Top Destinations in Costa de la Luz

Published on 12/06/2007 in Spanish Lifestyle

They call it the Costa de la Luz because of the brilliant, clear light.
They might have called it the Costa del Viento, so strong is the wind at times along this stretch of coastline that includes historical Cádiz (Europe's oldest city), stunning Roman ruins at Bolonia, sherry making at Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and trendy Tarifa. In fact it's the wind that has converted Tarifa, once best known for its high suicide rate, into a top European destination for all manner of surf dudes.
Perhaps the same driving easterly wind, which funnels through the Straits of Gibraltar and is called the 'levante', has saved the Costa de la Luz from over exploitation. I mean, try relaxing on the beach when you've got sand blowing at you with such force that it literally stings your legs. Put that in the holiday brochure!
But it's not always windy, and ever since I moved here two years ago I've been trying to fathom out why this part of Spain, long since popular with Spanish tourists, has been largely ignored by foreign sun seekers.
After all the Costa de la Luz, on Spain’s Atlantic coast, gets more than 3000 hours of sunshine per year, and its clean sandy beaches go on for mile after mile.
Things have changed since I arrived here. As across the whole of Spain, building work is going on almost everywhere you look.

I'm no expert on regulations governing what can or cannot be constructed on the beachfront, but I can report that it's a growth area! Fortunately, much of the Costa de la Luz backs onto national park, which limits the number of flats and villas that can be built away from the beach, and guarantees that this area will never be totally spoiled.
Transport communications have improved considerably in the last two years, but crucially there is no complete motorway to link the provinces of Málaga, Cádiz (where you’ll find the Costa de la Luz) and Huelva, the last stop before Portugal. If the go-ahead is given for a motorway – and momentum is gathering - you can expect significant changes here. Put simply, it will attract more people, resulting in greater demand for housing and tourist accommodation.

For the moment, let’s enjoy all that the Costa de la Luz has to offer.

Here are some of my choice destinations:

Zahara de los Atunes.

Until just a few years ago, Zahara was a small and somewhat neglected fishing village. These days it’s popular with tourists who come to enjoy its magnificent beach, but even in August you’ll find plenty of space to put up your parasol. Have lunch in a ‘chiringuito’ (beach bar).

Roman ruins at Bolonia

A winding road leads you to the village of Bolonia, next to which there’s a spectacular and very well conserved Roman site which stretches right down to the beach. Entry to ‘Baelo Claudia’ is free (closed on Mondays). Take a walk along the beach and climb the big sand dune – from the top you’ll get views across to Tarifa and beyond to Africa.


Western Europe’s oldest city, Cádiz lies on a peninsula. Hence house prices are high, as there’s no land left to build on.  Lose yourself in the rabbit warren of streets in the old town, sunbathe on the beach, or visit some of the city’s monuments and museums. Cádiz Carnival is famous throughout Europe and takes place in late February.


Written by: Jim Porter

About the

Jim is one quarter of Lingua4 ltd, the team who made Speekee ( Speekee is a Spanish language course on DVD which is designed for young children but works for adults too. Read our review of Speekee here.  Check out the Speekee review on Eye on Spain.

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izzzie said:
15 June 2007 @ 12:08

I have a townhouse on the golf course at Islantilla, Province of Huelva, Costa de la Luz. I am somewhat concerned that every time the Costa de la Luz is mentioned, or written about, it seems to be Cadiz province that is referred to.

In fact, Huelva province is the gateway to Spain from Portugal and the first town on arriving to Spain is Ayamonte, only 45 minutes from Faro airport, and over a beautiful, modern suspension bridge which links the two countries.

Huelva district is known as the Spanish Algarve and which shares many characteristics of the Algarve but cheaper. Beautiful golf courses such as the one at Islantilla (which is a 27 hole Championship course), are wonderful and challenging. Fifteen minutes easy stroll to one of the best sandy beaches in the area, safe for children and cooled by refreshing breezes off the Atlantic, particularly in the height of summer.

I was really excited seeing your article about the Costa de la Luz and couldn't wait to read it, but must admit that I was expecting to read about the Huelva district as well so I am left somewhat disappointed. The coastal towns of Islantilla, Isla Canela and El Rompido are hotspots and I feel must be commented on. If people are after the Spanish way of life this cannot be bettered and the easy access to Portugal makes for great days out as well as boat trips up the Guadiana River.

Hope that there will be some reference to this wonderful area in a future edition.

Many thanks.

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