Dog-Friendly Beaches in Spain – What’s the Deal?

Pet friendly tourism is growing all over Europe with many bars, restaurants, hotels, parks and beaches embracing man’s best friend and declaring themselves dog-friendly. Yet despite high numbers of dog ownership, one of the highest in the EU, with around 6 million dogs kept as pets, Spain remains relatively dog-unfriendly, especially when it comes to beaches.

The question of whether dogs are allowed on beaches in Spain is a common and divisive one, with passionate opinions on both sides of the argument, but in short the answer is simply no. In fact, out of Spain’s whopping 573 beaches, only a measly 50 allow dogs. And of those that do allow them, there are usually strict rules as to permitted times and areas. 

There has been some slow progress on the topic in recent times, with Barcelona opening its first dog-friendly beach this summer. After years of campaigning, Barcelona city authorities finally gave in, unveiling a designated 1,250 square meter area at the end of the city’s beach where dogs can run free and have fun amongst the sand and waves. The area has even been equipped with state-of-the-art dog urinals, fountains for dogs to drink from and specially adapted showers where you can rinse your dog’s coat of any salty seawater and sticky sand.

Other municipalities and cities are also attempting to create dog-friendly beaches, but on the whole progress is slow. Even in the case of Barcelona’s dog-friendly beach development, it’s not known whether the dog-friendly area will continue next year.

Although you may be tempted to throw caution to the wind and take your fury friend for a nice leisurely stroll along the beach, you’d be best advised not to. Taking the most well behaved pooch on the beach, even if they are on a lease, may provoke outrage by fellow beachgoers and could be met with a hefty fine. In the winter months, with less people on the beaches and locals turning a blind eye, many do take their dogs onto the beach. But be warned the act is against the law right through the year and, in some cases, you can be fined as much as between 750 and 1,500 euros.

The argument for dog-friendly beaches is a growing but controversial one with many residents demanding access to beach space where they can exercise their pooches. While others complain about excrement and noise. Beaches are the lifeblood of the tourism trade in Spain and so local councils are keen to keep them clean of dog poop in a bid to keep quality ratings high and the money rolling in.

If you’re keen to get some sand between your dog’s paws then take note of our list of Spain’s top 10 dog-friendly beaches. Although it’s always advised to check with your local tourist information office prior to a visit as rules and regulations regarding dogs on beaches are always changing at the drop of a hat in Spain.

1) Playa de la Platjola, Tarragona, Catalonia

2) Cala de Punta del Riu Sec, El Campello, Alicante

3) Playa de Camposoto, Cadiz, Andalusia

4) Playa de Es Carnatge, Palma, Mallorca

5) Playa de L’Ahuir, Gandia, Valencia

6) Playa La Maza, Vicente de la Barquera, Cantabria

7) Playa de Bocabarranco, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

8) Playa de la Rubina, Girona, Catalonia

9) Playa del Arenal, A Coruña, Galicia

10) Playa de Llenaire, Port de Pollença, Mallorca

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