18 of the Best Beaches in Europe
Are you searching for the best beaches Europe has to offer? With a wide variety of landscapes and climates varying from the windswept north to the azure waters of the south European beaches are quite diverse. This guide will introduce you to some of the most beautiful European beach destinations, perfect for summer sunning or off-season exploration.
It’s never too early to plan your next sun-drenched vacation to a gorgeous sandy European beach destination. There probably isn’t a person alive who couldn’t coastal holiday right about now, so to help you out, we’ve put together a thorough list of some of the best beaches in Europe to choose from!
The Old Continent is particularly rich in climate and terrain, offering hundreds of scenic waterfronts waiting to be discovered. From the warm waters of Spain’s Costa del Sol, to the craggy reaches of Iceland’s coast there are hundreds of different, and beautiful, beaches in Europe that are worth visiting.
While some coastlines are located on remote islands, others can be found in large European cities with beaches boasting a wide range of amenities, such as beach clubs, restaurants and water-sport rental services. Every single one of these European beaches is stunning in its own right, and all should be visited if you are looking to explore the very best European beach destinations.
We tried picking one beach from each country with a coastline in Europe (the keyword is tried, we know we missed a bunch) in an effort to be as inclusive as possible, and also to showcase just how varied European beaches can be.
We took into consideration features and aspects which are of paramount importance to us when we’re looking for our next European beach destination. Cleanliness, overall beauty, accessibility and a general harmony between the natural landscape and man-made elements were all examined in our search for the best beaches in Europe. And while the task of only selecting one or two beaches per country proved to be more difficult than we initially thought, we hope you’ll get some inspiration from the end result.
Alright, let’s get to it! Here are 18 of the best beaches Europe has to offer! Enjoy all these beautiful locations and please remember to pick up any trash as you leave these amazing beaches!
18 of the Best Beaches in Europe
The Best Mediterranean Beaches in Europe
Let’s get started by taking a look at Europe’s Mediterranean coast. There are literally hundreds of beaches to pick from here, so narrowing this list down was really difficult. We’ll have to write another article to showcase the top 20 beaches on the Mediterranean, but this is as good a place to start as any.
The Best Beach in Cyprus – Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa
Kicking off our list of the best Mediterranean beaches is a 500-meter stretch of white sand situated at the south-eastern tip of the Republic of Cyprus. As one of the most iconic beaches of the island nation, Nissi Beach is popular among tourists and locals alike, so it tends to get quite busy in the warm summer months.
Those looking to escape the crowds should plan their visit between mid-April and May, or from September to mid-October, when the water is still pleasant, but there aren’t too many people around.
Part of the Ayia Napa resort town, Nissi Beach has gained popularity because of its crystal-clear shallow waters sparkling in turquoise hues, and very fine white sandy coastline, placing it among the best beaches in Europe. The beach’s lively clubbing scene, myriad cool facilities and wide variety of water sports activities should also be noted.
Where to Stay: If you’d like to have a small, private portion of this stunning beach all to yourself and enjoy the high-end amenities of a nearby lodging, then the 4-star Nissi Beach Resort should definitely pique your interest.
The Best Beach in Greece – Elafonisi Beach, Crete
To say that picking one single beach from Greece was a challenge would be quite an understatement. Hellas is home to some of the best beaches in Europe, so selecting merely one was pretty difficult. Nevertheless, we decided on Elafonisi Beach, located at the south-western periphery of the largest Greek island, Crete. It does not only feature some of the clearest waters you’ve ever seen, but Elafonisi Beach also has a portion covered in pink sand, which is quite a rarity!
The beach boasts vibes of a remote oasis, but in reality it can be easily reached via car and there are a few amenities, such as public toilets, available to the crowds of people flocking to visit Elafonisi daily. To avoid the droves of sun worshipers, try traveling in low-season and make sure you check the weather forecast, as strong winds can completely ruin the experience.
Where to Stay: The welcoming Elafonisi Resort by Kalomirakis Family can serve as the perfect base for your trip, situated merely a 10-minute walk away from the scenic Elafonisi Beach.
The Best Beach in Italy – Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
Similarly to Greece, Italy, with its 450 islands and 7,600 km-long shoreline, Sicily is also a mecca when it comes to the best beaches in Europe. After careful consideration, we decided to go with the Sicilian shores of Scala dei Turchi, which translates to the “Stair of the Turks”, as its most exquisite beach.
The reason for this is simple: this coast is quite unique in its composition, being made up of marl, which contributes to its exceptionally white color, in perfect contrast to the turquoise hues of the water and the blue skies. Offering such a remarkable natural landscape, it’s no wonder that Scala dei Turchi is often enlisted among the best Mediterranean beaches.
The limestone beach is situated between two sandy stretches and is easily accessible from the SP68 road. Numerous amenities can be found nearby, including restaurants, snack bars and public restrooms.
Where to Stay: If you’re interested in spending the night in the area, you might want to book your stay at the 4-star Hotel Puntamajata, a short 6-minute drive away from the white coastal gem.
The Best Beach in Malta – Blue Lagoon, Comino
The small island nation of Malta is an often-overlooked destination, despite being home to some of the best Mediterranean beaches. On its smallest inhabited island called Comino, a gorgeous turquoise-colored lagoon can be found, with picturesque surroundings and a small, but wonderful beach.
The Blue Lagoon is definitely one of the best beaches in Europe, thanks to its remoteness, remarkably warm waters and peaceful vibes. Avoid stopping by during the peak season and opt for a low-season visit instead, so you won’t have to share the narrow, rocky path with crowds arriving via large cruise ships.
Where to Stay: The islet’s single lodging, the Comino Hotel is only operational between May and October, however if you’d like to plan your visit for another time, you can always stay on the main island and hire a water taxi to take you there.
PS – Don’t forget to haggle your fare price for a lower rate!
The Best Beach in Portugal – Praia de Benagil, Algarve
No list reciting the best beaches in Europe would ever be complete without mentioning one of the most remote sandy coasts in Portugal, namely, Praia de Benagil. This shoreline is unique because of its location, found at the very heart of a scenic cave, with a hole at its center, letting the sunbeams shine right through it, lighting up the beach. You can reach Benagil Cave via boat tours, kayaks and organized SUP tours.
Adventurous travelers can also consider visiting one of the best Mediterranean beaches by simply swimming in. After taking stock of the weather conditions and recognizing a calm sea, near-zero wind and a clear forecast for the next couple of hours, you can tackle the ocean waves with the help of your fins and get inside in a matter of minutes.
Make sure you rest a bit and enjoy the view before you head back, since you’ll need extra energy to confront the ways coming right at you. Remember to only take up this challenge if you feel up to the task and are an experienced swimmer in ocean waters!
Where to Stay: If you’d like to spend a couple of days in this particular area, the Terracos De Benagil guesthouse can provide you with suitable accommodation.
Best Beaches in Europe – Algarve’s Praia do Carvoeiro
The magnificent Praia do Carvoeiro, located merely steps away from the center of the old fishing village with the same name.
Small but clean, this beach is the perfect choice if you like the comfort of being close to shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants. You can also rent sunbeds, partake in waters ports, and hop on a few boat tours to discover more of the area from the sea.
Praia do Carvoeiro’s convenient location has the added charm of white houses with red-tiled rooftops resting on the two bordering cliffs. Even if the beach is far from spacious, it doesn’t get as crowded as Praia do Camilo, because the city of Carvoeiro is pretty underrated.
Since you’re in the area, don’t hesitate to drop by Algar Seco, a fascinating nature site with gripping grottos, a blow hole, alluring rock formations, and some of the best viewpoints in the area.
This was one of our very favorites, and is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Algarve, and one of the coolest beach destinations in Europe.
The Best Beach in Spain – Playa de Maro, Nerja
Continuously cited among the finest beaches Spain has to offer, Costa del Sol’s Playa de Maro is definitely a dream Mediterranean destination. This hidden gem can be found outside the village of Nerja, and is a haven for anyone looking for a wild beach experience.
Amenities serving this particular coastline are scarce, so be prepared to bring everything with yourself, from food and water to umbrellas and anything else you might need. There’s only a small beach bar here, which serves local tapas and a humble variety of drinks.
Playa de Maro is one of the best beaches in Europe for snorkeling and even scuba diving, with its colorful flora and abundant fauna in its crystal-clear waters. This place is also a preferred area for folks with sea kayaks and canoes as well, who enjoy the lush vegetation and picturesque scenery along the splendid Andalusian shoreline and the gorgeous waterfall located nearby.
Where to Stay: The three-star Hotel Playamaro lies merely a 20-minute leisurely walk away, if you’re interested in accommodating yourself in the village.
Best Beaches in Spain – La Viborilla, Benalmádena
If peace and tranquility is what you have in mind for your holiday, La Viborilla, near the town of Benalmádena, is where you’ll find it. Surrounded by palm trees and woodlands, this hidden beach of sandy stone will feel like your own secluded lagoon.
Despite its Tom Hanks in Castaway vibes, La Viborilla has all of the basic amenities, including a casual beachfront restaurant serving up regional cuisine and gorgeous sunset views. If adventure is what you’re feeling, wander away from the beach and explore the majestic coves hidden within the cliffs.
Where to Stay: About four km away from La Viborilla is Holiday Hydros Boutique Spa & Wellness Hotel. Aside from the stylish suites with sea views, there are upscale amenities like a gym, bowling alley, and full-service spa with an indoor pool. Dine on delicious and fresh Mediterranean cuisine at the Mar y Tierra Restaurant.
The Best Beach in Turkey – Olüdeniz Beach
We couldn’t really conclude our list of best Mediterranean beaches without mentioning Turkey, now, could we? We’ve been particularly eyeing yet another Blue Lagoon, located in the Fethiye district in southwestern turkey, referred to as Olüdeniz Beach. This generous stretch of sand dotted by umbrellas and sun lounges is bordered by the transparent waters of the sea, making you instantly feel like you’ve landed in paradise.
Beach bars, restaurants, cafés and bars are at your disposal to enjoy fully, along with a handful of other coastal amenities. One of the coolest activities you can partake in is tandem paragliding, admiring not only the stunning shoreline, but also the nearby lush, green hills from high above.
Where to Stay: Ecclesia Boutique Hotel offers adult-only lodging just a few minutes away from the beach, with an on-site spa center and Turkish hammam that you should definitely delve into!
The Best Beaches in Northern Europe
The Best Beach in France – Étretat, Normandy
This probably isn’t the most popular beach in France but it’s so damned beautiful that we decided to present you with the best Northern beach France, instead of opting for another Mediterranean gem (although there are many!).
Located in the north-western part of the country, in the Normandy Region, Étretat beach and its scenic cliffs are definitely a rewarding destination you should include in your list of the best beaches in Europe.
Although not your typical powdery white-sand beach, Étretat Plage is made up of small white pebbles and offers quite a lengthy coastline which fills with tourists on warm summer days. Make sure you get there early in order to score the finest viewpoint from where you can admire the majestic cliffs and the spectacular arch all day long!
Where to Stay: Public restrooms, a wide variety of bars, cafés and restaurants are all accessible from the beach, along with cozy little accommodation sites, like the three-star Dormy House, boasting panoramic views over the picturesque surroundings.
The Best Beach in Germany – Warnemünde Beach
Germany might not be famous for its beaches, but we positively believe that the coastline along Warnemünde has an undeniable place among the best Northern beaches in Europe. This impeccably clean white-sand beach is best enjoyed during very hot summer months, when the extreme heat is balanced out by the wind and the chilly waters of the Baltic Sea.
The fact that Warnemünde is lined by various restaurants, bars, cafés and other public amenities, and boasts the most modern accessible beach entrances in the area for anyone to enjoy, definitely ranks it among the best beaches in Europe. The annually-held maritime festival takes place each year in July, bringing vibrant vibes to the coastal town of Rostock.
Where to Stay: The nearby four-star, boutique-style Hotel am Leuchtturn might prove to be the perfect base for your visit here.
The Best Iceland Beach – Reynisfjaba Beach, Vik
Those interested in ticking off the most unique beaches in Europe from their bucket list definitely need to plan a visit to Reynisfjaba Beach, located at the southern edge of stunning Iceland. The scenery doesn’t get any more dramatic than at this particular shoreline adjacent to the small village of Vík. No wonder a handful of movies were filmed here – including Game of Thrones, Noah, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – because the scenery is just plain and simply out-of-this-world!
Reynisfjaba is lucky enough to possess an eye-catching black sand beach (courtesy of basalt lava), a cave, a few impressive rock formations towering up from the waves and, if all this wasn’t enough, an entire wall of basalt columns as well! Whichever way you look at it, it is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. But don’t get too mesmerized by the scenic landscape and always watch your step when exploring the area, because sneaker waves can rapidly sneak up on you and carry you out to sea.
The Best Beach in Norway- Høyvika Beach, Andøya
We couldn’t really call our article complete without including a fabulous beach in the Arctic, so we’ve researched far and wide until we stumbled upon the astonishing Høyvika Bay, on the gorgeous Andøya island of Northern Norway. An absolute must for anyone interested in rugged coastlines, Høyvika should definitely be enlisted among the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Travelers who can’t wait to delve into wild landscapes will surely feel right at home here, since the beach features a panoramic hiking trails, unspoiled natural landscapes and mild weather conditions. Just make sure you don’t disturb the local wildlife during your exploration, because Høyvika also serves as the nesting ground for various types of birds, including puffins and cormorants.
Where to Stay: The Midnattsol rom og hytter guesthouse is a simple, but welcoming lodging where you can spend the night without breaking the bank.
The Best Beach in the United Kingdom – Durdle Door Beach
The iconic Durdle Door Beach is situated at the southern tip of the United Kingdom, in Dorset County. The shoreline mostly attracts its visitors with its emblematic arch, however, the beauty of the beach and its surroundings should definitely not go unnoticed.
The limestone structure is likely the most photogenic part of the Jurassic Coast and certainly deserving of a rightful place on the best beaches in Europe list. Outdoor activities such as walking, hiking and biking can be pursued here, even if the weather and water temperature might not exactly be suitable for swimming.
Where to Stay: Castle Inn is a budget-friendly lodging situated nearby and can serve as the perfect starting point for your Dorset visit.
The Best Beach in Denmark – Rubjerg Knude, Lokken
Rubjerg Knude is not your typical beach holiday destination, which is exactly why we decided to include it on our list. The rugged coast located by the stormy North Sea in Denmark’s northernmost tip is known for its migrating sands and exceptionally strong winds.
The picturesque lighthouse standing tall at the beach’s very heart has had quite a tumultuous history, being first lit in 1900 and battling massive coastal erosion and shifting sands ever since. The lighthouse caretakers couldn’t keep up with the ever-changing conditions, so it stopped functioning after 68 years of trials and errors. For a brief time, a few museums were set up in the smaller homes situated right next to the lighthouse, but they were severely damaged and were simply removed.
The entire beach is extremely photogenic, definitely among the best beaches in Europe and is worthy of your visit. If you still want to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse, you might want to hurry up, since specialists proclaim that the tower will likely fall into the sea in the next couple of years.
Where to Stay: The nearby three-star Hjørring Kro Guesthouse can serve as the perfect jumping-off point for your visit.
The Best Balkan Beaches in Europe
The Best Beach of Albania – Ksamil Beach
The Balkans should not be overlooked in your quest to find the best beaches in Europe, considering their pristine beauty and affordability. These two general characteristics apply to Albania’s very own Ksamil Beach, considered the most stunning shoreline in the entire country. Situated within the confines of Butrint National Park, it lies at the south-western tip of Albania and can easily be reached even from Greece.
The waters take on a turquoise hue during the day and is so shallow, you can almost walk over to Ksamil Island, situated right across the white-sand beach. The beach offers easy access to a wide variety of amenities, including myriad cafés, bars, restaurants and tens of accommodation sites very near the coast.
Where to Stay: If you’d like to spend a few low-cost days here, check out the three-star Hotel Vila Vista Mare, located a few blocks away from the beach.
The Best Beach in Croatia – Zlatni Rat, Brač
Definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, and also the most iconic one in Croatia, the slender stretch of fine pebbles called Zlatni Rat (which translates to Golden Horn) is definitely one-of-a-kind. Bordered by lush green forests and shallow turquoise waters, this gorgeous beach located on the island of Brač should definitely be on your must-see list.
The nearest town is the similarly picturesque small city of Bol, with its charming stone houses boasting red-tile roofs, narrow streets and beautiful marina. The 500-meter stretch tends to get quite busy in the summer months, but can be quite untouched in the low season months of May and September.
Where to Stay: The three-star Zlatni Rat Beach Hotel is one of the closest accommodation sites to the beach bearing the same name.
Montenegro – Sveti Stefan Beach
Concluding our list of the best beaches in Europe is another emblematic shoreline of the Balkans, located at the south-western periphery of Montenegro, 30 kilometers away from Kotor. The fine pebbled beach might not be too wide or too long, but it overlooks the stunning peninsula which gives home to a private hotel.
This place is definitely one of the most iconic destinations in the entire country, and you’ll likely see it on postcards, souvenirs and other memorabilia in all corners of Montenegro. The Adriatic coast is lined by grill bars, restaurants, cafés, playgrounds and lush parks, offering a wide variety of amenities for travelers to choose from.
Where to Stay: If you don’t have enough money to splurge on a 7-night stay in an extravagant hotel on the peninsula, you can always opt for more down-to-earth lodging, like the four-star Hotel Azimut.
And there you have it folks, our guide to the best and most beautiful beaches in all of Europe. We hope we inspired you guys to start thinking about your next European beach vacation, whether it be in the lesser known northern beaches, or in the popular Mediterranean get-aways. As always, happy travels guys, and we’ll see you on the road!
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