- the alternative guide to Spain
coast of Spain
Spain's Mediterranean coast offers a range of opportunites
holidaymakers and travellers, depending on the type of holiday wanted.
Cheap-deal package trips tend to be based on the many major modern
resorts that grace the coast from north to south. Great resorts, like
Torremolinos near Marbella, or
Benidorm on the Costa Blanca near Alicante, or Lloret de Mar on the
Costa Brava are
just three among dozens of generally characterless resorts catering for
from northern Europe, in search of a week or two of
lazing on the beach just a stone's throw from their tower-block hotel.
Admittedly, some of the worst atrocities of the
rush into tourism that occurred along the Spanish coast in the1960's
and 1970's have now been pulled down or seriously remodelled; but at
the same time, until the economic crunch that in 2007 largely
brought things to a standstill, massive development saw long
stretches between Barcelona and Algeciras transformed from traditional
Mediterranean coastline, into ribbons of modern city with their
accompanying leisure facilities of marinas, aqua parks, golf-courses,
multi-lingual multiplex cinemas, and all the rest.
Development has been most intense in the neighbourhood of the coast's
in areas that are easily accessible. Yet even in the busier
tourist areas, there are some small coastal towns that retain their
character. Though its suburbs have developed into a large resort, the
historic small city of Peñiscola, with its city walls, its
castle, and its fishing port, comes as a delightful contrast to the
modern resorts and housing developments all round.
Development has been most intense where the coastline is
in places where the hills come down to the sea, and up and down the
Spanish Mediterranean coast, there are still small towns that have
remained essentially as they were before the age of mass tourism. Of
course, they have all grown, and seen development of their own, but
this has been more often in the form of low-rise holiday villas,
clinging to hillsides or nestling in the pines.
The Mediterranean without the tourists ?
Llanca, on the Costa Brava - still relatively uncrowded
Yes, it's possible. In fact there are a surprising number of spots
along Spain's Mediterranean coast that are not swamped by tourist
development. As a rule of thumb, get more than 50 miles from any of the
major Spanish Mediterranean tourist airports (Girona, Barcelona, Reus,
Alicante and Malaga) and tourism development is much less intensive
apart from around cities.
of main natural parks on the Spanish Mediterranean and south
Peñón de Ifac
Yet even close to cities there are protected areas
these include some of the 14 principal coastal Natural Parks or
National Parks along the Spanish Mediterranean coastline between the
French and the Portuguese borders. As well as these important
designated areas, there are also a lot of smaller or
shorter stretches of the coastline that are - in theory at
least - protected natural areas.
However there is perhaps only
one very small village on the whole Mediterranean coast of Spain that
has not had its face changed by an influx of tourists even if, today,
few of its inhabitants are Spanish. The original inhabitants have moved
out, as this village has no road leading to it, and can only be reached
by boat. It is a beatiful idyllic spot, and its name and location will
not be revealed here, in the hope that perhaps it can remain as it is.
Apart from the Mediterranean, Spain has Atlantic
- from Tarifa to the Portuguese border in the south, and all along
Spain's northern shores. Generally speaking, these areas are far less
visited than the Mediterranean coast - in the south because of the
distance, and in the north because the Atlantic coast and the coast of
the Bay of
Biscay do not benefit from the same reputation for sunshine and warm
seas as the Mediterranean coast does.
the most southerly town on the European continent, is a delightful
spot, much favoured by surfers, as the coast here is rather
From Tarifa, there is a view over to the Atlas mountains in Morrocco,
on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar - through which Atlantic
winds blow into the Mediterranean basin. Both east and west of Tarifa,
there are some long stretches of undeveloped coastline. In the far
southwest of Spain, the Doñana National Park is a large
expanse of wetlands and dunes to the west of the mouth of the river
North of Portugal lies the Spanish region of
Galicia, with its largely undeveloped coast. Away from the ports of
Vigo, Pontevedra, A Coruña and Ferrol, the there
is little in
the way of coastal development. Rocky and windy, this is Spain's
Finisterre, the end of the earth.... Yet sheltered from the Atlantic
surge and the winds that blow in off the ocean, there are plenty of
small inlets with attractive sandy shores.
coast of Spain
As for the northern coast of Spain, it
can be divided into two parts; east and west of Santander. To the east
of Santander, in the regions of Cantabria and the Basque country the
coast has seen a certain amount of modern
development, specially close to the cities of Santander, Bilbao and San
Sebastian; but there are still a few areas of coastal plain on this
Atlantic coast, buffeted by the storms of the Bay of Biscay, and even
small coves and beaches, sometimes
not too easy to get to, between the urban zones and areas of more
intensive tourism development.
The coast of
West of Santander lies the rest of the Cantabrian
and the coasts of Asturias
and of Galicia, the "Celtic" regions of
Spain. The coast along this northwestern part of Spain is very
attractive, with cliffs, rocks and sandy coves and beaches, but without
the crowds. Until quite recently, it seemed to be a secret that
knowledgeable Spaniards kept for themselves. Even the seaside resorts
part of "green Spain" is ideal for camping and outdoor pursuits. It has
a temperate Atlantic climate, with warm summers and a chance of rain in
any month, but not too much of it in the summer months - just enough to
keep the fields green in a normal year. And inland, there are mountains
to climb - including the impressive Picos de Europa, interesting places
to visit, and a delightful rural area to enjoy..