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The 20 Best Beaches in Spain (Including the Balearic & Canary Islands) [2024]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

816 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Spain is one of Europe’s most popular beach destinations, and it’s not hard to see why. Its southern location helps ensure that temperatures never drop too low and its warm summers are tempered by the country’s cool water. Choosing which area of Spain to visit can be daunting, so to help you out, we’ve rounded up the best beaches Spain has to offer.

Map of the 20 Best Beaches in Spain

The 6 Best Beaches in Northern Spain

1. Islas Cies, Pontevedra

Islas Cies Pontevedra
Image Credit: Iria González Sierra via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Nature lovers will love this spot. Islas Cies is a collection of small archipelago islands that have been declared a nature reserve since 1980. Since 2002, the reserve has also been granted national park status.

Due to its protected status, the island beaches are pristine and free from development. The beaches are also more sandy than others — they’re soft and cushioned, making them perfect for taking long walks. There aren’t too many trees right on the beach, so you might need to get a little further from the water if you want some shade.

The water is typically warm and calm, so you likely won’t have to deal with any particularly strong currents. It’s also fairly shallow, so it’s more approachable for small children to wade around in. The beach usually isn’t very crowded either, even during the summer.

2. Cabo de Ajo, Cantabria

Cabo de Ajo
Image Credit: La Mary Anne via Flickr (license)

If you love the idea of spending your beach days in a wild, natural coastal area, you’ll love Cabo de Ajo. Pebble beaches and very rugged rock formations will greet you as you head down to the shore. The beach is lined with cliffs that create a dramatic view that you’ll remember for years to come.

This beach tends to have strong waves and currents, so it’s not the best for swimming, but it’s definitely one of the most scenic beaches in the country. You can explore the lighthouse and beachside caves or walk along the cliffs as you breathe in the sea air.

If Cabo de Ajo creates the temptation to take a dip, there are other coastal locations nearby that have calmer waters. This is also one of the least frequented beaches, so you won’t see many crowds.

3. Playa de Estorde, Galicia

Playa de Estorde Galicia
Image Credit: Lameiro via Wikimedia Commons (license)

If you want to have a beach day that doesn’t feel like you’re somewhere developed and curated, Playa de Estorde is a great option for you. Grassy hills and palm trees guide you on your walk down to the beach where you’ll find white sand that stretches out for miles.

You’ll find some rocks on this stretch of coastline, but they’re larger and fit for sitting or climbing on, so you won’t have to worry about walking on rocks to get to the water. Even if there are other tourists on the sand with you, the area gives off a very natural vibe and has such beautiful scenery that you’ll feel like you’re in a postcard.

The beach is shaped to create a protective bay which also helps make the water easier to swim in for people of all ages.

4. Playa de San Francisco, La Coruna

Playa de San Francisco La Coruna
Image Credit: Tourism of Galicia

White sand beaches are the epitome of a beach paradise, and no other place in Spain has beaches like Playa de San Francisco. This beach has velvety soft sand you won’t want to leave unless it’s to take a dip in the inviting crystal water.

There are even designated picnic areas, so you can easily enjoy a meal on the beach. You can lay out and work on your tan or find a shady area near some of the coastal pine trees.

If having a picnic on the sand isn’t your idea of a dream vacation, you can also grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area. This beach has a tendency to fly under the radar of foreigners, so you likely won’t have to worry about many crowds, and you can feel like a local.

5. Playa de Somo, Cantabria

Playa de Somo Cantabria
Image Credit: Cantabria Infinita

Playa de Somo might only be 1.25 miles long, but it feels much larger due to its vast beauty. The water is some of the most pristine you’ll find in all of Europe. It’s crystal clear and incredibly blue. Typically, you have to be high up to see a body of water’s color, but you can see this beach’s hue with your feet in the sand.

The sand itself is white and soft, perfect for going on long walks at any time of day. If you find yourself getting too much sun, you can find some shelter by the small cliffs and dunes that line the shore.

Typically, this beach is perfectly safe for swimmers of all ages and skill levels. However, pay attention while you’re in the water as stronger tides can seemingly come out of nowhere, and there aren’t lifeguards on less busy days.

6. Praia Da Langosteira, Fisterra

Praia Da Langosteira Fisterra
Image Credit: Tourism of Galicia

Praia Da Langosteira is one of the most family-friendly beaches in Spain thanks to the plethora of activities you can do while you’re visiting. Though the beach is well-maintained, you can still find seashells all year, which is different from many coastal destinations in Spain.

Praia Da Langosteira doesn’t look too curated or pristine — the end result is a very natural-looking stretch of coast you won’t find many other places. The water here is also warm and gentle near the shore, so it’s perfect for swimming. However, it still has consistent waves for people who can’t take a beach vacation without getting on a surfboard.

Though the beach has kept the appearance of its more natural state, you’re not far from restaurants and snack bars, so you can still experience the comforts of a more developed area.

The 4 Best Beaches in the Canary Islands

1. Costa Teguise, Lanzarote

Playa de las cucharas
Image Credit: Lapping via Pixabay

Lanzarote proves that it’s a Canary Island worth visiting. As one of the main tourist centers on the island, its beach is pristine and well-maintained, so it’s free of pollutants or debris that have washed up on the sand.

Additionally, Teguise is one of the oldest towns in the Canary Islands, so it’s also a site worth seeing. As such, it doesn’t have the modern, over-commercialization of some of the newer tourist centers.

The water is warm almost all year, and there are consistent waves no matter what season it is, so you don’t have to worry about planning your trip for just the summer months. While that means there will be tourists all year, it also indicates that you’re less likely to encounter extreme crowds, at least if you don’t visit on holiday weekends.

2. Playa de las Americas, Tenerife

Playa de las Americas Tenerife
Image Credit: G.Lanting via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Spain’s Canary Islands are a premier destination for vacationers looking to have a beach getaway. However, among all the beaches the islands have to offer, Playa de las Americas is one of the most highly recommended.

The beach is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to feel like a VIP. The beach is lined with upscale hotels and resorts, and plenty of restaurants are right off the sand.

Since the beach is the island’s focal point, its preservation is a top priority. The sand is regularly maintained, so it’s clean and smooth, so you can walk or lounge without worrying about encountering any sharp shells or wood.

Despite the influx of guests during the island’s high season, the water remains a bright blue all year, even when sand is kicked up on busy beach days.

3. Playa de las Teresitas, Tenerife

Playa de las Teresitas
Image Credit: Playa de las Teresitas

Playa de las Teresitas may not be a natural beach, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. The beach is actually man-made and was created with tourism in mind. The beach is located on the Canary Island of Tenerife and was created as a way to disperse the crowds at popular beaches.

The beach is about a mile long and is covered in beautiful yellow imported sand that’s known for being cushion-soft.

You don’t have to worry about bringing too many supplies with you. Instead, you can rent beach umbrellas and lounge chairs and set up your own little paradise before you delve into the shallow waters.

Bottom Line: This is a perfect alternative if other areas of Tenerife are too stuffy or crowded.

4. Sotavento, Fuerteventura

Sotavento Fuerteventura
Image Credit: Canary Islands Tourism

Sotavento is the sort of beach you think about when you think of paradise. So if you like getting plenty of sun and having sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, then this is the place for you. The beach is lined with soft, white sand that leads right down to the sapphire-blue water.

Sotavento is actually made up of multiple beaches, each with a slightly different look. Some practically disappear when the tide comes in, and others have water running across their sands to create the illusion of tiny islands, while others are lined with trees.

All these beaches have seclusion in common. Of course, there are a few restaurants, but otherwise, they’re the perfect place to go if you want to escape from civilization for a while and enjoy nature. You can even try your hand at kitesurfing or snorkeling.

The 3 Best Beaches in Eastern Spain

1. Platja de les Marines, Denia, Alicante

Platja de les Marines Denia
Image Credit: Javier Mediavilla Ezquibela via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Playas de Denia is a perfect beach for people who want the option to have some seclusion but also don’t want to be too far from the city. The shore is accessible from the city, so you’re not far from the bustle of the town and all the amenities it has to offer. However, there are also many secluded areas that offer quiet and calm.

The beach is a worthy spot for families who want a safer place to swim. There are lifeguards on duty and the water is generally safe and gentle close to the sand. The waves pick up the deeper the water gets, which could also make this spot appealing to surfers.

The beach also doesn’t have set hours, so you can head out on the sand at virtually any hour, whether it’s early in the morning or after dark, for a beach party.

2. Playa de Levante, Benidorm

Playa de Levante Benidorm
Image Credit: Visit Benidorm

Playa de Levante is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a family-friendly beach that will entertain travelers of all ages. The beach is easily accessible from the city, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with cars or public transportation if you’re staying in most neighborhoods.

It’s also a popular spot for locals and tourists, which can sometimes mean there are crowds, but it also means there are lifeguards on duty to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.

The water isn’t difficult to navigate either, and it’s quite shallow for a decent distance. The beach also never feels like there are too many people on it, even during busy weekends. Older teenagers or thrill-seekers will also love that they can try out different water activities on the beach, like waterskiing, surfing, or kitesurfing.

3. Playa de Mataró, Barcelona

Playa de Mataro Barcelona
Image Credit: Javier Linares via Flickr (license)

The beach might not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a trip to Barcelona. However, that should change, especially when you see Playa de Mataro. This beach is a gorgeous expanse of soft sand and blue water, just a few steps away from some of the country’s most gorgeous and important sites.

There’s a road separating the main part of the city and the shore, so while you’re close to the city, you’re also a bit removed from its chaos.

Though Barcelona is a huge tourist destination, the beach never gets too crowded. Mostly it’s locals that frequent it since out-of-towners are typically more concerned with seeing the city than lounging on the sand.

Hot Tip: There are ship docks in Barcelona, so if you plan to swim, make sure you stick to the designated areas for safety.

The 2 Best Beaches in Southern Spain

1. Playa de Mazagon, Huelva

Playa de Mazagon Huelva
Image Credit: Marc Ryckaert via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Playa de Mazagon offers its visitors the best of both worlds: parts of the beach are purely natural and wild while other areas are curated and designed for tourists. This coastal hotspot is well-equipped to appeal to the desires of all sorts of travelers.

The beach is lined with buildings full of accommodations, shops, and restaurants to guarantee you’re never far from anything you might need. However, parts of the coast are also lined with sandstone cliffs that offer some reprieve from the bustling crowds and local traffic.

The result is a beach perfect for various coastal activities, from building sandcastles on the shore to going fishing. Since the beach is expansive, it never feels that crowded, even on busy days. Since the water is generally warm, you also don’t have to limit yourself to only visiting during the spring or summer.

2. Playas de Chipiona, Cadiz

Playas de Chipiona Cadiz
Image Credit: Emilio J. Rodríguez Posada via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Chiponia has multiple beaches and each one of them is worth a visit. To make your travel planning easier, we’ve combined them all into one spot on this list. All of the city’s beaches have soft, tan sand that is perfect for sunset walks or building sand castles.

While the sand is soft, it’s not too soft that you sink into it while you walk, and the landscape is pretty even, making it easier to walk longer distances. If you venture down to the water, you’ll encounter crystal-clear waves and a fairly gentle current near the shore.

Since there’s so much beachfront, you should be able to find a spot to relax without feeling like you’re on top of other visitors, even during high season. However, visiting during winter or fall will offer the calmest experience.

The 5 Best Beaches in the Balearic Islands

1. Cala de Algaiarens, Menorca

Cala de Algaiarens
Image Credit: Discasto via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Spain’s eastern islands have hundreds of beaches but Cala de Algaiarens is routinely rated as one of the top spots, and it’s not hard to see why. From a bird’s eye view, the beach is a natural bay that’s surrounded by lush greenery and slowly-descending rocky cliffs.

While you might not get to see all of that from the sand, this part of the coast still leaves a lasting impression. The beach is lined with velvety soft white sand that brilliantly reflects the sun, which only helps you ensure you get a tan.

The water itself is translucent blue and inviting for all types of swimmers. The coast’s beauty is, in part, due to its national protected status, which ensures boats and development can’t get too close to the shore and its surrounding waters.

2. Cala de Banyalbufar, Mallorca

Cala de Banyalbufar Mallorca
Image Credit: Altabo via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Cala de Banyalbufar may be a small beach, but it’s absolutely worth adding to your must-visit list. With just under 330 feet of narrow coast available for visitors to walk on, squished between the cliffs and the water, this beach is a shielded treasure. You’ll feel like you’ve found a hidden spot that belongs in a movie.

The beach is covered in a mixture of sand and pebbles. This combination helps keep the water crystal clear and very blue. Since the beach has a rounded geographic shape, it’s protected from strong currents, so you can swim stress-free. The water slowly gets deeper as you move further from the shore so there’s plenty of room to casually wade around.

Bottom Line: This is a picturesque beach you’ll definitely want to take plenty of pictures of to help you remember your visit for years to come.

3. Colonia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca

Colonia de Sant Jordi Mallorca
Image Credit: Tommie Hansen via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Colonia de Sant Jordi is a great option if you like spending your beach vacations in an area with all the luxuries and excitement of a city. This beach leads right into town, so you’re just a few short steps away from restaurants or shops if you want a break from the water.

The sand is also quite soft, so you’ll be comfortable whether you’re sitting, laying out, or going for a walk. While the beach is beautiful at all times of the day, it’s particularly pretty in the morning when you can catch the sun rising over the horizon.

After sunset, you can regularly find parties and gatherings spilling out onto the beach to keep you entertained until the early morning hours. However, if you’re traveling with small kids, it’s a perfect family-friendly beach during the day.

4. Playa de Illetes, Formentera

Playa de Illetes Formentera
Image Credit: Consell Insular de Formentera

Though Playa de Illetes might be on Spain’s eastern side, it’s still one of the best places to watch the sunset in the country.

The beach is narrow but makes for an incredible place to watch the sunset. As the sun starts to go down the water explodes with color. The beautiful blue you normally see turns vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red before the dusk sky creates dramatic shadows on the sand.

During high tides, you’ll even have the unique experience of being surrounded by water. This is because a stretch of the beach is high enough to remain above water while the lower parts of the beach become pools of blue. Don’t be nervous, however. The water’s tides are gentle enough for most swimmers to handle.

5. S’Alga Beach, Formentera

SAlga Beach Formentera
Image Credit: Visit Formentera

S’Alga Beach is perfect for free spirits who want to get in touch with nature. It’s not hard to find, but the beach itself is a bit secluded thanks to the trees and hilly landscape that shield it from obvious view.

Even though the beach is quite vast, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled on a hidden spot to enjoy your day on the sand. That’s also helped by the fact it’s never very crowded. Instead, most beach-goers seem to prefer the more curated spots where they can spend a few hours, get a bite to eat, and go home.

S’Alga, on the other hand, is a destination itself. So it’s best to come here if you plan to spend the whole day on the shore or in the water. The water is warm and usually gentle, though, on windy days, you might notice more waves.

Final Thoughts

Spain has some gorgeous beaches spread out all over its territory. Limiting this list to just the top 20 in the country was certainly a challenge.

Hopefully, you have a little more clarity about what you can expect from Spain’s beaches to know which one is right for you. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just one option: a few of them are close enough that you can visit them all in a single trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any nice beaches in Spain?

There are many nice beaches in Spain. In fact, it’s become a popular vacation spot for people who want to spend their entire year along the coast. The country’s islands are a highly recommended spot for those who want a beautiful beach destination.

Does Spain have sandy beaches?

Like all coastal places, Spain has multiple types of beaches, it just depends on where you go. There are some sandy beaches, but there are also beaches that are lined with rocks, pebbles, or a mixture of both. Do your research ahead of time so that you know how to prepare for the terrain.

Are there sharks in Spain?

Spain’s coastline is on open waters, so sharks are not uncommon to be spotted nearby. If you’re worried, there are a few things to look out for. Rocky and pebbly beaches tend to have water and coastal conditions that are more favorable for shark sightings.

Can you swim in the sea in Spain?

You can swim in Spain’s sea waters. There are many places where the water is clean, clear, and safe for swimmers. However, currents can be strong, and some areas may have “no swimming” regulations or recommendations. Make sure to check before you visit.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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