Portugal’s long Atlantic coast gently blends with the warm and tranquil waters of the Spanish coast, forming a beautiful blue landscape that invites both relaxation and leisure. Don’t hesitate, get your bathing suit and the kid’s floats, and into the water!
Text: SANDRA ZÚÑIGA
Summer is the best time of the year to appreciate the small things in life that are enjoyable. A towel for spending a morning under the sun, a strawberry ice cream to quench the thirst, or easier yet: a shovel and a rake that will entertain the kids for hours on the shore. And what better place for all this than on the nearby coasts. Here you will find beaches for everyone, starting at the Portuguese Algarve and ending on the Galician coastline. White sand, moments of fun and endless memories that will remain with your family.
The Portuguese Coast
Golden sand and crystal-clear water are the main features of the Algarve beaches. The coastline has over 150 kilometres, and is especially known for its diversity. Relax in the cool breeze of Cape St. Vincent or head over to Lagos to savour exquisite fish. Swim with the kids, sail or just have a quiet dip. The beaches have lifeguards and flags that tell you how safe it is to swim and the water quality. The Algarve also has other attractions for kids such as the zoo or amusement parks.
The coast of Lisbon is one of Portugal’s main tourism centres. It has a gentle climate, many hours of sun and countless beautiful landscapes. Costa Caparica is one of the places most visited by locals and tourists alike; the best way to travel around Lisbon and to beach areas such as Cascais, is to take the train. At Cascais, as well as the beach you can also take a bicycle ride on the endless bicycle lane that goes all along the playa Guincho coastline. The Maçãs Beach is a great leisure centre for bathing and sunbathing, and an excellent place from which to admire the view between the mountains and the Atlantic. One of Portugal’s most beautiful places that should not be missed is the famous Cape Roca, the most western point of continental Europe and Lisbon’s most famous tourist attraction.
Discover the beaches of Porto Covo or Almograve, a quiet and isolated area where you can get away from it all. Another paradisiacal corner is the Zambujeira beach, a long stretch of clear water and golden sand, where all sorts of amenities are provided. You can also practise sports like surf, thanks to the waves in some areas, or even scuba diving in the waters of Comporta or Santo André. There is kayaking at the Melides Lagoons or you can alternate bathing with excursions on horseback or on foot, admiring the coast.
The Spanish Coasts
In Southern Spain
The southern coast stands out thanks to its richness, diversity and the many blue flags that are a guarantee that the beaches fulfil the requirements of quality, safety, health and wellbeing for bathers. The Costa de la Luz is a great example, it goes from Tarifa to Ayamonte and if you are looking for exotic landscapes, this is your best option. The dunes are the main attraction on the Huelva coast. At El Rompido, a small fishing village, there is a sandbank running parallel to the coast for 10 kilometres. Cadiz, on the other hand, attracts younger tourists, thanks to the waves rustled up by the Gibraltar Strait winds. As for the Costa del Sol, its excellent climate and lack of wind affords many enjoyable beach days. The western area is more cosmopolitan, with towns such as Torremolinos, Marbella, Fuengirola or Estepona, whereas the eastern area attracts more rural tourism, ideal for family and traditional holidays, with top quality amenities, such as Nerja, Torre del Mar and Torrox. Regarding gastronomy, delicious fried fish is the typical fare at the beach restaurants. Between the Costa del Sol and the Coast of Almeria you will find the Costa Tropical, in Granada, an amazing stretch of beaches, coves and crystal clear water that is perfect for swimming with the kids.
Costa Brava and Costa Daurada
The Costa Brava borders onto the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees, and it belongs to the province of Girona.
Its climate, nature, history and the blue waters on its beaches attract thousands of visitors every year. Get ready to delight in lovely beaches with golden sand, surrounded by unique landscapes and offering all sorts of amenities for the whole family. Its modern tourism infrastructure makes the Costa Brava one of Spain’s main tourist destinations.
Cambrils, in the middle of the Costa Daurada, next to Tarragona, is another ideal destination for the family. Its gentle orography makes it recommendable for the little ones, as it is easy to keep an eye on them while they run up and down without any danger. The water at L’Horta Santa María Beach is calm, protected by breakwaters out at sea. Another good option is the Regueral beach, only a few metres from the city centre. This is an important surf area that also has a nautical centre and sports zone with kids’ play areas. L’Ardiaca, la Llosa, La Riera, el Esquirol, Vilafortuny and Cap de Sant Pere are all beaches along the gentle line that separates Cambrils from the sea. They are all equipped with boardwalks, showers, lifeguard, signs advising of the swimming conditions, access for disabled persons and buses to get there.
The Galician Coast
The Galician coast is over 1,600 km. long, and contains many cliffs and beaches. One of the main attractions of the Galician coast are the Rias Bajas, which occupy the western coast of the La Coruña province and the whole coast of Pontevedra, from Cape Finisterre to the Portuguese border. Of course, we can not forget the Cíes Islands, in the heart of the Rias Baixas, forming a natural barrier between the Vigo Ria and the sea. A paradise to be discovered with the family.
Tourism in Spain
If you want to know more about the Spanish coasts, you can check out the official Spanish Tourism website www.spain.info/Tourspain, where you will find all the information you need on the beaches and coasts of all of Spain, from north to south and from east to west. You will also find information on all of the Spanish communities, as well as recommendations and places that you should not miss if you travel to Spain.
Tourism in Portugal
You can find information on the coasts of Portugal on the official Portuguese Tourism website www.visitportugal.com. Plan your trip and find out all that you need to know on the best destinations and what to visit.
If the sea fascinates you, the Spanish nautical centres offer fun activity programmes for any time of the year. You can practise any type of water sports, regardless of your expertise. Kayak, jet-skis, surf, parasailing or kitesurf are some of the activities offered. Relaxation is also very important, therefore fifteen of the twenty-one nautical centres offer spa amenities. Most of the centres also have activities on land, such as golf, trails on horseback or 4×4 and hiking. You will have a great time with the kids.
Gibraltar, to the South of Europe
Gibraltar’s tourist attractions are concentrated on scarcely 6 square kilometres. It is surprising to find British exactness in Southern Europe, and this contrast is a magnet for visitors. No one should leave Gibraltar without having had the experience of riding on the cable car, visiting the top of the rock and seeing the monkeys, the star attraction, because Gibraltar is the only place in the world where these animals live wild. The San Miguel cave, the Alameda Botanical Garden and dolphin watching are other activities that should not be missed. Remember that the currency is the Gibraltar Pound.