30 best beach destinations in Europe in 2021

Europe has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Boasting miles upon miles of rugged coastlines with pristine beaches and crystal clear waters.

The best beach destinations in Europe have hidden coves, gorgeous fishing villages, charming villages, seafood to die for and warm waters.

The only question is….which beach are you travelling to this year?

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The best beach destinations in Europe

From Croatia to Scotland (I bet that one surprises you!) there is a beach for everyone in Europe. Whether you like the party scene of Ibiza or the laid back feel of Split, you are bound to find more than one best beach destinations in Europe to while away the summer months.

The Best Beach Destinations in Croatia

Rovinj

Jürgen & Martina, PlacesofJuma

Colourful buildings on the edge of the ocean in Rovinj, Croatia

One of the most beautiful beach destinations in Europe is definitely Rovinj in Croatia! On a trip you can expect a beautiful historic old town, where you can find plenty of lovely places for photography. This fascinating coastal town truly amazes visitors as one of the most beautiful old towns in Croatia. Really impressive are especially the colorful town houses, which are lined up close to each other from the sea up to the top of the town.

Walking through the city center there are many museums and other attractions to explore.  Picturesque are also the small alleys and pretty city squares, where you can enjoy the wonderful summer scenery with a cocktail or ice cream. In summer there is often life music and lots going on.

Another highlight that makes this place extremely attractive as a summer destination are the countless magnificent bays and beaches in Rovinj. They are located just a bit outside the city and delight with beautiful nature and fabulous watercolors. Perfect if you want to relax for a few days and still do some sightseeing and excursions.

But the region around Rovinj is also worth seeing, so you can experience a lot here also in summertime. Some of the most beautiful sights of Istria, such as Cape Kamenjak or the mountain village of Motovun are not far from Rovinj.

Pula

LeAnna, Wander In Germany

Rocky outcrop into the ocean lined with trees in Pula, Croatia

Croatia is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourists and it’s easy to see why! Cheap beers, great wines, fantastic foods, and amazing beaches!

If you are looking to have a memorable time in Croatia and want to get away from all the crowds in the more “popular” places, head to Pula and  Medulin. 

These two small towns sit right next to one another and between the two, they both offer fantastic beach vibes with plenty to do.

In Pula, you can find ancient Roman ruins, such as the “Arena” and the “Augustus Temple.”  A short drive from Medulin you will find some of the most amazing beaches in the Kemenjak National Park. 

Here, you can hike, go cliff jumping into the crystal clear blue water, or even spot some dinosaur tracks! There are nude beaches as well as very secluded sections where you’ll feel like you are the only ones enjoying the ocean. 

When staying in Pula and Medulin, the Park Plaza Medulin is a fantastic, upscale hotel that is just walking distance to the sandy Bijeca Beach and offers a buffet restaurant with phenomenal views out to the sea.  

To get to this underrated gem in Croatia, it is easiest to get to by car.  You can either fly into Zagreb, or surprisingly, Venice and drive to Pula in 3-5 hours. 

Zlatni Rat

Gabi, Under Flowery Sky

The sand protruding like a horn in the turquoise ocean in Croatia

Zlatni Rat or Golden Horn in the Bol town, island Brač is a symbol of the Adriatic and Croatia. This pebble beach enchants with its shape and crystal clear sea. If you might think it’s a sandy beach, you’re wrong but no way you will be disappointed.

It’s the beach that constantly changes its shape due to winds. It’s designed as the most attractive beach you can visit in Croatia often being announced as such at the touristic brochures. Shade is guaranteed so with dreamy colours of the sea indeed looks like a paradise.

This is a natural phenomenon that is often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world including The New York Times and National Geographic. Zlatni Rat is popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers, there are many sport activities nearby like tennis, volleyball or scuba diving.

The beach is also very suitable for children and families including the water park and parachute rides where the bird-eye view will mesmerize you.

Pine trees that encircle the beach were planted by locals as until 1950’s vineyards were placed here. Beautiful shaddy promenade that hides many other beaches leads to the town Bol which is only 2 km away. Along the route you will find amazing local sculptures and street vendors.

Fantastic views can also be seen from the Mount Sveti Vid. Bol town can easily be reachable from island Hvar (Jelsa and Vrboska) with only 20 minutes catamaran ride and 45 minutes by touristic boat. Catamaran from Split takes 1h to arrive in Bol. From the mainland on the island Brač Bol is 1h away from Supetar which is the main port when arriving from Split. 

Split

Ankita, My Travelling Stilettos

A view of the Terre cotter roofs looking out to the ocean in Split, Croatia

Split in Croatia is a charming seaside medieval town which is built inside a palace, the Diocletian palace.  A combination of the Adriatic, the Croatian Riviera, cobblestone streets, medieval town center, a 1700 years old palace, a promenade named the Riva, and beaches make it a unique and must-visit place.

Beaches like Bacvice and Kasjuni are perfect places to sunbathe and swim. Take an occasional break from the beach to explore the 1700 years old Diocletian palace, its town gates, bell tower, ancient Roman columns, the Egyptian Sphinx. Enjoy the sunset by the Riva while watching the ships sailing in and out. Groove at open-air concerts in the evening at peristyle, the center of the palace, with some locally crafted beers.

Split is a perfect base to explore Adriatic islands like Trogir, Hvar, Korcula to spend a day filled with beaches, the sand, and the sea. For a more authentic experience, catch a local ferry to any nearby inhabited islands and experience local life.

Split is conveniently located on the Croatian coastal highway and can be easily reached from all major Croatian cities after a scenic drive. It is well connected with the rest of Croatia and Europe by public buses and ferries. The view of the Split old town from a ferry is stunning. Public buses are available to get around within the city.

Venture outside the beaten path in the old town to find a lot of photo opportunities and instagrammable spots.

Restaurants in the old town are expensive. If you are on a budget, stock up from the Pazar market and cook in your Airbnb. If you don’t want to cook or don’t have cooking arrangements, step outside the oldtown and eat in places frequented by the locals.

Accommodation could be extremely expensive inside the city center. Try out Piazza Heritage Hotel, Cornaro Hotel, Judita Palace, Hotel Vestibul Palace or Antique Split Luxury to experience a stay in a heritage building inside the palace or medieval old town.

Šibenik

Lyndsay, The Purposely Lost

The sunsetting at Šibenik in Croatia

With a beautiful coastline and several shorelines to choose from, Šibenik, Croatia, is one of the best beach destinations in Europe. 

If you’d like to relax on the beach after exploring all of the different things to do in Šibenik, Banj Beach is located at the end of the city’s Riva. Before reaching this city beach, you’ll pass by coffee shops, ice cream stands, and beach bars. Banj Beach is free to enter and has free showers as well as rentable chairs. You’ll be at the base of the city while you’re on the shore, with spectacular views of the Barone Fortress, St. Michael’s Fortress, and the Cathedral of Saint James.

To get away from the historic city center, Jadrija Beach is another seaside beach area situated on a peninsula’s edge, just through the St. Anthony Channel. It’s filled with local families enjoying the great swimming there during the summer months. For a few kuna each way, Šibenik has a reliable ferry service that frequently operates during the day throughout the summer from the Riva to the Jadrija dock.

Otherwise, you can always spend time at the Solaris Camping Beach Resort! With five themed beaches on its property, a waterpark for families, and different hotels and camping grounds, there’s entertainment for all ages at this beach resort in Šibenik.

The Best Beach Destinations in Italy

Cinque Terre

Jess, Touristtotravellers

Coloured houses of Cinque Terre sitting on a cliff top overlooking the ocean

Colour popped houses perched on cliffs that look upon the sparkling ocean, lush vineyards,harbours filled with fishing boats pop up in one’s mind when you say the name Cinque Terre.

 An offbeat beat location once upon a time, Cinque Terre now thrives with tourists coming from all around the world. And rightly so! Home to some of the most picturesque towns, Cinque Terre is a place that suits every sort of a traveller. Laze on the beaches at Riomaggiore and Monterosso and go for a dip in the ocean.

Both the beaches are close to the railway station and within walking distance. If you are staying in any of the other towns then the train running from La Spezia to Levanto has good frequency and it’s one of the most convenient and cheap options. One can also opt for a ferry ride to reach the towns however its an expensive option and ferries do not run frequency like the train.

Every corner and turn at Cinque Terre is picturesque and makes a perfect background for that Instagram click! The way to the beach at Riomaggiore provides a perfect backdrop with the colourful village in the background and the vast ocean ahead.

Though accommodation in Cinque Terre is expensive one can park themselves in La Spezia. There are ample options available closer to the train station making travel easy for you.

Federici Stairway affittacamere is a good option that is moderately priced or

Procida

Jackie, Jou Jou Travels

The sun setting over Procida in Italy

Procida is a colorful hidden gem along the Amalfi coast situated between Capri and Naples. To get there, you can take a 40-minute ferry with the company Caremar.

The island is small and so special that it was just named Italy’s Capital of Culture, something the 10,000 inhabitants really pride themselves on. The sunset in Procida may just be the highlight of your trip.

Head up to Terra Murata to see the colorful pastel fishermen houses stacked one on top of another and the glorious sunset. It is a sight not to be missed. You can also admire a view from the ground as you eat delicious seafood from the famous restaurant, La Lampara.

Right next to this restaurant is the main tourist area, Marina Corricella, where you can enjoy other restaurants, take a boat ride to enjoy the surroundings, or have a nice drink by the sea.

A very beautiful boutique hotel in the area is San Michele Procida if you wish to stay overnight. Otherwise, only a few hours is needed to explore the town and you can head to Naples, Ischia, or Capri after! 

But be sure to not miss the beautiful beaches of Procida which include Chiaiolella, Spiaggia del Pozzo Vecchio, and Spiaggia Chiaia.

Positano

Sam, Sam Sees World

Buildings on the side of a cliff leading down to the beach in Positano

There is no better place in Europe to escape to for a beautiful beach-filled vacation than Positano, Italy. There are plenty of amazing things to do in Positano, from shopping to hiking to eating fresh Italian pizza and gelato. But going to the beach and soaking up the warm Italian sun in one of the most beautiful places on earth, easily tops this list. 

Positano’s beach offers an amazing view of the pastel-coloured buildings and huge mountains. These views make it a super special place to enjoy a day on the beach in a sunbed or swimming in the aqua blue waters.

The main beach in Positano is reached super easily. It is located just at the base of the village and cannot be missed by simply walking down towards the water.

If you are a photographer or want to capture the beauty of this beach it is best done in the water! From in the water, you can really see just how beautiful the city backdrop is while you enjoy the sea. 

The best hotel in Positano is Le Sirenuse, which is a luxury hotel located in the stunning Positano mountain. Staying here promises a trip you will never forget in one of the most beautiful and magical places in the world.

La Maddalena

Rachel from Average Lives

Rocky outcrops jutting into crystal blue waters in Sardinia, Italy making it one of the best beach destinations in Europe

Undeniably, Sardinia is one of the best beach destinations in Europe and is famous worldwide for its 2000km of beautiful coastline.

To find the best beaches, you can head to the Archipelago of La Maddalena in North Sardinia. It can be reached from Olbia airport and then by ferry from Palau nearby. 

The best time to visit is in the shoulder season (May-June or September- October), this is because in the summer months, unless you arrive very early, the beaches will be very busy with tourists.

Therefore, the shoulder season can offer you emptier, secluded beaches to fully enjoy the incredible beauty Sardinia offers. 

La Maddalena is a lively destination with shops, restaurants, bars and plenty of hotels and accommodation available. Including the beautiful Excelsior, which is close to the ferry terminal and centre. It is also an ideal base to enjoy the beaches and surrounding activities.

Cliffs surrounding blue ocean water with boats anchored

La Maddalena has been a national park since 1994 and is home to 7 main islands and 55 smaller islands. These islands have electric transparent blue water and an unspoilt natural playground. 

It’s a fabulous beach destination because you can swim, snorkel, hike and sail. Some of the best beaches include Cala Cotticio and Cala Nepolentana on Caprera Island. These can be reached by bike or by a 30-minutes hike.

These are also great photography spots, especially if you climb up onto the rocks next to the small bays to take a picture from above. 

You can also visit the Garibaldi Museum to see the house where Garibaldi spent the last 26 years of his life on the island. It is a rare paradise, and you need to add it to your bucket list!

Taormina

Annabel, Smudged Postcard

A view over the Italian coast lined with hills at Taormina, Italy

Taormina is located on the north east coast of Sicily. It is a brilliant beach destination for travellers who want to combine a beach holiday with culture and history. It’s also perfect for nature and geology lovers – the active volcano Mount Etna is clearly visible from the town. Taormina is one of the best places to visit in Sicily.

A cable car takes visitors from the town centre down to the pretty pebbly beach below. The beach, reached from the road by a series of steps, is lined with cafes and restaurants and there’s a delightful little island – Isola Bella – linked to the beach by a pebbly causeway.

Taormina is a charming town – locals and tourists enjoy the evening passeggiata along its main street Corso Umberto and the square of Piazza IX Aprile. One of the most significant sights in Taormina is the Greek-Roman amphitheatre which has an incredible position overlooking the sea and the volcano. Performances still take place at the theatre today with a mixed bill of classical concerts and as well as famous pop artists.

Taormina is located under an hour from the international airport at Catania. The streets of Taormina were not designed for cars so it’s best to take a bus or taxi to the town or leave a hire car in one of the car parks outside the town centre.

Claudia Tavani, Strictly Sardinia

Villasimius

Claudia, Strictly Sardinia

A rock monument over looking the water in Villasimius, Sardinia

There is no doubt that the island of Sardinia is one the best beach destinations in Europe. Scattered around the island you’ll find a plethora of incredible beaches and small villages or resort towns that will provide easy access to them. 

One of the best and most easily accessed destinations in southern Sardinia is Villasimius, a sleepy town of no more than 2000 people in the winter months that swells up to more than 30000 in the peak summer months.

Villasimius is located at just one hour drive from Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, and has everything you may need for a perfect beach holiday. 

Beaches not to miss in the area include Porto Giunco, easily accessed from the village and fully equipped with everything you may need for the day. The beach is surmounted by an Aragonese Watchtower that’s easy to reach on a short hike and from where you can enjoy splendid views. 

Another incredible beach further away from the village is Punta Molentis. This is a highly protected beach where no more than 500 visitors are allowed each day – make your way there no later than 7:30 am to ensure yourself a spot!

From Villasimius, you can take boat tours to the nearby islands: Isola dei Cavoli and Isola di Serpentara (which will open to visitors for the first time in summer 2021) are part of the Protected Marine Area of Capo Carbonara, which is also one of the best diving destinations in Sardinia.

Public buses to Villasimius depart regularly from the center of Cagliari, taking about two hours to get there. Alternatively, you can opt for an airport shuttle.

However, the best way to get to Villasimius and to move around the area is by car. You can rent a car directly at Cagliari airport once you land. From the airport, follow the directions to Cagliari and get on SS554.

Once on SS554, follow the directions to Muravera: you will need to get on SS125 headed to Muravera / Costa Rei. Take the first exit to Costa Rei. You will get to a narrow bridge with a traffic light – turn right at the traffic light. The windy road takes you all the way to Villasimius: it will be a 15 minutes drive from there.

You won’t have troubles finding a good place to stay in Villasimius. Most people opt to rent a small holiday apartment. If you feel the need to be pampered, Tanka Village is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the area.

Polignano a mare

Alessia & Toti, Italian Trip Abroad 

Old Italian buildings lining a small beach cove in Italy

Italy has some of the best seascapes in the world and, looking for a unique place to visit, Polignano a mare is among all others.

The beautiful sea town in Puglia, a region in the heel of the boot, far South East of Italy, is well known among locals, however, less known worldwide. The photos of the dramatic cliffs surrounding the pebble beach of Lama Monachile have inspired travellers and artists.

The beautiful view of the beach, down the cliff from Terrazza Santo Stefano is also the scenario for the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition.

Along with that the popular Italian Singer, Domenico Modugno, was inspired by the blu sky of Polignano and the gorgeous landscape for the song “Volare”.

You can visit Polignano just for its incredible beach or roam around the narrow alleys, surrounded by whitewashed houses. The old town is gorgeous, with the stairs of the whole place filled with love verses and songs.

A view of the italian buildings along the coast at Polignano a mare

There is also the “Terrazza degli innamorati”, the Lovers Terrace, a beautiful place where you take your other half. The best place to take shots of Polignano is from the other side, from Pietra Piatta check it out.

This is the viewpoint of Polignano and is easy to find photographers all around. Be aware that up there is always windy and the cliff jump is insane.

Instead, looking for the most romantic place, it’s good to know that Grotta Palazzese, a beautiful restaurant carved in the rocks is also a nice hotel where to stay in Polignano.

There is a unique way to arrive at Grotta Palazzese, taking a boat from Cala Paura or Cala Monachile to the hotel dock. Definitely walk through the alleys, dive into the turquoise water of Lama Monachile, have a fancy dinner at Grotta Palazzese are the top things to do in Polignano a Mare

Polignano is a true gem in Southern Italy, an unique beach destination in Europe, often overshadowed by other more advertised locations. However, the little Apulian town will surprise you a lot, with the genuine approach of the little communities, local fresh products and warm touch.

The Best Beach Destinations in Spain

Mallorca

Krisztina, She Wanders Abroad

People swimming in the Ocean at Cala Santanyi Mallorca.

If you’re looking for the best beach destinations in Europe, look no further than Mallorca, especially if you are travelling to Mallorca with a toddler. Part of the Balearic Islands on the Mediterranean Sea, Mallorca is home to some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches you’ll ever see.

Mallorca is a popular summer destination among tourists but thanks to its Mediterranean climate, you can even take a dip in the sea in the shoulder seasons. If you’d rather avoid the peak season, it’s best to visit in spring when the island is a lot quieter. Fall is another great time to visit although keep in mind that this is the rainiest period in Mallorca which can deter you from spending much time on the beach.

There is an airport located close to Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the island, so taking a flight is the easiest option to get to Mallorca. If you’re planning to visit from mainland Spain or one of the other islands nearby, you can also take a ferry but this takes a lot longer than hopping on a flight. The island is pretty big and getting around with public transportation can be a bit of a struggle, so it’s better to rent a car and opt for a Mallorca road trip.

Es Trenc Beach is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Mallorca, boasting fine white sand and turquoise waters. The beach usually gets very crowded during the day so it’s best to arrive early! Other great beaches to visit include Platja de Formentor, Cala Santanyí, and Caló des Moro. 

Ibiza

Dymphe, Dymabroad

People relaxing on beach chairs under palm trees on a beach in Ibiza

One of the best beach destinations in Europe is Ibiza. This is an island in the country of Spain that is incredible. It is part of the Balearic Islands, and it is located next to Mallorca.

Going to the island is easy as there are lots of flights to many places in the world. Furthermore, you can go to Ibiza by boat.

What makes Ibiza great is that you can find there beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and idyllic villages. The island of Ibiza is famous for its nightlife scene. Many famous DJs from all around the world go here to perform.

Two of the best clubs on the island are Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa. The villages in Ibiza are also great to visit when you go to the island.

Furthermore, Ibiza Town is very fun to visit! Here you find many restaurants, shops, and other venues. Also, the port of Ibiza is great to see, and you can see yachts here. Another great thing in Ibiza is Es Vedra.

This is a small island with rocks that many people consider to be a very romantic place. This is also a great spot for photography!

When you want to see many things on the island, it is recommended to rent a car. If you are looking for a great place to stay, then Mar y Playa is a good choice!

Alicante

Jürgen & Martina, PlacesofJuma

A view over Alicante, Spain towards the ocean

On the top of the most popular destinations for a beach vacation in Europe is certainly Alicante. The coastal city is located on the Costa Blanca and vacationers from all over the world come to spend their summer vacations here.

One of the absolute highlights are of course the gorgeous beaches in Alicante. The entire coast is more than spectacular and so you can expect picturesque landscapes including high cliffs and dream beaches during a visit.

On a coastline of about 200 kilometers there are plenty of find endless sandy beaches, but dreamy and secluded bays, which you often enjoy all to yourself.

But not only the beaches are amazing and invite to a summer vacation. Also the countless pretty coastal towns, especially Alicante Town with its imposing castle and colorful old town are worth seeing.

On top, not far away are great excursion destinations and you can also hike wonderfully and enjoy nature. For example, the Siera Helada Nature Park with its imposing cliffs and the mountain village of Guadalest in the hinterland are amazing to see.

The fantastic range of accommodation makes Alicante a perfect vacation destination in Europe! Particularly nice is the Suites del Mar by Melia where Junior-Suites pamper you with views of the marina.

Almeria

Paulina, Paulina on the Road

Buildings leading to the ocean in Almeria Spain

Almeria is a unique city situated in the Andalusian region of modern Spain. It is known to be a unique travel destination because it one of the most beautiful, but less recognized destinations all over Spain.

Not many people are aware of this beachy destination that offers a cheap and picturesque vacation. The place has moderate weather all year round, so travelers can visit any time of the year.

When other cities like Seville, Granada, and Barcelona are freezing in the winter season, Almeria offers a warm shower of soothing sun. Visiting the sea in soothing winter offers a great vacation.

Travelers who are looking for a budget-friendly vacation can visit Almeria, Spain. Visitors can take a flight to Almeria airport to reach the city. The nearest flight to the city flies from Granada airport. It is worth the visit as there is a lot to explore and learn.

Travelers can witness historical beauty with modern highlights. There are sightseeing attractions that are worth a photograph. One of the most famous attractions is The Alcabaza fortress that offers breathtaking views. It’s a tip for travelers to capture the beauty of this place in a photograph.

There is a lot to do in the region. It includes visiting Castillo de San Cristobal, witnessing Almeria’s Air Raid Shelters, exploring The Cathedral of Almeria without any visiting cost, learning history at the Museum of Almeria, and more.

Apart from sightseeing and exploring the town, it is a recommendation to shop regional stuff and eat food on Las Ramblas. It is a series of routes where the main avenues of the city are combined. There are great restaurants offering the most delicious Spanish Garlic Shrimp.

For a great stay, travelers can prefer Aire Hotel and Ancient Baths, which has some reliable and impressive customer reviews.

Cadiz

Linn, Brainy Backpackers

Old Mediterranean buildings lining the beach in Cadiz, Spain

The sand swept beaches of Cadiz are some of the most stunning you will find in Spain if not the whole of Europe.

Covering a large part of southern Spain, from the popular beaches of Tarifa, where both Valdevaqueros and Bolonia beaches are must visit beaches for those who love sunbathing, remote areas, and kite surfing.

Continuing down the coast, you have the mesmerizing beach of Los Alemanes that will sweep your breath away. You can walk up to a viewpoint to get stunning views of the long fine sanded beach.

But one of the most remarkable beaches in Cadiz is the beach in Los Caños de Meca. Divided by the Trafalgar Lighthouse indicating where the bloody battle of Trafalgar found place in 1805 there are actually two beaches in Los Caños de Maca, Los Caños de Maca beach and Faro de Trafalgar beach.

This tiny peninsula of sand and shrubs is a popular local beach area filled with beach bars, all with a chilled, bohemian vibe to it.

Once you get closer to Cadiz city, there are a lot of stunning beaches there too that are walking distance from the city.

But if you are looking for a more local fishing town, head to El Puerto de Santa Maria and test the beaches there. You won’t be disappointed!

Tarifa

Joanna, The World in My Pocket

A view over the beach at Tarifa  in the South of Spain

Tarifa is a beautiful town in the South of Spain, surrounded by gorgeous beaches and a national park from where you can see all the way to Morocco. Tarifa is the Southernmost point of continental Europe and also the point where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Visiting Tarifa, you can actually walk on the pier that divides the two bodies of water.

The closest beach to Tarifa is Playa de Los Lances, which is practically in town. It is a beautiful golden sandy beach, which stretches for 10 kilometres. As Tarifa is a hot spot for water sports in Spain, the beach is divided into two areas so that both adrenaline lovers and beach goers can relax in peace. The part closest to the town is dedicated to sunbathing, whilst further away, the kite surfers are free to take over the waves without disturbing anyone.

If you hire a car and want to enjoy some of the more remote beaches, check out Playa Punta Paloma. Here, you will find sand dunes and crystal clear water.

One of the major reasons why people choose Tarifa as their holiday destination is the rustic feel of the town but also the many kite and wind surfing schools. Learning how to take on the waves on a board is one of the best things to do in Tarifa, which is also known as the windy city.

As Tarifa is quite small, you won’t find chain hotels here. There are however plenty of small B&Bs where you can get a more authentic Spanish experience than in a hotel.Attachments area

Tenerife

Steph & Lewis, Book It Let’s Go!

A view from behind a bush over the view of a beach at Tenerife

Tenerife in the Canary Islands is one of the more popular beach destinations in Europe. Tenerife has year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches and many accommodation options ranging from 2* budget to luxury 5* all-inclusive so it’s easy to see why people flock here all year round.

Tenerife is not just about relaxing on the beach however, there are plenty of things to do for all abilities and interests including tours for whale watching, jeep tours of Mount Teide, snorkelling with turtles or even scuba diving at one of the many dive sites on Tenerife.

If you do want to visit the beautiful beaches you will find both yellow and black sandy beaches on Tenerife due to the volcanic nature of the island. Some of the best beaches are found on the south of the islands with the most popular being the resorts of Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos.

The best way to get around on Tenerife and fully explore the island is to rent a car for as little as 7 euro per day. Taxis are the most expensive way to tour the island and renting a car gives you freedom to drive up through the quaint little villages on the mountain and explore all the beautiful beaches and towns around the coast.

Cabo de Gata

Linn, Andalucia Hiking

A view through the shrubs to the ocean at Cabo de Gata

Cabo de Gata, Spain, is one of the most underrated but best beach destinations in Europe. With sand-blown beaches protected by steep cliffs, some of them only reached by boat or by hiking.

The Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is one of the few places in western Europe where you can see the desert. And when the desert meets the beach, you know you are in a unique place.

Some of the best beaches are Playa de Los Muertos, a white pebbled beach with a steep hike down, Playa de Los Genoveses, a mesmerizing long beach in a large bay, and Playa Monsul, made famous by the local singer David Bisbal.

Most of the beaches in Cabo de Gata are virgin beaches which means there is no service at the beach like bar, toilet, or sunbeds. But that is one of the things that make this corner of Spain so unique.

You can even hike to Cala de San Pedro, a remote hippie community in a bay where you can actually beach camp, something that is illegal in the rest of Spain.

Cabo de Gata is best explored by car to get around to the best beaches. It is only half an hour to drive to the natural park from Almeria which has an international airport. The best villages to stay, are San Jose or Las Negras, both by the sea. Or stay at Los Escullos Campo ground in between.

San Sebastian

Christina, Travel2next

A view over the islands in the ocean at San Sebastian

San Sebastian is one of the most overlooked beach destinations in Europe but it really is one of the best beach destinations in Europe.

This beach destination has a lot to offer, and it is a great vacation spot for families. The city offers world-class restaurants, shopping, and beautiful beaches.

La Concha Beach is a famous beach in San Sebastian. It is a large beach with crystal clear water and blue skies to match. The sand is soft, white-golden, and makes for an excellent place to sunbake and swim.

There are many other smaller but equally beautiful beaches like Zurriola Beach, where visitors can enjoy some time away from civilization and truly immerse themselves in nature. This quiet stretch of coastline offers views that will leave anyone breathless at its beauty.

San Sebastian’s location right on the coast means that visitors can enjoy the ocean and views out across the Bay of Biscay. While there are many different areas to explore, San Sebastian’s Old Town is a pleasure to explore on foot near the beaches.

One of the things to do in San Sebastian is to visit a few pintxos bars. These tasty tapas dishes are available worldwide and are an essential part of the San Sebastian experience.

Several other places worth exploring in San Sebastian, such as Puente de Maria Cristina and there are some fantastic views from Monte Igueldo Park.

The best season to visit San Sebastian is during the summer months when the weather is warm enough to swim, and it’s a great time of year to have fun at its amazing beaches.

The best hotel in San Sebastian is Hotel Maria Cristina because of its history that dates back to 1912. The hotel has hosted many movie stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor.

The Best Beach Destinations in Portugal

Lagos

Campbell & Alya, Stingy Nomads

Rocky cliffs on a sandy beach at Lagos Portugal

Lagos, a small town in the Algarve region, Portugal is an amazing summer beach destination in Europe.

Lagos has everything you need to enjoy your summer vacation; great sunny weather, sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, the beautiful yacht harbor, the charming historical center with many cafes and restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and many accommodation options from hostels to villas.

Lagos is a holiday place for anybody; backpackers, romantic couples, and families with children. Everybody will find suitable things to do and places to visit. 

Outdoor activities in Lagos include hiking, kayaking, surfing, SUPing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. There are a couple of surfing schools in Lagos that offer classes for beginners and rent gear. Kayaking in Logos is a not-to-miss activity.

The tours start from Praia dos Estudantes and take tourists along the coast past isolated beaches, small bays, hidden caves, and rugged cliffs. Snorkeling and swimming are a part of the kayaking tour. Going out on a boat to see dolphins is another popular activity in Lagos.

A view over Rocky cliffs surrounding the ocean

For the best vistas of the coast and great photos follow the hiking trail along the coast. The route is a part of the Fisherman’s trail. It starts at Praia Estudantes and goes all the way to the lighthouse at Ponta da Piedade. There are several lookout points with breathtaking views of the coast, the beaches, and the sea. 

Summer months are the busiest time in Lagos. The peak tourist season is August when thousands of local and foreign tourists come to Lagos. If you want to skip the crowd it’s better to visit the area in May-June or September.

If you’re planning to come in the peak season it’s highly recommended to book accommodation a couple of months in advance.

There are many hotels and hostels in Lagos. Marina Rio Hotel is a great place to stay for those who want to be close to the beaches, the harbor, and the historical center. 

The quickest way of getting to Lagos is to fly to the international airport of Faro which is 90 km away. There are direct flights from many European cities. From there you can get to Lagos by train, bus, or taxi. It’s possible to rent a car at Faro airport and drive to Lagos.

Algarve

Nichola, Globalmouse Travels

A speed boat driving through a hole in a rock wall in the Algarve, Portugal

You can’t beat the beaches of the Algarve. They have a wonderful golden hue with huge stretches that are perfect for walking barefoot across.

Right at the south of Portugal the Algarve is like its own unique destination, quite separate from the rest of the country. It’s sunnier, warmer and there’s a friendliness in this region that you don’t get anywhere else in the same way.

Fly in to Faro airport or drive or take the train from Lisbon. If you’re visiting Portugal with kids then the Algarve should be high up on your must visit destinations.

There’s lots to do here, particularly outdoor sports like golf, horse riding and canoeing. Visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park which is a wonderful place to spot wildlife. You can walk or cycle through it right down to the sandy beach at the end. Take a trip to the end of the earth at Sagres – the spot where Europeans used to believe the earth ended.

Stand here and stare out to sea and you can almost imagine how terrifying it must have been for them to wonder at what lay beyond.

There are many great places to stay in the Algarve, Pine Cliffs is one of the best with beautiful walks through the cliffs down to the beach below.

This is a region it’s best to have a car to explore as public transport is scarce. Come for as long as you can though, the Algarve is somewhere that really gets under your skin.

The Best Beach Destinations in Scotland

Outer Hebrides

Kristin, Adventures with Ensuite

Reeds in the sand heading towards the ocean surrounded by mountains

Scotland might not seem like the most likely of beach destinations but the beaches are out of this world.

Many of the best Scottish beaches can be found in the Outer Hebrides, a group of islands off the coast of mainland Scotland. Getting there requires either taking a ferry or a domestic flight from Glasgow or Inverness. But the extra effort it takes to get there means that you get fewer visitors than other destinations with such beautiful beaches.

Imagine glittering white sand and turquoise waters. On a sunny day that is exactly what you get in the Outer Hebrides. In fact the beaches of Berneray and Luskentyre often feature in Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor beach award rankings. Berneray beach is so picturesque it was once mistakenly used by the Thai tourist board in one of their adverts.

However beautiful they are the beaches are certainly better for strolling along rather than sunbathing. Since this is northern Scotland it is rarely warm enough to sunbathe and the water is usually freezing, even during the summer. Luckily there are many scenic hikes in the area which show off the fantastic landscape.

For wildlife lovers there is plenty to see such as seals, otters and puffins and during bad weather a tour of the local gin distillery is a good alternative.

One of the best places to stay is Scarista House Hotel on Harris. If you are looking to get away from it all consider Seal View B&B at Berneray island, which only has 130 inhabitants

The Best Beach Destinations in Malta

 Comino island

Lavina, Continent Hop

Boats sitting in the Blue Lagoon in Malta

The Blue Lagoon, aka Comino island in Malta, is the second-largest island in Malta and one of the prettiest, which makes it one of the best things to do in Malta.

Not only are its crystal clear azure waters tempting, but it also has a few beaches as well, partly rocky, partly sandy, making it one of the must-visit islands in the Mediterranean.
The waters are lukewarm in spring and summer, making it pleasant to go for a swim and even snorkelling.

The best way to get here from Malta is via a day trip or via the ferry terminal at Cirkewwa.
It’s best to visit the island and the beaches there on a day trip; however, you can stay in the only hotel on the island, the Comino Island, if booked well in advance.

One can walk the whole length of the island in about thirty minutes and what makes it interesting is that the island was once used by pirates as a base and then during the war too as an important harbour.
The island is full of herbs and plants that cast a pleasant smell throughout the island.

In addition to spending a relaxing day here, you can also enjoy the caves and cliffs here, making it one of the best day trips one can do from Malta.

The Best Beach Destinations in Greece

Rhodes

Alice, Adventures of Alice

St Paul's Bay on Rhodes in Greece

St Paul’s Bay is a small and picturesque bay on the east coast of the island of Rhodes. It has been voted as one of the top beaches in Europe by Travel Channel and National Geographic, with its soft, white sand and clear water making it a perfect destination for those looking to escape from city life. 

The bay is perfect for swimming or just relaxing in the sun. It also offers world-class diving opportunities, so if you want to find out what lies beneath the surface head over there. As the bay is enclosed, you can actually swim or snorkel around the whole of the bay and even out to the open water (however, I don’t suggest doing this unless you’re a very strong swimmer).

Rhodes is a wonderful Greek Island and you can get a direct flight there easily from most of the other cities in Europe.

Plus, because Rhodes is such as easy island to travel around (and there are so many great things to do in Rhodes), you don’t just have to stay in Lindos – the nearest city – to visit St Pauls. You can stay elsewhere on the island and travel down by public transport or by hiring a moped.

Crete

Nichola, Family Hotel Expert

A boat floating in the crystal waters in Crete, Greece

Crete is the perfect getaway for those looking for beaches and relaxing times. It is packed full of gorgeous sandy beaches and surrounded by the most beautiful, turquoise seas. This is somewhere to come and really take in the scenery.

There’s plenty else to do on the island though, if you want to get out and about and see the sights. Visit one of the oldest communities in Europe at Knossos and stroll through the wonderful archaeological remains here.

Take a trip in to the island’s capital, Heraklion and see the Archaeological Museum for all of the treasures found at Knossos and beyond. Take a boat from pretty Elounda over to Greece’s former leper colony, Spinalonga, and walk around this eery island, spotting the former hospital and now abandoned homes as you go.

There are some wonderful resorts in Crete for families or solo travellers and couples, such as Paradise Island Villas which gives you a real home from home but with lots of luxurious elements thrown in.

Fly in to one of Crete’s two airports and hire a car to really see the sights. One of the beauties of Crete is to come across pretty villages or forgotten coves and lose yourself in the scenery.

This is one of Europe’s top beach destinations for a good reason and somewhere there’s always something new to discover on every trip.

Corfu

Dani, No Hurry To Get Home

A view from the top of a shrub covered hill over the beach and ocean in Corfu

Corfu is one of the best beach destinations in Europe not only for the fact that it boasts a coastline made up of Mediterranean goodness but also for the fact that it’s home to a myriad of mountain villages and a ton of mythological legends and cultural heritage that can keep you entertained for weeks on end.

With so much to do in Corfu, a quick getaway might not be quite enough to see it all, but at the top of the best things to do in Corfu, you’ll find Porto Timoni, a gorgeous beach where you can chill at or try your hand at snorkeling. Another must-do is exploring Corfu Town, where you’ll find a world of quaint buildings and historical sites. For the best view of Corfu, hike up to Palaiokastritsa, which is probably the most emblematic view of Corfu (legend has it that the bay of Palaiokastritsa is the spot where Odysseus met Nausicaa for the first time).

Corfu is easy to get to from most major European airports. There’s an airport right on the edge of the island and from there, it’s easy to get anywhere on the island via bus or taxi.

There are so many wonderful places to stay in Corfu for every budget, but right at the top of the list is Porto Demo Boutique Hotel if you’re in the mood for a luxurious stay while visiting Corfu. If you’re looking for something a bit more mid-range, then San Georgio Hotel is another wonderful choice. 

The Best Beach destinations in France

Cannes

Patricia, Ze Wandering Frogs

The French Riveria in Cannes

Cannes is world-famous for its Film Festival, where movie stars roam the city and add glamour to the French Riviera town.

However, Cannes is also a popular beach destination, especially in the summer months. Cannes is the place to go for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea with almost a dozen sand beaches.

Public beaches include the Plage du Casino, Plage du Midi, and Moure Rouge Beach. Entrance to some beaches (called plages in French) is private, like Carlton Beach and Long Beach, which are managed by their nearby hotels.

The Carlton Riveria and the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic are two of the most iconic hotel in Cannes.
 
What makes Cannes unique compared to other French Riviera cities with similar access to the Mediterranean Sea is the Lerins Islands.

A short boat ride from Cannes connects the small islands and provides passage to secluded beaches, like the Ile Sainte Marguerite Beach. Once at the beach, sailing and kiteboarding are top water activities in addition to swimming, of course.
 
Off the beach, Cannes top attractions comprise the Palais des Festivals, the old Town section of the Suquet, museums such as the Musée des Explorations du Monde, luxurious shopping along the Croisette Boulevard, or the 5th-century Saint-Honorat monastery on Lérins Islands.

Days trips to Nice, Antibes, or Grasse will give a further glimpse into the French Riviera and Provence region. For non-urban activities, hiking in the nearby Massif des Maures or biking along the French Riviera are great options for outdoor enthusiasts.
 
Flying into Nice International Airport is the quickest option and about one hour drive from Cannes. While the summer months are the warmest, they are also the busiest. Beaches might be overly crowded. Consider June and September as alternatives. 

Nice

Elisa, France Bucket List

Nice is one of the best beach destinations in Southern France. Located by the Mediterranean Sea, in the French Riviera, Nice is one of the top cities in France, well known for its historical heritage, glamorous hotels, and nightlife.

The weather in Nice is warm and sunny most of the year, but for a Nice beach holiday, consider a trip from May to the end of September. The city offers ten pebble beaches, public and private. The private beaches come with great facilities like toilets, changing rooms, restaurants, and cocktail bars, while public beaches are just a place to shake out your towel.

The list of things to do in Nice, other than sunbathing, includes a visit to Old Nice, beautiful baroque architecture, the Castle Hill, the colorful market so typical of Provence, and a stroll through the iconic Promenade des Anglais.

Nice is served by an international airport with many regular and seasonal flights from Europe and overseas. The city is also well connected to the main cities in France by TGV (fast) trains, most of the time with a change of trains in Marseille. It is also possible to visit Nice on a day trip or weekend getaway from Monaco.

What is your favourite beach destination in Europe? Let me know what I am missing from the list 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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Comments

    • I agree! I would give anything to visit a European beach right now!! Have you been to any of these beaches before?

  1. This is a great roundup! I loved Cinque Terre when we visited. Iโ€™m dying to visit Positano & Mallorca! Iโ€™d love to add some of these other spots to my bucketlist, as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What n incredible roundup of beautiful beaches! I can see why they all made the list of the best beaches in Europe! I want to visit all of them!

  3. What an incredible list. I thought the early descriptions of beaches in Croatia would be hard to beat but I came to realize that each beach had something unique to offer. With so much variety, it would be easy to choose a location of interest.

  4. All of these beaches are so beautiful! I love the ones in Greece and Portugal. I cannot wait to visit more. My favorite area in the world! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What a collection! As I read this I am trying to pick a favourite, but each one blows me a way. I may have to give the crown to colourful Italy. Cinque Terre and Positano are both firmly on my bucket list. I will be keepin this post handy for future travels! Thanks for sharing!g

  6. Reading this article is the best way to find a great summer destination! Thanks for all the recommendations, there are a few beaches that I didn’t know! I cannot wait for summer!

  7. I would love to check out some of the beaches in Croatia, they all look incredible. I’ve been to a lot in southern Spain and found that I prefer the more remote ones that don’t have any buildings surrounding it.

  8. Wow! So many of these beaches look amazing. It’s been over a yea and a half since I’ve seen this the sea and this makes me want to go to the beach so bad!

    • A year and a half? I hope you get back to the beach soon! I’m super jealous of the people who live on the beach.

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