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15 Best Beach Towns in Spain

15 Best Beach Towns in Spain

If you’re looking for the best beach towns in Spain, you’ll want to narrow down what part of the country you want to explore and what time of year you plan to visit.

Spain has long been a sought-after beach destination. Royals and aristocrats traveled the coasts through the 19th century bringing Belle époque elegance to once unassuming fishing villages.

As they’ve evolved, some have maintained a close link to the past, while others have grown into hubs for bright neon lights and night owls.

Yes, Ibiza Town made this list. But we believe the best beach destinations in Spain should have more than just one trick. As you’ll discover, these coastal towns and cities showcase a rich tapestry of vibrant waterfronts and a meeting of human and natural beauty.

For your next beach vacation in Spain, enjoy the beaches by day and explore the enchanting streets of these destinations by night.

When to Visit the Best Beach Towns in Spain

If you are visiting Spain in July or August, most beach towns will be bustling with activity and they will all be warm enough to enjoy sunbathing and swimming.

However, if you are visiting Spain in the winter or spring, you’ll want to stick to the beaches in the south for warmth. Spain in May is a wonderful time of year to visit the south coast. The tourists haven’t arrived in hoards yet, but the weather is nice enough to relax on the beach.

wide beach with tons of umbrellas and a cliffside to the left and the water at the front.

There are so many amazing beach towns in Spain to explore, it’s so hard to narrow it down to just a few!

Which Spanish Coast to Choose?

The many coastlines of Spain combine to create a traveler’s dream. Not only will you find the full spectrum of epic beaches, from relaxing open sands to quaint pebbled alcoves, but the locations form the foreground of cultural meccas, night-time extravaganzas, and historic old towns as well.

Costa del Sol

Translating to the Sun Coast, the beaches in Costa del Sol average 11 hours per day of pure sunshine through the summer. The coastline runs along the Mediterranean side of southern Spain.

The marvelous coast is home to endless beaches, nightlife hubs like Marbella, and family-friendly destinations such as Malaga.

Costa Blanca

On the central, eastern coast, Costa Blanca is pure Mediterranean. The hubs here are the Alicante beaches and Benidorm. Much like the Costa del Sol, it’s one of the most popular coasts with a wide mix of resorts, old towns, and beautiful beaches.

Costa Brava

Known as the Wild Coast, Costa Brava is an unspoiled gem home to rugged cliffs that protect small beaches and blanket hidden gems. In the northeast, you’ll find charming small towns, layers of authenticity, and reminders of the former presence of Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Costa de la Luz

The Coast of Light appears just a stone’s throw from the tip of North Africa. Here, life is different with an ancient blend of Moorish and Christian architecture. The windswept coast provides plenty of watersport actions, while coastal national parks balance the beach days with on-land adventure.

Costa Verde

The Costa Verde or Green Coast traverses the north of Spain, guiding you through the gorgeous Basque Country. Here, you’ll find a blend of towns and cities all with their history, each with astounding cuisine, wine, and outdoor fun. Think beaches in the summer, skiing the Picos de Europa in the winter.

Best Beach Towns in Spain

1. Marbella

Lying on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Marbella has developed a reputation as one of the best Spanish beach towns. This is thanks in part to glitzy nightclubs and plush bars. Yes, Marbella’s nightlife is rightfully heralded, but there are a few things to dispel.

Marbella is far more than what happens after dark. In fact, a lot of its glamour lies in the nearby Puerto Banus and the Golden Mile. By day, its spectacular beaches, like the Playa de la Fontanilla, handle the crowds with ease. These stretches of ivory sand back onto a mix of delightful restaurants, bars, and, in this case, the happening Paseo Maritimo or boardwalk.

The Andalusian city rises to the top of our list with a little push from its fabulous Old Town. It’s arguably the most beautiful in the region, with the historic, flower-laden streets of the barrio rising to the top of the central hill. Along the way, you’ll find bustling squares, orange trees, and endless tapas.

After a day of enjoying the local side of Marbella, you can try your hand at the VIP experience at Buddha Beach. Better yet, dine on amazing seafood at the marina. It’s easy to get to Marbella from Malaga Airport and you can explore other beach towns with a rental car from Malaga.

white building with blue flower pots on the wall and bright pink flowers sticking out of them in marbella, one of the best beach towns in Spain.

Marbella’s old town is colorful and fun to explore.

2. San Sebastian

From the south to the north, San Sebastian is one of the best coastal towns in Spain.

Enveloped by golden beaches and the city’s twin peaks, San Sebastian offers a complete beach town experience. First, the culture here in Basque Country is distinct and separate from much of Spain. For travelers, it’s a unique experience that transforms this beach vacation into a cultural experience.

Of course, for sun and sand, San Sebastian won’t disappoint. The main beach, La Concha looks out into its namesake bay with the stunning Santa Clara Island acting as the cherry on top.

You can sunbathe and relax here, but if you wish for more action, you can paddle to the protected island or catch a wave at the neighboring Zurriola Beach.

From either location, you can watch the sun go down over the Bay of Biscay. It’s here that you may notice the sun dance along the sandstone structure spread through the old and new towns.

The former infuses San Sebastian with an aura of authenticity not always found in your classic beach resort towns. Not only will you uncover eye-catching architecture, but its narrow serpentine streets allow you to jump between pintxos bars to enjoy the best of Basque cuisine.

3. Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Not far from Cadiz, a visit to Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a life-affirming experience. The relaxed, Spanish coastal town with its beautiful old buildings and public squares is slow to rise.

Quiet mornings begin with your chosen beverage and a walk along the empty cobbled streets toward the waterfront. 

While some of the best beach towns in Spain on this list offer dramatic coastlines, Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a veritable cul-de-sac of relaxing beaches and wide-open seas. Playa de la Calzada is a place for barefoot wanderers to take it all in, slowly, of course.

Behind the sands are rows of swaying palms and chalets that house summer vacationers. Among them lie seafood restaurants that may be your first understanding of why Sanlúcar de Barrameda has been rated as the gastronomic capital of Spain.

Come sunset, you’ll first see the horses riding along the sands draped in golden hour magic. Then you’ll hear the pitter-patter of hooves splashing through the water, creating a simple, intimate sense of joy that makes this beach town magical.

views of a port city from above with tall buildings on the land mass and a port area to the right with turquoise waters expanding out to the horizon and blue skies above.

There are so many things to do in Malaga including exploring historical ruins that offer insane views back over the city below.

4. Malaga

Many of our favorite destinations are smaller towns, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have soft spots for larger cities in Spain. Malaga is one of the best coastal cities in Spain. Not only does it provide you with fantastic access to the wider Andalusian region, but it’s also a beachy, cultural mecca itself.

Rising out from the sandy coast, Malaga is a robust city. It’s the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and naturally, among the high rises, lie a vibrant collection of museums, galleries, and cultural institutions.

It creates a cosmopolitan hub, one that adds a nice balance to your beach vacation. Here, you can sunbathe and explore an ancient Roman Theatre and the Alcazaba in one afternoon.

There are ample neighborhoods in Malaga to explore when you’re not relaxing at the beach. You are also well connected to exploring other fun day trips from Malaga, including nearby beautiful Spanish beach towns.

You won’t want to spend much time indoors, seeing as Malaga is the capital of Costa del Sol, aka the Sun Coast. Steps from the Old Quarter lies the beloved Malagueta Beach, where the days wander by as you read your chosen book, and enjoy water sports or a simple dip in the Med.

5. Ibiza Town

Ibiza Town may just be the most famous of Spanish beach towns. Drawing in a younger crowd from across the globe, the hub of the White Island promises the height of hedonism and is an iconic party destination. Its many Ibiza beach clubs bring famous DJs from around the world, while its bright, exotic pool parties are one-of-a-kind.

In the Balearic Islands, Ibiza Town rose to fame first for its incredible scenery and all of the magical Ibiza neighborhoods that there are to explore. These stretches of golden sand can spread along the coast, bordering the azure seas. Or, they can be tucked into quaint alcoves enveloped in dramatic coast.

With seemingly endless sun, one can put away the weather forecast and lather the sunscreen. All before enjoying the island’s best beach clubs, from Kumharas to Chiringuito Blue. But there’s more to Ibiza than afternoon sessions and late nights.

Its crystalline waters make for amazing scuba diving and day sails. The uptake of yoga retreats and wellness centers adds a semblance of balance and brings boho Bali vibes to the Spanish island.

You can easily get here by flying into the Ibiza Airport which is a short drive from Ibiza Town.

stone wall running along the hillside with city and sea below in Malaga, one of the best beach towns in Spain.

Malaga has so much to offer visitors, be sure to spend at least a few days enjoying the city and it’s beaches before moving onto the smaller towns.

6. Cadaqués

You’ll find Cadaqués along one of Spain’s most striking coastlines, Costa Brava. The former fishing village has become a prominent cultural hub that belies the city’s small dimensions.

Enveloped in gorgeous landscapes, you’ll quickly see why the resplendent beauty of Cadaqués drew the likes of Picasso and Garcia Lorca throughout the 20th century. However, it was Salvador Dali, whose childhood was spent here, that allowed Cadaqués to become what it is today.

Looking out into the turquoise Mediterranean, Cadaqués is the perfect antidote to the big smoke or busy coastal towns. It’s small, but not too small. It features a high concentration of wonderful restaurants, many of which are spread along the alluring waterfront. The harborfront is pure magic at night. The light from the lampposts and moon dazzles the pebbled beaches.

By day, head to Cala sa Sabolla along the hike to Far de Cala Nans and see why pebble beaches are so underrated.

7. Tarifa

On the Iberian Peninsula, Tarifa is a watersport mecca. The Levant winds sweep along the coast and create some of the best windsurfing and kitesurfing conditions in the country. Add one plenty of rolling waves, and you can see why the town is beloved by watersport enthusiasts.

But among the windswept seas is a historic town that can divulge the Spanish story. Looking out across the Strait of Gibraltar, Tarifa harbors the ruins of the Moors, the architecture of the conquering Christians, and the tales of Napoleon. This history, infused in every brick of its old, cobbled streets, means Tarifa is far more than your regular beach town.

Mornings can be spent wandering through the Old Town, from forts to castles. As the sun rises along with the temperature, the natural parks and coastline beckon travelers.

Thirsty folks enjoy refreshing drinks at Chiringuito’s after time on the water, while at any time, Tangier and Morocco are an 80-minute boat ride away.

blue skies above are 50% of the image and the golden sand of the beach is the other bottom half of the photo and close to where the horizon meets is a row of beach umbrellas along the shoreline.

There are so many amazing beaches to explore in Spain.

8. La Coruña

Romans, Phoenicians, Moors, and Celtics have occupied the port town of La Coruña throughout its storied past. This mix of history, especially the presence of the Celtics, rings through to this very day.

Like Ireland itself, La Coruña has its own green countryside, interchangeable weather, and the odd tunes of bagpipes.

But perhaps it’s the rugged, windswept coast that stares out into the abyss which is the most connecting aspect of the two places. Although not the most western part of Spain, La Coruña’s view to the northwest gazes into an empty North Atlantic Sea. Nothing lies between it and the coast of Greenland and Canada.

You can explore the beautiful coastline along Europe’s longest promenade. We suggest an e-bike for this eight-mile journey past quaint baths and natural pools at Praia das Lapas and Orzan Beach.

Afterwards, explore Maria Pita Square and ride the glass bubble to Mone de San Pedro. Come Saturday night, join locals on Calle Galera to experience amazing Galician cuisine.

9. Cadiz

Cadiz, like Málaga, is one of the best beach towns in Spain that has all of the amenities of a city. Equally historic and fun, Cadiz brings all the beauty of a beach vacation with brilliant architecture and buzzing streets. Let’s begin with the former.

Cadiz faces the Atlantic Ocean and without inhibiting cliffs, it offers wide open beaches with ample space to spread out.

At the top of the list is Playa la Caleta, which mixes golden sands and bright blue ocean with views of two historic castles. Another popular option is Playa de la Victoria with volleyball courts and an outdoor gym, you know, for the summer bod’.

Back from the sandy shores lies the buzzing and utterly charming streets of Cadiz Old Town. Within you’ll uncover El Pópulo and La Viña with their own alluring squares, markets, cathedrals, and theatres. Wherever you go, the seafood-rich cuisine follows.

beach in the distance in the middle of the horizon of the photo with a white pavilion and blue skies above with the sea below the horizon all in cadiz, one of the best beach towns in Spain.

Cadiz has a bit of old-world glam on display as well as tons of ancient Roman history. Be sure to get out onto the beaches here to relax.

10. Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca lies off the southeastern coast of mainland Spain. It is without a doubt one of the best beach towns in Spain.

Surrounded by the azure blues of the Mediterranean Sea, Palma is a stunner. Come golden hour, the sandstone structures dazzle with a mix of oranges and red, like a city lathered in an abundance of rose petals.

Palma de Mallorca is vibrant, yet its beauty provides an aura of intimacy. The island city rises and falls with the seasons, creating a cozy outpost in the shoulder seasons and a bustling hot spot from June to September.

Small and surrounded by sea, Mallorca was prime for invasions through the Middle Ages. Christians, Moors, Romans and first the Talayotic have added physical layers and endless tales to the labyrinth streets.

For some, Palma is like Barcelona. Its mix of histories, galleries, bars, and restaurants suggests it’s not a controversial call. Add on its gorgeous beaches and you’ll see why this town is an island treasure.

11. Sitges

An easy day trip from Barcelona, Sitges can be that perfect beach-town side trip on your Spanish adventure. Set on the Mediterranean Sea, Sitges offers a collection of alluring whitewashed buildings and a gorgeous coast. They combine to create a picturesque getaway.

Those staying in the seaside town will enjoy some beautiful beaches just moments from their accommodation.

One of the best is Platja de la Fragata, near the Church of St. Bartomeu. The open beach has ample room and great views. La Ribera is more popular thanks to its central position and beach umbrellas. Although you’ll find the crowds, it harbors a fun, social atmosphere.

Back from the beaches lie coastal promenades that lead to meandering, narrow streets. It’s here, among the whitewashed architecture, that you’ll discover two things.

The first is why Sitges is the Saint-Tropez of Spain. The second is that the city is wonderfully walkable. Scenic alleys lead to cultural gems, museums, and local haunts taking you beyond the beaches to the heart of town.

blue skies and turquoise waters and lots of rocks along the shoreline of the beach.

There are so many tiny beach towns to explore in Spain, especially in the Costa Brava.

12. Ribadesella

We round out our guide to the best beach towns in Spain, with perhaps a more left-field choice, Ribadesella. The small coastal town in Asturias has a population of less than 6,000. For those who visit, it’s a chance to enjoy the quiet, slow-paced life away from the big cities.

The rural coastal town, complete with its cowbells, shouting roosters, and the dinging of church bells, provides the classic northern Spain experience. As you head further into town, you’ll see why Ribadesella, founded in the 13th century by King Alfonso X, is a protected cultural landmark.

The main port is split in two by a bridge, which marks the finish line for an annual canoe race down the Sella River. As the river moves towards the Atlantic, Ribadesella’s fantastic beaches come to the fore. In addition, you’ll also be able to find the famed Tito Bustillo cave.

13. Alicante

The Costa Blanca is one of the most wonderful places to escape the winter months in other parts of Europe. Alicante is consistently ranked as one of the warmest places in Spain in February

It has a microclimate and an incredible amount of sun hours which means that even though it’s not warm enough to sunbathe, it is certainly warm enough to sit al fresco with your coffee or enjoy early evening aperitivos along the boardwalk.

Alicante has a colorful boardwalk that separates the port from the city center and is a wonderful place to walk and explore the different souvenir stalls and cafes. Santa Barbara Castle has some of the best views of the coastline, and the beach itself is long and relaxing.

Alicante is also a fantastic base to use to explore other Alicante beaches nearby since the tram and train network easily gets you to the surrounding Alicante day trips.

palm tree on the beach next to a beach bar and blue skies above.

There are always beach bars known as chiringuitos. They usually rent you chairs and umbrellas, too.

14. Gandia

If it’s the Valencia beaches that excite you most, then one of the best beach towns in Spain for you will be Gandia.

Located just south of Valencia, it’s an easy day trip from Valencia, but Gandia has so much to see and do, you’ll want to spend a few days based here if you can.

The beach in Gandia is one of the most beautiful in this region. It is long, the sand is soft, and the waves are gentle.

When I was sitting at a bar across from the train station waiting for my train back to Valencia, the bartender said that, although biased since she grew up in Gandia, she promised we would not find another beach as beautiful as this one in the Valencian Community.

She wasn’t wrong. Castellon de la Plana might come close, but we couldn’t swim there because of a rough undertow. Gandia has it all, a coastal neighborhood with hotels and great restaurants, and an inland old town with historical sights to explore and great train connections to other parts of the region.

white cliffs of zumaia beach with golden sand to the right and bright blue water.

The cliffs in Zumaia are not only historical, they are also spectacularly beautiful, making this one of the best beach towns in Spain.

15. Zumaia

Zumaia is arguably one of the best beach towns in Spain. This small Basque Country town should not be missed if you are heading to bigger spots like Bilbao or San Sebastian.

Itzurun Beach is the main beach in town and one of the reasons that this town makes the list. It is over 300 meters (~100ft) long and has cliffs surrounding the shore that are over 150 meters (~150ft) tall. 

These are not just your average limestone cliffs. They are known as Flysch rocks and they are roughly 100 million years old! Get into the water and look back over the beach for the best views of these ancient cliffs.

Zumaia has a second beach called Playa de Santiago which is also a wonderful place to soak up the sun. The town in between is packed with great restaurants and cafes as well as affordable hotels.

If you want a small, local feel, this is definitely one of the best beach towns in Spain.