There are many reasons why travelers decide to make important changes to their holiday itinerary and swap out some of the major tourist hubs for lesser towns and smaller communities. Whether it’s traveling with family, trying to avoid the incessant parties of nightlife hotspots or simply looking for a less touristy option, you’ll be happy to know that some of the best beach towns in Spain advertise just that.
For a country with over 5,000 miles of coastline, Spain undisputedly harbors some of the most diverse and least densely populated beaches out there. While the picturesque towns boasting these beaches as their own may lack some of the amenities often found in major cities such as Barcelona, Valencia, and Malaga, they’ll more than make up for it with the sheer quality of calm, peaceful nights and clean sandy beaches for as far as the eye can see. Spain is a large country, the sixth largest in Europe in fact, so exploring it is no easy prospect. But after you get the taste of some of our entrants here, you’ll definitely want to see more.
Puerto de Santiago, Tenerife
Don’t dismiss Tenerife just yet! As you probably already know, the largest of the Canary Islands has somewhat of a reputation for being a destination of choice for young people looking to have some rowdy good time.
However, as is the case with most places that have attained such a reputation, there’s actually more to Tenerife than meets the eye. Places like Puerto de Santiago combine all the best things that the island has to offer. Peaceful beaches stretch for as far as you want them to, and there are excellent hiking trails to take. One of the visitors’ favorites is Playa de la Arena, a beach of dark, black sand, set against crystal-clear waters in the background.
How to Get Here: Puerto de Santiago is much closer to the Tenerife South Airport, or Reina Sofia Airport as it’s otherwise known. You can take bus line 473 and 493 to get to Puerto de Santiago.
What used to be a great holiday resort for Spanish people in the 1950s has since earned a global reputation as a top-notch destination on the Mediterranean.
You might have seen the pictures of skyscrapers overlooking Benidorm, surrounded by ever-growing clusters of hotels. While it might be a bit more on the touristy side, Benidorm is still a small city of about 70,000 inhabitants and great secluded beaches such as Cala Mal Pas, situated below the historic center. With more than a dozen things to see and do in the vicinity, you’ll never even have to come in contact with the partygoers if you don’t want to.
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How to Get Here: Altet Airport of Alicante is located just 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Benidorm. There’s a bus line connecting the two, or you can get a shuttle service from the airport. A train is also an option.
Barbate is a perfect entrant for our list of the best beach towns in Spain, mainly considering its enormous beauty, excellent beaches and lack of urban hustle and bustle.
In the proximity of Gibraltar, you’ll find the lovely, white-washed town of Barbate in the very heart of La Breña y Marismas del Barbate Natural Park. Surrounding this former fishing village are some of the most exquisite beaches imaginable. Zahara de los Atunes, Cañillos, Los Caños de Meca, Zahora, Pajares, and others. With such a wide array of awesome beaches, you’ll definitely find the one right for you.
How to Get Here: The airport closest to Barbate is Jerez Airport which is located about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the town. From there, you need about an hour by car to get to Barbate, taking the highway of course. A combination of bus and train is also available if you stop by in the city of Cádiz.
If you’re looking for a perfect getaway in the picturesque province of Barcelona but aren’t interested in visiting the huge city itself, Sitges will prove to be the best alternative for you.
A town of 26,000, Sitges maintains a perfect balance between culture, nightlife, and outdoor activities. You may or may not be interested in Sitges Film Festival or Carnestoltes, but with a summer holiday right around the corner, you definitely won’t say no to one of its 17 beaches. All of them are real sandy havens, most famous being Platja Sant Sebastià, Platja de la Fragata, and Platja de les Anquines. If you’re in the mood for going all out, there are also several nudist beaches such as Platja dels Balmins.
How to Get Here: The quickest way to get to Sitges is from Barcelona. Buses leave from Plaça España and Ronda Universitat to Sitges, while you’ll be able to board a train at Passeig de Gràcia, Estació de França, and Estació Sants train stations.
Staying in Altafulla means experiencing the best of what the province of Tarragona has to offer.
Not only is the population of this town the wealthiest in all of Tarragona, but they’ve also been blessed with an old city so majestic that you’ll have difficulties spreading your time here between visiting the Castle of Altafulla and relaxing on one of the town’s sandy beaches. Between the Balearic Sea and the old town, you’ll find these incredible belts of sand known as Platja d’Altafulla, Playa la Savinosa, and Playa de Arrabassada. There’s more where that came from, but you’ll likely be astounded enough with the three of these.
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How to Get Here: Maria Cristina is a station in Barcelona that services the routes heading Altafulla way. Train or bus, you’ll be able to get to this town in an hour. Taxis are also a possibility, but a more expensive one.
Costa Brava has a litany of towns competing for the title of the best holiday destination in the northeastern part of Spain.
With a population a couple of hundreds short of 3,000, Cadaques can certainly fit a lot of tourists during high season. Its beaches, a collection of undisturbed, tucked-away gems, are a thing of fantasy for visitors from nearby France and Spain alike. If you’re arriving with family, then Playa de Es Llané should be one of the best beach destinations on your list, thanks to long shallow stretches that are perfect for teaching your children how to swim. Playa Grande is more crowded, but features a statue of Salvador Dali – so weigh the pros and cons.
How to Get Here: Getting from Barcelona to Cadaques is trivial, albeit it takes some time. There’s a bus leaving from the North Station in Barcelona heading directly to the town. There are no direct train routes, but you can catch a ferry to Cadaques for a more scenic entrance.
We’re back on the Canary Islands, only this time we’re visiting Fuerteventura.
Simply put, Corralejo is all beaches. It took a long time to develop the northern part of the island into a sustainable tourist destination, but the endless sands and dunes of Corralejo have helped make it into one of the best beach destinations on the islands. Whether it’s doing watersports at the Flag Beach or sunbathing at Grandes Playas, Corralejo will feel as if a dream come true. Its remoteness and sheer size of the beaches is all that people looking to relax could ever want.
How to Get Here: Fuerteventura International Airport is your starting point. From here, you’ll be able to get on a bus to Puerto del Rosario (number 3). From there, buses numbered 6 will take you to Corralejo. Alternatively, you could arrive by ferry to Corralejo from one of the other Canary Islands.
Es Grau, Menorca
Definitely one of the most laidback Balearic Islands, Menorca is a host to a myriad of little fishing towns and charming seaside resorts.
Es Grau is one of these, a remote little paradise on a sparsely inhabited island where most of the folks are actually tourists. It delivers the experience of being in Palma, just without all the hassle of such a prominent tourist location. Aptly named Es Grau beach is a large patch of sand touching what could be considered an inner sea as the town is almost detached from the actual sea by Colom island. What all this means is that there are hidden coves to be found, and amazing island adventures to be had around Es Grau. The town itself is lined with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops.
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How to Get Here: Take the Fornells Road from Maó-Mahón, the capital of Menorca. You’ll be in Es Grau in no time as the distance is 10 kilometers (6 miles).
It would be difficult going over the best beach towns in Spain without paying respecs to Costa del Sol and its illustrious coastline.
Nerja has a long history of being an important stop for tourists traveling along this part of the Spanish coastline. Wondrous landmarks such as Balcon de Europa and Church of El Salvador have gained a loyal following thanks to their immense beauty. However, the beaches of Nerja are just as breathtaking, making it one of the most popular coastal towns on Costa del Sol. For starters, you could immediately head out to the largest of all the beaches, Playa Playazo. Families or couples looking to have a more secluded experience should look for Playa El Cañuelo. You can always mix it up with Playa El Chucho, Playa de Alberquillas, and Playa de Maro, just to name some.
How to Get Here: The quickest way is to get to Nerja is from Málaga, by train. Trains leave in this direction from Málaga Maria Zambrano station, where the bus station happens to be as well. It will take you only 8 minutes by train!
San Sebastián, Basque
Also known as Donostia, San Sebastián does already qualify as a fully-fledged city, but the beauty of its beaches and location have definitely earned it a spot on our list of great beach towns.
Located in the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastián is always among the top 10 places to visit in Spain. Most people are already aware of the famous Playa de la Concha. This gorgeous stretch of sand has been called Europe’s most beautiful beach many times over. It takes the form of a crescent or a shell, which is how it earned its name. The very size of this place makes it more attractive than most others, considering it is 1,350 meters (a bit over 4,300 feet) long and 40 meters wide. That’s more than enough space for everyone!
How to Get Here: San Sebastián has two international airports itself, so all you really need to consider is hitting the beach as fast as possible. Walk there or just make a run for it, depending on how excited you happen to be!
The rich history of Muro combined with the pure, unspoiled nature of Mallorca results in one of the favorite destinations for travelers heading to the Balearic Islands.
Muro is the agricultural heart of Mallorca, but that’s only a segment of its personality. Beautiful sandstone buildings line the streets, revealing unique architecture in the form of the Sant Joan Baptista church, a Catalan-Gothic structure that’s four centuries old. But most of all, people that come to Muro crave the spectacular Playa de Muro. White sands of the largest beach on Mallorca expand for six kilometers, leaving little to be desired. In fact, it is so big that it’s divided into four sections with more or less the same amenities.
How to Get Here: Buses 351, 352 and 395 take passengers from Estacio Intermodal in Palma de Mallorca to Muro. The ride takes about two hours. Trains are much faster, usually taking a bit over an hour to get to the town from Plaça Espanya.
There’s no doubt about it – Santander has been very popular with tourists for a very long time, with beaches that won’t leave you wanting.
While the Cathedral of Santander and the sturdy Lighthouse of Cabo Mayor are both sights worth seeing, summer holidays and warm weather will most likely direct you towards El Sardinero. The most famous beach in Santander, El Sardinero features blindingly bright sands, rows of restaurants and even a casino. Playa de Somo, Playa de Langre, Playa de Mataleñas, and Playa del Puntal are less prominent, but not less beautiful. If you don’t find El Sardinero to your liking, these beaches are always waiting for visitors with open arms.
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How to Get Here: Just like San Sebastián, Santander has an airport of its own servicing the city and the surrounding area. You can take a shuttle to the city center, a ride of about 15 minutes, meaning you won’t be that far from the beach either.
Let us know about some other picturesque and unforgettable coastal towns you might have come across in Spain. With such a huge coastal region and all the islands belonging to the country, countless gems are undoubtedly waiting to be discovered.