Summer resorts and beaches
This type of tourism was the first to be developed in Spain, and today, generates the most income for the Spanish economy. The mild climate during the whole year and the extensive sandy beaches of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean as well as of its two archipelagoes (the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands respectively) have been attracting tourists from Northern Europe for decades. The leading source markets of Spanish beach tourism are the UK (around 24% of the total arrivals in Spain in recent years), Germany and France (around 15-16% each), followed by Scandinavia and Italy (around 7% each) and the Netherlands (around 5%).
The most popular Spanish mainland coasts are on its Mediterranean side, and include, from north to south clockwise:
- The Costa Brava, the Costa Daurada and the Costa del Maresme, in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, very popular with visitors from France as well as inland Spain, with notable resorts like Salou and the city of Barcelona.
- The Costa Blanca, (one of the most developed coastal areas of Spain, extremely popular for tourists from the United Kingdom and Germany, with Benidorm as the leading summer city of Spain) and the Costa del Azahar are both in the Valencian Community.
- The Costa Cálida in the Region of Murcia and the Mar Menor, a lagoon by the Mediterranean sea.
- The Costa de Almería, the Costa Tropical, the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz, all in the community of Andalusia. Some of the summer destinations here are renowned worldwide, such as Marbella in Málaga Province or Sotogrande in Cádiz province, both destinations for tourists and summer residents with big purchasing power. The city of Málaga is a notable Costa del Sol destination and also one of the largest harbours in Spain and frequented by cruise ships.
Spain's two archipelagoes, the Balearic Islands off the mainland coast in the Mediterranean and the volcanic Canary Islands in the Atlantic, are also both very popular destinations with Spaniards and Europeans.
In addition to the summer tourism, other modalities like cultural and monumental tourism congresses, sport or fun tourism have been developed in these areas, including such famous cities as Barcelona and Valencia, the biggest harbours of the Spanish Mediterranean coast.
Many coastal or island places also have great ecological and natural importance. Theme Parks like Terra Mítica, Tibidabo Amusement Park, Tivoli World and the resort PortAventura World or diverse water-fun parks are also popular.
In 2014 Spain broke its own record of blue flag beaches, achieving 681 flags and becoming the leader in the Northern Hemisphere.Spain is also the leader in blue flags for marinas.