Let’s be honest, if you visit the marvel that is southern Spain and you don’t hit up at least one of the amazing stretches of sand this part of the country boasts, you’re missing out!
Be it on a day trip away from a city (there’s only some many days of sightseeing you can enjoy right?) or for a full beach holiday, the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic coast which lap the southern shores of Spain boasts some of Europe’s most glorious beaches.
Thanks to southern Spain’s great year-round climate, it’s possible to head here and enjoy the beach, or even a dip in the sea, most days of the year and this makes the region the perfect getaway either if you live in Europe or you’re travelling in the continent for a while.
After all, while Spain does off some amazing hiking, historic, culinary and cultural opps, its beaches are pretty amazing too and should not be missed off your list if you’re spending anytime here.
So, to fill you in on the best places to head, here’s my list of 12 best beaches in southern Spain…
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#1 Playa de Bolonia, Tarifa
In first on this list of the best beaches in southern Spain, we head to the province of Cadiz and the top sandy gem that can be found here, namely Bolonia Beach.
Just over 2 hours drive away from the city, this spot is popular with windsurfers especially, so if you want an active day (or 2) a la playa, this could well be the option to go for.
It’s also far from overcrowded, which makes it a top option for those looking a peaceful and relatively untouched spot too.
Certainly one of southern Spain’s top beaches, this beautiful sandy stretch is backed by dunes, and scaling to the top of one might even afford you a glimpse of North Africa!
There’s also an archaeological Roman site nearby as well, so if you’re looking to throw in a spot of culture too, this could def be the beach for you!
Check out this small-group day trip if you want to head to Bolonia but don’t have a car.
#2 Cala el Canuelo, Nerja
On the border between the Malaga and Granada provinces, lies this beauty of a southern Spain beach.
Near the quaint, whitewashed town of Nerja, Cala El Cañuelo beach is a hidden gem you shouldn’t miss.
Set amidst the Cerro Gordo Nature Reserve, the crystal clear waters here make it a treat for more intrepid beach goe-ers, as this certainly isn’t the easiest beach to get to.
That said, the dramatic cliffs that surround the bay, its uncrowded nature and the presence of orange coral on the seafloor, making it a great option for snorkelling and chilling at a more peaceful spot.
#3 Playa el Palmar, Cadiz
Back near Cadiz, it’s number 3 on my list of the best beaches in southern Spain – Playa el Palmar.
Popular with wavesurfers and kitesurfers in the summer, el Palmar’s long stretch of gorgeous sand – 7km in fact – can be walked all along and, right at the end, you’ll be rewarded with the discovery of Cape Trafalgar Lighthouse.
The whole area is delightfully free from development and there’s some stellar sunsets to enjoy here.
After your time at Playa el Palmar, why not then dine at one of the amazing restaurants behind this beach to complete the perfect day?
#4 Playa de Maro, Malaga
Another beauty of a beach in southern Spain, it’s now time to head back towards Nerja and find the gorgeous Playa de Maro.
A small beach, nestled amongst the cliffs of the Tejeda mountain range, the best time to visit here (if you can stand an early start) is the morning when you’ll be treated to an amazing sunrise.
Crystal waters, plus good snorkelling and kayaking opps, are all open to those that stay longer on this 500m beach, which has lots of lovely nearby waterfalls you can explore too.
Just be aware that it is a fairly long walk down to the beach and while sunbeds are available once you arrive – they aren’t the most comfortable!
#5 La Manga, Murcia
Over in the east of southern Spain, in the region of Murcia, are the string of beaches that make up La Manga del Mar Menor.
Split between the Mar Menor coastline and the Mediterranean beaches, both spots are often busy, but offer a combination of calm swimming and wild waves depending which area you opt for.
Top spots to go for include Cala del Turco, La Cala del Pino and Playa de la Isla.
#6 El Rompido, Huelva
Beautifully situated away from much of the development that spans the coastline here, the sand dunes and the pine groves that form the backdrop of this long sandy beach are an amazing part of the Costa de la Luz.
El Rompido also has a characteristic fishing port at its edge, as well as the River Piedras estuary, meaning there’s a lot of birdlife to spot while you’re here as well.
#7 Nikki Beach, Marbella
And now for something totally different, this southern Spanish beach is located in ritzy Marbella and is a fav haunt for those that want to be seen!
With a fancy beach club at its helm, this is the spot to head to if you’re looking for opulent champagne lunches and incredible cocktails – there’s a gorgeous pool to swim in too if you don’t fancy the sea!
#8 Playa de los Muertos, Almería
Described as a wild paradise, the white sandy shores and stunning turquoise waters make this southern Spanish beach an absolute haven.
Located between the two coastal villages of Carboneras and Agua Amarga, this playa is often voted one of the best beaches in Spain.
Although its name, Playa de Los Muertos, translates as beach of the dead, don’t let this put you off… Lifeguards will keep you safe as converging currents do mean you have to be careful when swimming here.
#9 Playa de Monsul, San José
Another spot in Almería, Playa de Monsul makes it onto this list of the top beaches in southern Spain thanks to the iconic rock in the middle of the beach and its location in one of the most unspoilt areas on the Andalusian coast.
Surrounded by the Cabo de Gata Mountains, the beach here comprises mostly of volcanic rock, but it’s a startling sight, one where beautiful waters lead out from an interesting landscape of rocky headlands and dunes.
Just be careful when swimming here too, especially as there are no lifeguards (in fact there’s no facilities here at all) and the current can be very strong.
#10 Playa Matalascañas, Seville
Next up on this list is the beach that’s actually closest to Seville.
Only an hour away from the city, it’s not surprising to learn that this spot does get pretty crowded, but if you’re short on time and desperate for your beachy fix, this could be a good option.
Backed by the Doñana National Park (check out this day trip for more info) and some impressive sand dunes, there’s plenty of fun to be had here, with beachside cafes and a nice promenade all thrown in the mix.
Don’t expect secluded times at this beach however – there are apartments blocks lining one side of the 5km sandy stretch – but with public transport running regularly from here to Seville, Matalascañas is definitely one of the easiest beaches to get to.
There’s also a famous upside-down tower here you shouldn’t miss!
Check out this great day trip to Doñana National Park and Matalascañas if you want to head here, but don’t have a hire car.
#11 Playa de la Rijana, Granada
Popular with scuba divers and snorkellers, this small, isolated pebble cove boasts wonderful clear waters and is backed by high rocky cliffs.
The drive here is along a beautiful, curved road that gives way to amazing coastal views and deep gorges that shelter many small bays and crumbling old Roman watchtowers.
A great sheltered spot, that’s 250m long, Playa de la Rijana is repeatedly voted one of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol.
#12 Cabopino, Fuengirola
Heading west from Fuengirola in southern Spain, towards Marbella, we eventually come to this spectacular beach, which is certainly one of the most beautiful in the area.
Close to ritzy Marbella, which is known for its luxurious expat residences, the Playa Cabopino is nevertheless one of the most isolated in this region and is set against a beautiful natural backdrop, including some impressive dunes that really allow you to escape the crowds.
Part nudist, a wooden walkway leads you to the gorgeous sand, which is only dotted with a couple of bars – the rest is delightfully free of amenities.
Unquestionably a top beach for those looking to get away and relax in nature, Playa Cabopino is an ideal spot, although it’s best if you have a car to get here.
When to Visit Southern Spain?
No question in my mind that the best time to visit southern Spain is either during the spring months of April, May & June or in the autumn months of September and October.
During both these seasons you’ll experience delightfully warm weather that will allow you to take full advantage of the region’s beauty at its best, without wilting in the summer heat, which regularly sees temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius.
Quite simply, sightseeing when it’s this hot is just no fun, so sticking to the months either side of the peak summer is your best bet here.
These so-called “shoulder” months are also likely to be quieter, meaning thinner crowds and better prices…. so long as you avoid peak times like Easter or school holidays!
How to Get to Southern Spain?
If you’re arriving into southern Spain from elsewhere in the country, then you can easily reach the cities of Seville or Malaga by bus or train.
When it comes to booking your coach or rail journeys, I highly recommend Trainline, as they make it easy, quick and simple to compare hundreds of rail and coach journeys across Spain and western Europe.
Otherwise, if you’re arriving into southern Spain from further afield, it’s great to know there’s also good international airports in Seville and Malaga too, with regular flights from London, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Rome and many other destinations.
As always, I suggest using Skyscanner to find the best flight prices as they include budget airlines in their searches.
5 Packing Essentials for Southern Spain
- UV sunglasses
- Good trail shoes for walking
- Natural 30 SPF sunscreen
- Good insect repellent
- Sony A6400 camera
Travel Insurance for Spain
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Where Travel After Southern Spain?
If you still have time for more travelling after Andalusia (and lucky you if so!), then you may want to head to Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia – all top destinations within Spain that can easily be reached either by car, coach or train.
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So there you have it, my list of the 12 beaches in southern Spain!
Tell me, which is your fav on this list?
Or do you have another top Andalusian beach you love to visit?
Please drop it into the comments below if so – I’d love to hear from you…