Top 25 Beaches in Europe
June 24, 2011
When you think about the best beaches, theÂ SeychellesÂ or the Maldives are the kind of names most likely to spring to mind. But what about in Europe? Yes, theÂ Mediterranean, Adriatic and Atlantic also offer white sands, clear waters, and some pretty fierce waves.
Whether you’re looking for a chilled honeymoon break, a surfing safari, or a chance to get naked and back to nature, Europe has a cove, beach or bay for everyone. From England to Italy, we’ve inspected every inch of the coast to find out where the very best ones are…
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
1. Playa de S’alga on isla de Espalmador, near Formentera, the Balearics
Image by Samu73 on Flickr
Separated from the also-beautiful island ofÂ Â Formentera by 150 metres, this natural park is technically private property. ButÂ respectful, nature-loving tourists are more than welcome. The lack of restaurants and bars make this beach extra special – get there by boat or swim.
2. The beaches of the CĂes Islands, Galicia, Spain
Image by mcxurxo on Flickr
For a stunning mountain and sea combination, this archipelago is located in the Vigo range. Keen fishermen should steer clear of this one since it’s part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park.
3. Fetovaia, Elba Island, Italy
Image by philTizzani on Flickr
Napoleon struck gold when he was exiled toÂ this beautiful Tuscan island. It must have been very hard for him to return to Paris after 300 days of being surrounded by lush green forests and azure waters. Fortunately, Fetovia is yet to be revolutionised by the modern world since then.
4. Balos beach, CrĂ¨te
Image by X it on Flickr
Jump on a boat from Kissamos Port and head north-west to Gramvousa, where you’ll find this pretty piece of nature. Then go beach-combing along the white strip of sand that separates the beach from the lagoons.
5. Beach of the Cathedrals, Lugo, Spain
Image by "bergaralphoto" Ramon Rodriguez Martinez on Flickr
This piously named beach is so-called because of it’s arch-shaped cliffs over 30 metres high. At low-tide, the unusual shapes of the caves are worth seeing for an other-worldy experience.
6. Oludeniz beach, Turkey
Widely considered to be one of the best beaches in Turkey, due to its mountainous surroundings.
7. Taormina beaches, Sicily
Image by gnuckx on Flickr
Favourite of the jetset, this resort has something for everyone with two sets of different beaches. If you want to feel the sand between your toes, the beaches of MazzarĂ˛ are not for you – but they are pretty as a postcard, offering a mountain backdrop and views of the tiny Isola Bella. Beyond this, are the smoother sands of the second set of beaches, where you can make sandcastles to your heart’s content.
8. Stara Baska beach, Krk Island, Croatia
Krk island is the largest in Croatia. Surrounded by white stones and clear waters, you don’t have to close your eyes to make-believe you’re at the Bahamas.
9. Costa Smerelda, Sardinia
Image by delaere on Flickr
Playground of the rich and famous, the Costa Smerelda is also well-loved for its stunning stretches of beach and isolated little coves.
10. Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta
Image by ramonbaile on Flickr
This is an absolute must if you’re in Malta. Hidden in a cove only accessible by boat, explore theÂ turquoiseÂ waters of this taste of the Caribbean in theÂ Mediterranean.
A Family Affair
11. Teresitas beach, Tenerife
Image by La Metro Project on Flickr
Here you have a little piece of the African desert on the European coast. While the rest of the island has black, volcanic sand, here the white variety is imported from the Sahara.
12. Rena di Ponente, Capo Testa, Sardinia
Image by harrison&peterson on Flickr
Capo Testa is a narrow strip of land extending from the north of Sardinia, like a finger trying to tap Corsica on the shoulder! Waves crash against the rocks, and mum, dad and the kids can all dive off them into the turquoise waters below.
13. Marinha beach, the Algarve, Portugal
One of the many beaches in this part of Portugal, this one is famous for its pristine waters and impressive cliffs. Enjoy the atmosphere of natural beauty, as well as family time in the sand.
14. Torquay’s beaches, England
Image by edwin.11 on Flickr
Otherwise known as the English Riviera, this stretch of coastline has every kind of beach or cove you can think of: wide, sandy or secluded. Known for their cleanliness, they’re ideal for kids. There are also a huge variety of activities from beach to beach – from water sports to fishing.
15. Hayle Towan Beach, North Cornish Coast, England
Image by Ben Sutherland on Flickr
Known as the ‘three miles of golden sand’, it’s so vast that it’s hard for it to ever get crowded – even on the May bank holiday. At low-tide, all the Hayle beaches come together to create a wide expanse of sand popular for sand-yachting and kite buggying.
16. Biarritz, France
Image by bruce89 on Flickr
Although it has a glitzy image, thanks to the Palace Hotel and Casino, Biarritz is also a well known surfer destination.
17. Bolonia beach, Tarifa
Image by Cayetano on Flickr
Considered to be Europe’s surfing paradise, this Andalusian resort has 4km of fine white sand.
18. Sligo beach, Ireland
Image by lee_ciaran on Flickr
Yes, Ireland, really! Up in the far north, the waves are perfect for novices and experts alike.
19. St Peter-Ording, Germany
Image by orwi on Flickr
Stretching for 12km this North Sea beach has some impressive dunes. It’s probably best known though, as the place where competitiveÂ kite surfersÂ come to battle it out. Part of Wattenmeer National Park, the shape of the landscape changes depending on the tide.
20. Mundaka beach, Basque Country, Spain
Image by surfglassy on Flickr
Home to the best waves in Europe, this is up in the north of Spain.
21. PatĂn, Ferrol, Spain
Image source: http://turismogalicia.blogspot.com
The definitive surfer’s destination – the world championships of the sport will be held here in September.
22. MontalivetÂ beach, France
Image by Fr33d on Flickr
This is the grandmother of all nudists beaches, as well as the nudist movement. People started getting naked here back in the 1950s.
23. Plakias, CrĂ¨te
Image by rg-fotos on Flickr
One of Europe’s most famous nudist beaches, there’s more to Plakias than naked. Surrounded by mountains and hills, the scenery is something else to look at. And nude diving enthusiasts will be please to hear that there’s plenty of that activity too.
24. Sylt island, Germany
Image by tempoworld on Flickr
The largest German island in the North, the spectacular scenery and fine sand make a great setting for nudism.
25. Pissouri, Cyprus
Image by Leonid Mamchenkov on Flickr
Although nudism is technically illegal in Cyprus, there are plenty of beaches where people do it, like in the coves around the town of Pissouri.
Well that’s all we have for now. Which are your favourite beaches in Europe?