While not as glamorous as San Sebastian, the city of Santander is a great alternative if you want to avoid the summer crowds. Noteworthy, Santander had its 27 years of royal fame in the early 20th century, when it became a residence for Alfonso XIII. Largely rebuilt after a 1941 fire, Santandero has three main beaches. However, most visitors head for the smaller resort of El Sardinero, only 1 ½ miles away. An alternative during high season is El Puntal, a beautiful beach only 15 minutes away by boat.