It’s not just the Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands that have some of Spain’s best beaches; northern Spain has its fare share too. Think wide and clean urban beaches, sandy shores within national parks, and some that can even be liked to those of the Caribbean. Here are our picks of the best beaches in Northern Spain.
Playa de la Concha is San Sebastián‘s main city beach. It hugs the sweep of the city bay and is lined by elegant buildings. Surrounded by natural features, such as the green Monte Urgull castle-topped hill, it offers the best of both natural and city beaches. Lie on the sand or paddle in the calm surf while admiring the picturesque views over Santa Clara Island, standing in the middle of the bay.
Karraspio Beach is located just to the edge of the town of Lekeitio in the Basque Country. It lies between the larger cities of Bilbao and San Sebastián, and can be reached by train from Bilbao in one hour and 20 minutes. The beach offers a long crescent of golden sand, backed by lush green hills and bisected by the River Lea.
Praia das Catedrais can be found between the beaches of Augasantas and Carricelas on the northern Galician coast. It’s called As Catedrais, or Cathedral Beach, because of its huge rock formations, arches and flying buttresses, which look like giant, stone cathedrals. While this beach may not have your typical soft, white sand and facilities, it’s amazing to explore and look around.
Playa el Sardinero is Santander’s main beach. It comprises two long sweeps of sugar-soft sand, each around one kilometre (0.6 miles) long, lined with graceful 20th-century architecture. There are plenty of bars and cafés to refresh yourself on the sand, while the sea offers excellent surfing conditions too.
Playa de la Magdalena is another of Santander’s beaches. It’s a little less crowded and a little more natural than El Sardinero though, as it’s located on the Magdalena Peninsula, just outside of town. The beach features golden sand and a dedicated sports area.
Playa del Silencio, or the Beach of Silence, is located just outside the tiny village of Castañeras, along the Asturian coastline, 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) west of Cudillero. It’s a natural beach, framed by towering cliffs and covered in silvery sand. The beach isn’t accessible by car, so you have to hike the last 500 metres (0.3 miles) down to the beach.
Praia de Rodas is one of the best beaches in the whole of Spain. It can be likened to the Caribbean due to its flour-white sand and clear, turquoise waters. It lies off the western coast of Galicia on the Cies Islands and is actually part of a protected natural park.
Playa de Oyambre lies within the Parque Natural de Oyambre near the town of Comillas in Cantabria. The beach measures a whopping 1,800 metres (1.1 miles) and is covered with fine grains of golden sand. Backed by dunes and verdant rolling hills, it’s as picturesque as a postcard. The area is popular with windsurfers, because of its excellent wind conditions.