Spain has one of the longest coastlines in Europe (over 1600km of Mediterranean shoreline alone) plus one of the best climates on the continent. Add in the popular holiday islands of the Balearics and the Canaries, and it’s no wonder Spain and beaches go hand in hand.
But which ones are the best? It’s difficult to make a definitive list of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, but here’s 10 to get you started. There’s a beach for everyone here, from volcanic black sand beaches in the Canary Islands, to the translucent water and soft sands of the Balearics, to the wilder shores of Galicia.
LA GRACIOSA, CANARY ISLANDS
The larger islands of the Canaries get all the attention, but little La Graciosa just 2km off the north coast of Lanzarote is an unspoilt gem. Despite having some of the best beaches in the Canaries, if not in Europe, it has somehow escaped mass tourism. On the island you’ll find just one sleepy village, a handful of apartments, and no roads. Perfect if you’re looking to get back to nature.
CALA MACARELLETA, MENORCA
The twin bays of Macarella and Macarelleta on the island of Mallorca are a recognisable symbol of Balearic tourism. Both are pure heaven for views, immaculate sands, and swimming in its pristine turquoise waters. Cala Macarelleta is 20 minute a walk along the cliffs from the nearest car park, or you can access both bays by boat or walking from Cala Galdana.
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CATHEDRALS BEACH, GALICIA
This iconic beach on Spain’s Atlantic coast is officially called Praia de Augas Santas (the Beach of the Holy Waters). But it’s popularly known as Cathedrals Beach for the many stacks, arches and caves that grace the beach, and which you can only access at low tide. To help preserve this epic beauty, ticket reservations are now required to visit (bookable up to 30 days in advance).
LA CONCHA, SAN SEBASTIAN
Also along the Atlantic Coast is a contender for Europe’s best city beach: the stunning shell-shaped Concha Bay in San Sebastián (also known as Donostia, its Basque name). La Concha boasts 1400km of beautiful sand that arcs around Santa Clara island. This classy city is a famed foodie haven with its Belle Epoque waterfront, and is backed by green mountains which protect it from the worst of the winds.
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Playa de Bolonia is 3.8km of pure sandy goodness. Situated in the south of Spain not far from Cadiz and Tarifa, the little village of Bolonia sports the impressive Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia as well as its wide sandy sweep and dreamy dunes. This stretch of coast is popular with kitesurfers which brings a youthful vibe to the area.
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SES ILLETES, FORMENTERA
If you’re looking for idyllic beaches with translucent waters and powdery soft sand then the Balearic island of Formentera is the one for you. The shallow waters of Ses Illetes are popular with those in the know, who make the short ferry ride over from Ibiza to this quiet little island for its beauty and simplicity.
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CALA GALDANA, MENORCA
The south-west coast of Menorca is studded with beautiful bays and beaches. Not far from Macarella and Macarelleta is the larger resort of Cala Galdana. This crescent bay of golden sands is the perfect place for a quiet and unspoiled beach holiday and is great for small children thanks to its shallow and calm waters.
PAPAGAYO BEACH, LANZAROTE
The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, which are closer to Africa than mainland Europe, are volcanic in nature which means spectacular geology and some truly unusual beaches. One of the picks—and one of the most popular—is Lanzarote’s stunning Papagayo. Famed for its sheltered yellow sands and emerald waters which are perfect for families, Papagayo is actually a series of small bay separated by volcanic headlands. Visit in the evening for excellent sunsets.
EL BOLLULLO, TENERIFE
In contrast, on the north coast of Tenerife, you’ll find striking black volcanic sands. This Canary Island is better known for its black sand beaches than its white, and El Bollullo is one of the most dramatic and beautiful. This secluded natural wonder near La Orotava sums up the wild attraction of the Canaries with its soft sparkling sands, clear waters and volcanic rock formations.
TAMARIU, COSTA BRAVA
For something a little more traditional, the village of Tamariu on the Costa Brava is one of the most picturesque and charming beach resorts along the Costa Brava. Tamariu is everything that springs to mind when you think of a Mediterranean holiday: a crescent of sand, calm waters, whitewashed buildings and pedestrian streets, fragrant pines, and fresh seafood. Just add a cold beer for perfection. There are lots of scenic little coves and beaches in the wider area to explore.
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