Let’s not kid ourselves, the east coast of Spain is one of the main reasons why millions of people visit Spain every tourist season. With some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, interesting historical landmarks, beautiful nature, and rich culture, the Spain east coast has something in store for everyone. However, most people flock to Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, or go partying in Ibiza, leaving a lot of interesting destinations in the east of Spain relatively unfrequented.
That’s what this post is all about, so if you’re planning an eastern Spain road trip or are wondering what are some of the most beautiful east coast beaches in Spain, keep reading; we’ll help you plan the perfect Spain east coast road trip.
The easiest way to get to the east of Spain is obviously by air. The largest international airports in the region are located in Barcelona, Valencia, and Alicante but there are also airports in Girona and Reus. If you’re booking an overseas flight, you can use this special offer by Qatar Airways to save up to 30% on all flights to Spain.
Alternatively, you can also travel by train. The large cities like Barcelona and Valencia are connected to most other large cities in Spain and there are a lot of lines running every day. You can also travel by bus; use our Busbud discount code (for more info, check out our Busbud review) to save on all bus journeys in Spain.
But frankly, in my opinion, the best option to explore the Spain east coast is by car. You can use AutoEurope to compare deals from rental car companies across the region and always make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Best time to visit Eastern Spain
Most people take a Spain east coast road trip during the summer, and even though the coast is beautiful around this time of the year, if you want to avoid the crowds, perhaps it’s best to visit during late fall (April/May) or early autumn (September/October). The weather is perfect around May and September and you can go to the beach and experience the best of Spain’s east coast without the crowds. One could argue that even visiting during winter isn’t a bad idea because the temperatures are mild and bearable unlike most other places in Europe.
A few things to arrange in advance
If you’re visiting during the peak season, booking your accommodation in advance is a must. To get some good deals, you can use our booking.com discount coupon to save up to 15% on all properties in the region. Alternatively, if you’re looking to stay in hostels, you can use our voucher for Hostelworld to save even more. And last but not least, if you’re a fan of Vrbo, you can use this special offer to get $50 off your first booking.
Another thing you’ll want to arrange in advance is travel insurance. In fact, travel insurance is mandatory for all international visitors visiting Spain. If you come from a country that requires a visa, travel insurance is one of the conditions for getting one. My personal choice for travel insurance is always World Nomads. It’s slightly more expensive than most other providers but it’s actually cheaper when you compare what all they cover for the price they’re offering vis-à-vis their competitors.
Top experiences in Eastern Spain
If you need help planning your Eastern Spain itinerary but have only a few days to explore the region, here’s a shortlist of some of the main attractions.
- Walk La Rambla and explore the streets of Barcelona;
- Check out the Sagrada Familia;
- See the singing fountains of Montjuic;
- Visit the Cathedral of Girona;
- Check out the Roman Amphitheatre of Tarragona;
- See Salvador Dali’s House in Cadaques;
- Explore Parque Natural D’Albera;
- Tour the Gaudi Centre in Reus;
- Experience the nature of the Ebro Delta;
- Check out Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, a state-of-the-art science and culture park in Valencia;
- See the Central Market of Valencia;
- Visit the Valencia Cathedral (supposedly home to the Holy Grail);
- Party in Ibiza;
- Enjoy the beaches of Alicante;
- Go diving in Calp and explore Parque Natural Penyal de Ifac;
- Take a photo at the Hanging Houses of Cuenca.
Enjoying this post? You may also like this list of interesting facts about Spain.
Planning an itinerary for the Spain east coast
In my opinion, if you want to fully explore the east coast of Spain, you’d need at least 3 weeks. However, I understand that most people don’t have the luxury of time when traveling and I’ll do my best to give you some helpful tips suggestions of places to visit on the Spain east coast. The places on this list are arranged chronologically from north to south and if you follow them, you’ll come across a comprehensive Eastern Spain itinerary but even if you don’t have the time to visit all of these places, hopefully, this post will help you choose what’s best for your upcoming Spain east coast road trip.
The nature of Parque Natural D’Albera
The Albera mountain range is located in the easternmost section of the Pyrenees Peninsula and it covers the area from Le Perthus to the sea. The park forms a large part of the Franco-Spanish frontier since 1659 and it separates the vast plains of Emporda and Roussillon. The highest peaks in the range are Puig Neulos (1257 meters), Puig dels Pastors (1167 meters), and Puig dels Quatre Termes (1156 meters). A part of the park is a designated Natural Zone that has been declared as a point of national interest because of its rich flora and fauna.
The white-washed village of Cadaqués
If you ever venture towards the easternmost point of the Costa Brava, you’ll discover the remote village of Cadaques, a charming white-washed village that resembles Santorini, where you can truly experience the laid-back atmosphere of the Mediterranean.
In addition to this, the city is also famous for lush nature, crystal-clear waters, and for being home to Casa Salvador Dali. However, Dali wasn’t the only artist to spend time in Cadaques. The village was also visited by Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte on several different occasions and if you decide to visit, you’ll see why Cadaques was a favorite vacation spot for many worldwide-famous artists.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Cadaques.
The birthplace of Dali, Figueres
Even though technically it doesn’t lie on the coast, Figueres is another beautiful town in the northeast of Spain that’s worth visiting. The city is most famous for being the birthplace of Salvador Dali and the Salvador Dali Museum is perhaps the biggest attraction in Figueres. In addition to this, there are a few interesting historical landmarks that are a must-visit, including Sant Ferran Castle, the beautiful Gothic Parish church of St. Peter, and the Technical Museum of the Empordà, home to a rich collection of antique typewriters.
The charming old town of King’s Landing (Girona)
Girona is the capital of the homonymous province and a town that’s viewed by most tourists as a great day trip destination from Barcelona. The city became even more famous after the city was used to portray scenes of Braavos and King’s Landing for HBO’s Game of Thrones. And even though this made Girona very famous, the city has a lot more offer than the GoT shooting locations.
The city is home to the Girona Cathedral, a beautiful ancient cathedral, turned to a mosque, turned back into a cathedral that’s one of the most vibrant samples of Catalan Gothic architecture, as well as strong old fortifications that have been protecting Girona for centuries, and last but not least, one of the most charming old towns in this part of Spain.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Girona.
Spain’s most vibrant city, Barcelona
There’s a good reason why Barcelona is regularly one of the most visited cities in the world year after year. It’s home to some of Spain’s most marvelous architectural masterpieces, the miraculously beautiful Gothic Quarter, the fairytale-like Guel park, possibly the world’s most famous cathedral in La Sagrada Familia, amazing food, beautiful viewpoints, charming beaches, arguably the most vibrant street in Spain (La Ramblas), but also a lot of hidden gems and non-touristy places that are worth visiting.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Barcelona.
The cultural hub, Sitges
Located 45 minutes outside of Barcelona, Sitges is a beautiful coastal town famous for its beaches, history, and the Sitges Film Festival. The city was the heart of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and even today, it’s one of Spain’s main art hubs. In addition to the film festival, Sitges is also home to the famous Sitges Cultural Festival, the Sitges Carnival (one of the world’s most vibrant ones), and the annual gay pride parade (the city is one of the most queer-friendly cities in Spain). So, if you’re looking to add some culture to your trip, Sitges is a great choice.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Sitges.
The best place for Roman ruins, Tarragona
Tarragona is another beautiful coastal town with a rich history. If you’re a fan of ancient Roman history, Tarragona is probably the second place you’d want to visit in Spain after Merida. I say that because Merida is the only city in Spain that has more Roman-era ruins/monuments than Tarragona. In addition to its rich history, Tarragona is also blessed with warm weather, sunshine throughout the year, and its location in the heart of Catalonia’s Costa Durada (Golden Coast).
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Tarragona.
The finest wine of the east coast, Reus
If you like wine, Reus is one of the best destinations along the Spain east coast when it comes to wine and culinary tourism. The city has always been one of Spain’s main wine-producing cities but nowadays, it’s also one of the main rock-climbing destinations on the east coast of Spain, and it’s also famous for being the birthplace of Antoni Gaudi, the architect of the iconic Sagrada Familia.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Reus.
The untouched nature of the Ebro Delta
If you’re taking a complete east coast of Spain road trip, venturing south from Barcelona and getting to the Ebro Delta is a must. Sure, you might be wondering why would you want to see a river delta when there are so many beautiful beaches on the east coast of Spain, but trust me it’s worth it. The delta is one of the rare pieces of untouched rural beauty on the Spain east coast.
You can click photos of flamingos (or some of the other 330 species of birds that inhabit the delta), explore the sand dunes and windswept beaches, see rice paddies, take a boat ride, or relax at some of the many mirror-like lagoons. Whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
A little bit of everything, Valencia
Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain and the second-most visited city on the east coast of Spain. It’s the birthplace of paella, beautiful beaches, rich history, and a myriad of interesting museums and landmarks. The city has been around since the beginning of the Roman Empire, it survived the Visigoths, the Moors, the Habsburgs, Napoleon, and the Spanish Civil War, and for a brief period of time, it was the capital of Spain on two separate occasions (in 1812 and in 1936-1937).
Many people compare Valencia to Barcelona but I would say that the two offer a very different experience and visiting Valencia is a must.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Valencia.
Partying at Ibiza
Ibiza is probably the most famous islands in Spain and even though there are a few hidden places in Spain that I would much rather visit than party in Ibiza, visiting Spain’s most famous party island should be on your list if you’re taking a Spain east coast road trip for the first time.
In addition to crazy parties, and 24-hour clubs, Ibiza is also home to a stunning fortified medieval old town sitting atop a cliff offering some of the most amazing views of the Mediterranean, a beautiful natural park, Ses Salines Natural Park, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, including the iconic Cala d’Hort, a crescent-shaped beach with golden shores.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Ibiza.
Relax at the beaches of Mallorca
No Spain east coast itinerary could be complete without spending some time on the beaches of Mallorca. In my opinion, Mallorca has some of the best beaches and most amazing views of the Mediterranean but that’s not all. The island is also home to some iconic landmarks like the Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca, ,Castell de Bellver, and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, and some scenic natural beauties like the caves of Drach and Hams, the iconic Cap de Formentor, and the beautiful La Calobra canyon.
Discover the gem called Dénia
Denia is one of the less frequented cities on our list and the reason for that is still unclear to me. Denia is a beautiful coastal town with beaches as beautiful as any other city in the region, it can definitely pass as a foodie destination, it has a charming old town with colorful houses, beautiful surrounding nature at Montgo Natural Park, and a fair share of historical sites, including an 11th-century Moorish fortress.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Denia.
A luxurious vacation in Calpe
If you’re looking for a premier luxury destination on the Spain east coast, Calpe is always a safe choice. It’s home to some of the finest upmarket resorts on the east coast and most of the hotels here have four or five stars. Calpe is divided by two large bays that sprawl either side of it and this is one of the most picturesque views you’ll see on the east coast of Spain. Moreover, Calpe’s skyline is dominated by a giant limestone emerging from the sea called Penon de Ifach with the charming old town to the south and a more recently developed tourist area called Playa Levante to the north.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Calpe.
Get off the coast to see the hanging houses (Cuenca)
Technically, Cuenca isn’t a part of the east coast of Spain but if you’re taking a road trip along the east coast of Spain, you may want to consider taking a short detour. Cuenca is roughly two hours away from the coast but you can get there even faster via a high-speed train from Valencia. The city is famous for Casas Colgadas (hanging houses) that dominate the skyline of Cuenca. The origin of these houses is unclear but we know that these types of houses were quite common along the eastern border of the ancient city. Today, however, only a handful of hanging houses are still standing.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Cuenca.
A budget vacation, Benidorm
Benidorm is a backpacker’s favorite because it offers the best of Spain’s east coast on a budget. Even though the landscape is quite similar to Calpe, Benidorm is the exact opposite. Instead of an expensive resort town, Benidorm markets itself as a backpacker’s destination. Unlike most other cities on our list, Benidorm doesn’t have many fascinating tourist sites but the beautiful beaches, warm weather, and cheap prices make up for it.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Benidorm.
The vibrant atmosphere of Alicante
Many people who view Alicante as a charming beach town don’t realize this but this is actually the third-largest city on the Spain east coast behind Barcelona and Valencia. And sure, Alicante has some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain but it also has some other things.
The city is home to Santa Bárbara Castle, situated on Mount Benacantil giving an amazing view of the city, one of the most lovely promenades in Spain, Explanada de España, a colorful old town (Barrio de la Santa Cruz), and if that’s not enough, there are two natural parks within the city’s borders in L’Ereta and El Palmeral Park.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Alicante.
Some history and palm trees in Elche
Elche is a beautiful historic city located roughly 15 kilometers from the coast but I believe it deserves a special mention. It’s the third-largest city in the Valencia province (behind Valencia and Alicante) and is home to a handful of worth-visiting historical sites, including UNESCO World Heritage Site Palmeral of Elche (an orchard of over 200,000 palm trees), the majestic Altamira Castle, very well-preserved old roman baths, and a few interesting museums.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Elche.
Spa at Los Alcazares (and el Mar Menor)
Los Alcazares is the perfect last stop for your Spain east coast road trip. It’s a former fishing village turned into a laid-back coastal town famous for its spas. The town lies on the western side of Mar Menor 15 kilometers away from the border of Murcia and Valencia. Technically, the town is a part of Murcia which is most often classified under the south of Spain but since the city lies on the western side of Spain’s most famous lagoon (Mar Menor), looking at the map, it makes more sense to count Los Alcazares as a part of the Spain east coast.
The town went through some dramatic changes in the last few decades but today it’s a premier destination for holidaymakers with beautiful beaches, spas, warm weather throughout the year, and an average of 320 sunny days per year.
Los Alcazares is also a short ride away from Cartagena, also making it a great starting (or ending point) for a Southern Spain itinerary. If you want to learn more about that region of Spain, check out our Southern Spain road trip guide.
If you’re planning to visit, here are some great deals on hotels in Los Alcazares.
How did you like our Spain east coast itinerary? Did you ever visit the east coast of Spain? Which are some of your favorite places in the region? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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