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Spain's 'worst seaside town' named – and it's rammed full of British tourists

Puerto Banus has won the unwelcome accolade of being voted the worst seaside town in Spain. The marina lies to the southwest of Marbella along the Costa del Sol, which attracts nearly a million British tourists a year.

Which? spoke to more than 1,200 travellers, asking them to rate their experiences of Spanish coastal towns, judging 11 criteria including the quality of the beach and seafront, safety, food and drink, accommodation and value for money.

Responses to the survey were then calculated into an overall score and league table. Puerto Banús earned a score of just 55 percent, which saw it place last out of 30 Spanish seaside towns.

The survey found that the Puerto Banús, once known as a playground for the rich and famous, has become “faded” and “a seedy dump”.

Banús, which still welcomes some of the world’s most expensive boats into its marina, was branded “overpriced” and scored just one star on value for money.

The superyacht hotspot scored just one star for tourist attractions, with people-watching and parties the main draws for visitors. The party scene also saw it earn just one star for ‘peace and quiet’.

It also received a dismal two stars for safety, attractiveness and friendliness, with visitors complaining that the town had “deteriorated” and become “tacky”. 

The one area where Puerto Banus earned a respectable score was for its beach, seafront, food and drink and shopping offerings, which earned the marina three stars.

At the other end of the scale, San Sebastian – the beachside resort town renowned for its culinary gems – won top spot. The Basque town earned an overall score of 88 percent, and won five stars for its beach, attractiveness and food and drink. Visitors “raved about the local snacks, pinchos, and choice of top tier restaurants”. The resort town is among the cities with the most Michelin stars per capita in the world.

It also racked up four stars for its seafront, safety, friendliness, accommodation, tourist attractions and shopping, with only value for money bringing in three stars. One visitor described San Sebastian as “small enough to walk around easily,” while “the beach and surroundings were beautiful, and it felt very safe”.

Despite Puerto Banus’ last-place ranking, the Costa del Sol did salvage its reputation after the town Nerja on the eastern tip of the coastline won second place.

Nerja, which boasts miles of powdery beaches, earned an 81 percent score and was described as the “perfect spot for those looking to fly and flop”. It received a four-star rating for its seafront, safety, friendliness, food and drink and accommodation, with respondents saying it felt like a “traditional unspoilt Spanish town”.

Cartagena, Javea and Sitges are all tied for third place with a joint score of 80 per cent.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “This survey shows that there are plenty of fantastic Spanish beach resorts that will easily beat the best-marketed destinations like Marbella and Torremolinos.

“You don’t even need to look far, with beautiful Nerja and its quaint white-washed streets also to be found on the Costa del Sol.

“For those looking for a city break with a dose of sea and sunshine, San Sebastian can’t be topped – it’s rightly famous for its excellent restaurants and authentic cuisine, and comes complete with a pretty old town and fantastic beaches.”


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