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10 rugged beaches in northern Spain
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10 rugged beaches in northern Spain

Spain has the longest coastline in the European Union, with a shore that stretches 8,000 kilometers. One fourth of this coastline is located in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country but frosty water temperatures mean these golden beaches can only be enjoyed a few months of the year. So before the summer ends and the waters turn chilly, pay a visit to one of Spain’s spectacular destinations in the north

  • La Salvaje, Sopela in the Basque Country. Nestled between two soaring cliffs, this nudist beach is known for its big waves. Surfing and parapenting are unsurprisingly popular activities, as is sunbathing and splashing in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
    1La Salvaje, Sopela in the Basque Country. Nestled between two soaring cliffs, this nudist beach is known for its big waves. Surfing and parapenting are unsurprisingly popular activities, as is sunbathing and splashing in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. GETTY
  • Vilar, Ribeira in A Coruña. To reach this beach, visitors must pass through the Dunes of Corrubedo Natural Park. A short five minute walk from the parking lot will lead you to the sandy enclave. Visitors are banned from stepping on the vegetation that covers the dunes, which is an important breeding ground for the Kentish plover. Expect fine sand and heavy swells.
    2Vilar, Ribeira in A Coruña. To reach this beach, visitors must pass through the Dunes of Corrubedo Natural Park. A short five minute walk from the parking lot will lead you to the sandy enclave. Visitors are banned from stepping on the vegetation that covers the dunes, which is an important breeding ground for the Kentish plover. Expect fine sand and heavy swells. ALAMY
  • San Antonio, Llanes in Asturias. This tranquil cove can only be reached at low tide and by foot.The beach is protected from the waves and surrounded by lush green forestry. To get to San Antonio, visitors must follow a 700-meter long path down to the sea. Visitors can wait for a good moment to cross at the San Antonio hermitage.
    3San Antonio, Llanes in Asturias. This tranquil cove can only be reached at low tide and by foot.The beach is protected from the waves and surrounded by lush green forestry. To get to San Antonio, visitors must follow a 700-meter long path down to the sea. Visitors can wait for a good moment to cross at the San Antonio hermitage.
  • Valdearenas, Piélagos in Cantabria. Located within the Liencres Dunes and Quebrada Coast natural park, this beach features a long chain of sand dunes, formed by the wind and sediment brought in by the Pas River. With huge waves – make sure to stay close to the lifeguards – Valdearenas is also a major surfing mecca. The beach has enough parking for 820 cars.
    4Valdearenas, Piélagos in Cantabria. Located within the Liencres Dunes and Quebrada Coast natural park, this beach features a long chain of sand dunes, formed by the wind and sediment brought in by the Pas River. With huge waves – make sure to stay close to the lifeguards – Valdearenas is also a major surfing mecca. The beach has enough parking for 820 cars.
  • Picón, Ortigueira in A Coruña. The virgin cliffs of Lioba were peaceful until one of its park benches was named the most beautiful in the world. Now thousands of people come to see the idyllic spot. Just 800 meters beyond the park bench is Picón beach, a white sandy shore that’s best reached on foot. There are no lifeguards here so visitors should take care when entering the deep waters.
    5Picón, Ortigueira in A Coruña. The virgin cliffs of Lioba were peaceful until one of its park benches was named the most beautiful in the world. Now thousands of people come to see the idyllic spot. Just 800 meters beyond the park bench is Picón beach, a white sandy shore that’s best reached on foot. There are no lifeguards here so visitors should take care when entering the deep waters. ALAMY
  • Arenal de Morís, Caravia in Asturias. Overlooked by mountainous green slopes, this beach is defined by its feeling of remoteness. But don’t worry: civilization is not too far away. At the first and least wild part of the beach, there is the Las Gaviotas bar which offers smoked meat, goats cheese and caramelized onion. The Caravia Surf School also offers classes in the medium-sized waves.
    6Arenal de Morís, Caravia in Asturias. Overlooked by mountainous green slopes, this beach is defined by its feeling of remoteness. But don’t worry: civilization is not too far away. At the first and least wild part of the beach, there is the Las Gaviotas bar which offers smoked meat, goats cheese and caramelized onion. The Caravia Surf School also offers classes in the medium-sized waves.
  • Las Islas, Ribadeo in Lugo. While often overshadowed by the As Catedrais or Cathedral beach, Las Islas is a postcard-perfect spot to go for a swim. Like As Catedrais, it is a great example of how the sea has eroded the cliffs, featuring five rock formations rising from the surf. One of these can be reached at low tide thanks to an isthmus of flat and compact sand.
    7Las Islas, Ribadeo in Lugo. While often overshadowed by the As Catedrais or Cathedral beach, Las Islas is a postcard-perfect spot to go for a swim. Like As Catedrais, it is a great example of how the sea has eroded the cliffs, featuring five rock formations rising from the surf. One of these can be reached at low tide thanks to an isthmus of flat and compact sand. GETTY
  • Esteiro de Xove, Luga. There are lots of beaches called Esteiro in Galicia but only one that’s called Esteiro de Xove. This golden sandy beach, where the woods meet the sea, is a great destination for surfers.
    8Esteiro de Xove, Luga. There are lots of beaches called Esteiro in Galicia but only one that’s called Esteiro de Xove. This golden sandy beach, where the woods meet the sea, is a great destination for surfers.
  • Dique, Porto de Son in A Coruña. If it wasn’t for Google Maps, it would be difficult to find Dique beach. Indeed, this small hideaway beach, with just 80 meters of white sand, nearly disappears at high tide. Located near the Castro de Baroña fort among a forest of pine trees, the beach is popular with nudists. Swimmers should be careful in the the water, which is known for its big waves.
    9Dique, Porto de Son in A Coruña. If it wasn’t for Google Maps, it would be difficult to find Dique beach. Indeed, this small hideaway beach, with just 80 meters of white sand, nearly disappears at high tide. Located near the Castro de Baroña fort among a forest of pine trees, the beach is popular with nudists. Swimmers should be careful in the the water, which is known for its big waves.
  • Melide, Isla de Ons in Pontevedra. Located on the largest island within the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, this paradisiacal virgin beach has fine, milky-white sand and crystal-clear waters. The 250-meter long stretch is surrounded by lush vegetation and a string of sand dunes. No authorization is needed to visit the island.
    10Melide, Isla de Ons in Pontevedra. Located on the largest island within the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, this paradisiacal virgin beach has fine, milky-white sand and crystal-clear waters. The 250-meter long stretch is surrounded by lush vegetation and a string of sand dunes. No authorization is needed to visit the island.