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Santander Airport: Everything You Need To Know

Santander Airport: Everything You Need To Know

Santander Airport, also known as Seve Ballesteros-Santander Airport (code: SDR) is situated around 6 km (3.7 miles) from the city center. Thanks to its location by the waterfront, you’ll get striking views as you arrive if it’s a clear day.

This airport is well-located for those who want to explore Santander, other areas of the Cantabria Provincia, and even Bilbao. Bilbao is around an hour’s drive away, and the tourist town of Laredo is just 30 minutes away, so you’ll have no shortage of onward options.

Whether you’re looking to relax on Santander’s pristine beaches, explore nearby medieval towns, or simply try some local tapas, there are plenty of reasons to fly into this airport.

Terminals in Santander Airport

SDR Airport is a small airport and consists of a single terminal. The building has two main areas; one for departures and check-in, and one for arrivals and baggage claim. That means you don’t need to worry about traveling between terminals if you are connecting through Santander Airport for an onward flight.

Although the terminal isn’t big, you’ll find most of the things that you need here. It is modern with plenty of seating. The airport is also well-signposted, with two separate doors for arrivals and departures.

Airlines at Santander Airport

Santander Airport is small so only eight airlines operate here. The majority are domestic airlines that will take you elsewhere in Spain (for now) or within the EU.

The airlines are Air Nostrum, Binter Canarias, Ryanair, Smartwings Hungary, Volotea, Vueling Airlines, and Wizz Air.

inside an airport with rows of seats and no one sitting in them. The floor is so shiny the glass windows are reflected against the ground so it feels like the clouds are inside at Santander Airport.

Santander Airport is small and easy to navigate around.

What’s Inside the Airport?

When considering travel through Santander Airport, it’s important to know that there aren’t many facilities as the terminal building is relatively small.

Before you head through security, there are bathrooms, a casual eatery called Trib’s that serves various sandwiches and larger meals, and a shop called ‘Come & Fly’ which has neck pillows, phone chargers, and anything you may have forgotten before you fly.

Everything is very compact. The security area is right next to the check-in desks, so you won’t have to travel far once you drop your bags and get your boarding pass.

Depending on how long you have, it may be wise to relax outside security first so that you can purchase items from the shop, use the bathrooms, and charge your electronics with one of the many plug sockets.

Amenities are more limited once you head through Security, but there’s still:

  • Bathrooms
  • A cafe
  • Duty-free shopping

Security Times at the Airport

Compared to other Spanish airports such as Barcelona El Prat or Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, you won’t need to allow as much time for security here. This is because Santander Airport departures and arrivals are much more infrequent. Only 2 other flights left during the four hours I was there.

Depending on the time of year, going through security at this airport can be a breeze. For those traveling out of season, especially during the winter, you can whizz through in less than 10 minutes but the lines will likely be much longer when tourism picks up during July and August in Spain.

For those who only have hand luggage or have already checked in online, you can head straight through security. To allow for unforeseen delays, you’ll still want to get here around 2 hours before your flight (1.5 hours for destinations in the Schengen area).

If you need to check in luggage, you’ll have to wait until your check-in desk is open. However, you’ll still want to get here around 2.5 hours before the flight departs.

two airplane tails with the front of the planes parked into the gates and just out of shot.

You can easily connect to other major hubs around Spain from Santander Airport as well as London, Paris, and many other airports around Europe.

Lounges at the Airport

As of 2024, there are currently no airport lounges at Santander Airport since the airport is small.

Arrivals at Santander Airport

Arriving at Santander Airport is very straightforward. As you’ll come off the plane, passport control is just a short walk away. I

If you’re traveling from within the Schengen Area (made up of 27 countries), then you can head straight to baggage claim.

Otherwise, you’ll need to get your passport checked at passport control. Before your trip, make sure you check the requirements for entering Spain as this will vary depending on the country.

Getting through immigration at Santander Airport is often very quick as there’s only one runway so it will be just your flight heading through.

There are three baggage reclaim carousels and an additional carousel for special baggage. There are screens in this area of the airport detailing the baggage carousel for your flight, so it’s just a case of waiting. For those with hand luggage, you can head straight out of the airport from here.

view from outside of the airplane window as you come into land with the city below and the airplane jet engine in the bottom corner of the window.

If you are flying from the US or even further afield, you may land in Madrid or Barcelona and then find connecting flights to take you to Santander Airport.

Departures at Santander Airport

You’ll find the check-in desks on the ground floor of Santander Airport, which you’ll need if you’re checking any luggage. For those with hand luggage, it’s possible to check in on your cell phone. Your boarding pass will then be sent to your device via email, SMS, or airline app.

If you’ve already checked in, you can proceed straight to security or you can relax in the departures area for a while. Those with luggage will need to wait for their check-in desk to open first as you’ll need your boarding pass.

Once you’ve gone through security, there’s plenty of seating, duty-free shopping, a cafe, and charging points. If you are leaving the Schengen Zone on your flight, you will go through a passport check area where they will check passports again.

Once you go through this area there is nothing but the gate, so only go through at the last minute before boarding begins.

There are very few food options in the departures area of the Santander Airport. It is a good idea to pick up some snacks before heading through security.

Getting from Santander Airport to Santander City Center

You’ll have no issues traveling from Santander Airport to the city center. It is only 6 km (3.7 miles) from Santander Airport to Santander. The airport bus is one of the most popular options and is serviced by Alsa.

As soon as you leave arrivals and get outside, you’ll see the bus stop. It is clearly signposted, so just follow the arrows to the bus stop. The buses depart roughly every 40 minutes and tickets are €3.20 per person.

You need to pay for your tickets in cash so if you don’t have any euros on you, make sure you use the ATM in the airport before waiting in the queue.

Just be aware that the ATM fees are high, so it’s best to bring some Euros from home to have with you on arrival and then get them from an ATM once you are in Santander.

The buses work on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you’ll want to head to the bus stop as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you risk there not being enough room and you’ll have to wait for the next one. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes.

Taxis are another popular option and they are almost always available when flights land, so you won’t have to wait long. There’s a taxi rank just outside arrivals or you can try and book one using a ride-hailing app. A taxi costs approximately €25-30.

Some hotels in Santander also offer airport transfers, so check with your hotel and see if they have airport pickup available.

If you’re planning to explore more of the surrounding area and take a few day trips out of Santander you should hire a car instead. Some of the roads in the city offer free parking too which is always a bonus, and you’ll get there quickly.

We always recommend using Discover Cars when booking rental cars in Spain. They offer the best prices, the best full coverage insurance, and excellent customer support. Check prices on Discover Cars here.

man sitting in a seat inside an airport terminal with the windows looking out at the runway and the sun starting to set behind his head turning the sky pink.

The airport closes overnight, so you won’t ever need to get here too early or arrive too late to get into the city easily.

Getting from Santander Airport to Bilbao

If you’re traveling onward to Bilbao, the best option is to rent a car and drive yourself. The journey takes just over an hour and you’ll be driving along the A-8 for the majority of the way.

For those who don’t want to hire a car, several buses run daily to Bilbao. These are serviced by Alsa. A direct journey takes around 1.5 hours and will cost approximately €11. However, direct services tend to be infrequent.

Otherwise, you can catch the bus to Santander bus station from the airport which takes around 15 minutes. From there, you can transfer over to another service which will take you to Bilbao. With the transfer time, you’re looking at between 2-3 hours in total.

Depending on flight prices and schedules, you can do this route the other way around. Bilbao offers another airport near Santander, Spain, so you can always fly there first if it’s more convenient.

Santander Airport Car Hire

Many people choose to rent a car at Santander Airport, and for good reason. Having your own vehicle will give you complete flexibility in exploring the stunning Cantabria Provincia and its popular tourist spots, such as Laredo, Potes, Noja, and Suances among others.

Honestly, there are so many fantastic day trips from Santander, many of which are only accessible by car.

When it comes to car hire at Santander Airport, the process is very straightforward. You’ll find the company stands as you enter the arrivals area. These are Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise Rent A Car, OK Rent A Car, and Sixt.

You can book Santander Airport car rentals in advance by using Discover Cars. If your driving license is from the EU or the UK, then you do not need an international driver’s permit. For more information, read our guide to driving in Spain.

Iberian air airplane parked at the Santander Airport with stairs coming from both the front and back of the plane but no people in the photo.

In some instances, you will get off the plane right on the tarmac and either get a bus to the terminal or walk across the path straight into the terminal.

Parking at the Airport

If required, there is parking at Seve Ballesteros-Santander Airport. This will be beneficial for those heading out of Santander rather than arriving. It is just across from the terminal building. You’ll find the office within the parking lot, just across from the entrance to departures.

The parking lot is open 24 hours a day and offers immediate access to the departure area. There are nearly 700 spaces in total, some of which offer electric vehicle chargers. Some of the spaces have also been adapted for people with low mobility.

When it comes to payment, there’s a manual payment window during office hours or an automatic pay station that can be used any time of day. You pay when you are exiting the parking lot. Alternatively, you can book in advance online and enjoy a discount.

Santander Airport Hotels

Do you have an early flight or are you arriving late at night? Well, you don’t have to worry as Santander city center is only a 10-minute drive away. The passenger terminal also closes overnight, so no slumbering in the hall to avoid paying for a night’s accommodation!

It opens at 5 am and shuts at 11 pm every day, so your flights have to be within these hours.

You’ll have no problems getting into the city and can either take a bus or taxi to Santander. Even if you’ve got a really early flight, you can easily get to the airport in the morning.

Alternatively, you can stay nearby. There are no hotels at Santander Airport itself, but there are a few in the surrounding area. These include Hotel Nueva Plaza and Apartamentos Alday although both are still a 5-minute drive away.

For this reason, I’d recommend just staying in Santander city center. You can then organize a taxi in advance if you’re traveling early in the morning or late at night.