When it comes to the Spanish Costas, us Brits and them get on pretty well. There’s nothing like the stunning white sands of the Costa Blanca or the endless fun of Torremolinos and ‘Marbs’ on the Costa del Sol, to get you in the holiday mood. However, these familiar Costas have an amazing extended family of coastal regions really worth getting to know, and with many hidden attractions and cultural secrets of their own, it may be time to reintroduce yourself…
Meet the Northern Costas…
Costa Verde – The Active One
Means: Green Coast
Climate: Mild with light winds and occasional rain – peak season highs of 25° and lows of 17°
Food/Drink: Gijon offers incredible seafood as the ‘Maritime Capital of the North’. The cities are also famed for their local variety of sidra (cider), which is served in ‘siderias’, poured from a great height into the glass to aerate the drink.
What to expect: This Costa features coves, inlets and windswept shorelines, whilst the Bay of Biscay provides more ‘beachy’ beaches and a milder climate. The cities of Oviedo and Gijon offer a tasty slice of traditional Spain, featuring rambling, Gothic architecture, natural vistas, and mountainous landscapes. The rugged coastline is perfect for outdoor adventure, hiking, rock-climbing, rambling and biking.
Known for: Asturias principality, adventure holidays and outdoor activities
What drink would you buy Costa Verde? A sidra of course!
What shoes would Costa Verde wear? Hiking boots
Costa Cantabria – The Outdoorsy One
Means: Cantabria Coast
Climate: Mild with light winds and occasional rain – peak season highs of 25° and lows of 18°
Food/Drink: Seafood is a speciality, including species of fish caught from the region’s rivers. Veal features in local dishes, as the hillscapes provide excellent cattle-grazing land.
What to expect: This Costa boasts a wild and lush shoreline with unspoilt beaches, quaint fishing ports and inlets for exploring. The scattering of holiday resorts proves popular with French and Spanish holidaymakers, rendering the culture authentic and traditional. A host of biospheres, wooded forest and the renowned Picos De Europa Park are perfect for wildlife spotting and hiking, whilst the majestic Cantabrian Mountains provide skiing opportunities.
Known for: Natural landscapes, Picos de Europa and traditional fishing ports.
What drink would you buy Costa Cantabria? A glass of Rioja
What shoes would Costa Cantabria wear? Comfortable walking shoes
Meet the Southern Costas…
Costa Tropical – The Musical One
Means: Tropical Coast
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 34° and lows of 20°
Food/Drink: Sample the locally grown tropical fruits including pineapples, mangoes and custard apples to experience this Costa’s unique taste.
What to expect: Boasting a rocky coastline of sandy coves, this Costa’s beaches offer minimal crowding and perfect diving opportunities. Set against the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, this region also offers incredible skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the colder months, and quaint, whitewashed villages and the buzzing city of Granada (home of Flamenco) in the warmer ones. History fans delight in the many ancient sites on offer, including the renowned Alhambra and San Miguel’s Castle.
Events: The International Guitar Festival in July in Cordoba features displays of traditional Flamenco and Spanish guitar.
Known for: Flamenco, tropical fruit crops and the Alhambra
What drink would you buy Costa Tropical? Whisky on the rocks
What shoes would Costa Tropical wear? Flamenco shoes!
Costa del Sol – The Sociable One
Means: Coast of Sun
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 35° and lows of 22° this Costa lives up to its name!
Food/Drink: Seafood is a speciality here, especially ‘Chiringuitos’ (open-air beachside restaurants), cooking fish direct from the sea on open coals. Everyone’s favourite cold soup, Gazpacho, also originated here.
What to expect: This perennially popular holiday destination offers countless beach options, many coming with all-inclusive resorts attached. Torremolinos and Benalmadena are always a draw for holidaying families, whilst the famous Marbella is frequented by celebrities (and the TOWIE cast), living by the rule of ‘no carbs before Marbs’, and enjoying the non-stop nightlife and beach events. Home to 300,000 expats, the culture here is an exciting melange of different influences, whilst the city of Malaga still retains a traditional Spanish atmosphere as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. For thrill-seekers, watersports are always on offer from jet-skiing to the humble banana boat, and the Malaga coastline is a little-known hot-spot for paragliding.
Events: July’s Starlite Festival in Marbella mixes music, fashion, film and gastronomy. Festival San Juan takes place along the coast throughout June and July, with all-night parties and beach bonfires.
Known for: Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Marbella, sunshine and beautiful beaches
What drink would you buy Costa del Sol? A glass of prosecco
What shoes would Costa del Sol wear? White stilettos
Costa de la Luz – The Exotic One
Means: Coast of Light
Climate: Hot with light winds – peak season highs of 30° and lows of 19°, around 12 hours of daylight. in summer
Food/Drink: This area is home to a number of Moroccan expats, so the cuisine is influenced by Moroccan spices and cooking methods.
What to expect: With swathes of white sand beaches lined with lush palm trees and undulating dunes, this is a relatively little known destination with holidaymakers other than the Spanish themselves– private beach anyone? On a clear day it is possible to see across the sea to Tangiers, and indeed the scenery of this Costa is its greatest boast, with rolling green hills, verdant shoreline and wild, rambling landscapes. Sierra de Grazalema National Park is the perfect place to spot wildlife, whilst history buffs can be entertained by wandering through ancient Roman settlements. The Atlantic winds also make this Costa a hit with surfers!
Events: Exaltacion al Rio Guadalquivir takes place in August, celebrating the river Guadalquivir and features horse-racing on the beach.
Known for: Unique light, Grazalema National Park and surfing.
What drink would you buy Costa de la Luz? A Caipirinha
What shoes would Costa de la Luz wear? Espadrilles
Meet the Eastern Costas…
Costa Brava – The Foodie One
Means: Rugged/Wild Coast
Climate: Mild and dry – peak season highs of 25° and lows of 17°
Food/Drink: Home to ElBulli, the ‘best restaurant in the world’ and thirteen Michelin-Starred restaurants, this Costa really knows its food.
What to expect: Costa Brava boasts a magnificent, rugged coastline of sandy and stony beaches with excellent diving conditions around Illes Medes. This region was popular with artists including Dali, Miro and Picasso, owing to the uniquely enchanting scenery at the foothills of the Pyrenees and Catalan culture. Traditional architecture is also within easy reach in the towns of both Girona and, of course, Barcelona.
Events: The Human Tower festival in June is as incredible as it sounds, whilst Catalan festivals take place all year round.
Known for: World-class cuisine, Barcelona and Catalonian culture
What drink would you buy Costa Brava? A fine vintage red
What shoes would Costa Brava wear? Leather loafers
Costa Daurada – The Laidback One
Means: Golden Coast
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 30° and lows of 20°
Food/Drink: There are a number of local dishes to sample, including ‘Rossejat de Fideus’ (noodle based paella) and a tangy salt-cod salad.
What to expect: This Costa boasts swathes of golden sand beaches, the longest being a whopping 140km. Known for its tranquil and peaceful atmosphere, historically beautiful locations including the red-bricked city of Tarragona and up-and-coming golf destination status, this Costa is also bordered by beautiful Vineyards. This serene image is juxtaposed by the renowned PortAventura holiday park, but relaxation resumes with stretches of wild lagoon and marshland in the south, which make incredible bird-watching destinations.
Events: Pau Casals classical music festival in July/August and family summer activities take place in Miami Platja throughout June, July and August.
Known for: Golden sand, golfing holidays and PortAventura.
What drink would you buy Costa Daurada? A white wine spritzer
What shoes would Costa Daurada wear? Golf shoes!
Costa del Azahar – The Au-Naturel One
Means: Orange Blossom Coast
Climate: Hot and wet in early summer – peak season highs of 30° and lows of 23°
Food/Drink: Famous for its production of citrus fruit, the cuisine here consists of hearty and warming mountainside dishes with zesty, tangy twists.
What to expect: This Costa features some developed resorts with beautiful beaches, but mostly small fishing towns, charismatic shoreline and unspoilt coastal scenery. Mountainside villages and fishing ports provide authentic, traditional culture, and Roman ruins historical exploration. Home to many nature reserves and biospheres, the wildlife spotting and bird watching opportunities are plentiful, but the best way to enjoy this Costa is to sit back, relax and let it come to you.
Events: Festival Internacional de Benicassim, one of Europe’s largest music festivals in July.
Known for: Orange blossom groves, unspoilt scenery and Festival Internacional de Benicassim.
What drink would you buy Costa del Azahar? A bellini
What shoes would Costa del Azahar wear? Elegant sandals
Costa Blanca – The Fun One
Means: White Coast
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 32° and lows of 27°
Food/Drink: If there’s any Costa that knows its way around a paella, it’s this one.
What to expect: Costa Blanca is home to miles of white sand beaches and private resorts, popular with holidaymakers the world over. One of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, the coastline boasts countless resorts with vibrant nightlife, theme-parks and built-up towns. Benidorm and Alicante are forever immortalised by Jonny Vegas and co. as especially popular with holidaying, sunburnt Brits -if you are looking to party, this Costa can help. Less known, is that Costa Blanca features more campsites than any other Spanish coastline and windsurfing, snorkelling and jet-skiing are perennially popular.
Events: Bous a la Mar (Bull Running) Festival takes place in July.
Known for: Benidorm and Alicante, year-round sun, incredible beaches and nightlife.
What drink would you buy Costa Blanca? A chilled lager
What shoes would Costa Blanca wear? Flip Flops
Costa Calida – The Sophisticated One
Means: Warm Coast
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 33° and lows of 29° and 315 days of sunshine every year.
Food/Drink: Famed for its vineyards, the wine and sangria here are regional specialities and must be sampled.
What to expect: This Costa offers a uniquely undulating coastline of golden sand beaches and some of the most beautiful scenery on the Spanish coast. Vineyard landscapes are ideal for strolling and wine-tasting, whilst Mar Menor mineral lagoon is a centre for water-sports. Lo Pagan is a large saltpan, and can offer relief from the hot and dry climate with a cheeky mud-bath. It is also perfect for the noble sport of bird-watching, home to wild flamingos among others.
Known for: Sun soaked micro-climate, vineyards and natural scenery
What drink would you buy Costa Calida? A sangria
What shoes would Costa Calida wear? Jimmy Choos
Costa Almeria – The Alternative One
Means: Almeria Coast
Climate: Hot and dry – peak season highs of 30° and lows of 22°
Food/Drink: This Costa specialises in tapas, and it is often served for free when wine or beer is ordered!
What to expect: This coastline is underpopulated, unspoilt and very popular with nudists – Playa Natura is the most renowned nudist site in Europe. Known for its intriguing landscape of lunar vistas, rock formations and dried up riverbeds, outdoor exploring here is essential. One of the most popular European film locations, much of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here!
Events: International Festival of Music and Dance in July
Known for: Nudist beaches, lunar landscapes and tapas.
What drink would you buy Costa Almeria? A local craft beer
What shoes would Costa Almeria wear? Bare feet!