The perfect European beach vacation packing list: 33 beach essentials you need to pack

Europe. The home of the best summer vacations. From the sailing in the Mediterranean Islands, Island hopping in the Greece and eating ice cream while strolling along the beach in Capri. Europe has you covered for the best beach vacations.

But, what on earth should be on your beach vacation packing list when you’re heading to Europe?

Whether you are packing in a carry on for your beach vacation or your hauling your backpack for a summer euro trip, this list will make sure you pack all of your beach trip essentials.

The best thing about packing for summer is, unlike your winter packing list, you don’t need to pack any bulky coats or heavy snow boats. Push them aside for summer dresses, sandals and swim suits.

A pinterest graphic for a beach vacation packing list

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What to take to the beach

Swim suit

Depending on the duration of your European summer trip, I would pack 2 – 3 swim suits, maybe even four if you are gone for a few months.

I like to have options depending on the types of activities and for some reason hate putting on wet swim suits. If you are planning on sunbathing on the beach or laying on the front of a catamaran you might like options like this or this.

However, if you are after a more active beach holiday or you prefer one piece bath suits you might prefer this option or this one.

Beach Cover Up

If you’re just looking for something to throw on over the top of your swim suit to go and grab an ice cream or to head back to your hotel beach cover ups are perfect, they are super light weight and easy to pack.

I love this one but if you like something with a little more sun protection you might prefer this one.

Beach Towel

If you’re staying in a hotel near the beach, chances are your hotel will provide you with beach towels. However, if you are staying in hostels, Airbnb’s or you’re hitting the beach in between accommodations you will need your own towels.

I love this towel as it is oversized, quick drying, microfiber and doesn’t hold onto sand. The best thing about this towel is it packs up super super small so you don’t feel like you are lugging around a giant beach towel.

A half moon beach at the bottom of a hills in Cinque terre Italy

Flip Flops

Flip flops or as we call them in Australia, thongs, are a must on any European beach vacation packing list.

Every summer I purchase a new pair of black Havaianas and I basically live in them all summer. Flips flops are a great travel item in general as they make even the dirtiest of bathrooms seem a little cleaner.

Sandals

My other go to pair of shoes on my summer vacations is Sandals. I always have these tan sandals in my backpack when I’m travelling in summer.

They can help dress up your outfit and are a little classier than wearing flip flops but they are still casual and super comfortable. They also don’t take up too make space in your bag, so in my opinion it is a win win!

Sunglasses

There is nothing worse than being blinded by the glare reflecting off the sand or the water. I always travel with sunglass (even in winter now that I think about it).

I love my Ray Ban sunglasses, I bought them as an impulse purchase waiting for my flight to New Zealand a few years ago and I have not regretted it.

Not matter the sunglasses you choose, it is super important to protect your eyes from the sun so make sure you take a pair with you!

Sunscreen

Protecting your skin is particularly important, especially if you are spending all day at the beach.

I use sunscreen everyday on my face and I love this one as it sits super nicely under my make up. It also makes my skin look nice when I’m not wearing make up to the beach.

On top of that, if I am spending time out in the sun and in the water, I use this sunscreen to make sure my whole body is protected from the sun. It is important to make sure you a reapplying your sunscreen every couple of hours.

Summer dress

When heading on a beach vacation I love taking a LOT of summer dresses. I justify to myself by saying they are small and super light.

I know when ever I head to the beach I will end up going site seeing, to the shops or to a restaurant before heading back to my hotel. Cover ups are great if you are just heading to a corner store or back to your accommodation.

But if you want to go any where else dresses are perfect, they are super cute, not too hot and they are easy to throw on over your swim suit.

If you like t-shirt dresses but with a bit more shape then this is dress is perfect , if you prefer maxi dresses then one is super cute or if you prefer a cute little summer dress than this is a great option and it is has pockets!

Romper

If you are worried about windy beaches or you prefer to wearing rompers this is a cute option. If you like the dress look with the comfort of knowing you’re wearing shorts I love this romper A final option is you’re worried about sun protection I really like this one.

Umbrellas and beach lounges on the sand beside the sea

Shorts

Some times shorts are more practical than dresses (or some people just prefer to wear shorts!) Even though I pack a million dresses (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration), I always pack a couple of pairs of shorts. I love these shorts because they are casual but also look lovely on, a denim pairs shorts is also a great idea for a beach vacation and I always pack a pair of active wear shorts too.

T-shirt

Of course, if you are packing shorts, you need a few t-shirts that will go with your shorts. I like basic t-shirts like this one and this one. I also like to take on nicer top like this one in case I am going some where else on the way to or from the beach.

If I am travelling to a destination that requires a little more cover or I am worried about the sun, I like a basic white t-shirt to wear underneath some of my dresses or rompers.

Hat

A long with sunscreen, a hat is very important at the beach to keep your skin protected. Depending on how much space I have I try to pack a couple of hats so I have some choice when I’m travelling.

I like a baseball cap because they’re very practical but I also like a boater hat or a wide brim hat that can fold up but still looks very cute.

If I am packing a hat that does not fold, I tend to wear it on travel days or I pack it in the top of my bag with socks stuffed in the hat to help it keep its shape.

Light Jacket

Sadly, the weather at the beach is not always going to be ideal and nights can always get chilly. I don’t (always) believe in packing for “just in case” as most places you will visit on your beach vacations will have shops, but, its a great idea to pack a light jacket just incase!!

Something like this jacket or this cardigan are perfect to pull on incase it gets a little chilly.

Hand sanitizer

When I’m spending the whole day at the beach, I’m usually eating at the beach too. Beach toilets are either hard to find or they don’t have soap and I like to clean my hands before eating, so packing a little thing of hand sanitizer is a must.

I like the ones with a clip on them like this one. It makes it accessible at all times and I’m less likely to lose it if it is clipped to something.

Beach bag

Of course, when you’re heading to the beach you need something to carry all of your beach things, drinks and snacks. I don’t like taking my day pack to the beach because I do not like when sand ends up every where. I take a foldable tote that I can easily clean and fold away to keep the rest of my bag clean.

White greek buildings with blue trimmings on the buildings with chairs and tables on the edge of the ocean

Other Accessories for the beach

If you are spending your whole vacation at the beach you might like to have a few extra things to make your trip more enjoyable.

Dry Bag

One of the best things about a beach vacation is getting involved in water activities. Packing a small dry bag is the best way to keep your hotel keys, phone and a small amount of money dry.

This dry bag comes in a few different sizes so you can choose one that suits your needs.

Snorkel

Snorkeling in one of the best things about a beach vacation. Exploring the world in the ocean below us is such a fascinating thing. If you choose a snorkeling tour they will have all the equipment you need but if you are planning on snorkeling on your own you may like to take one with you.

If you don’t want to take a snorkel with you, they can take up a bit of space, you may be able to buy one at your destination.

Swim Goggles

Salt water in your eyes day after day can cause your eyes to become irritated. Swimming goggles are also much smaller and easy to pack than a snorkel. I like these goggles because they are all you need when it comes to goggles.

Sea bands

Beach vacations in Europe usually involves boats one way or another. Whether you need to take a ferry to the island you are staying on or your taking a boat tour, sea bands need to be on your beach vacation packing list.

These sea bands are super easy to pack and to wear when you get onto a boat and can help keep the sea sickness at bay.

Book

I love beach vacations because they are usually slower and more relaxing holidays. I love having time to sit and read a book. Yes, I am one of those people who prefer to read an actual book rather than reading off a screen. There is something about holding a physical book when I read.

At the moment I am loving The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, yes I love the sound of music and for a light hearted read I loved How not to travel the world, sadly, there were a few moments in there that really reminded me of myself!!

If you have any good book recommendations, let me know in the comments below!

Palm on a desserted beach

Kindle

Now I know carrying a physical book can be impractical and annoying for some people. If this is you, grab a kindle! You can still read all of the book you love, you have a built in reading light and you don’t have the hassle of lugging around heavy books.

Notebook

I never travel with out a notebook. I sometimes write a diary during my travels but it is handy for noting down the places you want to see during your trip, you can write down directions for getting to your accommodation, different beaches or attractions.

Money belt

A money belt is completely up to you. I have not used a money belt in a few years but when I first started travelling it made me feel much more secure. It also gives you a place to put you valuables so you know where they are. I have used this one in the past and really liked it.

Travel Gear for the beach

If you like capturing photos and videos of trip you might want to consider bring the following items. However, beaches can be very busy places, so make sure your items are insured or you have a plan for keeping them safe if you take them to the beach.

Smart Phone

Thank goodness the quality of our phone cameras has improved dramatically over the years. Gone are the days of grainy photos that you could never use for anything when you returned from your travels.

These days, whether you have a Android or an Apple phone, you are bound to have a fantastic camera.

On our latest trip to Europe I used my iPhone 12 and came back with beautiful photos that I was able to turn into a gorgeous travel photo book. These days, I love the iPhone 12 and the night mode! It has really transformed my night shots.

GoPro

The GoPro Hero 7 is not the newest GoPro but it is a high quality GoPro that doesn’t come with a high price tag anymore.

It has built in stability to help your adventure shots look more smooth (no one likes to feel motion sick when they watching back their footage!) It is also water proof which makes it perfect for a beach vacation.

The GoPro has com a long way since they were first released and no longer have the fish bowl look. The quality of the photos are so good that it looks like you have taken your photos on a DSLR.

Camera

I always travel with my Nikon DSLR. I love it because it takes beautiful photos but it is not super complicated to use nor does it take up a lot of space in my carry on bag.

If you are comfortable just using a GoPro or your smart phone you don’t need to take a camera but if you like to capture beautiful photos on a camera I can’t recommend the Nikon DSLR more highly.

A view over clear blue water and trees and bushes lining the sand

Tripod

Whether you are using an iPhone, video camera or a DSLR a tripod will really help your photography game.

The Joby GorrilaPod is the preferred tripod for many travel vloggers and bloggers. It is lightweight and compact which makes it perfect for any travel camera bag.

The Joby GorrilaPod is great if you are travelling alone or would like to get some cute couple shots as you can attach it to a tree, a post, a wall or basically any surface.

Wireless remote

Along a tripod, a wireless remote can help you take photos if you are travelling by yourself or you like a photo of you and your travel partner.

Some cameras will have they ability to connect to your phone and allow you to take photos wirelessly with your phone.

Extra memory cards

I think extra memory cards speak for themselves. Unless you travel with a laptop and an external hard drive, bringing extra memory cards allows you to snap away without having to delete precious photos because you’ve run out of memory.

Essentials for visiting Europe in Summer

Now for some of the boring things. These items should be on every packing no matter the season or the destination. These items should be carried in your carry on luggage as they are valuable. So please, do not leave home without the follow things:

Passport

No matter, where you are heading in Europe you cannot forget to pack your passport. I always email my self a copy of my passport information page and carry a printed copy of my passport information page just incase my passport is lost or stolen. It makes it a lot easier to prove your identity and can help you get a new passport if you have a copy.

Visa

Most countries have the luxury of the entering Europe, in particular the Schengen zone, for 90 days within a 180 day period. However, to make sure you are up to date on the current visa situation make sure you check out the visa information for the Schengen zone.

An old boat on the beach with trees in the sea

Travel Insurance

You should always, always, always, purchase travel insurance as soon as you have booked or paid for something related to your trip. I highly recommend World Nomads to any one because it is travel insurance made by travellers for travellers.

However, you need to do your own research and choose an insurance company that suits your needs.

Money

Money, Money, Money. It’s something we cannot travel without.

I recommend travelling with cash and a card (or two) so you are always covered. Quite often on the beach you will be able to buy things from stands or from people walking up and down the beach and they will only take cash.

I also always have about $100AUD on me at all times that I can change if I find I am stuck without any money.

If you are carrying cash, don’t have all of your money in the one place. It is one way to ruin your beach vacation if someone happens to take it or it gets lost.

What do you think is the most used item on your European Beach Vacation Packing List? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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