A gorgeous beach is still a deciding factor for many of us when planning our holidays, but which of the hundreds found in Europe are worth dedicating a few lazy days to?
I’ve picked 10 of the best to get you started.
- Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Colloquially known as the ‘Blue Lagoon’, Oludeniz Beach has soft sand, pebble shores and incredibly blue waters to paddle in and explore. Still weather makes paragliding a real treat here, too. Turkey has more than its fair share of great spots, and a Turkish beach holiday should definitely be on your shortlist.
- Navagio Beach, Greece
Found in pretty Zakynthos, ‘Shipwreck Beach’, as it is called by locals, features a stretch of sand nestled within limestone cliffs, with a freighter ship buried right in the centre. You can only get to the beach via boat, meaning that it can be quiet at the right time of year.
- San Fruttuoso, Italy
Just about as picturesque as it is possible to get, San Fruttuoso Beach is backed by a stunning medieval abbey and enclosed by mountains and luscious greenery. You can only reach the beach by hiking or catching a ferry, but once there, the cove is perfect for whiling away an entire day.
- Black Sand Beach, Iceland
Admittedly, not the first country that comes to mind for beaches, Iceland is actually home to one of the most dramatic and beautiful in the world, in my opinion. Black Sand Beach is dark, peppered with basalt columns and has a rugged feel, all of which makes for spectacular photographs.
- Praia da Marinha, Portugal
A combination of soft white sand, craggy cliff faces and ultra-calm water, Praia da Marinha is one of the world’s best beaches, not just Europe. Snorkelers come for the clear, still water, while sun worshippers love the various coves that offer more privacy and seclusion.
- Île de Porquerolles, France
Unspoilt by an influx of tourists, this charming French island is car-free and blissfully peaceful, and has a suitably perfect and uncrowded beach scene to enjoy. Dense greenery and a sweet little town complete the scenery, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pull yourself away from what will feel like a private beach.
- Tisvilde, Denmark
Potentially another surprise entry, but one that you have to experience. Tisvilde Beach brings together grassy dunes, soft sand and calm water, alongside a local culture that embraces the more sociable and grateful side of life. You will often see locals bringing cinnamon rolls and coffee to the beach for breakfast.
- Cala Macarella, Menorca (Spain)
You’ll need to put on your walking shoes to get to Cala Macarella, but it is worth every step of your hike. Hidden between rock faces, the beach offers bright golden sand and dazzling water that’s perfect for family swimming and snorkelling. It’s rarely busy, too, thanks to the effort needed to reach it.
- Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Croatia has become a fun holiday hotspot with many stretches of sand to choose from, but Zlatni Rat stands out because of its fantastic shape. Made up of tiny smooth pebbles that feel amazing to relax on, the beach is great for water-sports fans, with excellent conditions for windsurfing and paddle boarding.
- Cape Greco, Cyprus
Sunbathing is great, but if you like to do more than laze on a beach, Cape Greco is for you. Sea caves can be walked into during low tide or swum through at other times, and the surrounding forest is perfect for hiking. Cliff diving into the clear waters is a must-try test of courage!
There’s a lot more to fantastic beaches than just sea and sand and each of these examples offers a unique and unforgettable holiday experience.