• Nerja

Costa del Sol

Much of Spain’s south coast is so bad, it’s interesting. Anything resembling a quaint fishing village has been bikini-strangled and Nivea-creamed. Oblivious to the concrete, pollution, ridiculous prices, and traffic jams, tourists lie on the beach like game hens on skewers. But the south coast holds a few gems. If you want a place to stay and play in the sun, unroll your beach towel at Nerja, the most appealing resort town on the coast. Nearby is a quirky bit of jolly olde England: Gibraltar, which offers a unique cultural mix that makes it far more interesting than the anonymous resorts that line the coast. Beyond “The Rock,” the whitewashed port of Tarifa — the least-developed piece of Spain’s generally overdeveloped southern coast — is a workaday town with a historic center, broad beaches, and good hotels and restaurants (and is the perfect springboard for a quick trip to Tangier, Morocco).