Best Beaches in Spain
Spain may be flanked to the east by France
and the Pyrenees and to the west by Portugal,
but most of the country is ringed with
sand, rock, and seawater. That, coupled
with almost year-round sunshine, has attracted many millions of beachgoers.
Costa de la Luz
This stretch of coastline in southwestern
Andalusia boasts long stretches of sand and
almost-constant sunshine. The blue, sometimes
rough, Atlantic waters are enticement enough for
a visit, as is the region’s proximity to
several historic cities, including Cádiz
and Seville. This area is less developed than the
more popular Costa del Sol.
Costa del Sol
Stretching east from Gibraltar along the
southernmost coast of Spain, the Costa del
Sol is the most famous, partyhearty, and overdeveloped
string of beaches in Iberia. The beaches feature
superb sand, and the Mediterranean waters are
calm and warm throughout most of the year. But these charms have
brought throngs of visitors, making this the most
congested string of coastal resorts in Europe.
The most important resorts here are Marbella,
Torremolinos, Málaga, and Nerja. Look for
soaring skyscrapers; eye-popping bikinis; sophisticated
resorts and restaurants; lots of sunshine; and interminable
This southeastern coast embraces the industrial
city of Valencia, but its Best-known resorts,
Benidorm and Alicante, are packed with northern-European
sun-seekers every year. The surrounding
scenery isn’t particularly dramatic,
but the water is turquoise, the sand is
white, and a low annual rainfall virtually
guarantees a sunny vacation.
Rockier, more serpentine, and without the
long stretches of sand that mark the
Costa Blanca, the cliff-edged
Costa Brava stretches from Barcelona to
the French border. Look for the charming,
sandybottomed coves that dot the coast.
Although there are fewer undiscovered beaches
here than along Spain’s Atlantic
coast, the Costa Brava still retains a
sense of rocky wilderness. One of the more
eccentric-looking villas along this coast belonged to the late Salvador
Dalí, the region’s most famous modern
son who lived much of his life near Cadaqués.
Radically different from the dry and sunbaked
coastline of Andalusia, the rocky Costa Verde
(Green Coast) resembles a sunny version of Ireland’s western
shore. It’s temperate in summer, when
the rest of Spain can be unbearably hot.
Much of the coast is within the ancient
province of Asturias, a region rife with Romanesque
architecture and medieval pilgrimage sites—and one
that has not yet been overwhelmed with
tourism. Premier resorts include some
districts of Santander, Gijón,
and, a short distance inland, Oviedo.
The Balearic Islands
Just off the coast of Catalonia and a
45- minute flight from Barcelona, this
rocky, sand-fringed archipelago attracts
urban refugees seeking the sun, jet-set
glitterati, and exhibitionists in scanty
beachwear. The Mediterranean climate is
warmer here than on the mainland. The city
of Palma de Majorca has the greatest number
of high-rises and
the most crowded shorelines.
Much of Ibiza is party central for young
people and gay visitors during the summer.
Sleepy Minorca offers more isolation.