Spain's northern ferry hub is more than a port. Santander is a lively cultural center, with plenty to see and do. Getting to Santander by bus is easy, with numerous daily connections from Bilbao, Madrid, and other northern Spanish cities. That includes the chance to transfer from Madrid-Barajas Airport, a really handy option for trans-Atlantic travelers.
Every bus to Santander will arrive at either Aeropuerto Santander or the Plaza Estaciones. Aeropuerto is, unsurprisingly, a stop at the airport, so it's only useful for those transferring to regional flights. Plaza Estaciones is much more central. Very close to the cathedral and the city's major museums, the bus station is also around 15 minutes walk from the port, so it's a convenient spot to arrive for a host of reasons.
Passengers won't need to consider multiple bus companies when booking a bus to Santander. Only Alsa operates on routes into the city, running direct connections from cities like Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Oviedo.
Taking buses to Santander makes sense on many levels. For starters, Alsa offers a superb service, providing on-board internet connectivity, entertainment apps, and comfortable, spacious seating. Journey times from Madrid aren't too long, and direct buses from Barajas Airport are available. That's a big bonus for those arriving on flights across the Atlantic, and it means that they won't need to wait for connecting flights or make the journey into Madrid to find railway connections. Add in a central bus station, and there's a great case for taking the bus to Santander.
Famous as a port for hundreds of years, Santander has blossomed into a tourist destination. Must-see sights include the Cathedral, the boldly designed Centro Botin (which offers plenty of science-related fun), and the outstanding Museum of the Sea. Heading out to the Magdalena Peninsular is advisable as well. Visitors will find the opulent Palacio de la Magdalena, as well as one of Spain's best city beaches. Head to the Playa de la Magdalena or the more central Playa del Sardinero to swim and sunbathe, or pull up a chair at one of many beach bars to enjoy the university city's excellent nightlife.