8 of the best beaches in Europe

10 January 2017

With white sands, blue seas and sweeping natural landscapes to rival tropical destinations, Europe's beaches should almost certainly be on everyone's travel wish lists. 

If you've not yet discovered some of the seaside gems that Europe has to offer, here are eight beaches to add to your summer holiday wish list...

Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy

Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, Italy

If you’re hoping for glittering seas, bright white sands, and the glamour of super yachts and jet-setters, head to the breathtakingly beautiful Costa Smeralda. Named the Emerald Coast because of the exquisite blue-green shimmer of the sea, this stretch of coastline on Sardinia’s north-east coast offers dazzling beaches, rugged landscapes with wild herbs, and luxury dining and shopping.

Praia da Rocha, Lagos, The Algarve, Portugal

Praia de Rocha is a busy resort on Portugal’s Algarve, and deservedly so. The waters along this Atlantic coastline aren’t as warm as the Mediterranean, but they do enjoy some very beautiful golden sand beaches, fringed with picturesque golden sandstone cliffs.

The long golden sands of Praia de Rocha stretch for the length of the town, fronted by a promenade and numerous family-friendly beach bars and cafes. To its extremes, the chiselled sandstone cliffs shelter small secret coves, arches and caves, perfect for exploring or finding a less busy hideaway.

Tarifa, Spain

Tarifa beach in Spain

The last stop in Europe before Morocco, with ferries running daily to Tangier, Tarifa’s windswept walled old town is crowded with cool bars, restaurants and guesthouses. Stretching out from these narrow streets is just over 6 miles (10 kilometres) of golden sandy beach with some of the best surfing, kite surfing and windsurfing conditions in Europe. 

Embros Therme, Psalidi, Kos, Greece

Just a short drive or cycle ride away from the beautiful, historic Kos town, this sand and shingle beach is not much to look at. However, the sulphuric hot springs that trickle down the rocks and bubble up under the waves make this beach an unmissable highlight. Cruise ship visitors make this a busy spot during the day, but go towards dusk at the beginning or end of the season and you can have this warming outdoor spa all to yourself.

Paris Plage, Paris, France

Paris, France

France has wonderful beaches on its rugged North Coast, varied Atlantic coast, and sunny Mediterranean coast, such as Plage de la Côte des Basques in Biarritz and Plage du Sillon in Saint Malo. Its most noteworthy beach, though, has to be Paris’ seasonal pop-up beach! 

Every summer 5,000 tons of sand and a host of palm trees transform the banks of the River Seine in Paris to create a stretch of city beaches complete with deck chairs and ice-cream vendors. Paris tends to be quiet in August as Parisians head out of the city for their holidays, so it is the perfect time to see the sights – and enjoy a Seine-side holiday.

Anacapri’s Lighthouse Beach, Capri, Italy

If you’re dreaming of long sandy beaches, Capri may not be the isle for you. But, if you’re prepared to invest in a sun lounger on the pebbly shore, you can enjoy Capri’s crystal clear waters, catch some rays all day long, and watch the sunset in a blaze of colour over the sea.  Then stroll back into town to enjoy what is probably the most stylish of stylish Italian summer scenes.

 
Zlatni Rat, Brač, Croatia

Zlatni Rat beach on Brac Island in Croatia

The beach on Brač Island might be made up of tiny white pebbles as well as pristine golden sands but Golden Cape, as Zlatni Rat is often called, is easily as mesmerising as a fine, sandy beach in the tropics. Nestled in a protected natural area, the beach stretches out 500m vertically into the sea, in a rounded point, or curving swan’s neck. With a pine grove behind, the glorious sand gives way to tiny pebbles and then, the incredible blue of the Adriatic Sea.

Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa, Cyprus

If you prefer your beaches to come with a soundtrack, then this dazzling Blue Flag-awarded beach is for you. In peak season, you may be forgiven for not noting the soft white sand gently shelving into crystal clear waters across the beautiful wide bay, as you find your eye drawn instead to the array of water activities, heaving beach bars and sun-seekers!

Hoping to head to one of these epic European beaches this year? Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor to plan your trip.

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