A COSTA del Sol beach resort has been named the second-best of its kind in Europe by an EU-backed study.
Nerja was placed second in the Best European Destinations list, created by the European Commission in conjunction with more than 300 tourism offices and the EDEN network.
The Brussels-based organisation whittled down the continent’s best offerings to a hot list of 102 beach locations.
The number one spot went to Pasjaca in Croatia, followed by Nerja, which sits on the far eastern side of the Costa del Sol and is famous for its stunning shorelines.
Several other Spanish resorts feature on the list, see the top 10 below.
1. Nerja (2nd in full ranking)
Nerja is loved for its picturesque cove-style beaches which feature bright white sand amid a backdrop of dramatic cliffs.
Francis Arce, councillor for beaches in Nerja, said the resort is ‘special’ and the ‘friendly and warm’ locals keep visitors and residents feeling welcome all year round.
The ranking reads: “Come and relax on one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, the beach of Nerja (only 1 hour from Malaga airport),” the ranking reads.
“Along the promenade, on the sand, on the large beach of Barriana or sheltered from the wind in one of the many coves, come and enjoy a sunny day in this seaside resort whose name means ‘Abundant springtime’.
“For a breathtaking view of the entire region, climb to the top of the mountain El Cielo, the highest mountain in the region.”
2. Cala Sa Boadella, Lloret de Mar, Catalunya (6th in full ranking)
This 250m stretch of beach offers crystal clear waters and soft and sandy shores.
Situated on the Costa Brava, it is a firm favourite with holidaymakers from Madrid and Barcelona, as well as from abroad.
The ranking reads: “Have you left your swimsuit at the hotel? No problem, this beach is nudist. “Leave your modesty in the car and come enjoy this little slice of paradise.
“You are shy? The warm waters of the Mediterranean are for you. If you want to rest this summer, treat yourself to a week of pure relaxation in Lloret de Mar, one of Spain’s most popular seaside resorts.”
3. Bolonia beach, Cadiz (13th in full ranking)
Anyone who lives in Andalucia knows this is where locals love to flock to for a day or weekend by the beach.
The huge stretch of beach sits in the surfers’ paradise of Tarifa, just 40 minutes from the Costa del Sol.
The ranking reads: “This gigantic beach appears at the end of a nice walk in the white sand dunes. It’s like being in the Sahara desert.
“It is a perfect place for lazing around, sunbathing in the Andalucian sun, windsurfing or exploring the Roman ruins on this beach. It is possible to have a meal on site and park near the beach.”
4. Cala Pregonda, Menorca (15th in full ranking)
Menorca is one of the most up and coming locations in Spain. It is widely regarded as one of the last areas to remain unspoiled by mass tourism. Cala Pregonda is true to form, isolated and away from the hustle and bustle, it is a slice of paradise.
The ranking reads: “Dive under the water, beautiful little fish are dancing in the clear waters: nature is everywhere around you.
“The car park is 20-30 minutes’ walk away, it is quite big and free.
“Do not stop at the first beach on your way; it is pretty but often stormed by the first holidaymakers, walk on to the red sand beach of Cala Pregonda.”
5. Cala del Pi, Platja d’Aro, Catalunya (17th in full ranking)
The Costa Brava is packed with stunning beaches and Cala del Pi is no exception. In the Platja d’Aro area, it is a two hours’ drive from Barcelona, offering the perfect day out during a trip to the Catalan capital.
The ranking reads: “Cala del Pi is a small hidden treasure. You will have to walk on a beautiful path dotted with other pretty beaches and tunnels dug in the rock to reach Cala del Pi (which means ‘creek pine tree’ in Spanish).
“We love its vegetation, the calm, the purity of the beach and crystal clear waters and its proximity to other exceptional beaches too.”
6. Calella de Palafrugell, Catalunya (26th in full ranking)
The Costa Brava has cleaned up in the latest EU ranking, with the Calella de Palafrugell its third entry.
Situated in Girona and a one-and-a-half hour’s drive from Barcelona airport, this photogenic fishing village is packed with charm.
The ranking reads: “It offers authenticity, serenity and changes of scenery. Check out our great offers of hotels, B&B, guesthouses, apartments at the best price guaranteed and book your stay in Calella de Palafrugell.”
7. Cala Agulla beach, Mallorca (40th in full ranking)
Mallorca is a huge hit with German and British tourists, the former of whcih began returning today. Many of the 10,000 expected to arrive this week will likely head to Cala Agulla.
The ranking reads: “This beautiful beach is very well maintained. It is wild but you can enjoy cold drinks and ice-creams on the spot. Taste the homemade cocktails and relax while enjoying the beautiful scenery.”
8. Mitjaneta beach, Menorca (41st in full ranking)
Menorca features yet again on the ranking, this time with the stunning Mitjaneta beach.
It is one of the island’s most popular and is rather small, so get up early if you want to find a spot, especially in these times.
The ranking reads: “Mitjaneta beach is just magical. Come bathe in its 29C turquoise water and enjoy its fine sand and the sun of Menorca.
“The beach is just like heaven but it is small, so you will have to get up early in the morning if you want to enjoy the quietness and romance of the beach.”
9. Ballota Beach, Asturias (44th in full ranking)
The only offering from Asturias in Spain’s top 10, Ballota Beach may be last but by no means least.
As the ranking explains: “Come breathe the smell of Eucalyptus and iodized sea air at Ballota beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
“Asturias offers breathtaking natural, wild landscapes. It is a paradise for lovers of nature and wide open spaces.
“Take your own beverages and picnic food with you ; there are no bars or restaurants and this is one of the charms of this beach.”
10. Playa de las Teresitas, Tenerife (47th in full ranking)
This is the one of the only golden beaches on the volcanic island of Tenerife and was actually artificially created.
As the ranking reads: “Most beaches in Tenerife are volcanic: the sand is fairly dark. Las Teresitas Beach is one of the few golden beaches in Tenerife.
“Was it a geological accident? Not at all! Sahara sand was brought by man to the beach. Tenerife is also a perfect destination for sun lovers all year round, even in the heart of winter.”