The history of Santander goes back a long way - there is strong archaeological evidence that the Romans lived there. It has played a very important role in the cultural and military history of Spain for more than 1,000 years. Its most glorious moment likely came '[d]uring the Reconquista (Reconquest) when Spain fought to recapture the country from the Moors... Santander was involved in numerous naval battles, together with San Vicente de la Barquera, Laredo and Castro Urdiales, the four towns making up the so called Cuatro Villas del Mar (Four Towns on the Sea). In 1248 during the reign of Fernando III el Santo (The Saint) Santander took part in the battle for Seville, fighting under the command of Admiral Boniface. In recognition of its contribution, the King granted Santander a coat of arms boasting a golden tower, a chain over the Guadalquivir river and a ship.'

Today, Santander is popular among a wide variety of domestic vacacioners, but less so among international tourists. As a result, Santander is a wonderful place to study abroad, as immersion in the local culture and learning the language is much more easily facilitated when there is not the crutch of the familiar, as there is with some of the more popular study-abroad destinations. Santander is popular with Spaniards for the same reason Cannes is with the French or Positano is with the Italians: Because it is a beautiful seaside town with first-rate cultural offerings, world-class cuisine, and fascinating attractions.