Spain is a centrally governed governed country, but it has delegated legislative sovereignty over many areas of law to the individual provinces. This leads to the fact, that regulations may differ very much between locations.
During the Franco dictatorship, restrictive regulations completely suppressed naturist ambitions. Afterwards, democracy led to new law, thus largely preserving freedom to regulate naturist attitudes and practices and understanding naturism as part of human rights.
The Spanish Naturist Association is vehemently committed to maintaining this freedom and avoiding new restrictive regulations. It points out that – even under Spanish criminal law – only sexual acts in public are forbidden and punishable, but that legal objections to simple nudity are not reasonable due to respect for human nature.
Source: "Marco Legal: El nudismo es una más de tus libertades" (naturismo.org – 2019 – FEN [Federación Española de Naturismo]). Milt (USA) was so kind to check the original Spanish text by FEN and to provide us with his translation to English:
The Spanish Naturist Association has so far successfully defended textile freedom on many traditional beaches such as in Las Palmas on Ténerife Island or the entire south coast of Gran Canaria, both part of the Canary Islands.
However, an opinion has developed in parts of Spanish society, that too much nudity has been practised and tolerated in Spain and that this should be countered. This social process is still in progress, so that the situation in Spain with regard to permission, tolerance, or acceptance of nudity is currently very much in flux. Here are a few examples:
A special Spanish feature is the central responsibility for the coastal strip, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment and is regulated by the "Ley y Reglamento de Costas" (Coastal Law). The individual provinces and also the neighbouring communities had no regulatory authority here, so that in the past nude bathing was practiced and tolerated on almost all beaches of Spain.
This has changed since 2009, when the Catalan municipality of Castell-Platja D'Aro was the first to ban nudity on its nearby beach, and the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on nudity was lawful in response to a complaint by the Spanish naturist association. Since then, other municipalities have followed with such bans, so that more local regulations have to be observed with regard to nude bathing on the beach.
Nudity in town
In 2015, the city of Barcelona banned nudity within the city, a practice that had previously been common in some neighborhoods, by a one-vote majority in the City Council. The protests of the nudists in Barcelona against the ban dragged on for over a year, but were ultimately unsuccessful. In other cities and communities such a nudist tradition was missing anyway.
The classic holiday destinations are subject to very different regulations, but in recent years these have been characterised by increasing bans on nude activities.
"Actually, nudity has been forbidden on Mallorca since 2014 – even those who show themselves too lightly dressed in the inner cities of the island risk a fine of up to 200 EURs. Nevertheless, there are still numerous places, where you can swim in the nude without any worries."
Source: "Die beliebtesten FKK-Strände auf Mallorca" (travelbook.de – 2018)
The city of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria has started to regulate the use of the beaches and is trying to enforce dress codes.
The municipality of Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera has declared a secluded beach for naturism and is now trying to enforce a ban on naturism on all other beaches in the municipality.
The municipality of Granadilla has banned the beach Playa de la Tejita, which is situated on the outskirts of the village, from nudity, but had to revoke this ban after a lawsuit, as this beach cannot yet be described as a local beach – it is too far outside the village. However, a new hotel complex is under construction – so the declaration of a nude bathing ban could be legitimate there in the future.
Hiking in the buff
At the huge beach areas of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, naked day hikes are widespread. On Lanzarote, there is the naturist village Charco del Palo, in whose surroundings naturists are on the move everywhere.
In Gran Canaria, nudist hiking is practiced in the Maspalomas dunes and on the beach between Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas. Although naturism is not officially permitted there, it is tolerated. However, it is advisable to have at least a bathing suit or a towel with you.
Currently, Spanish society is still seeking its way between accepting and restricting naturism. For holidaymakers in Spain, this does not make the situation on the ground any better. Thus, you should inform yourself about local regulations and keep to them in order to avoid problems on holiday. Who likes, may of course participate in the competition for the correct way also by own experimental doing – which can be possibly lead to costs or some sort of unwanted inconvenience with public authorities.