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Here Comes the Summer: the Main Destinations in Spain and the Tourists They Attract

Analysis of tourist flows last summer in tourist hotspots

The Balearic Islands are the main summer tourist destination in Spain according to 2022 data, based on the total number of tourists, irrespective of their domestic or international origin. They are followed by Madrid and Barcelona, which continue to be top summer destinations, with their provinces attracting more than five million tourists. The season of sun and beaches places a number of Mediterranean provinces among the most visited: Alicante, Malaga and Girona received more than four million tourists in 2022, while Cadiz and Tarragona welcomed over three million and Valencia around 2.5 million.

Distribution of tourists by province in summer 2022

Tourists received by Spain - Summer 2022

This data comes from the National Statistics Institute (INE) experimental statistics on measurement of tourism using mobile phones for July, August and September 2022. This is monthly information on tourist flows down to the municipality level, including domestic, interprovincial and international visitors.

Provinces receiving the most tourists in summer 2022

Bold: the ten provinces that received more than two millions tourists (domestic plus international tourists)


Spain is the favourite summer destination for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, according to data from the studies collected in the Turespaña report on summer trends in 2023. These countries are the main sources of Spain's tourists. Spain has the largest scheduled air capacity to September with all these countries compared to its leading competitors.

The highest percentage preferences for Spain as a destination for this summer are in France (17.5%), followed by the Netherlands (17%). Interest in Spain has increased most in Germany, where it is now the most popular destination, ahead of Italy. The largest differences compared to the second most-popular summer destination for 2023 are in the UK (more than seven points above Greece), the Netherlands (five points higher than France), and France (3.5 points above Portugal)


The Balearic Islands – the preference for the German market

Figures of the Balearic Islands tourism in 2022

The source of its tourists: The Balearic Islands are the preferred destination province for international tourists who come to Spain in summer, particularly from Germany. Almost half of all tourists from Germany during these months choose these islands, accounting for almost 30% of all tourists visiting the Balearic Islands. However, the Balearic Islands receive a similar number of tourists from the United Kingdom during this period. The Balearic Islands receive around 7 million tourists between July and September, meaning their populations more than double during each summer month.

The main destinations in the province: The municipalities with the highest tourist numbers are Palma, Calviá, Sant Josep de Sa Talaia and Alcudia. The populations of the last three of these practically quintuple during the summer months due to the number of tourists. Palma's population increases by around 80% due to tourists. Other municipalities with large increases in their populations during the summer include Escorca, Sant Llorenç de Cardassar, Muro, Capdepera, Deià, Santanyí, Sant Joan de Labritja, Sant Antoni de Portmany and Son Servera.

The tourism of residents:they visit Spain almost three times as much as abroad. Their main destination is Catalonia (particularly the province of Barcelona, which receives more tourists from the Balearic Islands than the next two regions: Andalusia and the Madrid region). The leading foreign destination was France, followed by Italy and Germany.

MADRID – Leader in domestic tourism

Figures of Madrid Region tourism in 2022

Madrid is one of the most visited regions in summer, despite a significant drop in overnight stays in August. The capital attracts the vast majority of the tourists who visit the region, with the second most popular destination for summer tourists being Alcalá de Henares.

Sources of foreign tourists: The United States is the main source of foreign tourists, exceeding numbers from France, the European leader, and the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, which have similar numbers in summer. Around 60% of foreign tourists are European and 30% are American.

Domestic tourist flows in the province: Castilla La Mancha (over one million tourists) and Andalusia and Castile and Leon (over half a million) are important sources. However, large cities such as Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza, Seville and Malaga stand out due to their connections with the city of Madrid. The summer destinations for people from Madrid are mainly the coast (particularly the Valencia region) and the closest regions (which together receive the most tourists from Madrid).

The tourism of residents: the main destinations are the coasts of Alicante and Valencia, particularly Torrevieja, Benidorm, Alicante, Dénia, Gandía and Valencia. The main destinations in Castilla La Mancha and Castile and Leon are municipalities such as Seseña, Toledo and Illescas; in Toledo, Guadalajara and El Casar; in Guadalajara, Segovia and El Espinar; in Segovia, Ávila; and in Ávila, Adrada.  Around 10% of tourists from Madrid travel abroad. Their leading destination is France, well ahead of Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany, which all have similar numbers.

BARCELONA – major influx of foreign tourists and internal tourist flows in Catalonia

The province of Barcelona has the most even ratio of foreign and domestic tourists in summer (a ratio of about 53% to 47%). It receives more than 5 million tourists, with nearly 30 million overnight stays (with a ratio of 57% to 43%, mainly due to a sizeable majority of overnight stays by foreign visitors in August).

Province of Barcelona 's tourism in 2022 in figures

Sources of foreign tourists: France is the most frequent source of international tourists, at more than 400,000. The UK exceeded 350,000 tourists between July and September 2022, followed by the United States in third place with nearly 300,000 tourists, despite almost 80% of the foreign tourists visiting the province being European.

Domestic tourist flows in the province: mainly internal from Catalonia. Catalonia is the main source of domestic tourists in the province (nearly 50%), followed by the Madrid and Valencia regions, which each account for about 10% of tourists visiting the province of Barcelona. The main sources in these regions are the city of Madrid (with around 60% of the tourists coming from its region) and the provinces of Valencia and Alicante. More than 60% of tourists from Barcelona stay in their own autonomous region (particularly the provinces of Girona and Tarragona). Andalusia and the Region of Valencia are the next most popular autonomous regions for tourists from Barcelona.

The main destinations: The main tourist hotspot is the city of Barcelona, accounting for almost half of all tourists visiting the province, with a particularly marked difference between international (more than 60% of visitors to the province) and domestic tourists (slightly less than 35% of visitors to the province). Only El Prat de Llobregat (bordering Barcelona) and Sitges exceed or come close to the 5% of foreign tourists received by the capital. In domestic tourism, municipalities very close to the capital, such as El Prat de Llobregat, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Terrassa, Badalona and Sabadell, come close to these figures, as do municipalities representative of the Costa Dorada (Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú) and close to the Costa Brava (such as Tordera or Malgrat de Mar).

The coastal provinces with most tourists in summer 2022

Tourism in summer 2022 in mean Mediterranean provincies in figures

The Mediterranean provinces receiving over four million tourists: Alicante, Malaga, Girona and Barcelona. The first three of these have similar ratios of domestic to foreign tourists, with domestic tourism accounting for around 60%. These are shown to be mainly seasonal destinations, easily receiving more than double the number of tourists in summer compared to many other months. The influx of tourists increases their populations substantially between July and August, particularly in Girona, where the number of tourists more than triples its population each month.


Source of its tourists:  In summer, the Madrid region is the main source of tourists visiting Alicante, accounting for around 40% of the Spanish tourists it welcomes. Tourists from the Valencia region account for just 15%. In July, the Valencia region was in third place behind Castilla La Mancha, accounting for approximately 10% of the Spanish tourists who visit Alicante, a similar percentage to the Murcia region. The UK is the main source of foreign tourists, contributing double the number from France. France is followed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, which all have similar figures.

The major influx of domestic tourists (practically double the number of foreign tourists in July and August) means these are the only months when overnight stays by residents exceed those by international tourists.

The main destinations: the main destinations for domestic tourists include Benidorm, Alicante, Dénia and Torrevieja. The leading destinations for international tourists are Benidorm, Orihuela, Torrevieja, Alicante, Jávea and Calp. Tourist numbers triple the populations of some of these municipalities in summer, such as Benidorm, Calp, Dénia and Jávea.


Source of its tourists: the leading sources are the region of Andalusia itself (accounting for more than 40% of its domestic tourists) and the Madrid region. The percentage of tourists from Madrid (around 25%) is similar to the sum of visitors from the two Andalusian provinces sending the most tourists to Malaga: Cordoba and Seville. The number of tourists from the UK in August was triple the number from the second market, France, and four times the number from the Netherlands or Ireland in the rest of the months.

The main destinations: The leading municipalities for domestic tourists were Malaga, followed by Marbella, Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Benalmádena. Marbella is the leading destination for international tourists, followed by Malaga, Benalmádena and Mijas.


Source of its tourists: there are significant tourist flows from the neighbouring province of Barcelona, accounting for almost all the tourists from Catalonia, which accounts for almost 80% of domestic tourists. And more than 60% of tourists from Girona choose the province of Barcelona as their destination. In terms of international tourists, France triples the number of the next source, which is the Netherlands in July and August. These are followed by Germany and, a long-way behind, the UK.

The main destinations: The municipalities of the Costa Brava are particularly important, with many of them multiplying their populations during these months. Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Castell-Platja de Aro and Palafrugell are the leading destinations for domestic tourism. Lloret de Mar remains the leading destination for international tourists, with the most visited also including Roses and, in particular, La Jonquera, which receives a lot of tourists from France, which it practically borders.

2022 tourism in some of the Mediterranean provinces of Spain

You may also check Spanish official figures of tourism on Dataestur.es:

  • Frontur: Tourism Movement at Borders
  • ETR: Resident Tourism Survey

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