10 of the best tapas bars in Santander, northern Spain


Fiona Dunlop

San Sebastián gets the kudos and crowds – but this port city in Cantabria has its own take on pinchos, plus top fish and seafood

Behind Santander’s sweep of bay lies a grid of streets dotted with bars that offer a fusion of Basque-style pintxos with versatile tapas, or pinchos as they’re called here. And unlike those of San Sebastián, a couple of hours east, they are not heaving with tourists. Yet this tiny region of Spain punches well above its weight in attractions: think the rugged Sierra Cantabrica, blissful sandy beaches close to the centre, and the cave paintings of Altamira half an hour away. Among the specialities, preserved anchovy fillets (anchoas del Cantábrico) are the local favourite, but the covered Mercado de la Esperanza also flaunts a tantalisingly varied catch. Add in Renzo Piano’s striking waterfront Centro Botín art centre and there’s no shortage of reasons to visit.

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