Best Beach Towns in Spain

Best Beach Towns in Spain

Spain has always been synonymous with sun, sea and sand, so it’s no surprise that its beach towns are some of the finest in the world. Blessed with brilliant beaches (or playas), boutique shops, bustling tapas bars and beguiling history, the best beach towns in Spain are beloved by locals and tourists alike. From sandy strolls and Mediterranean swims to sipping sangria with a sea view, a seaside holiday in Spain is hard to beat. Come with us to discover our favourite beach towns and start planning your next vacación on the coast…

  1. Llanes
  2. Sitges
  3. Tarifa
  4. Cadaqués
  5. Estepona



When Madrid and Seville sizzle in the summer heat, Spanish city dwellers head north to Asturias for cooler temperatures, the captivating coastline and one of the best beach towns in Spain. Surrounded by rugged countryside (and close to the mountainous beauty of the Picos de Europa National Park), the coastal town of Llanes feels a world away from the stereotypes of a Spanish beach holiday. And unlike many urban stretches of sand, the beaches in the town are clean, unspoiled and comfortably uncrowded. Playa de Tóro is a particular hotspot; a curve of golden sand backed by lush greenery and dotted with striking rock formations – it is not hard to see why. Meanwhile, the crescent cove of Playa del Sablon marks the start of the Paseo de San Pedro; a clifftop pathway leading high above Llanes which offers sweeping views over the Bay of Biscay. Whether wandering the small and scenic roads of the medieval town centre or bonding with the locals over a traditional Asturian cider, there’s plenty to do away from the sand too. Don’t miss Los Cubos de Memoria, a fun and colourful work of harbourside art by Basque artist Agustín Ibarrola; a highlight of the town.




A short train journey south-west of Barcelona (30 to 40 minutes, depending on your departure station), is the bustling beach town of Sitges, best known for its lively nightlife and spirited summer revellers. But the town has more to offer than just holiday hedonism. The historic centre is home to chic boutiques, upmarket eateries and fascinating museums (we recommend the treasure-filled Cau Ferrat Museum), while the October film festival draws cinephiles from far and wide to the Catalan coast. As for the beaches, there are 17 to choose from. Our favourites include Playa de Sant Sebastia (family-friendly with golden sand and calm waters for swimming) and Playa De La Barra (a quieter option away from the centre that’s loved by locals). Pretty, popular and packed with personality, Sitges is a town that loves to party (especially in July and August), so visit during the off-season if you’d prefer a slightly more laid-back break.

Spanish towns

Image by Alix Pardo




If you like to stay busy during a beach holiday, Tarifa will tick all your boxes. Kitesurfing capital of Europe? Tick. Whale watching trips in the Strait of Gibraltar? Tick. Two national parks to hike (with an ocean breeze to keep temperatures trail-friendly)? Tick. You can even take a day trip to Africa via the regular ferry service that connects Tarifa with Tangier in Morocco. Frequently overlooked in favour of other Andalusian favourites, Tarifa has a relaxed, bohemian feel thanks to its status as a surfing hotspot. The beaches are windswept (this is the windiest town in Europe) but they’re also wild; like Playa de Los Lances, a six-mile stretch of unspoilt sand where surfers, swimmers and sun-seekers have plenty of space to play. To briefly escape the breeze that blows from both east and west, seek the shelter of the old town, where shabby-chic streets wind between whitewashed houses. Or drop into a chiringuito (beach bar) for tapas; a less active pursuit that still comes with superb sea views.




Off the beaten path on the Costa Brava sits Cadaqués. Once only accessible by sea and plagued by pirates, the town can now be reached by road, but there remains only one route in and out. This keeps it intriguingly inaccessible for a Spanish beach town; a corner of calm on an often-crowded coast. Once called the Spanish St. Tropez for its popularity among wealthy families from neighbouring Barcelona, today the town retains the air of a glamorous bohemian bolthole, complete with a smattering of small bays and beaches where life proceeds at a slow and serene pace. If you find yourself feeling inspired by the seductive beauty of one of the best beach towns in Spain, you aren’t alone. Cadaqués influenced the work of artists including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Surrealist master Salvador Dalí, who owned a house here (now a museum). To see the town through the same rose-tinted glasses as Dalí, enjoy a flute of pink champagne (his favourite tipple) at one of the area’s beloved bars.




The town of Estepona was among the first to attract foreign holidaymakers when Spanish tourism bloomed in the 1960s. More than half a century later, it remains a popular destination, yet has somehow retained a tranquil, traditional feel. Estepona is often referred to as the garden of the Costa del Sol; colourful hanging baskets and flower-filled pots adorn the sun-kissed streets, their fragrance filling the sea air. Meanwhile, the palm-lined promenade provides a picturesque backdrop for the town’s beaches, which are sandy, swimmable and well-served by beachside amenities. If the garden of the Costa del Sol leaves you craving more greenery, Estepona is a 20-minute drive from the forested hiking trails of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range. What could be better after a sweaty hike than a dip in the Mediterranean?


Header by Alix Pardo