Cheap, quiet and perfectly picturesque: The Spanish city Brits’ have voted their favourite escape

Valencia's peaceful ambience, abundance of culture and extensive beaches helped it take the top spot on a recent British holiday survey
Valencia's peaceful ambience, abundance of culture and extensive beaches helped it take the top spot on a recent British holiday survey Copyright Copyright jonnyjames2
By Ally Wybrew
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A 2023 survey reveals which European coastal towns are Brits’ favourites, and the results might not be what you’d expect.


When it comes to sun-drenched European escapes, UK residents are historically quite predictable. The likes of Barcelona, Venice and Malaga are usually most popular, with various Greek islands dotted in between.

However, a recent survey by consumer organisation Which? has revealed that trends are changing.

While Spanish, Italian and Greek cities still made up the bulk of the most popular destinations, the usual suspects weren't as dominant as expected.

Copyright Nick Karvounis
Porto's picturesque streets and harbourside helped earn it the second place on Brits' favourite European coastal townsCopyright Nick Karvounis

Which European beach escape is most popular with British tourists?

Over 3,500 holidaymakers were asked to rate their trips to 44 different coastal towns across Europe.

The destinations were rated in 12 different categories: the town's beach, seafront or marina, food and drink, accommodation, tourist attractions, attractiveness, shopping, entertainment, peace and quiet, safety, friendliness and value for money.

Voters scored the destinations out of five for each, resulting in an overall percentage score that determined the most - and least - popular locations.

Shunning San Sebastian, Alicante and even ever-desirable Barcelona, travellers voted Spain’s third largest city, Valencia, the winner.

Earning a 91 per cent destination score, the city received five stars in eight of the 12 categories, including the ‘beach’ section - perhaps not so surprising seeing as the metropol boasts three separate sandy stretches in the middle of town, and many others each way along the coastline.

According to Which? travellers were thrilled with, “the quality of [Valencia’s] tourist attractions, shopping, friendliness and attractiveness,” proving that the city’s 34 museums, burgeoning gastronomic scene and generous aquarium (the largest in Europe) live up to their hype.

Most notably though, it scored full marks in the ‘value for money’ and ‘peace and quiet’ categories, perhaps pointing to a shift in holidaymaker’s perspectives in these post-Covid, economically volatile times.

Copyright Johnny Africa
The Greek island of Mykonos ranked poorly in the surveyCopyright Johnny Africa

Were there any surprises?

While popular names such as Malaga, Dubrovnik and Barcelona still ranked highly, they weren’t as dominant as in previous years.

The top 10 spots were entirely the domain of Italy, Greece and Spain. Porto and Venice tied for second place with 88 per cent, with the latter receiving praise for its ‘magical views’ but (unsurprisingly) fewer accolades for value for money.

Tavira in Portugal was fourth, Pollenca in Spain fifth, and Chania and Rhodes in Greece sixth and seventh. Syracuse, Italy, beat Barcelona to eighth place and Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, came in tenth.

Mykonos in Greece sat at the bottom of the pile with a score of just 58 per cent. The party island was kept company by Fuengirola, Spain; Portimao, Portugal; and Naples and Catania, Italy.

Which? editor Rory Boland admitted that there were a few surprising additions to the list. “Some of the highest-rated spots like Nerja and Estepona have a more laid-back atmosphere compared to Fuengirola,” all in Spain, he explained, showing that the ‘peace and quiet’ category held considerable sway in the ratings this year.

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