Think you know all the best beaches in Europe? Think again. White sandy stretches can be found in Germany, Corsica, Brittany and Poland, undeveloped coastlines in Turkey and an environmental award-winning beach in Bulgaria. But the best combination of climate, water temperature and great coastline is still in the Mediterranean.
Here are some great beaches you might like.
Pinarello beach, Corsica
Craggy coves, herb-scented slopes and white sands are the natural draws of the bay at Pinarello. With a handful of seafood restaurants, an old church and a couple of jetties stretching into the clear water, this is small-scale, idyllic Mediterranean beach life.
Baska Voda beach, Croatia
The Blue Flag Baska Voda beach, which sits in the lee of the pink-hued Biokovo Mountains, is one of Croatia’s undoubted hotspots. The Krka National Park and the island of Hvar, with its cool harbourside bars and superb architecture, are all within easy reach.
Pentrez Plage beach, Brittany, France
With its rock pools, foaming surf and acres of white sand, this is the kind of beach you visit to kick footballs, hunt for crabs and fly kites.
Grand Plage beach, Biarritz, France
The two casinos (the Barrière and the Bellevue), tuxedoed waiters, waterfront fashion boutiques and ageing hotels remind you that Biarritz is a veteran resort as well as a hub for young surfers: find a pitch on the Grand Plage (Big Beach) alongside moneyed French bathers and tuck into Basque cuisine at lunchtime.
Maspalomas beach, Gran Canaria
Gigantic wind-sculpted sand dunes form a stunning backdrop to this wonderful stretch of golden sand, divided into four areas – the largest of which is popular with families.
Myrtos beach, Kefalonia, Greece
Perhaps the most dramatic of all the Ionian beaches, this is a huge sweep of white limestone pebbles, set in a deep, wide bay. Viewed from the road above, it forms the perfect crescent that you might recognise from the covers of countless guidebooks.
Erimoupolis beach, Crete
Lying at the very northern tip of Eastern Crete, tucked between rugged rocks and an ancient cemetery, Erimoupolis is named after the ‘abandoned town’ of Itanos, the ruins of which you have to pass on your way to the beach.
Priaia del Fuoco beach, Capo Vaticano, Italy
This romantic beach is hidden away at the end of the Capo Vaticano coast, the tip of the bunion on the toe of southern Calabria. Accessible only by boat or by a very precipitous path, this rocky cove has pashmina-soft sand and steep shelving, and is gently lapped by aquamarine waters.
Mondello Lido beach, Sicily
Near the small fishing village of Mondello on the Mediterranean, lies Mondello Lido, just nine kilometres from Palermo, Sicily’s vibrant capital. Its wide white sandy beach runs for two kilometres from Monte Pellegrino to Monte Gallo. Mondello’s bars, cafés, nightclubs and hotels line the shore.
Ramla Bay beach, Gozo, Malta
A half-hour ferry ride from the main island, Gozo is steeped in Roman history; the fiery orange sands of Ramla Bay are hidden away at the bottom of a fertile valley.
Sagres beach, Algarve, Portugal
This fine undeveloped beach is backed by orange cliffs, with impressive rollers attracting surfers from all over. The small town of Sagres is the gateway to the Alentejo – Portugal’s agricultural heartland – and the wild scrub of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park.
Sesimbra beach, Portugal
An atmospheric fishing port an hour’s drive from the capital. Although not undeveloped, Sesimbra is still authentic, its long beachfront lined with cafés and restaurants where sardines sizzle on charcoal grills. The south-facing shoreline is safe for swimming, and there is an old harbour where fish is sold at daily auctions.
Chia beach, Sardinia
A slice of the Caribbean a little closer to home, with towering dunes, crystalline waters flanked by juniper trees and traces of the ancient Phoenician city of Bithia, on which Chia now stands.
La Manga del Mar Menor beach, Spain
Europe’s largest salt-water coastal lagoon – known locally as the Little Sea – offers warm, shallow waters and beautiful sandy beaches for families with young children.
Es Trenc beach, Mallorca
Three kilometres of unspoilt beach backed by natural dunes provide a habitat for sea thistle and pine and tamarind trees. The protected strip has sugar-cube white sand, clear water, and, at one end, a naturist area in which to bare all.
Valencia beach, Spain
Just a short taxi ride from Spain’s third city is a long, golden stretch of sand lined with tavernas serving top-notch paella. When you tire of soaking up the rays, head into town for culture, bar-hopping and some great boutiques.
Turquoise Coast beach, Patara, Turkey
This 19-kilometre stretch of soft-sanded Mediterranean coastline is flanked by huge mountains of sand; a nesting area for the endangered loggerhead turtle, it has remained undeveloped thanks to its national park status.
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