Spanish top beaches with 589 Blue Flag rankings

by Lorraine Williamson
top beaches - Bolonia Beach -

With nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine each year and almost 5,000 km of coastline around the Spanish mainland, not to mention the Balearic and Canary Islands, we are spoilt for choice. But there are so many top beaches to choose from. Which is the one for you?

We asked over 100 women living in mainland Spain where their favourite, top beaches were, and why we should visit them. Although, we did have a few ladies who, understandably preferred to keep their beach a secret.

There are all kinds of beaches to suit every type of person, or holiday. You can go scuba diving, windsurfing, horse riding, eat in traditional chiringuitos, boat trips, visit quiet beaches, family friendly beaches, naturalist beaches, fishing villages, even volcanic beaches, and dog beaches. There is so much choice.

Top Beaches

Not only that, but, once again, this summer, Spanish beaches are top with 589 Blue Flag rankings (23 more flags than in 2019). This is an international certificate awarding beaches that meet certain criteria of safety, water quality, services, environmental management, education, and information. Spain has lead the world Blue Flag rankings since 1987.

Now that it is officially Spring, and the weather is getting warmer, it puts us in the mood for a vacation. So, whether it´s a “staycation” or you have been looking forward to International travel once again, Spain truly has something to offer everyone.

Costa Verde – the green coast

Playa de la Concha -

Let´s start at the top where over 350 kilometres of coastline run all the way from Portugal on the west coast up to the French border. The area covers from the Cantabrian and Basque mountains, along the Bay of Biscay and includes Asturias, Cantabria, and half of the Basque country, from Galicia all the way to the French border. You can find white and golden sandy beaches, secluded coves, and glimpses of a lush green inland.  The area is sprinkled with quaint fishing villages. 

Some of the most stunning beaches include the hidden treasure Playa Xago, the nudist beach and dunes of Playa de Barayo de la Vega, and the lush greenery and dark golden sands of El Sablon. Many of the beaches are remote.

Two stood out

Praia de Lariño, Carnota, Galicia -

But two stood out and were mentioned by various women as their favourites. These are;

  • La Concha in San Sebastián which is frequently cited as one of the most beautiful and the most famous urban beaches in Europe. It also has a fantastic promenade.
  • Carnota Beach in Galicia which stretches over 7km with fine, white sand and crystal-clear sea. It has plenty of waves but is level underfoot.

The closest airport is Asturias.

Costa Brava – the brave, wild coast

Costa Brava sits at the bottom most tip of France and stretches along the Mediterranean coast, embellishing it with its rugged cliffs and hidden coves. The beaches here are often small and unspoilt, inviting you to find your favourite. Lie back and relax, or go on water sport adventures, the choice is yours. 

The most unusual beach

The most unusual beach was El Trabucador. This features a long line of sand reaching out to sea. It is located between the interior sea of the bay of Alfacs and the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, you can observe the sea on both sides and enjoy the warm, calm waters of the Mediterranean.

top beaches

The beach is next to a protected natural space: the Natural Reserve of La Punta de La Banya and Las Salinas de la Trinidad. The Platja de San Pols (sant feliu de guíxols) beach was a favourite too.

Cultural Heritage of National Importance

Another area mentioned was Calella de Palafrugell. Here you will find beautiful white houses and winding streets. Perfect for a wander and has been declared a site of Cultural Heritage of National Importance. The vaulted arches of the covered promenade around Port Bo harbour where the promenade is where the sailors used to work. In this area, three beaches were mentioned numerous times. These were;

LLafranc beach -

  • Castelldefels beach is a 5-km-long strip of fine sand located around 18 km to the south of Barcelona, between the delta of the River Llobregat and the chalk rock of the Garraf Natural Park. It has a beautifully renovated promenade with a wide range of leisure options.
  • Llafranc is a beautiful beach, popular with the rich and famous.

Tamariu beach -,_2.jpg

  • Tamariu is a small bay which still retains much of its charm as originally it was a small fishing village. It is a very peaceful, romantic setting with no fast food or high-rises in sight.

The closest airport is Girona.

Costa Dorada – the golden coast

Miami Playa -

Moving further down to the golden coast – Costa Dorada boasts some of the longest and safest beaches that are more than perfect for families. Of course, the crystal-clear ocean is also not to be missed. The area is famed for the long golden, sandy beaches of Tarragona, the cliffs, coves, shallow waters, and the nudist areas.

Alatfulla/Tamarit -

There are many beautiful beaches, but the favourites with pretty surroundings that were fantastic for swimming with fish, or just walking along the beaches and following rocky coastal paths were;

  • Playa de la Ribera, Sitges
  • Miami Platja
  • Atafulla/ Tamarit

The nearest airport is Reus.  

Costa del Azahar – the orange blossom coast

Costa del Azahar is a stunningly unspoilt area, and many visitors relish in how uncrowded it is. The air carries a hint of the sweet smell from the Costa’s many fruit orchards. The area is known for its culture. There were many recommendations, including;

  • Playa de Malvarrosa -

    Playa Las Arenas, Valencia is a popular, wide, sandy beach full of life and fun. It can get quite hectic in the summer and tends to be a bit of a party beach.

  • Playa de la Malvarrosa is close to the university and as such attracts the young and sporty. However, it does tend to be much quieter than Playa Las Arenas.

Patacona -

Also, we had recommendations of beaches that were urban and although sometimes crowded, could also be quiet with all the comforts and amenities such as

  • Patacona on the outskirts of Valencia
  • Racó del Mar, in Canet de Berenguer – 80m wide and known for its environmental and ecological dunes, it also has fine sand and shallow, clear waters. And is also very close to Valencia.

The closest airport is in Azahar, however most flights are to Valencia.

Costa Blanca – the white coast

This coast, has more than 300 sunny days per year and is probably one of the most famous of the Costas. There are many beautiful, top, sandy beaches along the Costa Blanca. Also, in and around Benidorm. Pontiente beach for example has a wonderful, snaking promenade with the sitting areas backed by trees.

Cogesa Expats

Playas de Dénia

La Fustera Beach - courtesy of siestanomads

Moraria is also amazing. Granadella is noted to be one of the most beautiful. Playas de Dénia stretch for many miles a long wide Sandy beach while Altea has a long wide stony beach. Additionally, another favourite was the area near Javea. Although it is stony, it is said to be so beautiful with crystal-clear waters and views. There are many choices. For one lady, she said “it must be Fustera, although El Portet is pretty special too. She has kindly allowed her photos to be used (courtesy of siestanomads).

Costa Calida – the warm coast

Costa Calida offers some of the warmest water along the Spanish coast. It also has the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe and it is very laid back. The nearest airport is Murcia – San Javier. Santiago de la Ribera, Playa Honda & Playa Paraiso we all mentioned by many of the ladies. But Playa Rihuete in Puerto de Mazarron was the favourite with its sandy beaches and shallow waters, it is perfect for swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking. It is also close to some great little Spanish cafes.

Costa de Almeria – the coast of Almeria

There are some very quiet and private beaches between Granada and Murcia. Whereas, Almeria offers a mix of quiet beaches, but also plenty around the more built-up areas. It also features the first official nudist beach in Europe, Vera Playa – El Playazo. This area has become somewhat of a naturist’s area.  

Vera Playa - El Playazo - Creator: Ferran Nogués i Tolnay

Some special beaches that deserved a mention from our questioned women were;

  • Aguadulce beach with a long, flat promenade as far as the eye can see.
  • Playa del Sombrerico is a beautiful, rugged and undeveloped beach with volcanic sand and rock formations with clear water. Simply stunning.

Playa de los Muertos -

However, the most outstanding, top beaches mentioned were around the Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve. In particular, Playa de los Muertos is an incredible beach with an unfortunate name. In years gone by, it had a lot of shipwrecks, but now it is very much for the living.

The nearest airport is Almeria (also Granada or Malaga)

Costa Tropical – the tropical coast

Costa Tropical, sometimes also known as Costa de Granada or the tropical coast. This really is a slice of paradise. It has a subtropical microclimate, with mountains, coves, scuba diving and watersports. It has many totally unspoilt areas. We had 3 (or perhaps 4 shhh!) beaches that stood out from the many beautiful ones. These were;

Playa de la Rijana -

  • Calahonda
  • La Rijana
  • La Mamola

We also had one lady (sorry Debbie) that swore me to secrecy about one beach. But it truly is too beautiful to keep quiet about. La playa de La Herradura is a hidden paradise. So you must also keep this secret palm fringed, horseshoe shaped bay where dolphins regularly swim with divers in the warm waters of the protected aquatic natural park to yourself. 

Playa de la Herradura - courtesy of Debbie Skyrme

The nearest airport is Granada.

Costa del Sol – the sun coast

 Costa del Sol is often nicknamed Costa del Golf and the land of the rich and famous. There are so many beaches here to choose from. Including the most basic and simple right up to the high end celebrity spotting ones.

Playa de Puerto Banus -

Some beaches in this area have beautiful sandy floors where you can walk out quite a distance before the water is even up to your thighs. Snorkelling and diving is also popular here and there are some amazing beaches that cater for your favourite friend – your dog! Our ladies came up with a few good options including; 


  • Burriana Beach -

    Playa Malapesquera.

  • Carvajal, Fuengirola
  • Cabopino Beach – Marbella
  • Luna in Calahonda
  • Victors beach
  • Bahia to Elviria/El Rosario
  • Marbella and Puerto Banus
  • Burriana Beach, Nerja

The nearest airport is Malaga.

Costa de la Luz – the coast of light

Following the coast around to the south west from the costa del sol – last buy by no means least is the southernmost of the Spanish Costas. At the very tip, you are only 13 kilometres from North Africa. On a clear day, you can see the Rif Mountains in Morocco. Here you will find wide, almost white sandy beaches and clean Atlantic Ocean water.

top beaches - Tarifa Punta Paloma

This whole area came out top as so many women choose this coast as their favourite. They talked of the amazing dunes, the long mindful walks, and the fun but laid-back atmosphere. It was likened to being in the Caribbean. It is so wild and windy! You can see for miles too.

It can get busy, but you can windsurf, kite surf and ride horses. It is stunning. It must be Tarifa. Spectacular beaches, white sand that never gets too hot under your feet, Chiclana is amazing – less windy and Bolonia is fabulous- out of season you can see the cows going for a dip! To visit Tarifa at any time of the day, week, or year, is something special – but to see it at sunset, is something else again!


Tarifa sunset - the perfect end to the day

From Chiclana (La Barossa Beach) all the way along to La Roche and as far as Tarifa are the most amazing beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Miles and miles of wide and long sandy beaches, at times with nobody on them. Unspoilt and just beautiful.

Uber cool chininguitos

Lots of uber cool chiringuitos in Tarifa with live music and tremendous fun until the small hours! (pre covid obviously). All that hippy chic. The beach of El Palmar, Vejer de la Frontera. Lovely beach that goes on for miles, surfspots, little bars and soft white sand. All the beaches in Tarifa are amazing, huge dunes of soft sand. One lady even said “the best beaches she has seen in Spain and perhaps in the world (I have seen many) is the area of Bolonia on the west coast… Stunning and if you explore further remote, you will be amazed at the unspoilt beauty. can’t wait to go back”.


 The nearest airport is Sevilla (or Gibraltar)

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