Southern Spain’s sublime Andalusian coastline is strung together by a necklace of satiny beaches and inviting waves. Andalusia’s warm and sunny climate is perfect for long days spent relaxing on some of the best beaches in southern Spain.
This region of Spain—directly facing Morocco—is where the coast meets the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Nature parks, whitewashed villages, and the historic cities of Cadiz and Malaga add to this remarkable landscape.
From sparkling coves to miles-long stretches, here are the 16 best beaches to discover in Southern Spain.
La Caleta Beach, Cadiz
What makes La Caleta one of the best beaches in Southern Spain? Its location, right next to the city’s historic old town on the tip of the peninsula, gives it the edge. Bathed in almost year-round sunshine, La Caleta Beach is also surrounded by history.
The crescent-shaped Caleta Beach is neatly sandwiched between Santa Catalina and San Sebastián castles. You could walk from castle to castle to tour these landmark fortresses. If you trace the palm tree-lined promenade, the distance is roughly one mile.
Beach bars are available by the shore. The closest restaurant is Quilla, near Castillo de Santa Catalina, on the north side of the beach.
After a few relaxing hours spent on the beach, settle down for a seafood lunch on Quilla’s terrace. There are plenty of tapas bars and restaurants in Cadiz’s beautiful old town, too, just moments from the beach.
Bajondillo Beach, Malaga
Bajondillo Beach lies a 30-minute drive southwest of central Malaga in the high-spirited resort of Torremolinos.
This dark sand-colored shore offers sun loungers, parasols, and plenty of lively bars and restaurants on the waterfront promenade to sample.
For action-packed fun under the sun, busy Bajondillo Beach can’t be beaten. Opt for a restorative swim in the warm Mediterranean Sea, or rent a peddle boat, a kayak, or a jet ski for an aquatic adventure.
This family-friendly beach has a lovely shaded children’s play area nestled among tall palm trees towards the southern stretch of sand.
Playa de La Cortadura, Cadiz
Playa de La Cortadura is characterized by the gently rolling dunes that flank the shore. This unique beach lies on a thin strip with the sand to the west running parallel to the highway and railroad linking Cádiz with San Fernando.
At just under two and a half miles long, Playa de La Cortadura offers plenty of space. Unlike most urban beaches, it has a wonderfully remote feel despite being moments from central Cadiz.
For travelers who enjoy surfing, boards and wetsuits can be rented by the hour from the nearby Cadiz Surf Center. If you’re a beginner, sign up for a one-hour lesson led by an expert.
Read: Best Beaches in Spain
Playa de Maro, Nerja
This small cove offers shimmering clear water and breathtaking views. You’ll need to follow the zigzag path carved into the cliffside to access Playa de Maro, on the edge of Nerja, a busy resort to the east of Malaga.
Carved into the rocky landscape, Playa de Maro might be among Nerja’s smallest beaches, but it’s utterly charming.
This slither of sand offers everything you need for a memorable beach day, including a rustic beach bar and kayak rental.
You could also factor in a visit to Nerja’s caves—known as some of the best caves in the world—a short distance from Playa de Maro, next to the Botanic Gardens. These ancient caves were discovered in 1959 and feature historic cave art and beautiful rock formations; on a hot day, a visit here is a great escape from the sun.
Playa de la Barrosa, Cadiz
Playa de la Barrosa is located in the vacation resort of Chiclana de la Frontera, between San Fernando and Puerto Real. Close to four miles of golden sand make this Cadiz stretch one of the best beaches in Southern Spain.
After a leisurely few hours spent lazing on the beach and paddling in the sun-warmed water, visit Mojama, a chic beachside restaurant and bar with outside seating that spills onto the sand.
Order a selection of ultra-fresh dishes, such as shrimp tartare, braised artichokes, and fried cuttlefish, and relax with an ice-cold beer.
Playa de Venus, Marbella
Playa de Venus is a spectacular beach in upmarket Marbella, one of the best beach towns in Spain. To reach Playa de Venus, detour via the mountainside hamlet of Mijas, one of Andalusia’s famous white towns, known as pueblos blancos. The journey takes one hour from the center of Malaga.
Mijas is perched 1,312 feet above the sea and is a maze of whitewashed houses, ceramic plant pots outside each one adding vivid pops of color.
As well as offering extraordinary mountain and sea views, Mijas is home to rows of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants and makes for a lovely stop to wander around, shop, and take in the views.
Back at sea level, Venus Beach is a sizzling spot with rows of parasols and sun loungers. Take a walk around Marbella Marina next to the beach. It’s one of the most atmospheric marinas in Spain, filled with glossy superyachts and surrounded by buzzing harborside restaurants and bars.
Playa de la Misericordia, Malaga
Malaga’s Playa de la Misericordia is known for its deep-hued sand and towering red-brick chimney, a 19th-century Spanish landmark.
This Blue Flag spot is also famous for a daily phenomenon that occurs on the beach with the coming and going of the Melilla to Málaga ferry service.
When the high-speed boat slows entering the port, it creates a quick-rising tide that washes over the shore. With this in mind, pick your bathing spot carefully.
Misericordia’s promenade is lined with palm trees and dining spots, from fast food to tapas and beach bars.
Playa de la Misericordia is also the location of Malaga’s Automotive Museum. If you’re a fan of classic cars call in to tour the exhibition.
Playa de Camposoto, Cadiz
Playa de Camposoto unravels on the coast of Southern Spain, ensconced within Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park.
Camposoto is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Spain, but it’s also one of the longest at five and a half miles. This westerly-facing sweep is popular with windsurfers who ride the gentle waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Walk to the southern end of the strip to two former World War II bunkers flanked by swathes of sand dunes, leading to Playa del Castillo and Sancti Petri Castle Island.
Visitors could also explore some of Bahía de Cádiz’s maze of salt mines, estuaries, and lagoons behind the shoreline. Look out for some of the region’s migratory birds: little terns, osprey, coots, waders, cormorants, and seagulls.
Playa de Santa María del Mar, Cadiz
While Playa de Santa María del Mar doesn’t boast the background of Cadiz’s charming old town, it remains a fantastic stretch to enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
Two narrow rocky outcrops carve out the boundaries of Playa de Santa María del Mar, with access to the shore via a spiral staircase or a ramp from the promenade.
Once on the sand, gaze towards the old quarter from the beach and stroll south towards Victoria Beach, the next stretch along.
There are fewer facilities on and near Playa de Santa María del Mar, which is part of its draw, although beachgoers will find a couple of casual tapas bars and restaurants a short walk from the beach on the promenade.
Playa de la Costilla, Cadiz
Playa de la Costilla is an instant mood lifter. Located on Cadiz’s north shore in the pristine resort of Rota, midway between the Portuguese and Gibraltar borders, Playa de la Costilla has a beautiful, untouched feel.
Sink into the superfine sand and enjoy a refreshing Atlantic swim in the Bay of Cadiz. Lounge on a section of the two-and-a-half-mile beach or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade.
Add on a visit to the medieval Castillo de Luna, nestled among the whitewashed houses of the town’s old quarter to the south of Playa de la Costilla. The castle was built in the 13th century on the remains of a Moorish fortress.
El Palo Beach, Malaga
Lying between Pedregalejo and El Chanquete beaches, El Palo is a long shore with a series of rocky outcrops.
As a prominent fishing neighborhood, the charming houses lying behind the beach are mostly former or existing fishermen’s homes, perfectly located to face the bobbing boats in the bay. Due to the neighborhood’s more local feel, you’ll see mainly locals on this stretch of sand.
With shallow swells, El Palo is ideal for enjoying a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. There are plenty of casual restaurants and bars around to enjoy a relaxing post-swim meal. Look out for the local delicacy: Sardine espetos, or sardine skewers, grilled by vendors right on the beach.
Playa de Bolonia, Cadiz
Fragrant pine forests and soaring white dunes frame Tarifa’s Playa de Bolonia, snuggled in El Estrecho Natural Park, just an hour’s drive south of Cadiz.
Pack a towel to swim in the clear turquoise water. There are several beach bars and places to find a decent meal.
If you have a penchant for history, there’s another good reason to visit Playa de Bolonia; the remains of an ancient Roman city lying behind the beach.
Ruins include ancient baths, a theater, an aqueduct, salt factories, columns, and gates. The Claudia Baelo Archaeological Museum and visitor center feature archeological exhibits of items found on the site, including marble inscriptions, statues, and ceramics.
Playa La Malagueta, Malaga
If you’re looking for a southern Spanish beach close to Malaga’s action-packed center, choose Playa La Malagueta.
La Malagueta is one of Malaga’s best beaches for combining culture with coastline. It’s within a 25-minute walk of Malaga’s atmospheric old town and sights such as the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, and Municipal Heritage Museum.
Closer still is the eye-catching Centre Pompidou Malaga, a modern art museum that resembles a giant Rubik’s Cube, located next to the harbor.
If your idea of a relaxing vacation is to lie back on a sun lounger under a thatched parasol, there’s plenty of opportunity for that, too. There’s also a waterpark, watersports, and some legendary Andalusian restaurants, including El Merendero de Antonio Martín.
Soak in the sound of the sea as you dine on the freshest local cuisine, featuring shrimp, squid, anchovy, and red tuna dishes. Delicious salads crafted with Andalusia’s finest produce, such as tomatoes, avocados, and artichokes, are also popular here.
Playa de Burriana, Nerja
Before relaxing on Playa de Burriana, spend time exploring Nerja. This former fishing village is set around a series of coves and beaches punctuated by rocky cliffs dotted with ancient Moorish watchtowers.
Marvel at the town’s jaw-dropping aqueduct, a feat of 19th-century engineering to the east of the town. Browse the items on display at the Museum of the village of Nerja, including items found in the Nerja caves.
Nerja’s pretty streets are lined with shops, restaurants, ice-cream vendors, and cafés, leading toward the main beach, Playa Burriana. This lively spot has playgrounds, sunbeds, and kayaks, and a string of restaurants on the attractive promenade.
Playa Peñón del Cuervo, Malaga
This small but perfectly-formed patch is an effortless 20 minutes from central Malaga.
The photogenic Playa Peñón del Cuervo is characterized by the giant rock formation that rises from the shore in the middle of the beach.
One of the most scenic coastal hikes in Spain, the Gran Senda de Málaga, hugs this section of shoreline. Cover a short section of this glorious trail, which covers over 400 miles of Malaga’s sun-dappled coast.
There are no beach bars or restaurants and few other amenities around, a big draw if you’re looking for a more untouched beach to relax on.
Playa Casablanca, Marbella
Seek out Marbella’s Playa Casablanca in Nagüeles if you’re looking for a quieter stretch than the resort’s main shore.
The enticing Playa Casablanca, backed by a thicket of palm trees, extends one mile alongside an immaculate promenade. Each summer, an inflatable aqua park provides plenty of entertainment just offshore.
Restaurante Trocadero is a lovely spot for a delicious lunch of zesty ceviches, infused clams, and fried red mullet, with a backdrop of delectable sea views.
It’s no secret that southern Spain is scattered with impeccable, postcard-worthy beaches. If you’re longing to feel the sun on your face and sand between your toes, explore Celebrity Cruises’ Spain cruises.