Santander is the capital and also the largest city of the province of Cantabria in Spain. Santander has some 180,000 inhabitants and is located on the ocean. It features a small historic center and a handful of beaches. Its most famous tourist attraction is the Magdalena Palace which was used as a summer getaway of Spanish royalty.
You can arrive in Santander via plane (mostly domestic and charter flights; international flights frequently use the Bilbao airport), public bus, or car (A8 freeway from Bilbao). Distance to Bilbao is some 100km (60m).
You may also wish to take a ferry from Plymouth,UK. It is an exciting journey.
Santander is reasonably small. The distance from one end of town to the other are some 6km (4m) and can be walked in 2 hours along the coast road. Within the city center everything is within walking distance (15min walking). Public buses are available at reasonable prices. Specifically, buses can take you to the main beaches some 2-4km (2m) from the city center.
The Universidad Internacional Menéndez de Pelayo (http://www.uimp.es/) offers summer courses for university students, including Spanish language courses for foreigners, that take place both at the Magdalena Palace and at Residencia Las Llamas.
Santillana del Mar Picturesque stone village 1 hour away by bus visit the famous cave of Altamira.
Bilbao Lively home of the famous Guggenheim
San Vicente de la Barquera - Sea-side fishing village,about 30 minutes by bus. See the fishing vessels unload what Madrid will be eating tomorrow. Fantastic tides, so stay for at least 6 hours. Nice Roman bridge.