Spain is a hugely popular country for visitors, with over 84 million visitors in 2019, ranking second on the World Tourism Organisations list of most visited countries, just marginally behind France with just over 89 million.
Why is Spain so Popular?
- Safety: Spain is one of the safest countries in the world. The political and economic unrest in recent years in many of the other popular tourist destinations in the Med has seen people choose Spain for precisely this reason.
- Spanish Football: The allure of football cannot be under-estimated, with world-class teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid drawing in tourists
- Food: Spanish food is widely regarded as some of the best in the world, with fresh produce and traditional offerings such as Galician seafood, Jamon Iberico, and of course, paella.
- Family friendly: Many families use the infrastructure in Spain to enjoy relaxing family holidays, as Spain is famous for its all-inclusive package holidays.
- Beaches: Spain has over 5000 kilometres of coastline, with beaches galore ranging from safe, family beaches, to organised beaches boasting an array of leisure activities, as well as wild, untouched beaches for the more adventurous traveller.
The top 3 seaside towns in the North of Spain
The northern coast of Spain is less explored than the south, but there are many hundreds of little towns offering a unique and authentic insight into traditional Spanish life. You will not find 24 hour amenities here, as the Spanish take their work-life balance seriously, and most places will ensure they take advantage of their daily siesta.
Known as the Costa Verde (Green Coast), this area has a wealth of history dating back thousands of years. Be prepared for a slower pace of life, with time to stroll and take in the views. One of the best way to get to know this area is by boat, and there are many operators offering a Yacht Charter in Spain in this region.
This hidden gem of a seaside town is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Spain. Located in the Asturias region of Northern Spain this small municipality (just 84 square kilometres) sits squarely on the Cantabrian Sea. One of the main attractions in the town is the Cueva de Tito Bustillo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has prehistoric wall paintings of animals and figures, estimated to be dated as far back as the Magdelanean age 29,000 years ago.
The main beach, Santa Marina, is understated and offers gorgeous golden sand and calm waves lapping the shore. There are operators offering surfing, sailing and kayaking. Across the bay the old town is a plethora of narrow streets with a real treat for foodies: The Bay of Biscay and the rivers in the Asturias yield numerous fishes and crustaceans, the basis of the local cuisine. The region is also famous for its cider, and will accompany any meal.
2- Castro Urdiales
A small town of just 32,000 inhabitants, Castro Urdiales’ main activities are tourism, which sees the population of the town reach almost 100,000 in the summer months, and fishing. The famous anchovy canning factories of Lolin and La Castrena are committed to sustainable fishing and showcase the close links between the town and the sea.
The gothic Church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion built between the 13th and 15th Centuries is certainly a sight to behold, and brings worshippers and lay people alike to wonder at its majesty. Visitors can also visit the Castle of Santa Ana, which dates back to 1163, as well as climbing up to the Hermitage of Santa Ana, built on the site of a Palaeolithic structure. There is also surfing to be had at the Playa de la Arena, as well as a more relaxing time at the Ostende Beach, the town’s main beach, with 900m of golden sand and some basic facilities for visitors.
3- San Sebastian
San Sebastian is located in the Basque Autonomous Community, on the Bay of Biscay around 20 kilometres from the French border. Despite only being a small town, San Sebastian plays host to the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the San Sebastian Jazz Festival. In 2016, it was named the European Capital of Culture. There are many museums based here, including the Chillida Leku, which is home to around 150 pieces of art by local artist Eduardo Chillida. The Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship showcases the culture and history of the Basque region and its people.
The town also has a great deal of high-end restaurants, including Michelin starred restaurants, as well as plenty of fresh produce and seafood on local menus. There are also a fair few beaches located here, including La Concha, one of the most photographed beaches in the country, Ondaretta, perfect for a game of beach volleyball, Zurriola, a surfers paradise, and the Island beach, a tine beach with crystal clear waters only accessible by boat.
As well as discovering the north of Spain by boat, the rest of the Spanish coastline, and its many islands, near and far should not be ignored. Over the other side of the country, it is possible for a Yacht Charter from Mallorca to discover the hidden gems on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Despite being busier, there are still some undiscovered gems in the Costa del Sol, Costa Almeria and beyond!
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