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Comillas or Santillana to stay

I'm having a hard time making a decision so am turning to all of you. I'll have a three nights around Comillas/Santillana and trying to decide which to stay in. The hotel in Santillana looks a little nicer, and it's a little closer to the things I want to see, but they'd both be fine and close in price. I wouldn't be there in the middle of the day so would miss most of the heavy crowds (end of May) in Santillana, but how is the town in the evening to get a dinner and wander? I assume the stores would be closed, but do the restaurants feel as touristy (read:expensive) as people have said it feels during the day? Are evening wanderings and restaurants better in Comillas?

I'll be able to see both towns for half day at some point but am about to flip a coin on where to stay.

Posted by
678 posts

Santillana del Mar (also known as the "town of the three lies", this has to do with its name) is a beautiful but very touristy town, full of medieval buildings...and also very small, you can visit it in a couple of hours. Restaurants are not too expensive, price of menus is very similar as there is a lot of them and competition is tight. All shops tend to offer very similar, touristy things. Dinner in May is just perfect, just take into account that it´s a rainy area and temperatures in May may be a bit chilly. I prefer Comillas by far (just been there on a weekend getaway last October), by the sea, also touristy but not as much as Santillana del Mar. Beautiful cemetery, by the way, and lovely walks on the cliffs. Also, a great visit of its Universit, El Capricho by Gaudi and other palaces in town, and much better (not touristy) shops. Dinner will be rarely served before 9pm...and that´s early for us.

Posted by
973 posts

I'm having a hard time making a decision so am turning to all of you. I'll have a three nights around Comillas/Santillana and trying to decide which to stay in. The hotel in Santillana looks a little nicer, and it's a little closer to the things I want to see, but they'd both be fine and close in price.

We were having the same dilemma for our trip in late March 2023 and have gone with 2 nights in Santillana del Mar. Our main reason was that we wanted to stay in a hotel and couldn't find a nice one in Comillas for our dates. Another reason was that my husband expressed a desire to see the Altamira cave museum. The deciding reason was that I have terrible knees and Comillas looked like a very hilly town. We will be staying at the Hotel Casa de Marques in Santillana which was a bit less expensive than the Parador. Friends have recommended the Restaurante Gran Duque for dinner.

We expect to make a trip to Comillas for a few hours to go to El Capricho.

Posted by
678 posts

El Capricho is very small and can be seen in less than an hour, so I would profit the trip to visit the Universidad Pontificia and Palacio de Sobrellano as well. Two days in Santillana may be too much, as it´s also really small. Instead of Altamira Cave museum, if you want to see real cave art I would visit both caves of Las Monedas and El Castillo, with real cave paintings (standard visit is in Spanish, though).

Posted by
973 posts

Two days in Santillana may be too much, as it´s also really small. Instead of Altamira Cave museum, if you want to see real cave art I would visit both caves of Las Monedas and El Castillo.

We arrive at 3:00pm the day of night 1 and leave again at 10:30am after night 2, so our two nights really only gives us a day and a bit in Santillana Del Mar. As we won't have a car, unfortunately those two caves don't seem feasible.

Thank you for the suggestion about what else to see in Comillas besides El Capricho.

Our time in Santillana del Mar is pencilled in as "rest" in our lengthy 60 day trip. So the fact there might not be much to do is a good thing!

Posted by
678 posts

Take into account that the Altamira cave replica and prehistory museum is a 40min walk from the city center, approx, walking on the road along with cars. You may need a taxi (a short ride) to get there.

Posted by
6722 posts

Haven’t been to Comillas and over the decades we’ve been to Santillana del Mar a few times. In the late 70s there were very, very few tourists. Now it is overrun by them during the day. However, it is very quiet and peaceful after they all leave. When we were last there in 2017 we stayed at one of the two Paradors in town. We’ve had a car each time we visited.