Getting there & away
From the bus station (942 21 19 95; www.santan dereabus.com), Continental-Auto runs at least six buses daily to/from Madrid (€24 to €32, five to 5½ hours), plus five or six to/from Burgos (€9.45 to €10, 2½ to 3½ hours). ALSA runs frequent buses to Bilbao (€6.05, 1½ hours) and at least six to San Sebastián (€11.70, three hours), Irún and the French border. ALSA also runs to Oviedo (€11.80 to €20.40, three hours), with most buses stopping in Llanes, but has only two daily to Arriondas and Ribadesella.
Heading west, take the A67 for Torrelavega for a quick getaway. The N623 to Burgos – a pretty route – is the main road south. All traffic heads out of the city along the south side of the train station.
Europcar (942 21 78 17) is inside the FEVE train station. Next door, local crowd Alcar (942 21 47 06) rents Fiat Pandas for €43 a day.
There are two train stations. Renfehas three trains daily to/from Madrid (€35.90 to €47.90, 5½ to 8¾ hours) via Palencia and Ávila. Six trains also run daily to/from Reinosa, two of which continue on to Valladolid.
FEVE (942 20 95 22; www.feve.es in Spanish), next door, operates two trains daily to/from San Vicente de la Barquera, Llanes and Oviedo (€12.25, 4¾ hours) and three to/from Bilbao (€6.75, 2½ to three hours).
From Plymouth in the UK, Brittany Ferries (UK 08703 665333, Spain 942 36 06 11; www.brittanyferries.co.uk) runs a twice-weekly car ferry to Santander (20½ hours) from mid-March to mid-November.Two people with a car pay return fares of up to UK£966, depending on the season, for a standard interior cabin.
The airport is about 5km south of town at Parayas. A handful of daily flights serve Madrid and Barcelona. Ryanair has flights here from London Stansted, Liverpool, Frankfurt (Hahn) and Rome (Ciampino).