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Which Costa is for me?

Put simply, the word costa is Spanish for coast, and it's used to define the different shorelines that form the outline of our dearly beloved Spain. But for English-speaking holidaymakers, it's quite understandable that a little confusion could arise when comparing them all.

Names like Costa Blanca and Costa Brava mix on the map with Costa del Sol and more besides. It can be tricky to know what to expect, and more importantly, how to make sure your holiday doesn't Costa Lot.

Take a look at our brief overview of Spain's famous coastal regions and you'll soon be savvy enough to make an informed choice for your holiday to Spain.

The bustling south

Perhaps the most famous of Spain's Costas is Costa Blanca, which translates as the White Coast.

It's named for the pale beauty of its beaches and is home to one of Spain's most popular destinations, Benidorm.

Being tucked at the southeast of the country means views out to the Mediterranean Sea.

Although there are plenty of tourist resorts, there are cultural treasures in abundance here too. For example, Altea is a pretty town that's almost been frozen in time, giving you a look at the Spain from days gone by.

Cultural centres that are still a hit with tourists are a hallmark of the Costa del Sol, also stretched across the centre of Spain's southern shore. It's here that Marbella and other towns popular with UK visitors, including Fuengirola, nestle among vineyards, coves and some of the region's top attractions.

More specifically, it's where plenty of waterparks can be found, including Aquavelis close to Malaga, which adrenaline hounds adore for its plunging water chutes and the Rio Rapido tyre waterslide on its massive hill.

Treats in the east

As far as UK holidaymakers are concerned, Costa Brava is another massively popular choice.

The UK's first package holidays to Spain headed here and it remains popular to this day. It's tucked in the northeast of Spain, where Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali once sought inspiration, as well as being the home to beautiful Barcelona.

Costa Brava is known for being a region of Spain where the influx of tourism hasn't overtaken the slow pace of traditional village life. The plazas of Calella, for example, are offset against the natural rocky outcrops and the white-walled buildings of the town's promenade.

You'll also see this fusion of old and new in the walled community of Tossa de Mar, whose old town district is a rich maze of cobbled streets that wind their way to El Castillo – the castle. From its upper fortifications, you can see right across the azure shimmer of the Med.

Golden opportunities

We can't overlook the glorious Costa Dorada in our round-up – part of what links the east to the south, its name translates as the Golden Coast.

It's a good idea to get involved in some sightseeing in these parts too, with Sitges proving one of many good reasons to do just that.

The seaside town is free from high rises and instead retains much of its 19th-century charm, examples of which can be seen in the splendid mansions that once housed the governors and nobles of old.

If you're looking for the best kept secrets of Spain, try out Costa de la Luz, close to the Portuguese border, whose beaches let you see all the way to Morocco on a clear bright day.

Alternatively, Costa Almeria, east of Costa del Sol, has barely been touched by developed tourism but draws in the crowds for its surfing, sailing and watersports.

We've barely scratched the surface of what makes each of Spain's costas so special. Take a look at each in turn as you plan your holiday and you'll be sipping a cocktail by the sea in no time.

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