What do you think of when you think of Northern Spain? Is it the 40 shades of green? Is it the majestic mountains? Might it be the amazing gastronomy? Or could it be the beaches? Do you even associate Northern Spain with having amazing beaches? If not, then you really should. Northern Spain is a beach lovers paradise. The quantity, quality and variety of splendid beaches to be found in the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia is hard to match. If you fancy a swim or a barefooted stroll along a soft sandy beach, here are a few of our Totally Spain favourites. Beaches we love and know you will too – from buzzing iconic city beaches to little known crowd-free gems. So, let’s dive in and go beach hopping in Northern Spain.
Beach Hopping in Northern Spain
1 Rodas Beach, Cies Islands (Galicia)
Although this is an island off the mainland, it has become the darling of the travel media so you will find it very busy during July and August. But if you travel on a schoolday in June, you’ll have the catamaran over and back to Vigo (or Cangas) and the beach itself to yourself! The picture below just about captures the beauty – Rodas really is a stunning place. Read more about it here in our post on What to See in Galicia.
2 Limens Beach, Cangas (Galicia)
Galicia is perfect for beach-hopping and you’ll find dozens of great ports and fishing villages to explore after your swims. We are partial to the charms of Limens beach which is a small cove in Cangas in Pontevedra. It’s an area that’s popular with Spanish tourists in the Summer months but hasn’t really attracted many international visitors – so you can really switch off and enjoy being away.
3 Arousa Island (Galicia)
Another island but this time you can reach it by car from the mainland. This is mussel and clam territory so after you’ve explored the sand and taken a swim, cross the sandbank to the mainland and head to Cambados for a seafood platter and a delicious crisp local white wine. Relax overnight at the parador in Cambados or drive over to Santiago to explore this enchanted city.
4 Cathedrals Beach (Galicia)
Because this is a protected landmark, you need to reserve a place to visit these stunning rock formations on the beach between July 1 and September 30 when access is restricted (you can book online here). This system ensures that you get to enjoy the geological structures as well as the beach itself – without crazy crowds. If you choose a day in early June, you’ll have it to yourself! (NB We can handle all this admin if you choose to travel with us…)
5 Silencio Beach, Castañeras (Asturias)
Cudillero is an iconic fishing village in Asturias where you’ll experience Green Spain at its best and, after doing so, we think, Silencio Beach, just 15 mins drive, is the icing on the cake to any visit. You will need to walk down some steep steps to get to the actual water (and NB this is a pebble strand rather than a sandy beach) that means you don’t find huge crowds here. It’s best known for its dramatic sunsets. Top up your phone battery as you’ll want to capture the beauty again and again! Read more about Cudillero and Green Spain’s other pretty fishing villages here.
6 Toró Beach, Llanes (Asturias)
This horseshoe-shaped beach is dotted with characteristic rock formations against the backdrop of the limestone cliffs. Near Llanes, where you’ll find many other coves and beaches as well as wonderful restaurants and artisan shops to pick up some picnic treats or enjoy a sit-down meal with a difference.
7 Comillas (Cantabria)
Very popular with Spanish holiday-makers, this town is home to remarkable architecture and a wonderful beach too. Spend the morning visiting the Capricho de Gaudi museum and Sobrellano Palace or the Town Cemetery (yes, really!) before picking up some picnic essentials and spending the afternoon at the beach. Enjoy an evening meal at a nearby village beside a small chapel overlooking the sea.
8 El Puntal, Somo (Cantabria)
Although technically not one of Santander’s beaches, you can hop on a ferry right beside the brand-new Botin Centre designed by Renzo Piano, and enjoy this quiet and picturesque beach. It’s actually a long sandbank so it’s perfect for walkers – if you like a swim, you’ll can choose to face the Magdalena Palace or the mountains and the bay. During the Summer months, the chiringuito bars serve rolls, seafood platters and salads – as well as snacks and drinks. Insider Tip: It’s perfect for anybody who wants away from the city beaches without having to hire a car!
9 Loredo Beach (Cantabria)
Make sure you don’t confuse Loredo with the larger Laredo beach also in Cantabria which is a much busier beach. Why Loredo? We love to see the Derby on the beach, but there’s lots to enjoy and do when the horses aren’t around. It’s hugely popular with surfers and you’ll see surf classes taking place here during the Summer months and at weekends during the winter. The views are wonderful – and you can glimpse the picturesque Picos mountains and the cosmopolitan city of Santander from the comfort of your beach towel. Plenty places to eat here and you can also check out nearby Hoznayo and Villaverde de Pontones for Michelin-star dining. If you like live music, stay in Loredo til dusk to check out BlueMoon Loredo.
10 Langre Beach (Cantabria)
Langre is very popular with surfers and families who love playing in the rock pools. It’s about a 30-min drive from Santander but you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants in the Ribamontan al Mar neighbourhood to keep you in this area long after your swim. Stay at Somo, another popular beach town popular with surfers, where you can also take the passenger ferry across to the city of Santander during the day.
11 Mundaka Beach (Basque Country)
If you’ve ever surfed, you’ve probably heard about Mundaka. This patch of sand is not only pretty but it’s 30-mins by car to Bilbao Airport so if you’re flying in or out here, you can easily squeeze in this patch of coastline! It’s also just 30 mins from Gaztelugatxe – as seen on the Game of Thrones. Read What to See and Do in Bilbao here – including the Guggenheim and the great Food Market.
12 La Concha Beach, San Sebastian (Basque Country)
La Concha is absolutely buzzing with people in July and August – keen to enjoy the most iconic piece of coastline in Northern Spain. When you’ve had a swim, you’ve plenty to see, do – and eat – this is the Basque Country after all! Check out our guide to the city and its gastronomy here.
Want to continue touring Spain’s coastline? Check out our pick of 8 beaches on mainland Spain. And if you are driving in Spain, you might want to read our 50 Facts about Driving in Spain & Portugal.