Two Gorgeous Beach Discoveries on the Atlantic Coast



Salty sea water in my hair, grains of sand on my skin dried by the sun and the mighty sea that opens in front of us. The one who said that salt water is the cure to anything was on to something very essential.

There are plenty of beautiful beaches by the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal and in Spain. What I really value are specific beach tips and coordinates when it comes to the best of the best beach gems. I want to share two beach recommendations with you from our road trip along the Atlantic Coast in Portugal and in Andalucía in Spain.

The first one is Praia do Malhão around 2 hours (186 kilometres) by car from Lisbon. The beach is located 7 kilometres north of the town Vila Nova de Milfontes and it is best reached by your own (rental) car or by bike. The beach is beautiful, natural and peaceful (read: remote, no masses here), and the sea is quite wild. The best thing definitely was jumping against the mighty waves. The second best thing was having fresh and juicy cherries for lunch on the beach while sunbathing. A lunch tip: keep your eyes open for fruit stands by the roads: you can find such ripe and luscious fruit (cherries, watermelons, peaches and tomatoes) for a very affordable price.


The coastline is rocky with dunes and in the sea there are some large basalt rocks. The beach is situated next to the Sudoeste Alentejano natural park and therefore the coastline is empty of development. Hence there are no facilities (apart from the car park area). This suited us perfectly but might not make for an excellent beach day for someone who gets a craving for some snacks or wishes to rent beach tennis equipment, a body board or a sun chair.

The town Vila Nova de Milfontes was nice, peaceful and relaxed. We did a little stroll there and then around 4 pm were wondering if we could find a place for a late (second) lunch. And after a quick search we found the bistro Stress Free (on Rua Sarmento Beires 28). To me, one of the lovely joys of being on holiday is that we can live in a vacation rhythm that is rather different from the office life rhythm. Hence gotta love places that serve delicious lunch until the late afternoon and dinner until midnight. I’ve come to learn that I am a late (emphasis on late) Mediterranean diner. The lunch spot choice, Stress Free, served good food with laid-back vibes.


The second beach find is the Playa de Mazagón on the Costa de la Luz (the Coast of Light) in Huelva in Southwest Spain. Loved it during the day and especially loved it at sunset. The beach is long and beautiful, and in the evening you can walk a long way right toward the sunset. On the beach you can find a zone of sea shells of all shapes and forms.


We stayed at the Parador de Mazagón (on Carretera San Juan del Puerto-Matalascañas), overlooking the ocean. Parador in Spain refers to a certain kind of special accommodation where an old historic building (for example a castle) is turned into a hotel. If you’re looking for a pleasant place for relaxation, a game or two of tennis, dips in the ocean and watching the stars on your own balcony after dinner, then this might just be the spot for you in Huelva, the strawberry province of Spain.




Gorgeous beach surprise: Playa de Itzurun

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The title pretty much sums up the ingredients of a successful day trip for me: something beautiful, the sea and the option to spend the entire day swimming and the surprise element. The 32-year-old me and the 6-year-old version rejoice of many of the same things and water activities and ice cream are high up on that list.

Playa de Itzurun is spectacular. A hidden gem, really. It’s located on the coast of Zumaia, around half an hour car ride from San Sebastian. My travel companion (the best one) planned this excursion and promised that the destination would be nice. And was it ever. It was gorgeous (hence the awstruck surprise factor).

We discovered the beach by first climbing up to the chapel of San Telmo, the patron saint of sailors. From the cliff opens the breathtaking view to the beach and to the Bay of Bizcay. About the chapel by the way: if you are looking for a truly unique and purely visual place to get married in, well then here’s a strong alternative.

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We marvelled at the long vertical cliffs and the limestone walls that led down to the beach. The beach is long and the sand is soft. If you’re a water sports enthusiast, you can go surfing, windsurfing or bodyboarding. And if geology is your thing the beach is very likely of interest to you because of the rock strata formations that rise vertically from the sea. Flysch, they call it, part of the longest continuous rock formations in the world.
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There definitely was something magical in this place. A day trip of ten points. And what is a day trip without something delicious. We lunched in the fishing village of Getaria, a convenient pitstop to enjoy something fresh from the sea.

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Playa del Silencio and a bit of beach luxury in Oriñón

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I was quite the beach creature as I child. Nowadays not quite as much, but a private beach held it’s place on the holiday wish list. And we found it! I don’t mind other people on the beach but a private one does have a sense of discovery combined with a pinch of luxury.

The beach was in Oriñón, about 15 km west from Castro Urdiales, and the reason why we had the beach all to ourselves was that it was off-season and the apartamentos by the shore were still all empty. The long strip of sand, the blue sky, the sail boat approaching the horizon and just that moment. The essence of holiday.

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The one playa in the North of Spain I had read about and so wanted to visit was the Playa del Silencio. It’s located 15 km west of Cudillero. It’s a cove backed by rocks, cliffs and caves. The view is absolutely beautiful. The name is also very apt: the beach is quiet, solitary and serene, almost as if it was a hidden place. In addition to us there were a few more couples.

The beach is made of pebbles and my hint would be that bring swimming shoes so that rising from the water resembles a bit more a graceful water goddess than – well, something else. The beach is located about 500 metres down from the road where you leave the car. This secluded place is really worth the trip and the short steep hike down.

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IMG_5807Ok, it was a bit chilly still.

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