As of late, it seems like everywhere from Florida to Albania is competing for the title of 'Best Beach Destination.' This year, though, Spain officially beat out the competition with a whopping 579 beautiful beaches. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. So we've scoured the best of the best, and ranked the top seven beaches in the country — those that excel above and beyond expectation.
La Concha Beach, San Sebastian
Sure, San Sebastian is famous for its amazing food, but perhaps even more notable is La Concha Beach. The Concha beach (or the 'Playa de la Concha') is without a doubt one of the most stunning and well known city beaches in Europe. And while 'city beaches' may conjure images of crowds clamoring for a spot on the sand, you don't need to worry about that here. Running nearly a mile long, La Concha is actually quite spacious, making it the perfect spot for anything from sunbathing and swimming to paddling and taking a stroll. Better yet, the bay is surrounded by lush green mountains, meaning visitors are sheltered from the high wind and waves. That being said, the waves are just large enough to be popular among surfers.
Es Trenc, Mallorca
It is no surprise that Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, is also home to one of the country’s most amazing beaches. Imagine crystal clear Caribbean waters, but with a touch of Spanish flair. Located on the southwestern corner of the island, Es Trenc is relatively remote with not a single resort in sight. And although it has earned a reputation as an unofficial nude beach, guests will still encounter lifeguards and lots of social opportunities at small local bars and restaurants. Just keep in mind that the beach, while long, is not very deep... so you’re unlikely to find an isolated spot all to yourself.
Playa de Migjorn, Formentera
You could say that Formentera is Ibiza’s quieter, more laidback little sister. A little less party and a little more peace, its Playa de Migjorn that epitomizes this perfectly. Situated on the south coast of the island, Playa Migjorn is nearly four miles long and devoid of any major developments. Just picture a long stretch of white sand, blue seas, and funky little beach bars dotting the shoreline. Like Es Trenc, you can fulfill your hippie lifestyle by going clothing optional, though it's even better for snorkeling if you have the time.
Bolonia, Costa de la Luz
While the south of Spain is of course known for its magnificent beaches and Mediterranean climate, few visitors ever venture east of Gibraltar to the lesser-known Costa de la Luz. Here you have El Parque Natural del Estrecho, which, due to the rigorous conservation laws, remains well preserved and untainted by large resorts or towns. Instead, you merely have a small fishing village with a few surf schools and chiringuitos (beach bars or restaurants) surrounded by rolling sand dunes and beach grass. And while the current remains mild enough to swim in, the eastern winds are known to pick up from time to time, giving kite surfers something to enjoy.
Playa del Cañuelo, Costa del Sol
Over on the far eastern edge of the Costa del Sol lies what is arguably the region’s best beach — Playa del Cañuelo. With the closest major city being Granada, Cañuelo is markedly different from the nearby (and somewhat cliché) resort towns of Marbella or Estepona. Instead you get a more rugged, rocky beach with turquoise waters surrounded by the breathtaking Maro Cliffs. Getting here can be a bit of hike, but visitors are always rewarded with some of the best snorkeling and dive sites in all of Europe. Just be prepared to come with some supplies to last the day — there are only two local beach bars here, and visitors are more like to run into local villagers than other travelers.
Cala Salada, Ibiza
Yes, Ibiza is home to wild parties and never ending nights, but the biggest draw is the natural beauty and sandy coves that dot the coastline. Of these, the most enticing has to be Cala Salada. At the foot of pine forested hills lies this small sandy nook no more than 600 feet long and popular with the locals. You won’t find many sun loungers or restaurants here — just clear waters perfect for swimming and a few well-worn paths through the rocky cliffs. Located just 30 minutes from Ibiza town, it's a perfect option for a quick getaway or relaxing afternoon.
Platja de Castell, Costa Brava
You might be surprised to find that even the northern regions of Spain have something to offer. Situated along the Costa Brava and just an hour and half from Barcelona, Platja de Castell is one of the few coastal sanctuaries that has managed to avoid development. Thanks to some adamant locals, this haven remains surrounded by tiny fishing villages and pine forests. The area is perfect for swimming or snorkeling and, as you can imagine, the seafood is tasty and fresh. Easily a day trip from the city, visitors are more likely to run into locals or barcelonés than other foreigners – a true hallmark of a hidden gem.
Looking for more beautiful beaches? Check out the Bahamas' Pig Beach.