Happiest towns in Spain are easy to visit even from a beach resort

neighborhood cafe in tarragona, spain
A typical neighborhood in Spain.

Measuring happiness and ranking countries or towns based on the results may not be exact science, but it is fascinating to discover how people feel about their lives across the world. A Spanish food industry business sponsored a survey and a book that examined where are the happiest towns in Spain, and why people are happy in those settlements. Many of the top 20 towns are easy to visit for travelers who are planning to stay in one of popular tourist resorts of Spain.

World Happiness Report publishes an annual ranking of happiest countries in the world, but in that competition Spain doesn’t shine. The southern European country reached position 55, just before Honduras, in 2024. Four Scandinavian countries occupied the top positions.

This is why it is fascinating to find out which towns Spanish themselves regard happy places in Spain and why. Here is the top 20 happiest towns in Spain according to the survey conducted by Azucarera and Yougov:

  1. Ronda, Andalucia, on the mountains in South Spain
  2. Nerja, Andalucia, Mediterranean coast in South Spain
  3. Chipiona, Andalucia, mountains in South Spain
  4. Tarifa, Andalucia, southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula
  5. Peniscola, Valencia, Mediterranean Coast
  6. Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Atlantic Coast
  7. San Vicente de la Barquera, Cantabria, Atlantic Coast
  8. Sanxenxo, Galicia, Atlantic Coast
  9. Ribadesella, Asturias, Atlantic Coast
  10. Zahara de los Atunes, Andalucia, Coast
  11. Mojacar, Andalucia, Mediterranean Coast
  12. Llanes, Asturias, Atlantic Coast
  13. Benalmadena, Andalucia, Mediterranean Coast
  14. Denia, Valencia, Mediterranean Coast
  15. Conil de la Frontera, Andalucia, coast
  16. Sitges, Catalonia, Mediterranean Coast
  17. Cazorla, Andalucia, on the mountains
  18. Salou, Catalonia, Mediterranean Coast
  19. Altea, Valencia, Mediterranean Coast
  20. Calpe, Valencia, Mediterranean Coast

Towns along the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean are considered happy places in Spain. Only three towns (Ronda, Chipiona and Cazorla) in top 20 are located away from the coast.

If you are planning to visit one of the happiest towns of Spain and want to explore something else besides happy people, Ronda, Peniscola, Sanxenxo, Mojacar, Denia, Cazorla, Altea and Calpe would be my recommendations from the top 20.

It is somewhat surprising to find a few towns in the ranking that are renowned centers of drug smugglers. They are located close to Morocco, across the Strait of Gibraltar on the south coast.

But why exactly 1000 Spaniards who were surveyed believe the listed towns are the happiest in the country? The writers summarize the reasons as follows:

  • Welfare of neighbors is appreciated in the town.
  • Atmosphere in the community is loving and polite.
  • Pace of life is slow and peaceful without stress.
  • People enjoy being outdoors (in this context in south Europe, refers to meeting friends and neighbors on streets and nearby bars).
  • Places to eat well are readily available in the neighborhood.