REVEALED: The Black Flag beaches in Spain you may want to avoid

If you like many in Spain this summer will be heading to the beach to swim or relax, be aware that there are 48 'playas' that have received Black Flags for not meeting the right health, cleanliness and environmental standards.

spain polluted beaches
The Mar Menor beaches in Murcia are notoriously some of the most polluted in Spain. (Photo by Jose Miguel FERNANDEZ / AFP)

Spain has around 7,500 kilometres of coastline and more than 3,000 beaches. Many of them are not only beautiful, but very well taken care of.

Recently we listed all of Spain’s 621 Blue Flag beaches for 2022, which were awarded the accolade for their hygiene, safety and accessibility standards, their provision of lifeguards and other positive features. 

READ ALSO: Where are Spain’s Blue Flag beaches?

Unfortunately, not all beaches in Spain are quite so well preserved.

Spanish environmental group Ecologists in Action ‘awards’ these beaches ‘Black Flags’, with the aim of drawing attention to stretches of the coastline that don’t make the grade.

Big no-nos include poor waste management, pollution, overcrowding from tourism, nearby building projects, port expansions, the accumulation of rubbish, coastal erosion, and their detrimental effects on biodiversity.

This means that all the beaches listed below are not necessarily polluted but may suffer from overcrowding or the authorities are not using environmentally friendly ways of keeping them clean.

After having analysed 8,000 kilometres of coastline around Spain, Ecologists in Action have denounced 48 coastal stretches in 2022, giving them Black Flag status.

Besides beaches, Black Flags are also awarded to port areas and river estuaries. 

Here are all the Black Flag beaches across the country that you should be aware of this summer. Ports, rivers and estuaries given the Black Flag status have also been listed for each province. 


  • Playa de La Antilla, Huelva for waste poor management
  • Ría de Huelva for contamination
  • El Palmar, Cádiz for contamination
  • Playa Mangueta, Cádiz for the illegal extraction of water
  • Barbate, Cádiz for contamination
  • The beaches of Málaga for poor waste management
  • Paraje Natural Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo for contamination
  • Playa de La Charca-Salomar, Granada for poor waste management.
  • Playa de La Rábita, Granada for contamination.
  • Costa de Levante, Almería for poor waste management
  • Cuevas de Almanzora, Almería for contamination


  • Regasificadora de Xixón for poor waste management
  • Ria de Avilés for contamination

Balearic Islands

  • Alcúdia Port for poor waste management
  • Porto Colom for contamination

Basque Country

  • The River Nervión around the Guggenheim for poor waste management
  • The River Barbadun for contamination
  • Puerto de Mutriku for poor waste management
  • Monte Antondegi for contamination

Canary Islands

  • Playa del Charco de la Araña in Tenerife for poor waste management and contamination
  • Playa del Waikiki (La Goleta) in Fuertevenura for poor waste management
  • Municipal beaches of Yaiza in Lanzarote for contamination


  • The Cantabrian coast near caravan parks for poor waste management
  • Bajo Asón for contamination


  • Platja del Trabucador, Tarragona for poor waste management
  • Municipal beaches of Tarragona for contamination.
  • Beaches next to Barcelona airport for poor waste management
  • Barcelona port for contamination
  • Pineda d’en Gori, Girona for poor waste management
  • The small inlets in the Costa Brava for contamination only when there are boat parties known as abarlofarra


  • Municipal beaches of Vigo for poor waste management
  • Estuario de la Foz for contamination 
  • Ría de O Burgo for the dredging of sediments
  • Minas de San Finx for contamination 
  • Illa Pancha for poor waste management
  • Playa de Arealonga for contamination


  • Mar Menor for poor waste management and contamination
  • Bahía de Portmán and Sierra Minera for contamination


  • Beaches in the municipality of Calp for poor waste management
  • Cala Lanuza and Cala Baeza for contamination
  • Dunes at Playa de Tavernes de la Valldigna for overuse by tourists and festivals
  • Playa del Triador for poor waste management
  • Playa de Les Fonts for contamination

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Air conditioning limits: How Spain’s new energy-saving plan affects you

The first part of the Spanish government’s new energy-saving plan to cut fossil fuel consumption came into force on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know about the main changes, from new rules for shop lighting to temperature limits.

Air conditioning limits: How Spain's new energy-saving plan affects you

The  government’s ‘Energy Saving Plan’, includes a wide-ranging series of energy-saving measures focused on public buildings, transport hubs, cultural spaces, hotels, shops, department stores and other commercial spaces.

The first part of the plan focuses mainly on lighting and temperature control, which includes the requirement for window lighting to be turned off by 10pm and for the air conditioning to be set at a minimum of 27C in summer and the heat a maximum of 19C in winter.

The plan comes into force this Wednesday from 10pm, however, by midnight on Tuesday and into the early hours on Wednesday morning, many of Spain’s public buildings and large department stores had already gone dark.

Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, explained that the measures will be in force until at least November 1st 2023.

READ ALSO – Shop lights out and air con set at 27C: What is Spain’s energy saving plan?

Will all establishments have to set their air conditioning to a limit of 27C in summer?

It was originally reported that all establishments would have to set their aircon to a minimum of 27C, however, later on August 5th, Ribera confirmed that the rule to limit indoor temperatures is “flexible” and that bars and restaurants would not be required to set the aircon at 27C exactly.

“If a different temperature is set, but it is justified, it will be allowed,” Teresa Ribera said in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio. With regards to bars and restaurants, the minister confirmed that “the working legislation recommends the temperature to be around 25C,” she explained later on Onda Cero radio. 

Other places such as nightclubs, gyms, hospitals, trains, and buses will also not need to set the temperature to a minimum of 27C in summer and the heat to a maximum of 19C in winter. They are to be given slightly more flexibility.

Establishments that will have to abide by the strict temperature limit, however, will include supermarkets, transport hubs such as airports and train stations, shopping malls, public administration buildings and cultural venues.

The decree states that health and safety provisions in the workplace prevail over the plan, which sets a temperature of between 17C and 27C in places where sedentary work is carried out, and between 14C and 25C where light work is carried out.

The Spanish government has calculated that for each degree the thermostat is turned up in summer and down in winter, it will save 7 percent in gas consumption.

Which buildings will go dark?

From Wednesday night, according to the decree only shop windows and public buildings that are closed and empty after 10pm must turn off their lights. If they are open past this time, the lights can stay on.

The restriction does not apply to illuminated monuments, signs or billboards, meaning that icons such as Barcelona’s Sagrada Família, Madrid’s Cibeles Fountain and Seville’s La Giralda will stay lit past 10pm.

The rules will also not affect street lighting, so streets will remain well-lit to avoid safety concerns.

“The new measures will apply to buildings. The rules do not apply to exterior lighting, either street lighting, or lighting for ornamental reasons in places other than buildings,” Ribera pointed out last week.

The aim of the plan is to increase energy saving and efficiency, cut costs, encourage a move to more sustainable fuels and renewable energy, amid climate change and a volatile energy market caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.