If you’re looking for a warm, sunny retreat in continental Europe, the Iberian Peninsula is your best bet. The Iberian Peninsula, or the Southern European land mass containing both Spain and Portugal, has 2152.1 miles of coastline. It stretches from the northern reaches of the Basque Country near the French Border down the Atlantic along the Portuguese Coast. The Peninsula then bends towards Andalucía and The Strait of Gibraltar, just 7 nautical miles from North Africa, before it bends back towards continental Europe along Spain’s Mediterranean Coast.
The entire Peninsula has been ruled under many flags from the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians to the Romans, the Moors, and, finally, the Spanish and Portuguese. The Iberian Peninsula’s name is derived from some of its earliest inhabitants, who the Greeks called Iberians, named for the region’s second longest river, the Ebro. Today, the region is home to some of Europe’s most charming coastal communities. Continue reading below for The Best Beach Towns on the Iberian Peninsula.
San Sebastian, Spain
Unlike the other towns on this list, San Sebastian in the Basque Country isn’t all sunshine and warm weather. Thanks to its northern location, San Sebastian has chilly winters, just like the rest of Europe. What San Sebastian lacks in tropical temperatures, it makes up for in stunning gothic architecture and delicious Pintxos. When the warm weather does arrive in San Sebastian, Playa de la Concha becomes a frenzied scene of swimwear-clad locals and tourists alike, basking in the beauty of one of the Basque Country’s most enchanting cities.
“Here I am, cruising down Cathedral Beach, not too far from San Sebastian, on a beautiful Spanish Summer day”
Ericeira, Portugal, is just a stone’s throw from the bustling capital of Lisbon. This once minute fishing village has transformed into the center of European Surfing. The clifftop city overlooks the Atlantic coast and is home to some of the continent’s best waves. The surf in Portugal is so good that Ericeira was named the first World Surfing Reserve. Beyond the waves, Ericeira possesses the rugged beauty with a fantastical quality brought out by the sheer cliffs that give way to tiny coves with secluded beaches. Ever heard of Nazare? Home to some of the biggest waves on Planet Earth! Ericeira isn’t far from these titanic swells, but it’s much more mellow so you don’t have to be a pro to get out there.
Lagos, in Portugal’s southern Algarve region, boasts year-round sunshine and comfortable temperatures. The city possesses an old-world charm, with its original medieval wall still intact. Taking the world-famous Lagos cliff walk at sunset will leave you in awe as you stroll down towering cliffs to the water’s edge, where you’ll watch the dip below the Atlantic through natural sea arches. With its year-round warm weather, Lagos boasts a healthy tourist economy and an abundant and indulgent nightlife scene. There’s never a dull moment.
As Spain’s southernmost town and the gateway to the Mediterranean, the Strait of Gibraltar, and North Africa, Tarifa has an adventurous appeal. Beyond its proximity to Africa and its access to both the Mediterranean and Atlantic, Tarifa is a global hub for wind-related sports. On a sunny day in Tarifa, the horizon is dotted with kites and sails that make the most of the powerful trade winds that dominate the Strait of Gibraltar. Out of the water, there are architectural wonders like the Guzman El Bueno Castle overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, narrow cobblestone streets well worth exploring, and divine seafood. History buffs will fawn over the Roman ruins near the beach at Baleo Claudia, while beach lovers will spend their days in the sand at Playa Bolonia. If you get bored of Spain, grab your passport and catch the ferry to Morocco.
Barcelona is so much more than a beach town. With the tapas bars along Las Ramblas and the mesmerizing architecture in Park Güell and La Sagrada Familia, the beach is a mere footnote in the long list of must-see sights in Barcelona. Still, for beach lovers, Barcelona is hard to beat. The city is home to some of the best food and nightlife in the world. Stay right on the beach in Barceloneta to wake up to the sound of crashing surf, or find a place in the Gothic Quarter, where you’ll have the best of both worlds—old-world architecture with shopping and restaurants galore and a short walk to the beach.
“The Barcelona Harbor is home to hundreds of beautiful boats, big and small. Even if surfing isn’t for you, it would be a shame not to get out on the water!”
Life’s a beach! Or at least it can be when you own a little slice of paradise to call home, visit with family, or rent out to friends. I love helping my clients find charming beach town getaways. When we find the perfect property and make a move on it, they light up with wonder. It’s such a treat to be a guide for such a powerful step in life – buying your dream home.
With global experience and a focus on the Iberian Peninsula, my team will help turn your travel dreams into your everyday reality. For more information about how I can help you claim your stake in Spain, Portugal, or beyond, be sure to check out my website and give me a call so we can discuss your dreams.