrostro s/nJun 1 until Sep 30: 8AM to 1PM and 4 to 8PM every day, Oct 1 until May 31: 8AM to 1:30PM and 5 to 8PM every day, Holy services from mon to Fri at 11AM and 8:30PM, Sat 10AM to 1PM and 4 to 8PM, Holy service at 8.15, 10 and 11:15AM, 5 and 8PM, Sat at 10 and 11:15AM, 1.15, 6 and 8:30PM, Sun at 8.15, 10, 11 and 12AM, 1, 5 and 8:30PM. The church cannot be visited during services, guided tours free of charge in July and August.
  • Iglesia de la AnunciaciónC/ Juan de Herrera 17open during services onlygood example of Renaissance architecture
  • Iglesia de la ConsolaciónC/Alta 19open during services onlychurch in classical Baroque style
  • Iglesia de Santa LucíaC/ Daoiz y Velarde 11open during services onlybuilding of the eclectic style dating from the 19th century
  • Iglesia del Sagrado CorazónC/ San Joseopen during services onlyone of the best examples of Neogothic style in town

Public buildings

  • Santander Ban (Edificio del Banco Santander), Paseo Pereda 9-12 (opposite Pereda Gardens, not open to the public, in the city center, best reached with bus no. 1,3,4.C1,4.C2,9 and 10).
  • Banco Español de CréditoHernan Cortes 11building in the eclectic style of 1900
  • Banco de EspañaAvenida Alfonso XIIIopened 1922
  • Town Hall (Ayuntamiento)Plaza del Ayuntamiento s/nbuilding in the eclectic style of the 19th century, richly decorated with columns, balconies and coats of arms
  • Mercado del EsteC/General Molaerected from 1840 onwards, completely reconstructed in 1986
  • Mercado de la EsperanzaPlaza de la Esperanzainaugurated 1904 in Modernism style
  • Plaza Porticadaconstructed as new city center after the fire of 1941
  • Casa PardoPaseo de Perez GaldosHouse from 1915, also called ‘Palacio de los Botin’ with spectacular views over the bay, one of the most splendid mansions of the city, at Sardinero, reached with bus no 10
  • Casa PomboPlaza de Jose Antonio 3 (mansion of 1875, in the city center, reached with bus no 1).
  • Dique de Gamazosmall fishing port, dating from 1908, 180 m long, 15 m wide, 8 m deep, in the city center, reached with bus no 1
  • Post Office Building (Edificio de Correos), Avenida de Alfonso XII.  An impressive building, one of the landmarks of Santander, builtin 1915,in the city center, reached with bus no 1 and 8
  • Edificio de Los Arcos de BotinHernan Cortes 21Neoclassic building on the north side of Piaza Pombo, near the harbour, good example of 19th cent. architecture, visitors are not allowed inside, in the city center, reached with bus no 1
  • Edificio de Los PinaresDuque de Santo Mauro (near Primera Playa, between Calle Duque de Santo Mauro and Calle Joaquín Costa). Impressive private home of ship owner Francisco García, with an outstanding view on the beach as well as Renaissance and Baroque elements of architecture
  • Edificio de ViviendasCalle Castelar, 15 (in the city center, reached with bus no 1). One of the city’s grandest mansions of the early 1900S in the historic district along the Calle Castelar and Paseo de Pereda.

Streets and Squares

  • Paseo de Pereda y Calle Castelar (in the city center, reached with bus no 1). 1550 m long street with nice views on the harbour and the cathedral and many buildings from the 18th to 20th cent., including Puerto Chico, Dique de Gamazo, Cuesta del Gas, and Banco Vitalicio
  • Plaza de José Antonio (Plaza Pombo) (Calle de Hernán Cortés and General Mola are on the north and south, and Pancho Cossío and Las Infantas on the east and west). charming plaza with colorful flowerbeds and musician bandstand

Parks

  • Alameda de OviedoSan Fernando, s/nin the western part of the city center, running from Cuatro Caminos Roundabout in the west, to Plaza de Numancia in the east, specifically between Calle de San Fernando and Calle Vargas.
  • Jardines de PeredaPaseo de Pereda, s/nSantander’s most famous park with a lot of trees, bushes and flowers, a pond, several sculptures, a music pavilion, a monument to the writer José María de Pereda (1833-1906), a fountain dedicated to the Cantabrian author, Concha Espina (1877-1953), the Fuente de los Meones and the city tourist office nearby.
  • Parque de AltamiraPaseo del General Dávila, s/n (in the north of the city near the commercial center between Paseo del General Dávila and Calle Vía Cornelia). botanical garden in city center, covering a total area of 16000m2.
  • Jardines de PiquíoAvenida de Castañeda, s/noccupying an area of 13000 m2, with fine views on the Ensenada del Sardinero, Cabo Menor to the north and Magdalena Peninsula to the south. On a promontory between Primera and Segunda Playa (First and Second Beaches, originally known as the “Piquillo” or the “Punta del Rostro” (Face Point).
  • Parque del Doctor González MesonesAvenida del Stadium, s/n (in theeast of the city near El Sardinero and the football stadium). park with an area of 40000m2,with fountains, ornate stone benches with heraldic shields and a statue of the poet José Luis Hidalgo.
  • Parque de La MargaJerónimo Sainz de la Maza, s/nwest of the city, near Puerto Pesquero (Fishing Port), Dársena de Maliaño (Maliaño Docks), fish market and restaurants in the Barrio Pesquero (Fishing Quarter).
  • Parque de La MagdalenaAvenida de La Magdalena, s/n.  8AM to 10PM dailyWith 25000 m2 the biggest park in the city, surrounding the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). It was deserted until the end of the 19th century and houses a hermitage dedicated to Saint Magdalena and a defensive castle overlooking the bay. It has a zoo on the rocky cliffs on the northern end, with lions, seals, penguins and polar bears and a galleon nearby that belonged to the sailor and adventurer Vital Alsar.
  • Parque de Cabo MayorAvenida del Faro, s/n, (situated near El Sardinero beaches.). Covering an area of more than 100,000m2, the park is extremely spectacular on windy days, when the waves crash onto the cliffs. The Faro de Cabo Mayor is the oldest lighthouse in Cantabria. It was built in 1839, is 30m high and its light can be seen from 29 miles away. The rock formation of the Puente del Diablo (Devil’s Bridge) and the Panteón del Inglés (Englishman’s Pantheon) is nearby.

What to do

  • Picnic on Magdalena Peninsula
  • Learn how to sail
  • 5 city walks: go to the Santander Tourist Office in the city center (Old Market, near the Old Banco de Santander) and get a free city guide; the free city guide describes these 5 itineraries.   These 5 itineraries are enough to keep you busy for 1-2 days.
  • boat round trip: There is a regular boat service through the Santander Bay, boats run from Santander to Pedreña, Somo and back. For a 45-minutes round-trip you have to pay €3,90 and the boats starts at least every hour.
  • Enjoy the beaches. Walk up to the lighthouse at Cabo Mayor, visit the museum and enjoy the view from the top.

Beaches

Santander has a lot of fine beaches.

  • Magdalena Beach (Playa de la Magdalena)
  • Sardinero Beaches (Playa del Sardinero)
  • Camel Beach (Playa del Camello)
  • Mataleñas Beach (Playa de Mataleñas)
  • Magdalena Peninsula (see the penguins in the ‘mini-Zoo’) & Magdalena Palace (Palacio de Magdalena)
  • Lighthouse at Cabo Mayor (faro de Cabo Mayor), and the devil’s bridge (puente del diablo), a bizarre rock formation.
  • Playa de Bikinis, safe and lovely beach on the Peninsula de la Magdalena, protected from big waves, very calm.
  • Playa de Covachos, Cotero (Santa Cruz de Bezana), one of the most attractive beaches,
  • Playa de El Bocal, Corbanera, peaceful and quiet,
  • Playa de El Camello, Avenida de la Reina Victoria, near Magdalena Peninsula,
  • Playa de El Puntal, Somo (Ribamontán al Mar),
  • Playa de La Concha, in the middle of Sardinero,
  • Playa de La Magdalena, Ensenada del Sardinero, with fine views of the bay,
  • Playa de La Maruca, Monte,
  • Playa de la Virgen del Mar, San Román, peaceful and quiet,
  • Playa de Langre, Langre (Ribamontán al Mar), spectacular situation between the cliffs,
  • Playa de Los Molinucos, small beach north of Segunda Playa,
  • Playa de Los Peligros, Avenida de la Reina Victoria, quiet beach in a sheltered bay,
  • Playa de Mataleñas, between Cabo Mayor and Cabo Menor, the ‘luxury’ beach of Santander,
  • Playa de Somocuevas, Liencres (Piélagos), with fine golde sands,
  • Playa de Valdearenas, Liencres (Piélagos), fine sand dunes,
  • Playa Primera de El Sardinero, Plaza de Italia, the most famous beach of Santander,
  • Playa Segunda de El Sardinero, Playa de Castaneda.
  • Somo Beach is a little bit outside of Santander. It can be reached from downtown Santander by boat. Boats leave every 10 minutes and the boat ride takes about 10 minutes. Somo Beach is about 3 km long and is less crowded than beaches in Santander.

Cultural events

  • Centro Cultural Caja CantabriaTantín, 25.  The buildings is also known as “Modesto Tapia”. It was designed by the Catalan architect, Domenech i Muntaner, a contemporary of Gaudí, and was inaugurated by Alfonso XIII in 1907. It incorporates many Modernist architectural features and was completely re-modeled in 1994. The Social and Cultural Office of Cantabria Bank offers theater performances, rock, pop and jazz concerts, conferences, art exhibits and workshops in drama, painting and photography.
  • Centro Cultural Doctor MadrazoCasimiro Sainz, s/n, (near Tetuán Tunnel and Puerto Chico).  Organized by the Cultural Bureau of Santander’s City Council.
  • Palacio de Festivales de CantabriaGamazo, s/n.  Designed by Javier Sáenz de Oiza, opened in 1991, classical music concerts, ballet and dance performances, home to Cantabria’s School of Dramatic Arts

Festivals

  • Fiestas Virgen del Mar (Lady of the Sea festival): May 19
  • Los Baños de Ola: July 16 until 20
  • Fiestas de Santiago (St.James’s Festival): July 25
  • Mercado medieval (medieval market): second half of August
  • Romería del Faro (pilgrimage to the lighthouse): August 23

Buy

  • Lupa (big supermarket chain), Avenida de Parayas, s/n.
  • Mercado de la EsperanzaEl Mercado, s/ (Behind the Mercado de la Esperanza in Plaza de la Esperanza is an open-air market selling clothes, fruits and flowers. Mon to Fri 8AM to 2PM and 5 to 7:30PM, Sat 8AM – 2PM).  busy market built in 1897 and restored in 1977, oldest surviving market in Santander after the Mercado del Este, built in 1839, was recently demolished
  • Santa María PescadosSan Francisco, 12 (fish market located in the San Francisco complex). Mon to Fri 9AM to 1:30PM and 4:30 to 8:30PM, Sat 9AM – 1:30PMoffering fresh seafood from the Cantabrian Sea, shellfish, hake, sea-bass, sardines, squid, octopus lobsters, percebes (goose barnacles) and crayfish
  • HilarioGeneral Dávila.  Mon to Fri 9AM to 2PM and 5 to 8PM, Sat 9AM to 2PMmeat shop located at the Hospital Santa Clotilde

Learn

The Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo offers summer courses for university students, including Spanish language courses for foreigners, that take place both at the Magdalena Palace and at Residencia Las Llamas.

The Universidad de Cantabria offers Spanish language courses of 4 to 10 weeks duration throughout the year through the Centro de Idiomas (CIUC). CIUC also coordinates exchange students at the university.

Eat

  • The best area to eat fish is the district close to fishing harbour (Barrio Pesquero), although locals usually regard this as a tourist trap.
  • Santander is known amongst Spaniards for its many Regma ice-creamery outlets. At times it can seem that they have an outlet on every corner. Their very generous serving sizes of 8 popular flavours of ice cream have been melting down the hands of locals for years, even throughout the winter months. Other chains such as Capri on Paseo de Pereda provide a greater range of choices.
  • Señores Patatas on Calle Santa Lucía offers student-priced meals of fries and hamburgers. Try the ‘Five Sauces’ (Cinco Salsas) plates with five types of fry cut and five types of sauce.
  • Taj Mahal on Calle Santa Lucía is the only Indian restaurant in town and serves a tasty alternative to the Spanish staples.
  • Sakura near Cuatro Caminos serves Japanese dishes.
  • La Casona del JudíoResconorio 35.  40 €.
  • La BombiCasimiro Sainz 15.  42 €.
  • La MulataTetuan sn.  30 €.
  • CañadioGómez Oreña, 15.  45 €.
  • La Posada del MarCastelar 19.  45-55 €.
  • ZacariasHernán Cortés 38.  one of the best restaurants in Santander, owned by the best known chef de cuisine in Santander, Cantabrian and seafood dishes, 45 €.
  • El SerbalAndrés del Rio, 7.  1.30 until 4PM, 8.30 until 11:30PM, closed Sun evening and Mon55 €.
  • Bar del PuertoHernán Cortés 63 ,  fax+34 942219393 60 €.
  • La Sardina de PlataPlaza Doctor Fleming, 3restaurant in nautic design, serving regional cuisine, cheese mousse, beef fillet with truffles and cognac, fish salad, € 20 to 40.
  • Bodega CigalenaDaoíz y Velarde, 19 (Zona: Puerto Chico).  1 to 3PM, 8PM to midnightCastilian bodega, popular with younger people, serving fish soup (sopa de pescado) and shellfish paella, great selection of wines from Castilia. € 30.
  • AltamiraAvenida Reina Victoria, 27.  Serves traditional cuisine.
  • Copa CabanaReina Victoria, 46.  spectacular views
  • El CormoránSegunda Playa del Sardinero.  dining by the sea
  • FigónCisneros, 7.  home-style cuisine
  • GelínNueva Montaña, s/n.  Traditional and rustic
  • Horno de BurgosLa Unión, 4.  Traditional Castilian cuisine
  • Peña PrietaVargas, 35.  Fresh fish
  • La MejilloneraPlaza de la Leña, 4.  Mussels
  • CapitolFrancisco de Quevedo, 7.  seafood tapas
  • El Estanque de GamaGama (Next to the N634).  One of the most beautiful restaurants in Cantabria. 20 min. from Santander towards Bilbao. It is also an elegant cocktail bar in the middle of the Santoña`s Nature Reserve Marshes. €20.

Drink

Everybody starts their night at Plaza de Cañadío, in the centre of the old town. It is a hive for young Santanderinos and exchange students. It is surrounded on three sides by various bars and restaurants. This is where most drinking of calimocho – the red wine/coca-cola combo favoured by young Spaniards – takes place.

Later in the night (from about 2AM) the drinking action moves to bars and clubs in the area, including La EmbajadaRetrosCafe del SolLa Rana VerdeOpium and many others. Three major dance clubs are located nearby – El DivinoMalaespina and Rocaverde.

Where to stay in Santander

  • Hotel Las BrisasCalle La Braña 14, El Sardinero Cantabria.
  • Santemar Hotel, Calle Joaquin Costa 28, Tel: +34 942 272 900, in the City Centre.
  • Hotel Sardinero, Plaza de Italia 1, Tel.: +34 942 271 100, near El Sardinero Beach.
  • Hospedaje Magallanes, Magallanes 22 Entlo, Tel.: +34 942 371 421, in the City Centre.
  • Hotel Chiqui, Avenida Manuel Garcia Lago 9, Tel.: +34 902 282 700, near El Sardinero Beach.
  • NH Ciudad de Santander, Menéndez Pelayo, 13-15, +34 94 2319900.

Go next

  • Castro-Urdiales: seaside village east of Santander with a nice Gothic church and lighthouse.
  • Laredo (Spain): another seaside village to the East, the old quarter is worth a visit.
  • Potes: this small village is the key to the Picos de Europa mountain range (which is a National Park), and the Liébana region. Good eating place, and the local orujo (a strong spirits drink) is highly recommended.
  • Reinosa: the main town on southern Cantabria, it’s a good base to explore the Cantabrian mountain range (Cordillera Cantábrica), with the Alto Campoo sky resort, the Roman city of Julióbriga and several Medieval churches close by.
  • Santillana del Mar: Picturesque stone village 1 hour away by bus; visit the famous cave of Altamira.
  • San Vicente de la Barquera – Sea-side fishing village, about 30 minutes by bus. See the fishing vessels unload what Madrid will be eating tomorrow. Fantastic tides, so stay for at least 6 hours. Nice Roman bridge.
  • Valles Pasiegos: for a taste of rural Cantabria, no better place than the Valley of the Pas river, especially Toranzo, Selaya, Villacarriedo, Vega de Pas, San Roque de Riomiera and San Pedro del Romeral. Try the typical sobaos and quesadas, two traditional desserts.
  • Ethnography Museum (Museo Etnografico de Cantabria Casa Velarde), Calle de los Heroes dos de Mayo, Muriedas, Camargo (5 ml/8 km from Santander).  from Jul until Sep Tue to Sat 10AM to 1PM, 4 to 7PM, Sun 11AM to 2PM, from October to June Tue to Sat 10AM to 1PM, 4 to 6PM, Sun 11AM to 2PMHistorical 17th-century building, birthplace of Spanish artillery captain Pedro Velarde y Santillan, antiquities and period furnishings, kitchen utensils, paintings.

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Spain

Arganzuela Coronavirus (COVID-19) Madrid Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Arganzuela is a district in southern Madrid on the banks of river Manzanares. In addition to that, this article covers all southern districts of the Spanish capital, most of which are little frequented by international travellers.

Get in

Image of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideImage of Destination GuideMadrid’s main station, Atocha, is located at the northern edge of Arganzuela. Cercanías (suburban trains) also stop at EmbajadoresPirámidesDelicias and Estación Sur de Autobuses stations. Metro stations that serve this district are EmbajadoresPalos de la FronteraDelicias and Legazpi of line 3, Puerta de ToledoAcaciasPirámides and Marqués de Vadillo of line 5, Méndez AlvaroArganzuela-PlanetarioLegazpi and Usera of line 6.

What to see and do

  • Parque Madrid Río (metro: Legazpi or Marqués de Vadillo, or cercanías: Príncipe Pio). The motorway that used to carve into the city and blight the banks of Río Manzanares, was banished into a tunnel, in a superlative urban landscaping project that cost some 4 billion euros. Nowadays, a unique 6-km long landscape garden accompanies the river on both banks. For this project, 33 bridges were dedicated, that allow you to cross from one side to another whenever you want, as well as 5500 benches installed and 33,000 trees planted. The park is multifaceted, including flowerbeds, Baroque-style boxwood broderies, pine, cypress or bamboo groves, playgrounds, climbing garden, skatepark etc. Asphalted paths are ideal for cyclists and roller skaters, while pedestrians enjoy priority rights. Cafés, “beach bars” and kiosks provide sustenance.
  • Planetario de Madrid (Planetarium of Madrid), Avda del Planetario, 16 (or).  Tu-F 17:00-19:45, Sa Su holiday 11:00-13:45 and 17:00-20:45Features several exhibits related to space exploration, two screens playing documentaries, an interactive area and, of course, the planetarium. Projections last 45 minutes each. Different ones play on different days so check their website. All the exhibits are explained in Spanish only and the projections in the planetarium are also in Spanish. Entry is free but the sessions in the planetarium each have a cost of €3.60 for a regular ticket and €1.65 for a reduced ticket (children and seniors).
  • Museo de Ferrocarril de Madrid (Railway Museum of Madrid), Paseo de las Delicias, 61 (; Renfe Cercanias: Delicias) ,   Oct-May: M-Th 09:30-15:00, F and holidays 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-20:00; Jun-Sep: Tu-Su 10:00-15:00Museum with four railway tracks, exhibiting a large number of steam, diesel and electric locomotives used in Spain in the 19th and 20th century. Also on display are several model railways. Exhibits are described in Spanish only. M-Th, F before 14:00, holidays: €6 (adults), €4 (concessions), free (children under 4); F after 14:00, Sa Su: €2.50.

What to do

  • Matadero MadridPlaza de Legazpi, 8 (metro: Legazpi). Usually Tu-F 16:00-21:00, Sa Su 11:00-21:00, on M only the cinetheque is openedMadrid’s former main abattoir (matadero), an early 20th-century industrial brick compound in Arganzuela district, has been converted to an arts and cultural centre since the 2000s. It is intended to serve as a cross-disciplinary laboratory of contemporary arts, including studios, exhibition spaces, a theatre, an arthouse cinema, and a library, as well as a café. One of the preferred spots of the city’s “artsy” crowd to meet. There are performances and other events almost every day.
  • Sala La RivieraPaseo Bajo de la Virgen del Puerto, s/n (Metro: Puerta del Angel or Principe Pío) ,   Another large venue for touring rock and pop bands.
  • Gruta ’77C/ Cuclillo, 6 (Metro: Oporto) ,   Concerts everyday – pop, rock, and punk.
  • Atlético de MadridPlays games in the Vicente Calderón stadium. The club is one of the most successful in Spanish League history, having won both La Liga and the Copa del Rey on ten occasions, including a double in 1996. They also won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1962, were European Cup runners-up in 1974 and 2014, Intercontinental Cup winners in 1975 and more recently won the UEFA Europa League both in 2010 and 2012.
  • Madrid Open (Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open), Camino de Perales (Metro: San Fermin – Orcasur; bus 23/78/123). Held in mid-May at La Caja Mágica. 

Eat

  • Freiduría de Gallinejas EmbajadoresC/ Embajadores, 84 (near Glorieta Embajadores, Metro lines L3 and L5).   Monday – Saturday 11:00-23:00, Su 12:00-22:00Another classic tapas bar in Madrid, not for conservative stomachs. Their most popular tapas are two of the most typical and traditional dishes in Madrid: gallinejas and entresijos. A treat for adventurous palates and lamb-lovers. Raciónes €3-9.

Drink

  • Café Ziryab Tablao FlamencoPaseo de la Esperanza 17 (Metro Acacias) ,   shows at 9.30 pmA Flamenco venue with daily shows at 9:30 by first line artists, in an intimate ambiance. Kind staff, nice drinks and tapas, personalized attention and the artists right in front of you. 22€.
  • La Esquina de EusebioC/ Caramuel 16 (Metro: Puerta del Angel).  Trays of tapas are passed from one person to another in this typical bar of Madrid, absolutely not touristy but really worth it. And it’s not so far from the centre.

Where to stay in Madrid/Arganzuela

  • Sol HostelCalle Bernardino Obregon 25 (metro: Palos de la Frontera or Embajadores) ,   Rooms from 4 to 14 people, plus breakfast and internet (WIFI). Dorm bed: €12-17, breakfast included.

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