If you want to make your summer vacation in Spain and like beaches Spain has many that are unforgettable. In Spain, beaches can be found all along its five thousand miles of coastline from the Atlantic Border with France East of Bilbao to Portugal, and from Portugal to the Mediterranean border North of Barcelona.
List of Best Beaches in Spain
- La Concha
- Playa de Las Catedrales
- Playa del Silencio
- Ses Illetes
- Beaches Near Sitges
- La Barrosa
- Playa de los Peligros and Playa de la Magdalena
And, you can find great options all along the way. Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, and Costa Blanca are well known, popular, and packed full during the summer months. Read our review of the best beaches in Spain to find the secluded getaway or hot spot full of action that is just right for you. From Galicia to Andalusia, the best in Spain are calling you.
Best Beaches in Spain
1. La Concha
This beach, named the “seashell,” is within the city of San Sebastián on the Northern flank, less than 10 miles from the French border. Take the 8 AM train from Chamartin railway station in Madrid and arrive in San Sebastián at 1:24 PM. The 8:48 PM train from nearby Bilbao will get you there at 10:15 PM.
La Concha has golden sand with a broad view of La Concha Bay and walking distance from many excellent hotels. San Sebastian itself is in the Basque region (Galicia) where food is great and the fantastic tapas are called pintxos and include unique delicacies such as salted cod omelet, seasoned olives, or marinated sardines.
The city has many historic attractions including a royal palace and an old town with cobblestone streets.
Because the white sand beach is protected within La Concha Bay, the waters are tranquil and safe for swimming. There is a chic promenade that follows the entire beach and is lined with quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants. This is one of the nicest city beaches in Europe a nice place to stay with children.
2. Playa de Las Catedrales
This beach is also in Galicia, near the city of Ribadeo. It is easily one of the best in Spain, with its unique rock formations and pristine sand, and easily the best beach in Galicia. However, it is harder to get to than the city beach in San Sebastián.
To reach Ribadeo, take the narrow gauge railway that runs along the Northern Coast of Spain. From Ribadeo, Las Catedrales (the cathedrals) is only 11 minutes North by auto following the A-8 and taking the 515 turnoff to the beach.
Come prepared for a unique, solitary adventure when you visit Playa de Las Catedrales as this is an idyllic but out-of-the-way spot. It is breathtaking, gorgeous, and safe in the summer months. In the winter it is still beautiful but the weather is very unpredictable and the swimming may not be safe.
3. Playa del Silencio
On the rugged coastline of Asturias on Spain’s Northeastern corner, Playa del Silencio is a beautiful sandy beach flanked by rocky cliffs. It is a spectacular albeit isolated spot. You can to the town of Cudillero in this region from Madrid’s Chamartin railway station in about seven and a half hours.
You will travel by the regular Spanish railway system and then transfer to the narrow gauge railway in Northern Spain. From Cudillero you will drive to the village of Castañeras adjacent to the beach.
The beach and surroundings are always beautiful but the region’s weather can be a bit unpredictable and sun may be hard to find. As such, having an auto to travel and soak up some of the culture of the region on cloudy and rainy days is a good idea. On sunny days will want to hit the beach as it is a little slice of paradise!
4. Ses Illetes
This beach is on Formentera in the Balearic Islands. These islands are popular vacation spots in the Mediterranean Sea off the Southeast of Spain. To get to Formentera, you can fly to the larger, neighboring island of Ibiza from many European cities.
While Ibiza has more to do when you are not on the beach and lots of accommodations, you can also book a hotel on Formentera to assure that you will be the first one on the beach every morning!
While the Balearic Islands have lots of great destinations, Ses Illetes and nearby Cala Conta are generally considered the best beaches on these islands when considering beauty, ease of access to the beach, tranquil seas for swimming, and all-around ambiance.
A great vacation is to spend your days lolling in the sun and enjoying the water on Ses Illetes on Formentera and your nights enjoying the nightlife on Ibiza.
5. Beaches Near Sitges
The Sitges area on the Mediterranean Sea near Barcelona is readily accessible by train or bus and offers a whole host of beach opportunities including nudist and mixed options. And, within Spain, it is a popular gay destination.
Because it is so close to metropolitan Barcelona, it is a popular local day-trip. The town itself is charming and worth a little exploring. And, if the beaches are your primary reason for visiting, it is a lot less expensive to stay around Sitges than Barcelona.
There are seventeen different beach options near Sitges and you can find family beaches as well ones with specific uses such as for nudists. The ones close to town are the busiest so if you want a little elbow room, choose one farther out like Platja de les Anquines.
This is the beach furthest from town on the west. In a small cove, it is tranquil and a good choice if you need a quiet spot.
The two nudist locations are Platja d’Aiguadolç and Platja dels Balmains which are farthest to the East and very picturesque as well as more isolated.
Nerja beach on the Costa del Sol in Andalusia is a gorgeous location in a very popular and very expensive area. The area is easily accessible from both Granada and Malaga by either train or bus. From Granada, it will cost about €12 which is about the same for gasoline if you drive.
You can cover the 96 kilometers in a taxi but the price will run as high as 140! The area features excellent locations and a somewhat more relaxed ambiance that other areas along the Costa del Sol.
On the South flank of Spain, this beach is clean, sandy, and has clear, clean water. It is a gorgeous region but gets busy during the summer. Nerja is perhaps the best beach in the area both for its natural qualities and because around Nerja, it is a little less busy and hectic.
7. La Barrosa
On the Atlantic Ocean North of Gibraltar and just South of the city of Cádiz is the city of Chiclana de la Frontera. The nearby La Barrosa beach is generally ranked number one among the best in Spain. And, a nice alternative a little closer to the city of Cádiz is Playa de la Victoria.
To get to Cádiz from Madrid you can fly as Air Europa and Iberia airlines offer more than fifteen flights a day all of which take about an hour. From Madrid’s Atocha train station you can get to Cádiz in five and a half hours.
Besides its white sand, beautiful view, and tranquil waters, La Barrosa has many beach bars (chiringuitos) to help you while away the hours. La Barrosa is a safe, beautiful, tranquil beach at any time of the year but it is best and most popular during the summer months.
For those who want the best beaches in Spain and would like to avoid the hubbub and expenses of the Costa del Sol, the Cádiz area in general and La Barrosa, especially, are great choices.
This is another excellent beach in Andalusia on the very tip of the Southwest Coast of Spain adjacent to the Straits of Gibraltar. You can easily fly to take a train to Cádiz and then take a bus for about €15 to Tarifa.
Tarifa is a large, pretty, sandy beach that is excellent for water sports like windsurfing as well as whale watching. Because the area is windy, it is not an ideal spot for sunbathing unless you don’t mind being dusted with fine sand or navigating the occasional little sand dunes.
And, this is a great area for bars and entertaining nightlife! Because this is the one of the beaches that is a surfer’s paradise, you will see some of the same surfer-types is you would find surfing Hawaii or Southern California.
However, the accommodations, food, and entertainment are far more affordable! For an active beach, great nightlife, surfing, and whale watching, Tarifa offers a nice package.
For sunbathing, pick a less windy spot without the occasional sand dunes.
This excellent beach is on Spain’s Costa Blanca South of Valencia. Valencia is a three and a half-hour drive from Madrid and Gandia is a short drive South. The train from Madrid to Valencia takes two and a half hours and then you will need to take a short bus trip to Gandia.
The entire area has lots of great, white beaches but Gandia stands above the rest. The Costa Blanca has a nice, relaxed atmosphere with numerous pleasant beaches with lots of small towns and a less-developed feeling than the Costa del Sol.
Gandia is a beach that is very pretty and is favored by Spanish residents so you will get a nice sense of Spanish culture. The area also has a lot of history, making it a great place to explore when you want a day off from the beach to let your sunburn heal! It also has its share of night spots and bars for evening recreation as well.
The spacious white sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing (with lotion), safe for swimming, and ideal for kicking back and watching the world pass by.
10. Playa de los Peligros and Playa de la Magdalena
These wonderful beaches are a bit more out of the way than our other choices, except Playa de Las Catedrales in Galicia. They are located on the Bahía de Santander in Cantabria which lies just West of Bilbao on Spain’s North Coast.
The best-known beach in the area is Playa del Sardinero but los Peligros (the dangerous ones) and Magdalena are favored by locals and tourists who have visited all of the beaches and have picked these two as their favorites.
You can easily get to Santander from Bilbao from by the narrow gauge railway that spans the Northern Coast of Spain. The train from Madrid to Bilbao is inexpensive and flights take less than an hour.
Both beaches have spectacular views across Bahía de Santander with ships in the foreground and mist-covered mountains as a backdrop. But, both beaches are near to the downtown area of Santander making them convenient but rarely overcrowded.
Here are a few of the questions that our readers frequently ask.
What is the nicest beach in Spain?
For the nicest beach in Spain, we give our vote to Playa Ses Illetes on Formentera in the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean Coast of Spain. The beach is excellent for soaking up the sun or going for a swim. The setting is tranquil. And, nearby Ibiza offers lots of things to do in the evenings.
What is the most beautiful beach in Spain?
Far and away the most beautiful beach in Spain is one of the least visited. Las Catedrales is named for its spectacular rock formations. It is a tranquil, breathtaking spot with great sunning and swimming in the summer. In the winter its beauty persists but it gets too cold for sunning yourself and swimming is not safe.
Where are the best sandy beaches in Spain?
La Concha on the North Coast of Spain, La Barrosa near Cádiz, and Playa del Silencio in the Northeast corner of the country are our choices for the best sandy beaches in Spain. However, this was a hard choice because any of our top ten best beaches in Spain could have been first as there are so many great beaches in Spain.
Where is the best place to go in Spain for families?
We prefer the Sitges beaches on Spain’s Mediterranean coast near Barcelona. Sitges is easy to reach from the city and offers several very nice family beaches. The prices are more affordable than in Barcelona and the town of Sitges is charming with lots of interesting places to explore for both parents and children.
Spain has hundreds of beaches on its more than five thousand miles of shoreline. Our selections are meant to give you a nice mix of beauty and adventure, tranquility and convenience. If you are the adventurous type and have the time and resources, make sure to visit spots like Las Catedrales for its spectacular vistas.
If you are a surfer, like adventurous things like whale watching, and don’t mind a stiff breeze, we strongly suggest Tarifa beach near the Straits of Gibraltar.
And, if you would like to combine comfortable accommodations in the city with easy access to a great beach, la Concha within the city of San Sebastián on the Northern flank of Spain is hard to beat. Whichever ones on our list you visit, we believe you will be pleased with the sand and water and have a great beach vacation in Spain.