Spain Costas – The Spanish Coastline Explained

Spain Costas or the Spanish Coasts provide a great variety of beaches, towns, and coves to choose from.  Spain is known as the Iberian Peninsula, which is shared with Portugal.  Being a peninsula means there is plenty of Spanish Coastline to discover and experience.  Along the south and east are the Mediterranean beaches. Then the west and north provide you with Atlantic or Bay of Biscay beaches.

Spain Costas or the Spanish Coasts provide beaches, nature, cities and towns. We explain each of the areas along the Spanish coastline. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

The word coast in English is costa in Spanish!  The words are pretty similar, so it should be easy to remember.  The total Spanish coastline is 4,964 kilometers or 3,084 miles long.  Along the Mediterranean, there is 1,670 km or1,038 miles of coast and beaches.  While the Atlantic and Bay of Biscay coasts stretch for 2,234 km or 1,388 miles.

In general the Atlantic and Bay of Biscay coasts have regular waves and tides.  The sand tends to be finer, as the constant waves help make that happen.  There will be stunning cliffs to the north as well.  We found the Galicia coast to be incredible.

Along the Mediterranean, you will find the sea has the mood of the weather.  It may be smooth as glass one day and roaring with waves and whitecaps as a storm approaches.  There are some sandy beaches and many with coarse sand and stone beaches too.  Yes, there are also some dramatic cliffs and areas where the mountains meet the sea.

Spanish Costas Map

I’ve created a custom map outlining the various sections or areas of the Spain Costas.  As you can see from the map below, there are different colors along the coastline.  Each area is known for the tourist name as well as the cities within them. 

Along the Mediterranean coast, you may follow along the longest road in Spain on the N340 highway!

The map is interactive and you can zoom in or out to see more detail.  Just click on the photo below to go to the map or we have a link to the interactive map here

Spain Costas

In Spain, many of the coastal areas are known by their Spain Costa name, which may cross regions or provinces.  This is a way to refer to an area rather than just a city or town.  Some are more well-known than others, but now you will learn them all!  We have visited most of them and will do our best to describe what we know.  I’ll start on the southwest side and moving my way around the country counterclockwise.

Costa de la Luz

The Costa de la Luz is a coastal section on the Atlantic and is in the southwestern part of Andalucia.  It extends from the north near Portugal to Tarifa in the south.  Costa de la Luz crosses the Province of Cádiz and the Province of Huelva, by the mouth of the Guadiana River.  You will find white sandy beaches, wind, and sun.  Cádiz is an amazing city to explore and if you want to experience something spectacular, visit during Cádiz Carnival.

Costa de la Luz:  Translates to Coast of the Light
Province(s):  Cádiz, Huelva
Autonomous Community: Andalucia
Best airport access:  Cádiz, Seville, Málaga, Huelva, Jerezcadiz-Costa de la Luz Read more on https://wagonersabroad.com

Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol is a region in the south of Spain comprising of the coastal towns and communities along the coastline in the Province of Málaga.  This stretches from Tarifa, up past Gibraltar and Málaga to the Nerja area. 

Most of this area is well populated and very popular with tourists.  You will find a great diversity of local and expat communities, with plenty of familiar restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and conveniences.  Some areas have mountains and hills near along the coast, but in general, you will have vast beach areas and nature parks.  Read more in our guide to Costa del Sol.

Costa del Sol:  Translates to Coast of the Sun
Province(s): Málaga
Autonomous Community: Andalucia
Best airport access:  Málaga or Madrid and then high-speed train

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Costa Tropical or costa granada

The Costa Tropical has it all!  From small Spanish town charm to a special microclimate.  The unique thing about Costa Tropical is that it’s not a sprawling suburb of a large city.  This area is surrounded by mountains, which come all of the way to the edge of the sea.  It is also a producer of many of the Spanish fruits offered to the world.

It is well-known for cycling, hiking, watersports, mild winters, and just about an hour away from the Sierra Nevada ski resorts.  This is a picturesque coastline with dramatic cliffs and plenty of beaches, most of which have coarse sand or small stone beaches.

Motril is the main city in the Costa Tropical, but Almuñécar is the gem with a nice balance of tourism and traditional Spanish.  This costa runs along the entire coast in the province of Granada, thus it is also known as the Costa Granada.  Read more about the Costa Tropical on our Almuñécar Info site.  If you want to move to this area, we offer bespoke services to help you.

Costa Tropical:  Translates to Tropical Coast
Province(s):  Granada
Autonomous Community: Andalucia
Best airport access:  Málaga, Granada

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Costa de Almería

The Costa de Almería is made up of the coastal municipalities in the province of Almería. This part of the coast is about 217 kilometers or 135 miles long. It is just east of the Granada province border and it continues to the Murcia province border.

This area has some beautiful nature reserves.  The Sierra María-Los Vélez Nature Reserves and the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Nature Reserve.  Both are worthy of exploring to see the castle, caves, wilderness, deserted beaches, stunning cliffs, turquoise coves. In this area, you can experience it all from the Mediterranean sea to the forest, and the desert.

Costa del Almería:  Translates to Coast of Almería
Province(s): Almería
Autonomous Community: Andalucia
Best airport access: Almería

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Costa Cálida 

The Costa Cálida is the section of coast through the Murcia province, extending about 250 kilometers or 155 miles along the Mediterranean. This area also has a microclimate which has warmer annual temperatures, so now you know why it has its name.  It tends to be arid and averages less than 34 cm of rain annually.

You will find great towns along the coast and inland as well.  It is a popular area for expats and has some great hidden gems to experience.  We recommend you check out the Mar Menor and enjoy your Lo Pagan mud bath.  This is one of the only salt lakes near the Mediterranean sea.  Also on this coast, you can explore the beautiful Cartagena, rich with history and many Roman Ruins.

Costa Cálida:  Translates to Warm Coast
Province(s): Murcia
Autonomous Community: Murcia
Best airport access: Almería, Murcia, Valencia, Alicante

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Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca is over 200 kilometers or 120 miles long on the Mediterranean. It is mainly in the Alicante province and has a well-developed tourism industry with packaged holidays for those from the UK and Germany.  Alicante city is amazing, as well as the popular Benidorm.  If you like things on the quieter side, check out Altea and Calpe. 

Alternatively, you can go just a bit further up the coast and get to Dénia and Jávea.  Again, you will find a good deal of expats in these areas, but they aren’t part of a sprawling city.  They feel a bit cozier, as the mountains hug this part of the coastline.  We scoped out these areas when deciding where to live in Spain.

Costa Blanca:  Translates to White Coast
Province(s): Alicante
Autonomous Community: Valencia
Best airport access:  Alicante, Valencia

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Costa Valencia

The costa Valencia is beautiful and offers a great deal of urban sandy beaches along the Mediterranean.  This area has mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, but best of all is the city of Valencia.  It has just about anything you would want from a city, with great restaurants, shopping, history, culture, as well as parks and recreation.

You may also experience one of the most emblematic wetlands in Spain.  The Albufera Natural Park is a protected environment rich with wildlife and fauna.  Remember the coast isn’t just about the beaches.  Here is our list of things to do in Valencia.

Costa Valencia:  Translates to Valencian Coast
Province(s): Valencia
Autonomous Community: Valencia
Best airport access: Valencia, Madrid, BarcelonaCosta Valencia Read more on https://wagonersabroad.com

Costa del Azahar

Castellón is a province in eastern Spain and this is where you will find the Costa del Azahar.  It is located in the north part of the Valencian Community and its capital is Castellón de la Plana.  this area is full of hidden coves, beautiful sunrises, and quaint towns and villages.  Not to mention about 130 km or 80 miles of coastline, with walking paths, beaches, and great places to visit.  We stayed in the city of Castellón de la Plana for a night on one of our European summer road trips.

Costa del Azahar:  Translates to Coast of the Orange Blossom
Province(s): Castellón
Autonomous Community: Valencia
Best airport access: Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona

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Costa Dorada

The Costa Dorada is on the coast of Catalonia, just south of Barcelona.  One of the family fun tourist attractions is the amusement park, Port Aventura World.  That said, people go to see the amazing coastline, Roman ruins, and more historical points of interest.  You shouldn’t miss the Arco de Bará, the walled town of Montblanc, the Monastery of Poblet, or the Roman Amphitheater of Tarragona.

Costa Dorada:  Translates to Golden Coast
Province(s): Tarragona
Autonomous Community: Catalonia
Best airport access: Reus Airport, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid

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Costa del Garraf 

The coast is known for the mountain range, Garraf Massif, which extends right to the sea.  This is a great nature area for hiking, biking and of course, the beaches and spectacular coves also attract the tourists. There are historical sites from different periods (Gothic, industrial, Modernism).  The of Sitges is worth a stay, to experience the charm and traditional Spanish coastal life.  There are also a few museums to check out as well.

Costa del Garraf:  Translates to Coast of Garraf
Province(s): Barcelona
Autonomous Community: Catalonia
Best airport access: Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid

Sitges Costa del Garraf - Read more on https://wagonersabroad.com

Costa De Barcelona  

The Barcelona coast has over 100 km of beaches, with the full city at your fingertips as well.  It isn’t just about the coast and we have plenty for you to read about Barcelona.  If you want some amazing views, don’t miss out on the various Barcelona rooftop bars and restaurants to take in the skyline.  This is also the perfect hub for exploring other parts of Europe.  Of course, you have trains, buses, and the airport.  Don’t forget it is a huge cruise ship hub and you can also take a ferry from Barcelona to Rome!

Costa de Barcelona:  Translates to Coast of Barcelona
Province(s): Barcelona
Autonomous Community: Catalonia
Best airport access: Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid

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Costa del Maresme

The Costa del Maresme has plenty of sandy beaches, small fishing villages, and towns.  Once again on the Mediterranean with a wonderful climate all year.  This area has a long history of tourism, as the first train constructed in Spain went from Barcelona to this area in 1848.  

Costa del Maresme:  Translates to Coast of Maresme
Province(s): Barcelona
Autonomous Community: Catalonia
Best airport access: Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid

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Costa Brava

The Costa Brava is the coastal area in northeastern Spain.  Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes, just northeast of Barcelona, up to the French border. In the 1950s, this became a big hub for packaged holidays for European tourists.  It had the perfect combination of climate, nature, beaches, and access to attract many people to the area.  Almost 1/3 of the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees are part of the natural protected area.  So there is no shortage of nature to explore.  

Costa Brava:  Translates to Brave Coast
Province(s): Barcelona, Girona
Autonomous Community: Catalonia
Best airport access: Girona, Barcelona

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Costa Vasca (Basque)

Now we are going to move along to the northern coast of Spain.  Stretching from the French border to the west is the Basque coast.  This coastal strip is 176 km long and is along the Cantabrian Sea.  The coast is striking on the perfect sunny day to see the intense blue of the Cantabrian Sea against the contrast of the deep green of the mountains. 

There is plenty of rain in this area, so that is how things can remain so green.  The coast is sprinkled with stunning cliffs, fishing villages, and beaches.  We don’t want to minimize the amazing summer weather, with just the perfect temperatures.  The beaches do get a bit crowded, but there is plenty of room for everyone.

San Sebastián is gorgeous and worth a stay, as well as a stop in Bilbao along the Basque coast.  You can visit the Guggenheim Museum and explore the amazing city.  You are also very close to the amazing wine region of La Rioja, which is inland. 

Costa Vasca:  Translates to Basque Coast
Province(s):  Álava, Guipúzcoa, and Vizcaya (Biscay)
Autonomous Community: Basque Country (País Vasco)
Best airport access:  San Sebastián 

Costa Vasca Basque Country San Sebastian beach - Read more on https://wagonersabroad.com

Costa Cantabria

Most of the Cantabrian population lives by the sea, with green mountains and limestone cliffs all around.  The capital is Santander and is known for surfing, so why not give it a try?  There are vast sandy beaches and coastal towns like Santillana del Mar.  Which is likely most well-known for the famous Cave of Altamira, renowned for prehistoric parietal cave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings.

Costa Cantabria:  Translates to Coast of Cantabria
Province(s): Cantabria
Autonomous Community: Cantabria
Best airport access:  Santander 

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Costa Verde

The name of Costa Verde says it all.  The rich colors of green are all around the coast, which is complemented by the deep blues of the sea.  This coastline is full of stunning cliffs, sandy coves, great fishing villages, and the city of Gijón.  Inland you will find beautiful green meadows and pine forests.  And in the mountains, there are plenty of outdoor activities, including kayaking in the river

This coast has a high amount of annual rainfall, but that is what keeps it green and lush from the mountains to the sea.  There is not as much tourism in this area like you would find along the Mediterranean, so it is worth visiting.  No matter how long you plan to stay, make sure you experience the Asturias Sidra (cider).

Costa Verde:  Translates to Green Coast
Province(s): Asturias
Autonomous Community: Asturias
Best airport access:  Asturias 

gijon-Asturias Costa Verde - Read more on https://wagonersabroad.com

Costa de Galicia

Oh Galicia!  Wow, what fond memories we have of this region.  There aren’t many tourists, so you can certainly get the real feel of the area.  This is the northwest tip of Spain and the views are stunning.  From the natural arches on the playa Catedrales and the cliffs at the Banco Más Bonito del Mundo to the cities, it is amazing.  We have a small guide to visit Galicia for you here. 

The Galician coast is 1,498 kilometers long and is also home to the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Santiago de Compostela.  This area is not only made up of a diverse coastline, it also has marshes and archipelagos of islands. 

Costa de Galicia:  Translates to Coast of Galicia
Province(s): Lugo, A Coruña, Pontevedra, Orense
Autonomous Community: Galicia
Best airport access:  A Coruña, Vigo, Santiago de Compostela

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There you have it, the Spain Costas!  Which of the Spanish Coasts do you like best and why?

More About Spain and the Spanish Coastline

We have a guide of things to do in Spain organized by Region.

Here is a link to more details about the various areas of Spain.

Things to do in Spain! Our Spain travel blog is loaded with tips for you to visit Spain, find deals on hotels, renting cars, Spanish customs, Spanish food and the way of life. An American family of 4 living in Spain from Aug 2012. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

 

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