7 reasons you'll love Salou

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

If you were to sit down and plan out an ideal Spanish resort the chances are it would end up looking a lot like Salou*, the largest and most popular resort on the balmy Costa Dorada*.

Stroll along Salou's palm tree-lined promenade © Irishka777 - Dreamstime.com
Stroll along Salou's palm tree-lined promenade © Irishka777 - Dreamstime.com

Reclining south of Barcelona* and north of Valencia*, It's got the great beaches you would expect; the water sports and the cheesy restaurants too.

But so much more, such as Spain's biggest theme park (a truly world-class playground for all ages), Michelin-starred cuisine and superb boat trips. Salou even manages to squeeze in a flea market on Monday mornings and a surprisingly wild hiking trail.

Beyond Salou's boundaries, there's a great resort twin to the south and an unsung city just to the north. See what I mean about Salou being the ideal Spanish resort?

Getting to Salou: find current online savings on holidays to the Costa Dorada with TUI*.


These are the golden sand wonders that brought holidaymakers flocking to this Costa Dorada oasis in the first place.

Playa Ponent is the most famous, a stretch of beach breaking southwest from Salou's port in a sweep of sun loungers and relaxed beach bars. After a shingle shelf it is sand as far as you can walk out in waters that tend to be calm and family-friendly.

The calm waters of Playa Ponent, Salou © Sergey Chuyko - Dreamstime.com
The calm waters of Playa Ponent, Salou © Sergey Chuyko - Dreamstime.com

Playa Llevant, to the northeast of the port, is a wider expanse of sand with more watersports and parking right by the sands; more cafés, bars and restaurants too.

The famed beaches of the Costa Dorada continue past Salou in both directions. For quieter stretches continue past Llevant, following the coastal path around coves alive with beaches. Some have nothing but sand.

Capellans offers the best of both worlds: it's quieter with clean sands and welcoming waters, but also sports a wee bar, restaurant and pedalos.

Wild walks

The Cami de Ronda is a gorgeous coastal walk that sweeps off from the end of Playa Llevant. It curls its way around coves and jagged cliffs, using a web of wooden walkways, rocky stretches and beaches in a gloriously protracted effort to reach Cap Salou.

Here, a lighthouse and viewpoint gaze out over the cobalt Mediterranean. Just inland, adventurous hikers can cut inland to unearth the old Spanish Civil War gun emplacements that are slowly being reclaimed by the forest.

The Cami de Ronda continues all the way (nigh 10 km in total) to the relaxed resort of La Pineda. Bring plenty of water and a hat in summer; binoculars too if you want to check out the bountiful seabirds on this surprisingly wild walk.

The mouth-watering market

Yes you find the usual holiday comfort food, but Salou offers so much more. The central municipal market is the sort of oasis many of us wish we had at home, with fresh fruit, vegetables and meats backed up by a morning seafood haul that gets quickly snapped up.

This bountiful market is brilliant if you're self-catering or just want to feed your inner foodie. The market helps fuel Salou's wealth of restaurants, including Michelin-starred Deliranto.

Spain's top theme park

Salou's PortAventura World is not just the biggest theme park in Spain, but the best too. You just cannot get bored in a massive oasis alive with things to see and do.

PortAventura itself is low on over-joyful staff and oversized mice, instead delivering on superb roller coasters, a liberal splash of water rides and entertaining shows. It is also peppered with decent places to eat and drink.

Ride Red Force at Ferrari Land, PortAventura © Sarymsakov.com - Adobe Stock Image
Ride Red Force at Ferrari Land, PortAventura © Sarymsakov.com - Adobe Stock Image

PortAventura was joined in 2017 by Ferrari Land with another 16 rides and attractions, all themed, of course, around the famous prancing horse.

This slick park is home to the frankly insane Red Force, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Europe, which catapults you off the grid at Formula 1 speeds of 112 mph! Fast track passes are essential for both parks during busy summer days, at least for the most famous rides.

Its tremendous twin

The even more relaxed resort of Cambrils is joined at the hip with Salou, the sands unbroken as Cambrils takes over the beach baton to the southwest.

Cambrils feels more chilled and has even better places to eat and drink. The active fishing fleet hauls in a rich bounty of seafood that you can savour on the waterfront watching the boats bob and the fishing nets lying out to dry.

Be sure to try Catalonia's famous fideua © Smspsy - Adobe Stock Image
Be sure to try Catalonia's famous fideua © Smspsy - Adobe Stock Image

Don't even think about ordering paella; here in Catalonia we are in fideua country so enjoy this deeply satisfying seafood and noodle treat.

Whisper it, but many people prefer it to Valencia's finest. Cambrils also sports a brace of Michelin-starred restaurants. Boat trips, beaches and more tempt in a resort that lures those looking for a quieter Salou.

Boat trips

There's nothing quite like slipping the lines and heading out for a half day sailing on the sun-baked Med.

You can bash out on a fast RIB from either Salou or neighbouring Cambrils but for the real deal, appreciating the Costa Dorada and the rugged mountain backbone that frames the resorts, it has to be a more leisurely yacht or catamaran.

Usually a few drinks and some food is thrown in. What's on offer is a good guide to the clientele: if it's a mid-afternoon sail with just a glass of cava and a snack you can safely take the family. If it's a sundowner sail with a limitless bar you'll be partying whether you want to or not.

Day trip escapes

Having a bountiful range of day trip options can really make a holiday; who doesn't love a trip within a trip? You are spoilt for choice in Salou.

Just to the north the little-hailed city of Tarragona is a star, the first Roman city in Iberia, with vestiges of those days sprinkled around the old core. Wander the grand stone streets, stopping off in the bountiful cafés and bars.

A human tower outside Tarragona's city hall © Juan Moyano - Dreamstime.com
A human tower outside Tarragona's city hall © Juan Moyano - Dreamstime.com

If you're very lucky you'll come across the unique local pastime of the 'human towers'. This spectacle sees locals create improbably tall towers in the spirit of the community literally supporting each other. What a city!

Alternatively, head inland and discover the cava vineyards around the Penedes wine country. Savvy wine aficionados might want to snare a bottle of wine-of-the-moment Priorat.

Nature lovers should make a beeline south to the Ebro Delta, the western Mediterranean's second largest wetlands, a mini-Camargue alive with pink flamingos, sweeping beaches and great seafood.

Climate in Salou

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the climate in Salou. Find out more about conditions across the region in our complete guides to the climate in the Costa Dorada and Spain as a whole.

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Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish travel writer, author and broadcaster. He has visited over 100 countries and regularly writes about Scotland and the Canary Islands. As well as frequently contributing to Weather2Travel.com, Robin writes for publications including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Wanderlust, and has authored more than 30 guidebooks.

Posted on Wednesday 8th November 2023 in: Beach Europe Summer TUI

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