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A List of Spain’s Most Beautiful Beaches

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Costa Brava. Taken by Andrea Ciambino via Flickr.

It’s no secret that Spain is one of my all-time favorite places on earth. A culmination of many factors have led to this love-affair with the home of Jamón, but one of the most significant reasons is the beaches!

Although bordered by France in the northeast and Portugal to the west, Spain is almost completely surrounded on three sides by water. Its unique location at the mouth of the Mediterranean creates such diversity within the nation’s beaches. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of the coastal areas of Spain- from Barcelona to Valencia to Alicante to Málaga and Tarifa and if you’re thinking of heading to Spain this spring (yes, it can already be warm enough in Spring to go to the beach!) and summer check out my favorite places to get the ultimate playa experience.

1. Costa del Sol

is one of the most famous beach areas of Spain and was my first introduction to Spanish beaches back in 2008. This is located on the stretch east of Gibraltar and is the most southern coast of Spain and is known for extravagant beach parties, endless hours of sunshine and breathtaking beaches. The most famous resort areas include Marbella, Terremolines, Nerja and Málaga.

Costa del Sol. Taken by Kevin Poh via Flickr.
Costa del Sol. Taken by Kevin Poh via Flickr.

2. Costa Blanca

is the coast that begins at Valencia and runs south through Alicante and Benidorm. I spent a week in Alicante last summer and was so pleasantly surprised by how nice the city beach itself was, despite being a bit crowded. The water was crystal clear turquoise and so salty you could easily just float around catching gazes of the city built up into the mountainside.

Cala at Cabo de las Huertas_02
Cala at Cabo de las Huertas in the Costa Blanca.

3. The Balearic Islands

probably take the award for the most beautiful beaches that I’ve been to in Spain. These consist of the islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Though wildly different in terms of atmosphere (party hard in Ibiza and chill out in Menorca), the beaches are consistently stunning. It’s typically warmer on the island than in the mainland and you can easily take a tour of the island with car or motorbike in a few days. Make sure to check out the lesser-traveled beaches farther from the tourist areas, as these tend to be a bit nicer.

Cala in Ibiza. Taken by Philip Larson via Flickr.
Cala in Ibiza. Taken by Philip Larson via Flickr.

4. Costa Brava

runs from Barcelona to the French border and is where I’ve spent the majority of my Spanish beach time, especially in the sleepy spa town of Caldetas, just an hour north of Barcelona. The beaches here are a bit rockier, but consist of long stretches you can walk for hours.

Costa Brava. Taken by Andrea Ciambino via Flickr.
Costa Brava. Taken by Andrea Ciambra via Flickr.

5. Costa Verde

is on my wish list. I’ve been there in the winter, but now must return when the sun is in full spirits. It’s known as being very different from the sundried beaches of Andalucía and more to resemble a sunny version of Ireland’s west shore. The area is also known for being the most green in Spain (hence the name translates to “green coast”), which could provide a bit of respite from the seemingly merciless sun!

Playa de Anguileiro near Asturias. Taken via Flickr.
Playa de Anguileiro near Asturias. Taken via Flickr.

[Frommers]

Where to Celebrate Carnival in Europe!?

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Carnival in Venice. Taken by Salvatore Gerace via Flickr.

The time for Carnival celebrations has begun throughout the world!

History of Carnival

The exact origins of this festivity is not certain, though it may be traced backed to the Medieval Latin word(s): carnem levare or carnelevarium, which mean to remove meat. Because the celebrations are thought of as the final festivity before the period of Lent during which Roman Catholics would abstain from eating meat in earlier times, this derivation makes perfect sense.

Where the history of Carnival begins is also unsure. It may be rooted in the primitive festival, which honored the beginning of the new year and rebirth of nature. Or, perhaps it is linked to the pagan Saturnalian festival of ancient Rome. Either way, the founders of the idea probably didn’t imagine it would turn into the eccentric dance, drink and be merry festival it has today!

Worldwide Carnival Celebrations

Probably the most famous Carnival celebration takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find elaborate and fabulous festivities here in Europe either! Where are the best places to celebrate Carnival in Europe?

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Carnaval at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Taken by Philippe Teuwen via Flickr.
Carnaval at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Taken by Philippe Teuwen via Flickr.

Located in the Canary Islands of Spain is perhaps the most famous Carnival celebrations behind Rio. This year’s celebration runs from February 3-14th, so preparations are in full swing! The festival is one of the most important to the people of Tenerife, and the entire year can be spent planning the floats, costumes and designs. During the peak times, more than 250,000 people can be found in the main streets and squares dancing to traditional Latin music, drinking and dressed up in elaborate costumes.

Venice, Italy.

Carnival in Venice. Taken by Salvatore Gerace via Flickr.
Carnival in Venice. Taken by Salvatore Gerace via Flickr.

The Carnival of Italy’s city on water began January 23 and runs through February 9th. During the Carnival you will find masked party-goers invading the streets, singing dancing and simply enjoying the party! The biggest excitement comes during the weekend and the not to be missed is the election of the year’s best costume- decided on the final day, February 9th. The most famous spot to join in is at St. Mark’s Square, so get a mask and get over there! Only a few days left!

Nice, France.

Like the Venetian Carnival, masks are an important part of the costume. This year’s celebration takes place from February 13th-28th with the theme being “King of Media”. The final days of the festival culminate on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) where the people each as much heavy, fatty food as possible before the abstinent period begins the following day. Not sure what to expect? Check out the video here!

Cadiz, Spain.

Carnaval in Cádiz. Taken by Alcalaina via Flickr.
Carnaval in Cádiz. Taken by Alcalaina via Flickr.

The Carnival of Cadiz is one of the most extravagant in Europe, taking place this year from February 4th-14th. There are processions, concerts, shows, fireworks and tons of dancing, drinking and singing in the streets. The “Chirigotas” or satirical songs about the current Spanish news and politicians are a popular aspect of this Carnival!

 

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