Off the beaten track: Ten of Spain’s most charming seaside towns

You've heard of the partying capitals in Mallorca or the gastronomic hub of San Sebastián - but what about the other lesser known seaside towns in Spain where tourist don't usually go?

Off the beaten track: Ten of Spain's most charming seaside towns
Descover less visited gems like Lastres, in Asturias. Photo: Nachosuch/Depositphotos

Most began as humble fishing villages; others, as inimitable fortified seaports.  Their wars may have ceased, but the castles still stand, providing great vantage points for tourists to take in the seaside views.

Take a look at some of our off the beaten track favourites for a taste of what these charming towns – spanning from the Basque Country all the way to the Balearic and Canary islands – have to offer. 

Altafulla, Catalonia

Photo: Kassandra2/Depositphotos

A quietly beautiful town where you can take in some of the Catalan region’s historical heritage as well as enjoy a peaceful day by the sea. Festivals throughout the year, however, ensure that this little piece of Catalan tranquility doesn’t get too sleepy.

Barbate, Cádiz

Photo: ArenaphotoUK /Depositphotos

Relatively unknown to foreign tourists, this is a holiday favourite for the Spanish in-the-know. Since the Romans put the town on the map for their fish-salting industry, it’s been a hotspot for great seafood – all cooked with that special Andalusian twist.

Es Grau, Menorca


The calm, shallow waters make this a perfect seaside destination for families with young children. For the grown ups, enjoy the local speciality of Calderata de Langosta (Lobster Soup).

Hondarribia, Pais Vasco

Photo: Fani014 /Depositphotos

Wave to Spain’s French neighbours from the Hondarribia coastline as you sip a glass of Txacolí (Basque sparkling wine ) and devour pintxos in the harbourside bars and restaurants that  rival those found in neighbouring San Sebastian. Explore the cobbled streets of the walled old town after a visit to the 800meter long sandy beach.

La Aldea de San Nicolás, Gran Canaria

Photo: Maugli /Depositphotos

One of the most delightful of the cavernous beaches in Gran Canaria, it is far from the tourist hordes of the south of the island and is surrounded by nature reserves where you can stand in awe of the island’s flora and fauna.

Isla de la Toja, Galicia

Isla de la Toja, Galicia Photo: Galicia Tourism

 An island off the coast of Galicia that is protected from urban development and is famous for being a thermic centre in the region. Be sure to stop by and take a picture of the little church that is covered head to toe in local sea shells.

Peñíscola, Castellón


The impressive castle is surely the top attraction of this fortified seaport. Built by the Knights Templar, pull yourself back to the age of crusading and reconquering as you attempt to conquer your oversized portion of paella. It also happens to be a location used in Game of Thrones.

Lastres, Asturias

Photo: Naturasports /Depositphotos

With a coveted spot in the Association of the Most Beautiful Towns in Spain, this seaside fishing village clings to the verdant hills of Asturia’s Atlantic coast. Explore the steep winding cobbled streets and alleys and admire the backdrop across the sea to the snow dusted peaks of the Picos de Europa beyond.

Salobreña, Granada

Photo: Benkrut/Depositphotos

Just because you’ve always wanted to see the Alhambra doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a beach holiday – the seaside town of Salobreña is only an hour away! A classic white-washed Andalusian town with an enormous castle casually towering over it all.

San Vicente de la Barquera, Cantabria

Photo: Cineuno /Depositphotos

Another fishing port on Spain’s northern coast, San Vicente de la Barquera sits at the mouth of a wide river estuary within the Parque Natural de Oyambre, just on the border between Asturias and Cantabria It is been declared to be of Cultural Interest because of its array of historical monuments.


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How Spain is imposing caps on visitor numbers for its top attractions

Spain has introduced limits on the number of tourists who are allowed to visit its natural attractions, including beaches, national parks and islands. Read on to find out where.

How Spain is imposing caps on visitor numbers for its top attractions

Increasingly, regions across Spain have introduced restrictions for some of its most popular natural attractions, in a bid to stop overcrowding and promote sustainable tourism.

In the last twenty years, tourism in national parks has grown by 77 percent, with nearly 16 million annual visitors, according to a report by the Eco-union association.

Visitor numbers were at some of their highest during the Covid-19 pandemic, when both international and local tourists preferred to travel to natural areas, away from crowds in the big cities. 

Increased tourist numbers cause a threat to natural habitats in the form of erosion, trampling of plant species, and frightening the local wildlife. 

“Natural environments have to be protected against massive tourism that can degrade them, with regulations that allow their enjoyment, but also guarantee conservation,” explained the spokesperson for Ecologists in Action, Pau Monasterio. 

Places that have a cap on visitor numbers include As Catedrais beach in Galicia, famed for its striking rock formations; Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain; and Doñana National Park, one of Europe’s most important wetlands. 

Which regions have introduced restrictions?


Doñana National Park has been restricting visitors for several years. For example, only 886 people are allowed per day on the routes from Huelva to El Acebuche and El Rocío, as well as on the route along the river to Sanlúcar de Barrameda.


Aragón’s Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park has had visitor caps for years and intends to keep them in place.


In Asturias, restrictions have been placed on numbers of tourists to the Covadonga Lakes, one of the most-visited areas of the Picos de Europa National Park. During the busiest times of the year, the lakes can only be accessed by bus or licensed taxi from the town of Cangas de Onís.

Balearic Islands

Home to 50 percent of the posidonia (seagrass) meadows in Spain, limitations in the Balearic Islands have been extended to the Marítimo-Terrestre de Cabrera National Park. Those who want to access the area by boat must request special permission.

This summer, the government of the Balearic Islands also hired environmental informants to travel around the beaches, spreading advice and information about the protected natural habitats of the islands.

Basque Country

After being bombarded by Game of Thrones fans because it was the filming location for Dragonstone, the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has finally reopened to the public, but with a daily limit of 1,500 people.

Canary Islands

With almost 15 million visitors per year, Mount Teide National Park on Tenerife is one of the most popular in Spain. Restrictions have been introduced on the last stretch of path up to the peak of Teide, allowing only 200 people per day.

Limits have also been introduced in Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park by making visitors pay for entry, while on La Gomera, the number of vehicles allowed to access the laurel forests has been capped.

In Gran Canaria, no-entry areas have been placed on Maspalomas beach, in order to protect the natural reserve of the dunes, while on Fuerteventura only a certain number per day can visit the tiny islet of Lobos.

Castilla-La Mancha

In Cuenca, limits on the numbers visiting the Chorreras del Cabriel waterfalls have been proposed. Experts have suggested that only 400 per day be allowed to visit the Biosphere Reserve, where this summer eleven bathers had to be rescued due to accidents.


In Extremadura, limits have been placed on access to various natural attractions including the Castañar Cave in Cáceres and the Fuentes de León Cave in Badajoz.


The region of Galicia has restricted access to the famous Galician beach of As Catedrais by making people reserve a free ticket online in advance.


In the capital region, it is only permitted to swim in specific natural areas including Los Villares in the San Juan Reservoir and the beaches of Alberche and Las Presillas in Rascafría. There are also limits on the number of people who can visit the popular green pools of La Charca Verde de la Pedriza, one of the most-visited areas of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.


There are restrictions in Murcia on the number of private vehicles that can pass through the regional natural parks of Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila.


In Navarra, access to the source of the river Urederra, in the Urbasa Natural Park has been limited to a maximum of 500 per day, while at the reservoirs of Leurza and the Orgi forest, there are restrictions on the number of cars allowed.


Valencia has restricted the number of cars that can access the Serra d’Irta Natural Park in summer. This stretch of road is situated alongside the d’Irta Marine Reserve. In Alicante, there is a cap on the number of tourists that can visit Peñón de Ifach in Calpe, as well as the cliffs of Cabo de San Antonio, within the protected area of ​​the Montgó Natural Park.