The best beaches in Spain

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 27.02.2023

Thanks to its ample coastline there are hundreds of incredible beaches in Spain. With so many options, choosing where to go can often be a troublesome decision. To save you the pain of searching for your perfect stretch of sand, here’s our round-up of the best beaches in Spain.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Spain, your essential guide for visiting Spain.

1. Águilas, Murcia

There are over 30 small, fine, sandy calas (coves) in the vicinity of Águilas. Those to the north are often rocky and backed by cliffs, while the best are the wonderful cuatro calas (four bays) south of the town.

The first two, Calarreona and La Higuérica, have fine sands and are backed by dunes and the odd villa. Travel 6km south of Águilas and you'll find the ravishing back-to-back sandy coves of Cala Carolina and Cala Cocedores. The coast here is completely wild, and the beaches are simply superb.

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Cala Cocedores © Tono Balaguer / Shutterstock

2. Conil, Andalucía

Conil beach, the village’s raison d’être, is a wide bay of brilliant yellow sand stretching for many kilometres to either side of the town. It is lapped by an amazingly gentle Atlantic – you have to walk a long way before it reaches waist height.

The area immediately in front of the town is the family beach. Up to the northwest, you can walk to some more sheltered coves, while across the river to the southeast is a topless and nudist area. For more take a look at 9 special places to stay in Andalucia.

On this tailor-made trip to Andalucía you will discover the best of Andalucía's breathtaking palaces, churches, museums, vineyards, and more, as you travel through spectacular scenery dotted with pueblos blancos and bordered by rugged mountains and coast en route to Granada, Seville, Ronda and Jerez de la Frontera.

3. Playa de Bolonia, Bolonia, Andalucía

The scattered coastal village of Bolonia lies a mere 4km to the south of Atlanterra, but the lack of a road means a hefty 33km dogleg to reach it. A side road off this to the right, a couple of kilometres beyond the village of Facinas, winds for 7km through the Sierra de la Plata – where retinto long-horned cattle graze – to reach the coast.

Your first view of Bolonia will be its magnificent windswept Playa de Bolonia with golden, powder-sand stretching for a kilometre to the west until it meets the Duna de Bolonia, a spectacular 30m high sand dune.

Browse through the various accommodation options in Andalucía

Sand dune Tarifa beach Province Cadiz, Spain

Punta Paloma, Tarifa, Spain @ Shutterstock

4. La Concha beach, Basque country

The splendid crescent of sand that stretches all the way west from the old town to the suburb of Ondarreta, the Playa de La Concha, must rank among the best beaches in Spain. If you happen to see it for the first time at high tide, you may wonder what all the fuss is about, but as the sea withdraws its full expanse is revealed.

Even in the depths of winter, this beach is usually busy with walkers and playing children. While on summer days every inch tends to be covered in roasting flesh. Swimmers escape the crowds by heading out to platforms moored offshore. Slightly further out, a little pyramidal island, the Isla de Santa Clara, is accessible via ferries that set off from near the aquarium.

5. Lekeitio, Basque country

As one of the nicest seafront towns in the Basque Country, the fine old port of Lekeitio is worth visiting. It is blessed with two fine beaches – one beside the harbour, and the other, better, across the river to the east. The little wooded island that stands in the middle of the bay can be reached on foot when the tide drops low enough.

Do you want to explore the highlights in Spain while staying in nature at the same time? Look no further. Start your tailor-made Spanish adventure in Barcelona before heading off to the mountains - drive your rental car to Andorra and further on to Basque Country. Decide between driving yourself or guided tours.


Lekeitio, Basque Country © Jesus Keller / Shutterstock

6. Praia de Niñons, Costa da Morte

This is the best beach near Malpica de Bergantiños, the first of a succession of tiny seaside ports. This marvellous beach is a crescent of thick sand that stretches out to either side of a little stream. There is a granite church with a fuente (fountain) standing just above it. Young Spaniards set up fireside campsites here in the summer, but the solitary bar isn’t open at night.

Planning a romantic getaway? Our Spanish Honeymoon tailor-made trip takes you through the cultural city of Seville, then on to Córdoba and Granada, home of the stunning Alhambra Palace. Next, you'll visit Granada and the Albayzin Arab quarter, then enjoy a stunning hot-air balloon ride, before ending your trip with a luxury boat trip from Marbella.

7. Playa de la Magdalena, Santander

This is the first of Santander’s beaches, lying on the southern side of Magdalena headland. A beautiful yellow strand, sheltered by cliffs and flanked by a summer windsurfing school, it is deservedly popular.

Around the headland are two smaller and often quieter beaches, Camello and La Concha. Playa de la Magdalena is 350m long, and has all the facilities you need for a comfortable beach holiday.

Playa de la Magdalena in Santander, Spain © Shutterstock

Playa de la Magdalena in Santander, Spain © Shutterstock

8. Somo, Santander

Somo Beach is renowned for its good surf amongst the entire north coast of Spain. If you find the city beaches too crowded, catch a water taxi across the bay to the long stretches of dunes at Somo.

This beach is a major surfing destination where you’ll find boards to rent and a summer campsite. With a stop at Pedreña en route this is one of the best beaches in Spain.

9. El Sardinero, Santander

El Sardinero is Santander's most popular tourist enclave. This is Santander’s main event when it comes to beaches, and it has one of the best beaches in Spain.

El Sardinero stretched for two magnificent kilometres, and is itself divided at high tide into two separate sections, Primera to the south and Segunda to the north.

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El Sardinero beach promenade, Santander, Cantabria, Spain

El Sardinero beach, Santander @ Shutterstock

10. Playa Arenales, Alicante

In the minds of many, Alicante is often lumped together with the other brash Costa Blanca resorts. It shouldn’t be. Valencia’s second-largest city, the thoroughly Spanish Alicante has a decidedly elegant Mediterranean air. Its long, sandy beaches are sun-kissed for much of the year.

Backed by shrub-carpeted sand dunes, Playa Arenales is one of the best beaches in Spain as, due to its location 12km south of Alicante, is far quieter, and much more pleasant than those closer to the city.

Los Arenales del Sol beach. Alicante province, Costa Blanca. Spain © Shutterstock

Los Arenales del Sol beach. Alicante province, Costa Blanca. Spain © Shutterstock

11. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera

Northwest of Es Pujols are the absolutely spectacular sands of Platja de Ses Illetes. Go further across a narrow channel, and you'll find the uninhabited island of Espalmador, where there’s another great beach. The water here is turquoise enough to trump any Caribbean brochure. It’s possible to wade across most of the year, or you can get there on one of the regular boats from La Savina (May-Oct only, €10 return).

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Platja de ses Illetes, a heavenly beach in Formentera (Balearic Islands) © Laura PI/Shutterstock

Platja de ses Illetes, a heavenly beach in Formentera (Balearic Islands) © Laura PI/Shutterstock

12. Playa de los Genoveses, Almería

San Jose is an established and popular family resort, set back from a sandy beach in a small cove, with shallow water. More fine beaches lie within easy walking distance and one of the best – Playa de los Genoveses – a kilometre-long golden strand, can be reached by a track to the southwest.

This clam-shaped bay is one of the most glorious in the Mediterranean and one of the best beaches in Spain. It has completely unspoilt golden sands and, accessible only by a dirt track, there is no development whatsoever. Cars are not allowed in peak season, but there is a bus.

Almeria Playa de los Genoveses beach dunes

Playa de los Genoveses beach - one of the best beaches in Spain for its unspoilt golden sands @ Shutterstock

13. The Illas Cíes, Riá de Vigo

The most irresistible sands of the Ría de Vigo adorn the three islands of the Illas Cíes, which can be reached by boat from Vigo, Baiona, Cangas. Sprawling across the entrance to the ría, battered by the open Atlantic on one side but sheltering the delightful sandy beaches where they face the mainland, the islands were long used by raiders as hideouts but are now a nature reserve.

The Illa de San Martiño, is an off-limits bird sanctuary. The other two, Illa do Monte Ayudo and Illa do Faro, are joined by a narrow causeway of sand, which cradles a placid lagoon on its inland side.

The Illas Cies beach in Vigo, Spain © Shutterstock

The Illas Cies beach in Vigo, Spain © Shutterstock

14. Praia As Catedrais, Rías Altas

Ribadeo, the easternmost Galego town and ría, is a charming enough little place, with plenty of bars and restaurants tucked into the lanes that surround its lively central square. Thanks to a succession of fine beaches, the coast immediately west of Ribadeo has seen almost continuous low-level strip development.

It’s well worth stopping at the Praia As Catedrais — where low tide reveals some extraordinary natural arches, towering from a stark landscape. The waves are usually too strong for swimming, but it’s an unforgettable spot for coastal hiking, along a network of boardwalks.

Beach of the Cathedrals in Lugo. Galicia, Spain © Shutterstock

Beach of the Cathedrals in Lugo. Galicia, Spain © Shutterstock

15. Cala D’Hort, Ibiza

Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Spain and the most beguiling beach in the Balearics, Cala D’Hort, is in the extreme southwest of the island. It is a lovely quiet sand-and-pebble shoreline plus three good, moderately priced seafood restaurants.

Cala d’Hort has one of the most spectacular settings in the Balearics. Directly opposite is the startling, vertiginous rock-island of Es Vedrà, while the beach is backed by the steep Savinar, a defence tower built in 1763 – it’s also known as Torre d’en Pirata (the pirate tower).

16. Cala D’en Serra, Ibiza

East of Portinatx, a very scenic road rises above Ibiza’s northern tip, threading through woods and past isolated luxury villas. After 3km, there’s a magnificent view of diminutive Cala d’en Serra, a remote, exquisite cove framed by green hills. It’s reachable via a poor, signposted, but just about a driveable dirt road.

The bay’s alluring, translucent waters make an idyllic place for a dip, and offer rich snorkelling around the rocky fringes of the inlet; it’s a short swim across to another tiny pebbly cove.

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Cala D’en Serra, Ibiza © Pawel Kazmierczak / Shutterstock

17. A Coruña, Galicia

If you’re looking for city-side beaches, this is the place to come as the sweeping golden arc of A Coruña’s main beaches, Praia do Orzán and the contiguous Praia de Riazor, line the opposite side of the peninsula from the Dársena. Considering how close these are to the city, they are surprisingly clean and unpolluted – although do get very busy in the summer, so arrive early to reserve a spot.

Find some attractive accommodation options in Galicia

Panoramic view of Orzan beach and the city of La Coruna, in the Galicia region of Spain © Shutterstock

Panoramic view of Orzan beach and the city of La Coruna, in the Galicia region of Spain © Shutterstock

18. Playa Ostende, Castro Urdiales, Cantabria

The crowds of the more popular Playa del Brazomar can be left behind by heading west to Playa Ostende, with its rough, dark sand. When you’re done sunning yourself, from here, there’s an unusual walk back to town along the cliffs with the sea pounding the rocks beneath you. In a tiny bay en route, the sea comes in under a spectacular overhang.

19. Comillas, Cantabria

Comillas, 16km west of Santillana del Mar, is a curious rural town with pretty cobbled streets and squares, which in its centre seems almost oblivious to the proximity of the sea. It nonetheless boasts a pair of superb beaches: Playa de Comillas, the closest, has a little anchorage for pleasure boats and a few beach cafés, while the longer and less developed Playa de Oyambre is 4km west out of town towards the cape.

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Playa de Comillas Cantabria © tichr / Shutterstock

20. Isla Canela, Huelva

From Huelva you can head straight along the coast to Portugal. There are a number of good beaches and some low-key resorts noted for their excellent seafood. Sand dunes and salt marshes of Isla Canela give way to its wide 7km beach of fine, golden sand, sitting in the southwest of Spain, right near the Portuguese border. There is waterskiing and canoeing, as well as a couple of beach bars.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Huelva

Isla Canela, Spain © Shutterstock

Isla Canela, Spain © Shutterstock

21. Playa del Silencio, Oviedo - one of the best beaches in Spain for snorkelling

Near the fishing village of Cudillero, Playa del Silencio, also known as Gavieiru or Gavieriro beach– aptly named the “beach of silence” – is surprisingly quiet, even in peak season. This beach is one of those places where tranquillity meets spectacular scenery that instantly immerses visitors in a state of relaxation. Backed by imposing cliffs, its shores tickled by calm waters – great for snorkelling.

Southern Spain has been a busy tourist destination for many years. This self-drive tailor-made trip to the cities, mountains and beaches of Northern Spain avoids the touristy area along the southern Spanish coast, instead opting to take in the culture of the north and its natural beauty and the rugged beaches and coast.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Oviedo

Beach of Gavieiro, also known as Silence beach, is a pebble beach located in the municipality of Cudillero, Asturias, Spain © Shutterstock

Beach of Gavieiro, also known as Silence beach, Asturias, Spain © Shutterstock

22. Playa de Las Canteras, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Playa de Las Canteras is one of the best urban beaches in Europe. It stretches for almost 4km and starts in the north at La Puntilla, the golden sand fringed with coconut palms and fishing boats. At La Cicer, the southern end, surfers ride the crashing breakers in a haze of sea mist.

In between, a natural offshore lava reef acts as a wave break, calming the waters and protecting the marine life that makes Las Canteras a top snorkelling spot. It’s a good place for families as children can bathe in the shallows, overseen by lifeguards, while parents take the sun from their hammocks.

If you are interested in travelling to the Canary Islands, check out our guide to the best beaches in Gran Canaria.

23. Maspalomas beach, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

On the Western side of Maspalomas lighthouse, the newly developed stylish Meloneras stretches for 2 km and includes luxury 4 and 5 star hotels, a casino and a conference centre. The promenade is crammed with bars, cafés and restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. It’s attractive, trendy and affluent.

There are two beaches to choose from at each end of the promenade – Maspalomas and the smaller Meloneras, each with long stretches of sand, perfect for taking a dip in the clear waters of the Atlantic. Discerning locals come here for the tranquillity, so you know it’s good.

Explore the many accommodation options at Gran Canaria

 Maspalomas beach and lighthouse at sunset © Valery Bareta/Shutterstock

Maspalomas beach and lighthouse at sunset © Valery Bareta/Shutterstock

If you're looking for things to do in Spain, explore our list of the best things to do and see in Spain.

Ready for a trip to Spain? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to Spain. If you travel further in Spain, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in Spain.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Spain without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

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Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 27.02.2023

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