If summers on the coast, golden beaches, blue waters, friendly hospitality combined with amazing food appeals to you, Portugal and Spain are sure to have exactly what you seek for your next summer holiday. Short flights from home, affordable prices, suitable destinations for families, couples, nature-lovers, and culture enthusiasts alike, these countries have always been two of the favourites for a perfect beach holiday in Europe.
Read our experts' pick of the top destinations in Spain and Portugal that are sure to be exactly what you seek for your next beach break.
A selection of the best places to go for a beach holiday in Spain
Europe’s sunniest country, with dry summers and warm winters, Spain is an obvious choice for beach vacations. The Mediterranean Sea will never disappoint you, and Majorca, Lanzarote and Ibiza are among the three favourite destinations to visit in Spain.
If you are looking for long days at the beach, attractions on your doorstep and a range of bars and clubs that are open until sunrise, destinations like Marbella, Barcelona and Ibiza are ideal for you.
Being the largest and most developed of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has always been a selected destination for those seeking both nightlife and some tranquillity. Home to one of the most important harbours in the Atlantic Ocean, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the bustling capital of the island. Spending a summer holiday here gives you the opportunity to not only enjoy a perfect beach holiday, but also spend days exploring quirky shops, museums, attractive architecture, botanical gardens and excellent restaurants, and unspoiled palm-lined beaches dotted with an expanse of golden sand.
The majority of the beaches in Spain are packed with tourists, but if you prefer to escape to secluded havens, usually only known by the locals, there are still places to get away from the crowds, that should be part of any avid travellers’ bucket list. Only a few miles away from Malaga, Nerja is one of the best kept secrets of the Costa del Sol. The water is exceptionally clean and teemed with fish, ideal for snorkelling, with a natural landscape of cliffs and hills characterising this beach, this is the ideal setting to spending a relaxed day enjoying the sun.
A good alternative to crowded Majorca is Cala Llombards, a stunning beach destination, surrounded by pine trees and bushes, where the water is clear and shallow, making it suitable for younger visitors, with plenty of water sports opportunities.
Located in the north-east coast of Menorca, Es Grau is a charming fishing village set within a protected nature reserve rich in marine life, with a beautiful unspoilt natural beach, perfect for those looking for a hidden gem, and ideal for families with children.
Llafranc is a more exclusive part of the Costa Brava and relatively unknown by tourists, which makes this the perfect destination to catch some peace and quiet, outside some of the more chaotic Spanish beaches. This beach is part of a larger urban area which means that you will have many facilities available including hotels, bars and restaurants to choose from.
Where to go in Portugal for a beach holiday
Recognised for its rich marine heritage, cultural monuments, expansive sandy beaches, stunning views along the coast, charming villages, historic buildings and friendly hospitality, Portugal is an incredibly fascinating country.
With its popular resorts and the lowest prices in Europe, Algarve is one of the favourite beach location for holiday-makers. The beautiful coastline, golden beaches, modern hotels, and the range of restaurants and bars available make this a perfect choice for anyone who wants to enjoy a lovely chilled break, only a 3-hour flight from the UK. Portimao, Albufeira and Vilamoura offer a full range of facilities and attractions that have always been popular amongst tourists.
In the eastern coast of the Algarve you can find impressive islands such as Tavira and Armona, with many miles of sand, the perfect option if you are looking for a holiday in the sun tucked away from the crowds. Both islands can only be reached by boat, and are surrounded by glorious beaches with warm waters, providing amazing options for your next summer holiday.
The western Algarve, stretching from Lagos to Sagres is excellent for nature lovers and remains one of the least spoiled parts of the Algarve. Dramatic cliffs, breathtaking sea views and caves are the main characteristics of this area that will leave you amazed. Sagres is a truly tranquil fishing village with glorious beaches protected by high cliffs, a picturesque harbour at Baleeira, impressive hotels and a favourite destination for surfing, walking and cycling. This area of Algarve is cooler than the east side, providing a refreshing break from the summer heat.
Whilst the Algarve is very busy is summer months, a few miles along the coast is Costa Vicentina, an emerging affordable beach destination. The small towns of Zambujeira do Mar, Aljezur, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Porto Covo are coastal towns, that boast an overwhelming array of beaches, lovely seaside villages with traditional atmosphere and white picturesque buildings. Perfect to gateway to some incredible walks along the cost, enjoy breathtaking views, or just chill and unwind on one of the many hidden beaches. You may want to take the opportunity to visit Alentejo, an area sometimes compared with Tuscany, it is Portugal’s finest wine and food producing region with unspoilt villages, the perfect destination for wine and food lovers.
Going north, just a few miles from Lisbon, lies the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park, an area that boats stunning coastal scenery and secluded havens like Portinho da Arrábida and Galapos beaches, both still hidden secrets for many tourists.
Further down in the south with deserted sand dunes and magnificent views is Comporta beach. A holiday destination preferred by the wealthy Portuguese families, and famous names like Monica Belluci, Christian Louboutin and Madonna who have long been seduced by the charms of Portugal.
And you if you’re not content with just sitting back and relaxing, there’s plenty to do and see in Portugal too as it´s easy to combine a relaxing beach holiday with a cultural activity. Visit the capital Lisbon with its impressive monuments, cuisine and cultural activities, and dipping your toes in the nearest charming village of Cascais, a coastal town with sea front hotels, bustling beaches, impressive historic forts and variety of restaurants. A visit to this destination has to be high on any travellers list.
If these beach holiday destinations inspire you and want to know more, speak with our travel experts to help choose your perfect holiday in the sun.
In the meantime, to give you a helping hand, we've picked out some of the best deals not to be missed in Portugal and Spain, from Advantage Holidays. With flexibility of duration, peace of mind that someone is always available to offer support if anything goes wrong, the ability to find low cost flights with a range of quality hotels from 3 to 5 stars, all of these reasons and more will make your holiday very special and give you peace of mind. Plus, you can book your holiday now with as little as £50 deposit, which means that you will be able to spread the cost of your holiday.