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Help picking Spanish beach town

Hi there- Trying to find the best beach town for a few days R&R. We are splitting 7 days between this yet to be determined beach town and 3 nights in Barcelona. I tried searching the forums but couldn't find what we are looking for.

It really does not matter where it is along the coast- seems like much of the south coast is overly developed and that is not what we are looking for.

Im looking for a nice family friendly town- not super touristy. Have kids from 9-14. Don't need nightlife or crazy watersports- just nice beaches with good swimming, good exploring/hiking etc. more outdoorsy stuff than commercialization. Somewhere that is upscale- either town or specific hotel. We will either fly or drive from there to Barcelona. Pretty flexible- this is one part of a longer itinerary but really just want a nice family friendly town. For these 3-4 days only we are okay to splurge a bit.

Any help or ideas are much appreciated!

Posted by
1232 posts

Since you don't have very long and want to end in Barcelona, somewhere along the Costa Brava would make most sense. If you google that coast you'll get lots of suggestions. Perhaps Blanes would suit? But there are lots of options.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks -Yes have already googled/searched extensively and found lots of suggestions but none specifically about a town that would be right for our interests etc.

Posted by
2121 posts

Hi, I agree with Nick, somewhere close(ish) to Barcelona would be ideal, I have four suggestions:

Peñíscola - With its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the old town of Peñíscola sits on a big rock that juts out into the sea. The town is dominated by a large Knights Templar castle that looks like something out of the Crusades. Recently, Peñíscola was used as a filming location in the T.V. series Game of Thrones. Located in between Valencia and Barcelona.

Tarragona - ancient seaside town with very good Roman ruins, including an amphitheater, intact aqueduct (which you can walk over!), and Praetorium Tower, was once the capital of Roman Hispania (modern-day Spain). Tarragona's medieval old town is a delight to explore too. Adjacent is PortAventura World, the largest theme park in Spain.

Tossa de Mar - a very atmospheric coastal town on the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona. Tossa has an idyllic medieval setting as it is dominated by a clifftop castle and a small cobblestone old town. Many restaurants and hotels around here, can get quite packed with locals on holiday during the high summer months.

Calella de Palafrugell - a smaller beach town also on the Costa Brava. More laid back then Tossa de Mar. The town has twisting narrow whitewashed streets the lead up to the small craggy beaches, that are lined with the typical wooden fisherman boats of the Costa Brava. Great coastal hiking here along the Camino Ronda. A good daytrip from here are the ruins of the Ancient Greek colony of Emporion.

Hope this helps :)

Posted by
18412 posts

Assuming this is your first trip to Barcelona (ignore this post if it isn't), I can't resist asking:

Are you sure 3 nights in Barcelona will allow you to see everything you want to see there? So many of its most popular sights (not that you have to see them all, but many people seem to want to go to most of them) required purchase of timed tickets in advance, so you can't just blitz through them by jogging from one to the next. You have to guess how much time you'll want at each place, how much time it will take you to get inside (despite your timed ticket), how much time it will take to walk from A to B, how much time you'll spend at lunch, etc. Given those uncertainties, a prudent visitor pads his schedule, meaning that it's not easy to pack in a lot of indoor sights each day. And Barcelona is such a lovely place just to walk around; it's a shame not to have time to do that. Three nights there will give you only two full days and some odd hours.

Posted by
903 posts

Definitely vote for the Costa Brava. It’s a short drive from BCN and has everything that you’re looking for. We stayed in Llafranc a couple of years ago and it was perfect. There are hiking trails that connect all of the villages along this area so you can hike back and forth.

Posted by
4305 posts

How about Nerja and Tarifa?

They're both quite far from Barcelona, particularly Tarifa and neither are particularly impressive, particularly Tarifa. I found Tarifa to be quite run down and uninteresting, I certainly wouldn't want to spend much time there.

Posted by
18412 posts

There have been water-safety issues in Nerja, but they may have been resolved by now.

It looks as if it would take over 6 hours to get from Tarifa or Nerja to Barcelona if one flew (from Malaga), and over 8 hours if one didn't want to get back on an airplane after only 4 days in Europe. The train just from Malaga to Barcelona takes about 6 hours. And it's not like the southern coast is nicer than the coast of Catalunya; quite the contrary.

On the other hand, we probably should be asking what time of the year this trip is to be taken.

Posted by
3047 posts

Maybe I missed the time of year you’ll be there, but that will partially determine how many tourists are there. With the little time you have, Costa Brava seems like a good fit. Nerja and Tarifa are too far away for your limited time. I can’t think of any stretch of coast in the Barcelona to Valencia area that isn’t overdeveloped. Carlos outlined some good options.