Let’s be honest – Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Though it partially owes its reputation to wonderful bustling cities and rich history, beaches in Spain are a tremendous contributing factor to its worldwide fame.

Long stretches of Spanish coastline are home to some of the finest beaches in the world but Southern Spain hides at least a dozen of them. If you’re planning a vacay in this country, you should definitely take a look at some of the best beaches in the south of Spain and start marking them on your itinerary.

A beautiful sunset on the coast of Andalusia

1. Playa del Cristo, Málaga

An Andalusian holiday is not complete without a trip to Málaga, a city brimming with art galleries, exquisite restaurants, and cordial locals. It is here on Costa del Sol in Malaga that you will find Playa del Cristo – the most popular beach in the south.

Apart from being exceptionally well maintained, this beach also has parking right next to it and two bars. Playa del Cristo is most often frequented by families with kids because of its shallow water and fine sand but also because of the constant presence of lifeguards. It is set against a backdrop of the town’s buildings and palm trees.

Playa del Cristo in Andalusia
Playa del Cristo, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

2. Playa de Maro, Málaga

Yet another great beach in Málaga is Playa de Maro. It is located just 10 minutes from the small town of Nerja and its main characteristics are unique rock formations covered in lush greenery.

Read more: Best Beach Towns in Spain

It’s not a very long beach and it comprises sand and pebbles but despite its miniature length (150 meters), this beach has plenty to offer. A beach bar, a restaurant, and beach loungers. Water sports opportunities are aplenty, too. Visitors can take a guided kayak tour or go snorkeling seeing as Playa de Maro has an abundant underwater world, great for diving adventures.

Playa de Maro in Southern Spain
Playa de Maro, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

3. Playa de la Alberquilla, Málaga

Nestled between steep cliffs of Andalusia, just 20 minutes from Nerja, this beach is a true natural haven. The water in the bay is crystal-clear and perfectly transparent while the coast is covered in pebbles.

Playa de la Alberquilla is ideal for those visitors who want to escape the hordes of tourists and enjoy the peace and quietude of this secluded bay. Due to its position and spontaneity, there is no tourist infrastructure such as bars and restaurants so it’s best to stack groceries in a portable freezer in order to fully enjoy your stay.

Playa de la Alberquilla in Malaga, Andalusia
Playa de la Alberquilla, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

4. Playa de Sotogrande, Cádiz

This long sandy beach is a real oasis of peace. Not only is it a great alternative to touristy beaches but it also offers an incredibly captivating view of the majestic Rock of Gibraltar.

There is plenty of open space and a handful of restaurants that serve exquisite cuisine. Other than those few restaurants, Playa de Sotogrande is completely undisturbed by tourist infrastructure.

Playa de Sotogrande in Cadiz province
Playa de Sotogrande, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

Read more: Best Cities in Europe with Beaches

5. Playa de Bolonia, Cádiz

Playa de Bolonia is one of the most diverse beaches in the south of Spain. It is situated 22 kilometers west of Tarifa, a small coastal in the province of Cádiz. The location was once an ancient Roman city Baelo Claudia and today, ruins of the bygone civilization are still visible on the beach and around it.

The most fascinating part is that some of the ruins are actually underwater, making this beach a unique snorkeling destination. Although there are no sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, there are several chiringuitos just above the beach line so you can get a refreshment or a snack. Being 4 kilometers long, this beach has plenty of space to accommodate a great number of bathers although it’s never crowded, which makes it ideal for relaxation and enjoyment.

Playa de Bolonia in Cadiz
Playa de Bolonia, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

6. Playa de Los Muertos, Almería

Though it’s literally translated as The Beach of the Dead (a lot of pirate battles were fought around the beach), there is nothing grim about Playa de Los Muertos. As a matter of fact, not only is it one of the most beautiful beaches on the southern coast but it’s also located in Cabo de Gata Nature Park, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers.

The seawater is crystal-clear and the sand as white and soft as it gets. This gem comes at a price, though. In order to reach this beach, you will have to conquer some 400 meters of the road which winds down a steep hill. At the far end of the beach, you can also find a huge volcanic crater Mesa Roldan which is one of the most distinctive geological features of this stunning piece of coast.

Playa de los Muertos in Almeria, Spain
Playa de los Muertos, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

7. Playa del Cantal, Almería

This 2-kilometer long beach situated near the coastal town of Mojacar provides visitors with a unique atmosphere and joviality. It is also one of the top locations for the vacationing Spaniards and foreigners alike.

What separates Playa del Cantal from the rest is the fact that it’s brimming with great bars and chiringuitos, famous for their fresh mojitos, live jazz performances (on weekends) and grilled sardines. Although this bustling atmosphere attracts a great number of bathers, the beach is rarely crowded and it’s very well maintained.

Playa del Cantal in Almeria
Playa del Cantal, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

8. Playa del Cañuelo, Malaga

Playa del Cañuelo is located on the Costa de Sol and it’s an hour’s drive from Malaga. The car park is a bit further off but there is a shuttle service transporting visitors to the beach.

Though remote, this beach is well worth the visit as it boasts exceptionally clear water and great beach amenities, including loungers, umbrellas, Thai massage, and a bar. It’s an ideal beach for families with children and couples alike, offering lots of space and peacefulness.

Playa del Canuelo in Malaga
Playa del Canuelo, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

9. Playa de Los Cocedores, Almería

Set against a spectacular backdrop of rock formations and turquoise-blue seawater, this family-friendly beach is ideal for children and adults. It is located in the bay of Cala Cerrada, just 5 kilometers from San Juan de Los Terreros resort.

The biggest highlight of this beach are the holes and crevices in the rocks that guard the beach on both sides. Those pockets and hollows were once a hiding place of Cocedores (grass pickers) who took refuge from the scorching sun during the harvest season. Today, the sole purpose of Playa de Los Cocedores is to provide visitors with unforgettable memories.

Strange rock formation on Playa de los Cocedores
Playa de los Cocedores, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

10. Playa de la Rijana, Granada

Playa de la Rijana is a small beach nestled between the village of Castell de Ferro and a small fishing village Calahonda. This beach is one of the hidden gems of the Costa Tropical and it’s most frequently visited by the locals. The parking is located 10 minutes away from the beach and it requires some hiking to get down there because the road to the beach winds through a tunnel and a gorge.

The hike is definitely worth it, though. Once you get there, you will be amazed to discover its pristine clean water and tons of water sports activities, such as kayaking snorkeling, and paddling.

Uncrowded Playa de la Rijana in the South of Spain
Playa de la Rijana, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

11. Las Calas del Pino, Málaga

This lovely secluded beach is located about 6 kilometers east of Nerja. Being well-hidden and divided into two parts by a large rock formation, it is usually dubbed as one of the best nudist beaches on the southern coast. In case you don’t feel comfortable with this concept, there is plenty of room for naked-bathers and those who prefer to keep their swimsuit on. It’s usually that nudists tend to stick to the rocky outcrop separating the beach in two so everyone should be happy.

Nudism aside, swimming on Las Calas del Pino is a remarkable experience as water is impeccably clean and ideal for snorkeling. The access to the beach is not possible by car so visitors have to descend down a steep path that leads to the beach and back up when the day is over.

The secluded beach Les Calas del Pino
Les Calas del Pino, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

12. Playa de Monsul, Almería

Are you an Indiana Jones fan? Well, you are in for some luck as this beach is the exact location where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. If you don’t believe Spielberg, then it’s definitely time to go see it for yourself why this beach is so awesome. It has a stunning lava-rock backdrop and perfectly clear seawater.

The rocks provide plenty of shade and the shallows stretch a bit into the sea, making it ideal for children. Despite its Hollywood fame, Playa de Monsul has managed to remain under the radar when it comes to swarms of tourists so you won’t have a hard time finding a spot. On top of that, it is adjacent to yet another gem in Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, the lovely Genoveses beach.

Peaceful and hidden Playa de Monsul in Almeria
Playa de Monsul, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

13. Playa de Los Genoveses, Almería

As Playa de Monsul’s first neighbor, Playa de Los Genoveses is possibly one of the most picturesque beaches on this stretch of coast. It’s set against eucalyptus groves, sand dunes, and volcanic rocks with steady waves rolling in and out of the shore.

Playa de Los Genoveses is a nature lovers’ paradise as it offers great paths through the nature reserve surrounding the beach. Nothing quite compares to a refreshing dip after a long stroll among this savannah-like landscape, right?

Gentle waves at Playa de Los Genoveses in Almería
Playa de Los Genoveses, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

Read more: Quiet Holiday Destinations in Europe

14. Playa el Palmar, Cádiz

Playa el Palmar is an 8-kilometer sandy beach located near the small village of El Palmar. It possesses a uniquely relaxed and laid-back charm and it’s a great place for people from all walks of life.

This beach is also one of the most popular among surfers as it has a dozen rental operators and surfing instructors for those who feel like learning how to surf. Snorkelers and divers should be wary of the strong currents on this beach though as they may carry them away from shore fairly quickly.

Playa el Palmar is never too crowded
Playa el Palmar, Best Beaches in Southern Spain

15. Playa de la Mangueta, Cádiz

This isolated sandy beach stretches along 1 kilometer of coast between Zahora and Canos. Despite being notorious for its remote and inaccessible location, in reality, it’s rather easy to get to it.

Many tourists are put off by this myth so you can expect to enjoy the beach in peace and quietude. Keep in mind that Playa de la Mangueta is still largely undeveloped without bars, restaurants, umbrellas or natural shades so make sure you are well-equipped for the visit.

Playa de la Mangueta in Cádiz has the softest sand
Playa de la Mangueta, Best Beaches in Southern Spain