Beach holidays in Spain
Many people on an Ibiza holiday never see much further than the dance floors of San Antonio, except perhaps for a bleary-eyed view of the beach the morning after. Ibiza has a well-deserved reputation as a party island, but anyone who does not take the opportunity of exploring its other attractions is missing a trick. This most beautiful of Mediterranean islands is also a wonderful place if you are looking for a peaceful beach holiday, if you like hiking in the hills, exploring what the charming little towns and villages have to offer, or browsing in the oh-so-chic boutiques of Ibiza Town.
At Portinatx, Es Caná, San Carlos and Playa d'en Bossa, the famous hippy markets are some of the island's most popular attractions. Other markets selling local food and fresh produce, jewellery, paintings and hand-made clothing can be found in many towns around the island all week long, and there is always a variety of lively street entertainers and musicians to .
On the north coast, the towns of Portinatx and Puerto San Miguel are refreshingly laid back and family-friendly, with enough bars and restaurants to satisfy any visitor. Wherever you are on the island, you are never far from a beautiful golden sandy beach. The choice is yours, whether you are looking for the lively beach life of the busier resorts, such as Santa Eulalia, with palm fringed promenades and water sports, or you prefer the timeless peace and seclusion of a small cove such as Cala Xuclar, or the beautiful little bay of Cala Xarraca and its crystal clear waters.
The size of Ibiza is part of its charm; a compact little island, which seems to draw you in by its very human scale and irresistible beauty.View Ibiza beach holiday destinations
All inclusive package holidays to Majorca have always been a popular choice for families looking for a relaxing fortnight on the beach. The golden sands and pure blue seas, the wide choice of activities available — from tennis, golf and go-karting, to snorkelling, waterskiing and sailing — and the waterparks, clubs and great variety of restaurants, all ensure a fun holiday for everyone, which is why many people come back here year after year.
Then there's the other Majorca beyond the resorts. This is a landscape of contrasts, ranging from the fertile plains in the south, the rolling hills and olive groves of the interior to the high limestone peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana in the north. The coast is beautiful all around the island and it is worth hiring a car and taking a tour to appreciate its variety. On the north-west coast, where the mountains plunge to the sea, there are many little beaches and secluded coves such as Cala San Vicente and Port de Sa Calobra, which are ideal for those looking for peace and tranquility. Port de Soller is the main town in the area, with a charming little harbour, and from here you can ride on the narrow gauge railway down through the mountains to Palma. Further along the coast is the picturesque little hillside village of Deia, well known for its cultivated terraces, art galleries and top quality restaurants.
The beaches on the north and west coasts are ideal for families, particularly the resorts of Alcudia and Can Picafort. Their miles of golden sand and warm, shallow waters have attracted sympathetic development, making them suitable for all types of holidaymakers, although the beaches around Palma and Magaluf in the south-west are still the main party and nightlife spots on the island.View Majorca beach holiday destinations
Menorca has an understated charm all of its own. The least rugged of the Balearic Islands, with only one mountain to its name, it still manages to exert a powerful pull on anyone who has ever spent a holiday here. Its gentle, rolling landscape and coastal paths makes it ideal for visitors with an interest in hiking, cycling or horse riding, and its many beautiful beaches make it perfect for family holidays.
The northern coast is characterised by rugged red sandstone cliffs and little bays and secluded inlets, while the south has the longer, golden sandy beaches with low limestone cliffs or sand dunes — ideal for swimming, sunbathing and watersports. Son Bou is perhaps the most beautiful beach on the island, with three kilometres of white sand backed by dunes and a stretch of marshland, which separates it from the main town and gives it a sense of isolation while being close to all the usual amenities. Cala Galdana also has to be a contender, with its pine fringed beach and rocky headlands enclosing a beautiful little bay.
There are many attractive little towns and harbours all around the island. Cala en Porter in the south is well worth a visit, and the port of Ciutadella on the western coast gives a wonderful flavour of Menorcan life. The capital, Mahon, is an impressive port built around a beautiful sea inlet dotted with several islands — the perfect natural harbour. It's a good place to relax and wander around by day, watching the ships, exploring the little streets and squares, the shops, and its many historical buildings. At night it comes alive, especially down by the port, where there are many bars and restaurants, and that special Menorcan magic exerts its subtle power to draw you in.View Menorca beach holiday destinations
If you're looking for the perfect holiday retreat with loads of sunshine, look no further. This rocky, arid little island knows its strengths and just lays them out for your admiration: miles of golden sandy beaches snaking into the distance, dissolving into enormous stretches of sand dunes, broken only by distant rocky headlands, all washed by the pure blue sea.
This is the ideal location for surfers, windsurfers or kitesurfers, who gather at Sotavento in the south of the island in July for the annual windsurfing and kiteboarding world cup competition. This area is less developed than the north, so is also more popular with those looking for the less crowded beaches such as Costa Calma, Jandia, Las Playitas or Esquinzo, and to explore the Jandia Nature Reserve.
In the north of the island, Corralejo has what some claim to be the best beach in Fuertaventura, if not the Canaries. Built around its original fishing village and several beaches, this is an excellent family-friendly resort, with plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and a twice-weekly market, an ideal location for an all inclusive holiday or to pick up a cheap last minute holiday deal. Here you'll find everything you need for a great Fuertaventura experience, whether it's just a wonderful stretch of sand to lie on and catch the sun, or you want to get more active and enjoy the watersports and water parks, or the excellent nightlife. For a relaxing break from all this activity, you could nip across to the west coast to visit the beautiful beach and lagoon at El Cotillo, or head inland and explore the mountains and the little town of Betancuria, nestled in its green, terraced valley, or the more arid, semi-desert landscapes around La Oliva or Casillas del Ángel.View Fuerteventura beach holiday destinations
This is an entire world in one island. If you want dramatic mountain scenery, it's all right here. If you want miles of desert sand, that's here too. Fantastic beaches, year round sunshine and warm seas make Gran Canaria the perfect all inclusive holiday destination. Its unique variety of landscape also makes it fascinating to explore. This is the island with everything, and you'll want to taste it all.
Explore the sand dunes of the Maspalomas Nature Reserve, either on foot or by camel; play a round of golf — its well-watered greens, palms and pine trees, surrounded by towering dunes, make the Maspalomas golf course one of the most dramatic in the world; then relax on the seafront, sip your cocktail and plan your afternoon of waterskiing, windsurfing, scuba diving or dolphin-watching. If you want pretty little fishing villages and a more traditional, laid-back way of life, head for Puerto Mogan or Puerto de Las Nieves. Taste the local seafood in one of the little restaurants beside the harbour. Just like the varied landscape, dining in Gran Canaria is like glimpsing a window on the world. Whether you like fish and chips, pizzas and pastas, Chinese, Mexican, or you want to try the local specialties, there's a place here for you.
The interior of the island is just waiting to be discovered. Precipitous mountains and gorges with forested slopes and winding hairpin roads will give you that double thrill of nature at its most magnificent plus a driving experience second to none. In the centre of the island is the vast volcanic Tejeda Caldera, its dramatic high point, accessible by foot if you're an ambitious hiker; or if you're here to relax, the constantly visible backdrop to your leisurely holiday in the sun.View Gran Canaria beach holiday destinations
Lanzarote is like no other holiday destination. Here you'll find some of the finest beaches in the Canaries set in a landscape like no other — the legacy of its volcanoes and dry climate, which has ensured that large areas have little vegetation. This gives the island a very special atmosphere, with the fine golden or black volcanic beaches and whitewashed towns and resorts, set amongst shade-giving palms, like a series of oases spread around the coast.
Playa Blanca on the southern tip of the island is the perfect all inclusive family resort, with its long white beaches and many cafés and restaurants along the promenade, and the sea is crystal clear and calm, ideal for children. Puerto del Carmen, around on the east coast, has all this and more: it comes to life at sunset, becoming Lanzarote's liveliest night spot with plenty of disco-bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Costa Teguise has the beach, the watersports, the nightlife and more: how about a spot of golf, some fun in the waterpark, scuba diving or deep sea fishing? For a quieter, more relaxed break, Playa de Los Pocillos, further down the coast, is perfect — a purpose-built beach resort with fine golden sand and calm, shallow waters, also ideal for families with children.
A trip to the lively capital of Arrecife is a must: check out the boutiques, the forts and museums, the saltwater lagoon, or dine on fish straight from the sea. With such a stunning landscape, Lanzarote is just begging to be explored. See the volcanoes of the Timanfaya National Park. Go north or head to the centre of the island — discover the tranquil beauty of green hills, cultivated terraces and vineyards. This is an island of contrasts with the power to surprise.View Lanzarote beach holiday destinations
This beautiful volcanic island is a great favourite for its year-round sunshine, beaches, bars, watersports and nightlife. It is as popular with families looking for a good last minute holiday deal as it is for groups on package holidays or couples wanting a quieter break with lots to do and see beyond the coast. You can be pampered in a 5-star hotel, party all night on a budget break or spend a week on the golf courses.
There are plenty of fine beach resorts with golden sand and shallow waters, suitable for all the family, such as Playa de las Americas or Los Cristianos. Tenerife is known for its excellent fishing, so the sea food here is not to be missed. In the livelier resorts, you'll find plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants to suit any taste, as well as water parks, boat trips, watersports, karaoke bars and live music venues. The Loro Parque wildlife park and its wildlife shows at Puerto de la Cruz are good fun for all the family. The beach here has the distinctive Tenerife black volcanic sand, and as a backdrop there are gardens, banana plantations and the island's central mountains, including the volcanic cone of mount Teide.
If you really want to get away for a while, you can take the cable car up to the top of the volcano. This is the highest peak in Spain, so be prepared for the drop in temperature — although once you get there you'll find rocks that are warm to the touch and steamy sulphur vents. Don't worry: it hasn't erupted for three hundred years, so you can take a swim in the rock pools formed by solidified lava flows — all the while enjoying the incredible views.View Tenerife beach holiday destinations
Down in Spain's south east corner, the Costa Almeria has remained untouched by the high-rise holiday boom that hit the rest of the country's Mediterranean coast. Development has been more sympathetic, and you'll find unspoilt traditional whitewashed villages, beautiful sandy beaches and secluded coves, ideal for peaceful sunshine holidays.
The main resort, Roquetas de Mar, once a sleepy little fishing village, is now a compact and well-planned modern resort with a fine promenade running the length of its blue flag designated beach — perfect for families on all-inclusive holidays. Similarly, Aguadulce, just 10 miles from the city of Almeria, and Mojacar, further east around the coast, are good family-friendly resorts with plenty of seafront bars, cafés and restaurants, watersports and nightlife. Between Almeria and Mojacar is the rugged and isolated Cabo de Gata coast, where the mountains run down to the sea and there are miles of undeveloped and secluded beaches and coves, tiny fishing villages, sand dunes and coastal marshes — the best preserved coastline in Spain, all within the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park.
The ancient city of Almeria is full of history, culture and traditional Almerian charm and hospitality. It is dominated by the Moorish castle of Alcazaba, set on a hill above the main part of the town. For lovers of history and culture, the beautiful and ornate Gothic cathedral is not to be missed, and there several fine museums. There is also a good, spacious sandy beach.
Away from the coast, the spectacular badlands of Tabernas, the only true desert in Europe — famous for its ‘spaghetti western' locations — is fascinating just to drive through, although you can also go on organised hikes or overnight camping trips. Note: be prepared for a challenge as it can get extremely hot.View Costa Almeria beach holiday destinations
On the north-east coast of Catalonia, Costa Brava is perfect for holidaymakers looking for beautiful sandy beaches and scenic coastlines. Lively resorts or secluded little bays — the choice is yours. Sunbathe on the beach, swim in the clear blue sea, lounge beside the hotel pool or get into watersports; spend your days on the golf courses, your nights in the clubs, bars and restaurants; or explore the beautiful countryside and charming, sleepy little towns — whatever you want, its all within reach. This is Spain's own paradise coast with something for everyone.
The most popular resorts, all with excellent beaches, restaurants and nightlife, are at Lloret de Mar, and Platja d'Aro. For all inclusive package holidays, ideal for families, Tossa de Mar consistently wins the parents' and kids' vote. This is a charming resort built around two blue flag sand and shingle beaches backed by wooded hills. Further up the coast, Palamós is a busy fishing port, with a variety of lovely beaches such as the intimate little cove of Cala S'Alguer. Sant Feliu de Guixols is also popular with families and is known as a good out-of-season resort with year round cultural activities such as the Porta Ferrada international music festival.
When dining out on the Costa Brava, you are spoilt for choice. You'll find a full range of international menus, alongside the many traditional Catalan tapas bars and restaurants serving fresh fish and many Catalan specialities such as the staple Pan Con Tomate, fresh crusty bread topped with tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, or Fideuà, similar to paella but served with noodles. For the more adventurous, hire a car and drive into the hills, explore the whitewashed, cobbled mountain villages; find a small local restaurant and enjoy a taste of Spain you'll never forget.View Costa Brava beach holiday destinations
Costa de la Luz
This western part of Andalucia is quite unlike any other Spanish Costa: from the wild, windblown Tarifa in the east, favoured by windsurfers and paragliders, to the port and border town of Ayamonte in the west, on the Guadiana River, the relatively undiscovered Costa de la Luz offers a taste of Spain that is delightfully relaxed and undeveloped.
Fly into Faro and head for Islantilla on the Portuguese border — an old favourite amongst Spaniards wishing to get away from it all — and enjoy the beautiful 20 kilometre stretch of golden sandy beach and dunes, the surrounding pine forests, the superb new shopping malls, or play a few rounds on one of Spain's most beautiful golf courses. Alternatively, you can land at the Moorish city of Jerez, immerse yourself in a centuries old way of life in Spain's Sherry capital, and head for two of Spain's finest beaches at Chiclana de la Frontera. Here the blue flag designated La Barossa beach with its dunes and shallow sea, and the more secluded Sancti Petri beach, are both perfect for children.
Isla Canela is a traditionally styled resort that has been purpose-built on a spit of land at the mouth of the Guadiana River — the perfect location for an all inclusive holiday. It has shops, bars and restaurants surrounding the marina and you can hire boats, jet skis and canoes, play golf or bowls, or relax around the swimming pool or on the beach.
The Costa de la Luz is a nature lovers' dream. Beauty is all around you, but there are also lovely nature reserves in the area at Doñana, Bahia de Cádiz and Barbate, where you can enjoy the natural oak and pine forests, the dunes and salt marshes, and the varied birdlife.View Costa De La Luz beach holiday destinations
Costa del Sol
With its 150 kilometres of sandy beaches lapped by the calm blue waters of the Mediterranean, its year round sunshine, and all the tourist attractions you'll ever need, the Costa Del Sol or "sun coast" lives up to its name as Spain's sun-worshippers' favourite destination. Whether you want to just lie back and relax, enjoy the beach activities, sample the many fine restaurants and the lively nightlife, or explore the charming little flower-filled, whitewashed hill towns just a short drive from the coast, your own Spanish holiday paradise filled with timeless memories is just waiting to be discovered.
This is a coast of contrasts. From the sheltered sandy beaches of Nerja in the east, through the city of Malaga, the popular holiday destinations of Fuengirola and Marbella, to the beautiful white hill town of Casares in the west, tumbling down from its ancient Moorish castle, all the life and colour of Andalucia is here. Even in the lively resort of Torremolinos, you can spend a busy morning on the beach or in the Aqualand Water Park and then in the afternoon take a leisurely walk and explore the traditional markets and tapas bars of El Calvario, the old district. For golf enthusiasts, the coast is legendary, with more than 50 fine courses suitable for all budgets and levels of expertise.
The coast is ideal for family holidays, with no shortage of sandy beaches, theme parks and child-friendly restaurants, and for the lovers of history and culture, you will find here the authentic Spain of castles and cathedrals, cobbled streets and bustling fishing ports. The beautiful cities of Granada, Seville and Cordoba, the jewels of southern Spain, are all just an easy day trip away.View Costa Del Sol beach holiday destinations
This golden stretch of coastline south of Barcelona is one of the most popular holiday destinations for those looking for sun, sea, sand and everything that goes with it — the ideal location for the perfect all inclusive family holiday. From lazy sun-filled days and top class shops and restaurants in Cambrils — the ideal combination of quiet fishing village and lively resort — to the out and out sand and sangria, pubs and paella holiday fun of Salou, there's something here for everyone.
For seekers of history and culture, the Costa Dorada has an abundance of riches. Tarragona's spectacular Roman ruins were largely ignored just twenty years ago, but are now rightly celebrated and well worth a visit — and don't miss the wonderful Romanesque and Gothic cathedral. No visit to this coast can leave out at least one trip to Barcelona: see Gaudi's unique unfinished cathedral, the Sagrada Familia, and take a leisurely stroll along the famous Las Ramblas, the lively central boulevard that seems to distil the essence of Barcelona.
The town of Sitges, just a half hour's ride south, has a winning combination of all that's best on this coast: beautiful golden beaches, palm fringed promenade, and an attractive old town to explore, with the beautiful 17th century church situated right on the sea front and dominating the bay. The town also has a vibrant nightlife and some of the best summer carnivals and fiestas in Spain.
Whether you're on a last minute cheap holiday deal, a camping or fly-drive trip, or staying in pampered five star luxury, the Costa Dorada offers all you would expect from one of Spain's most beautiful of coastlines. Like the local Catalan fish stew, you might not be familiar with all its ingredients, but the result is pure pleasure.View Costa Dorada beach holiday destinations