Often referred to as Green Spain – or ‘real’ Spain – the northern Spanish Costa Verde region has miles of unspoiled coastline strewn with sandy coves and tiny islets.
With its distinctive cuisine of simple, honest food (often accompanied by local specialities cider and cheese), it offers all the character and flavour of real, rural Spain.
Where to go? The sublimely beautiful Cantabria region is sprinkled with fishing villages and coves. Local foodie specialities include cream cheese, delicious Sobao pastry and a host of seafood harvested from its spectacular coast.
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The Costa Brava’s vast, sandy beaches have been attracting holidaymakers for decades. However, there are still plenty of areas that have escaped the ravages of more popular tourist meccas.
Where to go? The sleepy enclave of Playa de Pals is well worth a visit. Centrally located, it is home to one of the longest stretches of beach in the Costa Brava.
Also worth a look are the resort towns of Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc. With its sparkling white houses, Calella de Palafrugell is a small and very Spanish resort that drops down to two sandy beaches.
A picturesque 15-minute walk along the headland will bring you to Llafranc, another stunning seaside village. It has a wonderful sandy beach backed by a pine-shaded boulevard with bars, restaurants and cafes.
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Costa de la Luz
A short turn right out of Malaga airport and you are on the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light).
This coastline, which runs from Cadiz to Tarifa, boasts more than 50 miles of fine white sand backed by dunes and pine forests, with an enviable sunshine record throughout the year.
Despite its reputation for windy days and its popularity with windsurfers, in July and August the wind dies, leaving hours to enjoy the beach and calm seas.
Where to go? Throughout the year whales and dolphins swim along this coast to the Med or the Atlantic and companies in Tarifa run whale-watching trips; there is a very good chance of seeing these magnificent mammals.
Alternatively, head for the Donana National Park, home to a rare big cat, the Iberian lynx. Tours depart daily from the El Acebuche Visitor Centre on the Placa Acebuchal in El Rocio.
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