The Best Beaches in Europe
This list of the best European beaches has been compiled from a number of different sources.
There are some countries in Europe blessed with many great beaches that would easily make this list, but to keep it from getting too long, I have only picked one or a maximum of two beaches from any one country.
Whilst everyone will always have their favourites, you can't deny that all these are fantastic beach holiday destinations and it just goes to show that you don't need to travel to the other side of the world to enjoy some of the best beaches in the world!
With Stunning white sandy beaches, tucked away in little coves and clear blue waters, Portugal's Algarve has many beaches that could easily make it onto any list of the best beaches in Europe.
One of the best is Benagil beach, near Carvoeiro, here you will find beautiful soft golden sands, free of high rise buildings and hotels, that makes you feel that you have escaped to somewhere remote, there is however a small kiosk selling drinks and snacks.
Benagil beach can be easy to miss as it is hidden away behind one of the Algarve's distinctive cliffs, just look out for cars parked on the roadside for a clue. You can also rent a small fishing boat to go and explore the picturesque coastline and wonderful caves.
This has to be one of the best beaches in Europe and what is interesting is that it is one of the few beaches not in the Mediterranean. When most people think of a beach holiday is Spain, the Mediterranean cost usually is the first thing to spring to mind, but Las Islas Cies is on the western coast of Spain.
Delving a little further, you will see that Las Islas Cies beach is not only a fantastic beach, but also very exotic and I guess the best bit is you don't have to travel to a far off destination to get there!
Read more on Las Islas Cies beach in Galicia, Spain
Of the four largest Baelearic islands (Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera), Formentera is the smallest and least developed with many beautiful beaches around the coast. Almost all of the beaches have soft white sands and because Formentera is surrounded by a crystal-clear Mediterranean sea it offers excellent underwater visibility, making it an ideal location for diving and snorkeling. The constant breeze not only helps in keeping you cool, but you can also use it to try your hand at wind-surfing.
Formentera is very different from its high-living, high octane party all night neighbour Ibiza and is a place where you can go to relax. Es Migjorn has miles and miles of fine, white sand ensuring beach-goers can find their own spot in the sun.
Malta is Europe's southern most country, It's islands are very rocky, but if you know where to look there are some stunning sandy beaches. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, located on the western shores of Malta and near the town of Mgarr has to be one of the best.
The view from the top of the hill as you walk down to the beach is stunning. The beach itself is covered in soft white sand. The bay is well protected and as such is ideal for families as well as those wishing to do a little snorkelling.
The beach is not officially a nudist beach, but you do sometimes find nudist sunbathers, who tend to keep to themselves at the far end.
The area around the beach is perfect for walkers with plenty of paths with fantastic views of the Maltese coastline to explore. More on the best beaches in Malta >>
If it wasn't for the much shorter flight, you could be mistaken into thinking that you had arrived on one of the Caribbean islands. The stunning beauty of crystal clear waters, surrounded by its very fine, light-coloured sand and towering dunes flanked by juniper trees is undeniable.
This part of the coast on Sardinia is characterised by it's beautiful small sandy beaches separated by rocky outcrops and is perfect for taking long scenic costal walks.
The Town of Chia now stands on the ancient Phoenician city of Bithia.
Of all the countries along the coast in Europe, France is the place to come to be seen. Sure France has some stunning rural beaches, Camargue located in protected area in the Rhone river delta springs to mind, but it is the glitz and glamour of the beaches along the Côte d'Azur and the French Riviera that are what French beaches are famous for.
Of all the places in the Riviera, St Tropaz is the most glamourous, and waht once was as small seaside town and fishing port now comes complete with beautiful sunbathing women, yachts, five-star hotels and lots of very rich and famous people.
Plage des Graniers is probably the best looking little beach, only a few minutes walk from St Tropaz, so expect it to get very busy during the peak summer holiday time. If it is full, other beaches to look out for include Bouillabaisse Beach, Graniers Beach, Jumeaux Beach, Pampellone Beach - sandy beaches and Tahiti Beach, the famous nude beach in France immortalized Brigitte Bardot.
Gerakas beach is located on the southern coast of Zakynthos and like Lara Bay in Cyprus and Patara beach in Turkey it is a nesting spot for turtles and is part of the National Marine Park which means that there are no large developments or watersports allowed.
So whilst it is not the ideal beach for jet skiers, it does mean that there is plenty of peace and quiet and with plenty of clean sand, stunning views, a shop by the car park selling ice creams, four tavernas within a five-minute walk and a crèche nearby, it is a fantastic beach for families especially those with small children.
Accommodation is available at the nearby tourist resort of Vassiliko only a few kilometers away.
Lara Bay is pretty remote and you'll need a 4x4 just to get to it, but this is part of it's charm and is perfect for those looking to get away from it all. Behind the beach is the Akamas National Park and so there are no modern developments anywhere in sight.
Just like Patara beach in Turkey, Lara Bay is a breeding ground for green loggerhead turtles, who return every year to lay their eggs at night. The Cypriot conservation authorities place cages around the eggs to stop anyone accidentally treading on them and since these measures have been taken, the survival rate of the tiny hatchlings has dramatically increased.
Not only does is this beach beautiful and benefit from the great weather in Turkey, but it boasts its own two thousand year old ruins. Located on the southwest coast of Turkey, Patara beach is almost 12 miles long, making it one of the longest beaches in the Mediterranean and unlike many other popular beach holiday locations in the Mediterranean, it is pretty much completely undeveloped.
Part of a national park, it is a key bio-diversity area, rich in birdlife as well as the breeding ground of the endangered loggerhead turtle, who emerge at night between June and August to lay their eggs in the sands.
The town of Patara is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and was one of the most important harbours in the ancient world. Away from the beach you can explore Patara's Roman amphitheater and the fallen Porphyry columns that lie beside the largest avenue that the Romans ever built.
Once a humble fishing village, Baska Voda's beaches, pine woods and lovely setting have made it a favorite for seaside tourism and it is easy to see why.
With the stunning backdrop of the Biokovo mountains, great sands and warm waters, Baska Voda beach is one of the best beaches on the stunning Adriatic coastline of Dalmatia in Croatia.
As well as lazing on the stunning beaches, there some fantastic hiking trails in and around the forests that surround the area.
Although the the Isle of Purbeck is actually a peninsula, to get there you have to get on an old chain ferry and you do feel that you have left the mainland.
Thanks to the National Trust, the beach is completely unspoilt with a huge area of sand backed by miles and miles of dunes.
There is a lovely seafood restaurant right on the water as well as the Shell Bay Bar and Restaurant has a great view of the harbour and is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and drink.
With it's beautiful white sands and turquoise blue waters, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that you were somewhere in the Caribbean.
Of course the water is not as warm as the tropics, but there are many other fantastic reasons to visit this stunning beach that is located in St.Ives, which must be one of the most beautiful towns in Cornwall and possibly the UK.
For more information to Porthminster beach as well as the other great beaches in St Ives, read my guide to Porthminster Beach & St Ives.
The views from Rhossili village above Worm's Head over the sweep of Rhossili beach were voted 11th out of 50 of the Best Views in the World in a recent worldwide contest.
The magnificent 5km beach Rhossili beach as well as the nearby Caswell Bay is as good as it gets anywhere in the world when the sun shines.
If you are there, wander into the National Trust Shop located on the tip of the Gower peninsula and next to Rhossili beach, where you can also go on a Clifftop walk with breathtaking views of Worms Head.
The white sands and deep blue sea at Sinclair’s Bay can look more like you are in the Caribbean than Cathness, eight miles south of John O’Groats in Scotland.
What the Caribbean doesn't have is a 16th-century castle at each end of the beach as well as some great birdlife that includes plovers, dunlins, porpoises and orca.
One of the highlights is if you arrange to stay overnight right next to the beach in the Ackergill Tower, a 15th-century castle.
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