The Costa del Sol was once a sunlover’s paradise, but now it’s hard to find even a small square of that Mediterranean coast to yourself.

But go west from the overrun resorts of Torremolinos and Marbella, swing around Spain’s southernmost tip, and you’ll find yourself on a fresh stretch of coast facing the Atlantic. This is the Costa de la Luz, which stretches from Tarifa to the Portuguese border.

As Europe’s southern port, Tarifa makes a great base for escaping the more crowded ‘costas’ for authentic Spain, without missing your slice of sea and sun.

Getting there

Monarch flights to Gibraltar bring you within less than an hour of Tarifa – although you’ll still be in British territory until you cross into La Línea on the Spanish side of the border! Hire a car at the airport or take La Línea buses direct to Tarifa or via nearby Algeciras.

How’s the weather?

Tarifa’s summers are warm and dry, and its winters mild. But the Atlantic’s influence means summer highs stay around 24°C – making it ideal for those want to enjoy the sun without sweltering.

What about beaches?

This Atlantic ‘Costa’ is far wilder than its Mediterranean counterpart. Strong winds off the Straits of Gibraltar bring kitesurfers and windsurfers to Tarifa in droves. Here, you can revel in the beauty of truly uncrowded coasts and nearby wetland reserves.

Top things to do

Watersports and whales – You’ll see master windsurfers at play in Tarifa. But because the sport’s so big here, you’ll also have your choice of courses if you want to start from scratch. To explore the Straits another way, join tours from the port to spot whales and dolphins.

Walks and ruins – Ramblers can enjoy plentiful wildflowers in spring and witness incredible views across the Straits to Africa year-round. You may spot eagles above and cattle roaming free. Just don’t climb fences or you could come face to face with a bull! Go further and visit nearby Bolonia for some of the best Roman remains in this part of Spain.

Take in Africa, too – Tangiers is just a fast ferry away, so daytrips to Morocco are easy. Tarifa itself shows the influence of its Arabic past under the medieval Caliphate of Córdoba. Its 800-year-old castle was built by order of the caliph himself, and is definitely worth a visit.

What do you think – is Tarifa taking your fancy? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. Great article. I’m glad you mentioned the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia near Bolonia (just a few miles up the coast from Tarifa). The ruins look fantastic set against the backdrop of the blue sea. Also, the sandy beach of Bolonia is one of the best on the Costa de la Luz.

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