One of the best beaches in southern Spain on the popular Andalusian coast. Locals line the sands below the bluffs next to the crystal clear waters

The Best Beaches in Southern Spain, Ranked

The coastline of Andalusia has beautiful locations where you can enjoy the sun, sand and sea. Check out the best beaches in southern Spain!

The best beaches in southern Spain are some of the most beautiful ones to be found in the Mediterranean. From Almería in the east to Cadiz in the west, the Andalusian coast is lined with white sands, undulating turquoise waters and forested coves. Some of the beaches have been immortalized in Western movies; others are hidden gems that known mostly to the locals. In this guide, we share some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches in the south.

One of the best beaches in southern Spain on the popular Andalusian coast. Locals line the sands below the bluffs next to the crystal clear waters
The Andalusian coast has some of the best beaches in southern Spain | © Nick Kenrick/Flickr

Best beaches in southern Spain

1. Playa de Maro, Málaga

Frequently named as one of Spain’s favourite beaches, let alone one of the best beaches in southern Spain, Playa de Maro takes the top spot on this list as well. This beach lies just outside Nerja on the old N-340 coastal road and is renowned for its accessibility, sparkling water, and gorgeous scenery, like the Maro waterfall, rock formations, and bluffs. Swimming and kayaking around this stunning part of the coast come highly recommended, but it’s even more beautiful under the sea, the plentiful fish and crystal clear waters make it an ideal spot for diving and snorkelling.

  • To get to Playa de Maro, drive along the old N340 from Nerja and take the exit for Maro. After you cross the centre of the village and just before a slip road that will lead you back onto the N340 is a roundabout where you need to take a sharp right here. Continue to follow that road downwards, and you’ll hit the beach before long.

2. Playa del Cristo, Málaga

See also: Best Spain Vacations 2020

This beach has something for everyone. If you’re looking to relax in Spain’s southern sun and kick back with a drink, you’ll find the two seaside bars here a welcome treat. Sunbeds are available to rent for a small fee, and you can easily spend an entire day (or two; we won’t judge!) reclined on Playa del Cristo’s soft, clean sand. On the other hand, if you’re bringing kids for a day of fun in the sun, this beach’s shallow water and children’s playground make it a winner.

  • Parking is available at the base of a steep hill, near the beach itself. Make sure you come equipped with some cash to rent sunbeds, get a drink, or buy treats for you or your kids!

3. Playa Zahara de los Atunes, Cádiz

The province of Cádiz has some of the most gorgeous beaches along the Andalusian Atlantic coast. Ideal for everyone, Playa Zahara de los Atunes is and one of the most famous beaches in the region: visitors from all over Spain (including local celebrities and politicians) make their way over for the tranquil Carribean-like shores. Despite being busy, because the beach is so large, there will always be sections that aren’t overcrowded where you can bliss out next to the sea in peace. If you prefer your time at the beach to be more exciting, watersports like windsurfing and sailing are extremely popular.

  • Facility-wise Playa Zahara de los Atunes is decked out with bathrooms, changing rooms, showers, a first-aid hut, restaurants, and flags that show changes in the sea. There’s ample parking and even a campsite if you want to stretch your day at the beach into something longer.

4. Playa de Bolonia, Cádiz

Despite growing recognition on plenty of travel forums, Playa de Bolonia it still one of those in-the-know attractions, and you’ll find it’s popular with many residents. While vast stretches of Spain’s southern coastline has been developed and turned into beautiful resorts, this beach has managed to stay relatively untouched. Slip away to Playa de Bolonia’s sandy white dunes, shimmering turquoise waters, and cosy bars and restaurants, where fresh seafood is dolled out daily to sun-worshippers. Active tourists will want to take advantage of the hiking and horse riding available, or explore the nearby ancient Roman town of Baelo Claudia.

  • There’s paid parking available close to the beach, and you’ll probably need a car to get here. In summer the cold water will offer cooling respite from the baking heat, and the beach can get quite busy during the day with Spanish locals, so get there early for a sweet spot!

Travel to: Spain

5. Valdevaqueros, Tarifa

Valdevaqueros is a surfer’s paradise! The winds make for an excellent place to windsurf or fly a kite: a popular beachside activity in Spain. There’s always something to do in Valdevaqueros, whether you’re participating in some seaside sports or if you’re more content sitting in the pristine white sand and watching the world go by.

  • If you fall into that latter category, you’re in luck in Valdevaqueros. At the front of the beach, there’s an open, grassy area, home to the Tumbao bar. Snag a beanbag chair, grab a drink, and watch the sunset.

6. Playa de los Muertos, Almería

Known in English as the Beach of the Dead, don’t let the name put you off: it’s a spectacular option for water babies that love nothing more than spending a day swimming in the sea. Enjoy a secluded location, dramatic coastal scenery, and authentic local beach experience. Reaching this beautiful beach requires a little more effort, and it’s not for those that have difficulties with walking.

  • Two small trails from the AL-5106 road and the tourism office will lead you there. One is longer and more manageable (700 metres) the other one is much shorter but also steeper (100m). Make sure you bring plenty of food and water! 

7. Playa El Palmar, Cádiz

El Palmar is one of the least crowded beaches in the region, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in amenities! The shore is 5 kilometres long, and there’s plenty of opportunity for dining on fresh seafood an water activities like surfing. Perfect for young people looking for a real Spanish nightlife experience, Playa El Palmar is home to lively beach bars with DJs and live music performances. During the day, stroll along the wooden paths connecting the main road with the beach, and see all Playa El Palmar has to offer.

  • The north end of the beach tends to be quieter, but keep in mind that there’s no vehicle exit. Take the N-340 north heading from Vejer towards Conil and Cadiz, and then take the first exit to the left, the CA-2141. There’s little shelter from the wind, so if you’re planning a full day here, consider bringing a sweater or windbreaker for the evening.

Is your heart in the south of Spain? Did we miss one of your favourite beaches? Let us know in the comments!

Based in Toronto, Sahar is a full-time content editor for Days to Come and part-time travel junkie.

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