Spain has over 5,000 miles of coastline, much of which is graced with beautiful beaches, and although tourists tend to flock to the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol, there are gorgeous beaches all over coastal Spain.
If you're planning a summer vacation to Spain, avoiding popular tourist destinations and heading to these best-rated beaches instead will help you truly experience all that this western European country has to offer.
From La Concha Beach in San Sebastian to two famous beaches in Santander, these destinations provide some of the best views, silkiest sand, and even some of the top hotels and accommodations in Spain.
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La Concha Beach, San Sebastian
La Concha is one of the best city beaches in Europe, let alone Spain. Situated in the north-east corner of Spain, near the western end of the border with France, San Sebastián is a chic coastal city with excellent pintxos (the Basque name for tapas) and one of the nicest beaches you'll ever find in a city.
There are many activities on and around La Concha, too, so if you're looking for even more adventure than a typical beach vacation, San Sebastian is a great destination. You can easily find hotels in and around San Sebastian that are within walking distance of La Concha, too.
There are trains from both Madrid and Barcelona to San Sebastian, but Madrid is actually closer to San Sebastian than Barcelona. You can book trains throughout Spain from Rail Europe and the nearest airport to San Sebastian is Bilbao Airport.
02 of 10
Playa de Las Catedrales, Galicia
Although a bit more remote than La Concha, Playa de Las Catedrales is the best beach in Galicia, featuring pristine sandy beaches and rock formations created by the sea.
Playa de Las Catedrales is located in northwest Spain, and the closest city is Ribideo (though Foz, Spain, is nearby as well). The region is known for its unpredictable weather year-round, and it isn't ideal for visiting during the winter months.
Ribideo is on the Narrow Gauge Railway which runs along the north coast of Galicia and Asturias. Additionally, to get from Santiago de Compostela, there's a three-hour bus journey run by ALSA. For mainline trains serving the rest of Spain, check out Rail Europe.
03 of 10
Playa del Silencio, Asturias
Playa del Silencio was voted the best beach in Asturias by 20minutos, and their readers also voted Asturian beaches in general to be the best beaches in northern Spain, narrowly beating those of Galicia.
As with Galicia, sunshine is not as certain here as in other parts of Spain, but you can still find some affordable hotels in nearby Cudillero if you're looking to explore the region and take in a bit of culture on the cloudier days.
Asturias is a popular destination for the younger crowd, and its major cities have plenty to offer in terms of parties, concerts, and special events. The coast is great for a day-trip, and you can easily access Asturias from Ribideo via Rail Europe trains.
04 of 10
Ses Illetes, Formentera, Balearic Islands
Off the southeastern coast of Spain, the Balearic Islands are home to some of the most popular vacation destinations in the country including Ibiza, Mallorca, and Menorca. However, the island of Formentera was rated the best island for beaches by Viajar in 2015, including Ses Illetes and Cala Conta.
Though the beaches are better on Formentera, the nearby (and larger) island of Ibiza tends to be more active. Formentera is an easy day trip (by ferry) from Ibiza Town, or you could book a hotel on Formentera if you'd rather stay overnight to catch a beautiful coastal sunrise.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Beaches of Sitges, Catalonia, Near Barcelona
Directly north of Formentera, along the eastern coast of Spain, the beaches of Sitges are rated as the best beaches near Barcelona. Located just a few miles from this thriving city, Sitges has become a well-known gay destination in Spain but is also known for its mixed and nudist beaches.
Sitges makes for a popular day-trip from Barcelona, and you can even book a private walking tour of Sitges. If you'd rather spend a few days exploring this beautiful coastal town, you can compare prices on hotels in Sitges or book an ocean-front room in one of the city's many resorts.
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Nerja, Costa del Sol, Andalusia
Costa del Sol in Andalusia is one of the most expensive (and overpriced) regions of Spain, but the beaches here are worth the trek if you've never visited this gorgeous part of the country.
Rather than heading west from Málaga to the likes of Torremolinos and Fuengirola, go east to Nerja. Nerja is a pueblo blanco ("white village") with pretty houses and nice beaches, though it isn't free from the big hotels that blot the landscape all around this region. Alternatively, head a little further to Motril. Both Nerja and Motril are within an hour and a half of both Málaga and Granada.
There are some great deals out there on hotels near Nerja, and if you do decide to stay in one of the usual Costa del Sol beach towns, you can take a private tour of their beautiful coastal caves.
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La Barrosa, Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz
La Barrosa was voted the best beach in Spain by El Mundo Viajes in a very tight contest against hundreds of other beaches. However, if you'd prefer to be nearer to the city, Playa de la Victoria in Cadiz itself is also very nice.
Other beaches high on this list included Maspalomas (Gran Canaria), Jandía (Fuerteventura), Playa del Torreón (Benicassim, Castellón), Rodiles (Villaviciosa, Asturias), Concha in San Sebastián, Corralejo (Fuerteventura) and Genoveses (Almería).
Cádiz is easily accessible from Jerez, and you can typically find affordable hotels in the area if you'd like to spend a few days exploring the area. You can also take advantage of the region's gorgeous weather and book a bike tour of Cadiz.
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Tarifa has a lot going for it: windsurfing, whale-watching, and a fun nightlife. However, if you're just looking for a place to sunbathe, the wind might deter you from visiting this gusty beach.
If you don't mind getting sand everywhere, Tarifa will do you fine, but the area is really for active watersport enthusiasts more than beach people. It is also situated at the junction between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, which adds some novelty value.
Tarifa is a surfer culture paradise, and you can expect the same crowd of "dudes" and "dudettes" as you would on beaches in Hawaii and California. However, the laid-back lifestyle and active culture also mean you'll be able to find more affordable hotels in Tarifa.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Gandia, Costa Blanca
The Costa Blanca is made up of a number of small towns with pleasant beaches. Some towns are bigger than others (Denia is one of the larger ones) while others attract holiday crowds (like Benidorm).
Gandia is one of the beaches that is more popular with residents of Spain rather than foreign tourists, so it must have something going for it.
Costa Blanca is a great place to explore if you're looking for a bit more of a cultural, local adventure, and you can find some really unique hotels in Gandia and other smaller towns.
10 of 10
Playa de los Peligros & Playa de la Magdalena, Santander
Santander is the capital of the less-visited region of Cantabria, located between Asturias and the Basque Country. Though Playa del Sardinero is more famous, Playa de los Peligros and de la Magdalena are more popular with locals and tourists "in the know."
These two beaches look across the picturesque Bahía de Santander, a bay with ships sailing by and misty mountains in the distance. Peligros and Magdalena are also close to downtown Santander, and the beaches here tend to be more populated as a result.
Santander has many affordable hotels and you can also book a sight-seeing tour of the area to soak up its breathtaking views.