For decades, Spain has been one of Europe’s go-to destinations for summer travellers looking to enjoy the beaches, cuisine, museums, and a truly relaxed lifestyle. This popularity, however, comes with a price, with many scenic coastal areas now overrun by large, often-charmless resort chains, which causes a reduction of the distinct Mediterranean authenticity that so many travellers come to see. Having said that, Spain still boasts a treasure trove of charming, peaceful villages and stunning landscapes for travellers willing to get off the beaten path and see something special.
We have sifted through hundreds of real-life recommendations from travellers and locals on various websites to find what we believe to be the best villages in Spain for a summer break or weekend getaway. From sleepy fishing towns to Andalucía’s stunning white villages, here’s a selection of Spain’s best towns for that summer break, which might just be what you need!
Casares – Only 45min. from the glitzy tourist hub of Marbella, the small white village of Casares is the perfect place to experience Andalucia’s more authentic charms without the crowds. Locally, Casares is known for its steep winding, friendly people, and unpretentious, home-style cooking, but visitors should also make time to hike the surrounding Bermeja Mountains and head up to the 12th century castle which offers stunning views of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Puerto Andratx – For those looking for a quiet, romantic alternative to the regular-tourism which plagues much of Mallorca, the small port town of Puerto Andratx in western Mallorca couldn’t be a better option. A summer favourite among locals and Mediterranean jetsetters for years, Puerto Andratx offers quaint cottages for rent, world-class local seafood at the glamorous seaside promenade, and a gorgeous environment for nighttime strolling with a loved one
Santillana del Mar – Santillana del Mar is a tiny Cantabrian village where hords of local visitors flock each year to admire the Baroque palaces, medieval houses, and colourful Renaissance fairs filled with local traditional foods. The best time to visit Santillana del Mar is off-season, when you can experience the small-town charm at its best. It’s also a great starting point to visit some of the region’s natural wonders like the Picos de Europe or the beaches in Suances near Cantabria.
Pedraza – If you travel about an hour and a half north of Madrid, travellers will find one of the jewels of central Spain: Pedraza. While the regional capital, Segovia, has attracted international travellers for years, Pedraza is a favourite with the locals due to its imposing castle, impressive views and atmosphere which recalls the 16th century. However, Pedraza is most famous for its hearty cuisine based on local specialties like lamb and suckling pig roasted in wood-fire ovens, not to be missed!
Frigiliana – Frigiliana is an Andalucian white village which boasts excellence: a plethora of pristine white-washed homes and picturesque courtyards covered in geraniums and violets, cascading down the mountainside towards the sea in a backdrop of lemon, orange, and olive groves. While Frigiliana has been spared the mass-tourism of neighbouring Nerja, this makes it ideal for a quiet retreat. Locals also suggest visiting at the end of August when Frigiliana holds its popular Three Cultures Festival celebrating the village’s history, something that the entire village participates in some way, a great way to experience some treasured moments.
Arcos de la Frontera – The current so-called king of the Andalucía’s famous White Villages must be Arcos de la Frontera, a charming cliff-top hamlet only an hour’s drive from Cadiz. Broadly considered one of Spain’s most beautiful villages, Arcos de la Frontera’s charm lies in its narrow streets and perfect white walls decorated with flowering vines and colorful tilework. One of this village’s main draws its location: the beach, the spectacular Doñana National Park, the Grazalema Mountains, and all the splendours of Seville all within slightly more than about an hour’s drive.