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Top 25 Beaches in Europe

Posted June 24, 2011 No comments

When you think about the best beaches, the Seychelles or the Maldives are the kind of names most likely to spring to mind. But what about in Europe? Yes, the 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 of  Formentera by 150 metres, this natural park is technically private property. But 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 Cíes 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 to 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, Crète

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.

Honeymoon Heaven

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 Mazzarò 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 the turquoise waters of this taste of the Caribbean in the 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.

Sporty Hotspots

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 competitive kite surfers 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. Patín, 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.

Getting Naked

22. Montalivet 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, Crète

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?