Trying to name the best beaches in Spain always creates a dispute – there are just so many! Each strip of golden sand has its own unique points, making it stand out from the rest. Some have pristine sand, others have an amazing view, still more are great for partying, while a few are amazing for surfing. Between Spain’s long coastline and the many beautiful Spanish islands, the choice is virtually limitless.

    Somehow, we’ve picked out a selection of amazing beaches in Spain. Rather than trying to say one is objectively better than another, we have instead rated them in terms of what they do best – from white-sand idylls to bustling beach parties, and plenty in between.


    Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera

    Spain's best white-sand beach

    This beach has the kind of soft white sand and azure seas that clichés are made of. You could easily confuse it for a beach in the Caribbean or Maldives. It’s west-facing, making it particularly good for sunsets. The one disadvantage is the limited choice of hotels nearby, so it is not really convenient for visitors. It is worth the journey, though, and there’s plenty of parking space available at the restaurants just behind the beach. Most people visit Formentera on a daytrip from Ibiza. 

    Location: Northern tip of Formentera, just south of Ibiza


    Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian

    Best urban beach

    La Concha Beach in San Sebastian is a fantastic city beach, and is considered among the best of its kind in Europe. It’s hardly surprisingly, when it has lovely golden sand right next to excellent restaurants, trendy bars and designer stores. Nestled in a horseshoe-shaped bay off the Bay of Biscay, the seas are very calm and clear, but watch out for all the boats using it as a safe harbour. Beach umbrellas and sun loungers are available for rent for a reasonable daily fee.

    Location: San Sebastian, on the north coast of Spain


    Playa de los Genoveses, Almeria

    Spain's best secret beach

    Shh…don’t tell anyone, but we rank Playa de los Genoveses among Andalucía’s best beaches! Once a pirate bay, it remains quiet because it’s not that easy to reach. It's only accessible along a dirt track. There has been absolutely no development here – no restaurants, no hotels, nada. Fortunately, there is a bus service in the high season, and it’s well worth the journey. The little clam-shaped bay and the golden sand of the beach makes it a wonderful place for a quiet day of sun-worship.

    Location: About 40 km east of Almeria, in the southeast of Spain


    If you include the mini desert behind the beach, Playa de Maspalomas covers a whopping 400 hectares of soft yellow sands. Sadly, the dune system is protected, so you can only cross it along specially designated paths. You can do so on the back of a camel, though, which is quite unique among the best beaches in Spain. The beach itself is one of the most popular in the Canary Islands, with several grand resorts available in the big town of Maspalomas.

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    Location: On the south coast of Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands


    Playa de Muro, Mallorca

    Spain's best family beach

    At 6 km long, Playa de Muro is Mallorca’s longest beach, though it is technically divided into 4 sections, each with its own unique attractions. This amount of space and variety, combined with great resorts, soft white sand and clear, calm, shallow seas make it a great family beach and easily among the best beaches in Spain. It’s a very convenient place, with most of its length backing onto shops, restaurants, beach clubs and hotels. Of the 4 sections, 3 have the coveted Blue Flag award for their safety and cleanliness.

    Location: Alcudia, northeast Mallorca


    photo by Mallorcagallery (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Praia das Catedrais, Galicia

    Best rock formations

    The so-called “Beach of the Cathedrals” gets its name from its massive rock arches and towering cliffs, some 30 metres high. The area is actually a national monument, and extremely picturesque. In beach terms, the seas are generally too rough to swim in and the beach is a little too far away from any big resorts to be especially convenient, but it’s worth a visit just for the scenery. There are also some good hiking routes along the clifftops and a few nearby restaurants. Visit during the spring, when the tide goes out even further and reveals more of the dramatic scenery.

    Location: 6 km west of Ribadeo, northwest Spain


    Playa de Mundaka, Basque Country

    Spain's best surfing beach

    The actual beach at Mundaka is profoundly unremarkable – little more than a narrow cove of admittedly pleasant sand. However, the sea it leads out to is ranked among the best surfing spots in Europe. The huge tubes formed from the Bay of Biscay have placed it very firmly on the Billabong Pro map, attracting wave riders from around the world. Naturally, the town has adapted to accommodate them, so expect to find plenty of surf schools, shops and chilled-out restaurants and bars.

    Location: Northeast of Bilbao, on the north coast of Spain


    photo by Ander Abadia (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Playa del Silencio, Asturias

    Best quiet beach

    The “beach of silence” is well-named since, being fairly remote and tricky to reach, it doesn’t get many visitors. Those who do make the long drive and the careful descent down stone steps to the beach itself are treated to a really beautiful spot. The cove is ringed by an amphitheatre of rocky cliffs and, with the rocks continuing into and under the water, it’s a great spot for snorkelling. Sadly, the beach is more pebbles than sand, but it’s worth visiting for the view and the peace.

    Location: Castañeras, on the north coast of Spain


    photo by senza senso (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Torremolinos, Costa del Sol

    Spain's best LGBT beach

    Torremolinos has been a popular name among British tourists since the 1960s. While it’s undergone a lot of renovation and beautification, the town and beach are still just as gay-friendly as they always have been. The large seaside town has a great choice of places to eat and party and is also quite a good family destination. The La Nogalera district is especially gay-friendly, as shown by the rainbow flags flying all over

    Location: South of Malaga, on the southeast coast of Spain


    Playa d’en Bossa, Ibiza

    Best party beach

    Ibiza is famously the top party destination in the Mediterranean, and Playa d’en Bossa plays a big role in that. It’s lined with bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels, and there are plenty more just to the north, in Ibiza Town. The beach itself is as good as you’ll find anywhere in Spain, with soft white sand and calm blue seas. Being right at the end of the runway for the island’s airport, you get the occasional aircraft coming in or going out over your head. Unsurprisingly, it gets busy with quite a lively crowd during the high season.

    Location: Near Ibiza Town

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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