The best beach towns in Spain are some of the very best beach towns in the world. It’s as simple as that. From whitewashed Andalusian fishing villages with salt-washed quaysides to pumping party places on the White Isle to hipster surf towns on the Bay of Biscay, there are more tempting options to get through in the land of paella and flamenco than you can shake your churros at.
But then what would you expect of a country with a whopping 8,000km (4,970 miles) of coastline across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, archipelagos like the Canaries and the Balearics, and sun-splashed regions like Andalusia and Catalonia up its sleeve?
This guide looks at seven of the best beach towns in Spain and their unique offerings. Expect sumptuous seafood, colorful traditions, and of course, irresistible golden sands by the bucket load – Spain has more beaches awarded that coveted Blue Flag status than anywhere else in the world, don’t you know? Let’s begin…
Locally nicknamed Vila d’Eivissa, but internationally known as Ibiza Town, Eivissa is the island’s old capital. It offers much more than the all-night partying that the White Isle is know for…
Check out the Dalt Vila. That’s the medieval old town perched on a cliff atop 16-century fortifications. The neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage Site steeped in 2,500 years of Balearic history. Delve in to find the Gothic Catedral Santa María and sweeping views of the Mediterranean from the Renaissance-era battlements.
Of course, Ibiza Town also has vibrant nightlife. That carries on along the shoreline promenades when the sun gets low, before the punters move on to bigger clubs like Swag and Pachas. If all-night raves aren’t your thing, then this city on the shore touts Catalan tapas eateries, sleek wine bars, award-winning seafood bistros and more to boot.
As for the beaches…The Playa de Ses Salines and Ses Figueretes are a real treat for their pristine shores, turquoise waters, lavish beach clubs, and eclectic crowds. For more privacy and seclusion, check out the horseshoe-shaped cove of Pou des Lleo, 30 minutes from Ibiza town but ideal for those postcard-perfect panoramas.
Barcelona’s unique magnetism need not be explained. The cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia is home to renowned museums, Gothic architecture, and glamorous urban beach life that make it a bucket list city for every traveler. But if you’re after a less-trodden beach getaway, you don’t need to venture far beyond the city limits for some coastal cooling-off.
Sitges is just 35 kilometers south of Barcelona, and exploring both cities on your trip to Spain will be worth your while. The small town is known as the “Jewel in the Mediterranean” with charming shopping areas, Bohemian hang-outs, and white-sand beaches. Sitges is renowned for its Film Festival and the roaring Carnival de Sitges, which has helped put the town on the map as an LGBTQ+ travel destination. The liberal and artistic vibe emanates through the city and seeps into the lively nightlife scene.
Sheltered by the Garraf Mountains and Parc Natural del Garraf, Sitges benefits from a refreshingly mild climate. Revel in the beauty of the seafront promenade and its grand mansions, get lost in the tottering old town, and absorb the Catalonian art in the Cau Ferrat and Maricel Museums.
Palma is the main port of entry into Spain’s largest Balearic Island. Rising in golden stone monuments from the azure waters of the Bay of Palma, the resort town dates back to the 13-century and is Mallorca’s only actual city.
The rich history of Palma is inherited from the Romans, Catholics, and Moors who have inhabited or passed through the strategically located capital. It is the cultural and economic hub of the island but a great vantage point to the golden beaches, wineries, and mountains of Mallorca.
Palma is home to the looming Catedral-Basílica de Santa María that overlooks the bay. Adjacent is the Almudaina, an Arab fortress-come-royal residence, and just west of the city, you can find the Bellver Castle. The medieval fortifications are perched on a hilltop and boast a unique cyclical design.
Palma’s beaches are expansive and varied. The namesake Playa de Palma is a 6 kilometer stretch of resort-lined coast and a vibrant water sports location by day but clubbing hotspot by night. Whereas, the more difficult to find Caló des Moro is a dreamy private cove with crystal clear water nestled among steep limestone cliffs. Both beach spots shouldn’t go amiss.
Caleta de Famara, Lanzarote
Calling all surfers – Caleta is the multi-level, all-person break of the eastern Canaries. It lies away from the hustle and bustle of the south-coast resorts on Lanzarote, which means you’re swapping out tacky karaoke venues for salt-washed beach cafes and surfboard rentals when you come here. The waves lap against nearly five kilometers of shoreline on Caleta Beach, which stretches northwards from the town.
It’s a small place, with a single central square and a number of narrow side roads that always seem dusted with sand that’s blown in off the dunes. The vibe is chilled to the T. Sit with a cold beer or a coffee in the plaza and watch the surfers coming and going between their hostel dorms and the water.
Caleta de Famara also puts you in a great place for venturing out to the whole of northern Lanzarote. You can hike up the rugged cliff faces of Risco just outside of town, to clear the clouds and find strange space observatories on high. Get your own car and the historic market town of Teguise and Haría could also been on the menu.
Malaga, Costa del Sol
Malaga is much more than a gateway to exploring more under-the-radar Andalusian towns. The city is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and is loaded with culture and history. Golden beaches dress the fascinating Old Town, and Malaga has something for everyone.
The town is situated on southern Spain’s aptly named Costa del Sol, meaning Sunshine Coast, and two large hilltop citadels overlook the bustling port city. Here you’ll find the Alcazaba, an 11th-century fortress palace, and the ruined Mount Gibralfaro Castle, built in the 14th-century to house troops and protect the Alcazaba.
There’s no shortage of resorts and high-rise hotels lining the yellow-sand beaches, but the soaring La Manquita Renaissance cathedral offers a welcome contrast to the modern cityscape. La Manquita translates as “the one-armed lady” in Spanish because one of the towers has mysteriously been left unbuilt. The city enjoys vibrant nightlife year-round but art and culture can be found at every turn.
Cádiz’s geography is what makes the city stand out from the rest of Andalucia. Perched on Spain’s southwestern edge, on a peninsula that reaches into the bay, Cádiz is almost completely surrounded by water.
The city boomed in the 16th century as a base for the Spanish navy and international trade. Cádiz is home to more than 100 watchtowers, including the notable Torre Tavira. The 18th-century tower was built in Cádiz’s heyday to watch ships coming in from West Indian trade routes. Today, it remains the highest point in Cádiz offering commanding panoramas of the city from the heart of the historic quarter.
Cádiz’s unique location means it embraces the sea, perhaps more than any of Spain’s other coastal towns. Lighthouses are dotted around the peninsula and La Caleta, the city’s old town, is home to one of the best urban beaches in the region. It is a harbor through which Carthaginians, Phoenicians, and Romans invaded the city and the smallest beach in Cadiz. But isolated from the rest and nestled between El Castillo de Santa Catalina and El Castillo de San Sebastián, two historic castles, Playa La Caleta is a gem on Andalucia’s beach scene.
Torrevieja, Costa Blanca
Located in Spain’s southeastern Alicante province, the Costa Blanca enjoys over 200 kilometers of sun-soaked Mediterranean coastline. Extending from Dénia to Pilar de la Horadada, Torrevieja is a seaside city highlight set within fascinating geography.
Torrevieja is flanked by two salt lagoons, one green and one pink, that can be explored along trails in the Lagunas de la Mata-Torrevieja Nature Park. Yet, they are perhaps more easily and impressively observed from your airplane window when landing in Alicante.
Torrevieja is lined with promenades, running along the golden sandy beaches, and the town is a playground for families. In summer, the city comes alive with beautiful shops, restaurants, and bars opening their doors to sun-seeking revelers.
La Playa de La Mata is Torrevieja’s largest and most beautiful stretch of sand. The Blue Flag beach extends for two and a half kilometers, and the scenic promenade is a great spot for a sunset dinner. You’ll find water sports aplenty at the southern end and a 14-century watchtower that protected the town from pirates in the north. Torrevieja also houses the town’s salt-mining and fishing history in the tiny Museo del Mar y de la Sal in the city center.
Nerja, Costa del Sol
There’s hardly a more alluring town on the whole of the hallowed Costa del Sol than little Nerja. Unlike its compadres to the east and west, this one’s managed to fend off big resort builds and whatnot. The result is a town that still feels like the Spain of yesteryear, where cobbled streets ring whitewashed cottages below the jagged Andalusian sierras overhead.
The shoreline in Nerja is now built up with an ever-lively promenade known as the Balcony of Europe. Go there to survey the beaches: Cove-like El Salón to the west, the grey-sand Playa de la Calahonda to the east, rock-ribbed Carabeo Beach hidden further along the costa.
This is very much the heart of the Costa del Sol, which means prices and crowds explode in the summer months. The better choice is a visit sometime in the early spring or the fall, when daytime temperatures can still hover around the 80s but the sands aren’t so packed.
San Sebastián, Basque Country
Just 20 kilometers from the France-Spain border lies the mountainous Basque country town of San Sebastian, or Donostia-San Sebastian. Framed by its picturesque beaches on the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastián is an upscale Spanish beach destination offering something different from its southern counterparts.
The Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta are well-known throughout the region. These San Sebastián beaches are emblems of the town and model urban beaches. Playa de la Concha has been named one of Spain and Europe’s best beaches and is forever a feature of travel magazines.
You’ll find San Sebastián’s Royal Bathhouses just beyond the characteristic white railings of Playa de la Concha’s urban shoreline. Innovative restaurants complete with world-renowned chefs line the promenades of the bayfront, and upscale shopping can be found in the cobblestoned old town, el Parte Vieja.
San Sebastián is also well known for its pintxo, or “pin-cho” bars. The Basque country snack, a bread-based appetizer, is the region’s answer to tapas and forms the backbone of San Sebastián’s local tavern culture. Check out Borda Berri, A Fuego Negro, and Ganbara for some of the best pintxos in authentic settings in the old town.
Which part of Spain has the best beaches?
Spain is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the Mediterranean, with 500 miles of sumptuous coastline to soak up. The best beach towns in Spain can be found on the southeast coast, extending from Catalonia’s capital, the architecturally-impressive city of Barcelona, to the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. But Spain is an archipelago, and its 60 surrounding islands should not be ignored.
The Balearics, where you’ll find Ibiza, Mallorca, and Menorca, each have their own set of stunning white and golden sand beaches. At the same time, the Canary Islands are a rugged volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. The largest island, Tenerife, is home to dazzling black-sand beaches, vibrant carnivals, and exotic climates.
Which is the best beach in Spain?
La Concha beach in San Sebastián has been named Spain’s best beach on several occasions as a perfect example of lusted urban beach life. It’s just 1,350 meters long, but the crescent-shaped seaboard on the Bay of Biscay is symbolic of Spanish coastal living. La Concha balances culture, scenery, and city life, offering views of Monte Urgull, Monte Igueldo, and Santa Clara island, set just on the edge of the old town.
Where are the best beach towns in Spain to live?
Spain’s coastal towns have endless appeal, and there’s something for everyone, but you’ll find vibrant and welcoming ex-pat communities in the Costa Del Sol’s Marbella and Puerto Banús, as well as Portals Nous and Puerto Andratx in Mallorca. San Antonia in Ibiza is great for younger settlers looking to revel in the island’s nightlife and enjoy the warm year-round climate. At the same time, Sitges is Spain’s answer to Brighton and invites a multi-generational queer-friendly population.
Minorca is Mallorca’s neighbor and a quieter, family-friendly alternative to the island. But head to the obscure green northwest coast of Spain for Santander, the capital of the Cantabria region. This small port city offers a taste of authentic Spanish living, removed from the crowds of the south.