8 of the Best Beaches in Europe

Posted on February 1, 2010 by

I’m dipping my toes in crystal clear waters while my hair gets powdered up with fine sand. I’m in Europe – no castles or cathedrals, just enjoying the sun on a slice of paradise. Whether it’s a secluded bay with emerald surfs slamming on sandstone cliffs, or wide stretches of golden sand glimmering with turquoise waters, Europe has a constellation of beaches that makes summer alone worth living. As a follow-up to my previous piece on the best beaches in Asia, here’s a look at my own collection of best beaches in Europe.

1. Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece

Also known as Shipwreck bay, this cove is the trademark of the island and one of the most famous in Greece. Huge vertical cliffs surrounding the white sand creates a paradisical stretch of islet. It can only be reached by boat (leaving hourly), from Porto Vromi. Greece is one of Europe’s most popular summer playground, so avoid the crowd by hitting the beach in April or end of September.

Flickr photo by Anna Oates

2. Playa Papagayo – Lanzarote, Spain

The natural assemblage of a secluded cove and the virgin beach can only be reached via a dirt road or hike – which perhaps is the reason why it is kept in pristine conditions. The crystal clear waters and variety of hiking opportunities on the cliff’s edge makes the tranquil beach one of the best on Lanzarote and in the country.

3. Zlatni Rat – Brač, Croatia

This V-shaped golden pebble beach is one of the most spectacular beaches of the Adriatic. Zlatni Rat, meaning Golden Horn, is unique in its geographical formation.The beach changes shape and position depending on the wind; an incredible phenomenon that can hardly be missed. It is bordered by a pine tree grove in which one can find remnants of a Roman villa rustica, including a swimming pool.

Flickr photo by Mark Heard

4. Cala Tarida – Ibiza, Spain

Forget the party crowd. Ibiza has some of the most natural and pristine beaches in Europe, tucked away behind rocky sandstones. There’s a selection of interestingly shaped rocks to swim out to for a solitary sunbathe or even as a plunging spot for the daredevils (it can be dangerous). Ibiza is a great spot for singles holidays, especially with the vibrant nightlife giving you the chance to mingle around.

5.  Sagres – Algarve, Portugal

This part of Portugal stretches for miles with dramatic landscapes of plunging cliffs, standing sandstone formations and watercolour sea. Dominated at its western end by a white fort, the fine undeveloped beach is backed by a rocky terrain, with impressive waves attracting surfers from around the world. This is my favourite area in Portugal.

6. Las Islas Cies – Galicia, Spain

Voted by the Guardian as one of the best beaches in the world, the island’s main stretch of powdery white sand is as calm as a lake. The wild and stunning island of Islas Cies is protected by the goverment as a national park, restricting the number of visiting tourists. There is only camping available on the island, so this keeps any form of intervention minimal. This is one of my personal favourites.

Flickr photo by lago

7.  Patara – Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Dunes, dunes and more dunes. This rare stretch of beach is backed by the golden dunes and the Taurus mountains. Due to the strict conservation efforts, there are no buildings around, keeping the beach in unspoiled conditions. The beach is one of the few remaining beaches in the world, where the Loggerhead turtles still come to lay their eggs between May and October. The surrounding area is an excellent location for adventure holidays.

Flickr photo by Borya

8. Spiaggia Sabbie Nere – Sicily, Italy

A volcanic beach unlike no other, Black Sands Beach is the finest in the Aeolian archipelago. With black pebbly volcanic sand that makes up for a unique beaching experience, Spiaggia Sabbie Nere is something to tell folks back home about. It is located at Porto di Ponente, on the far end of the island – a quiet and tranquil location to completely unwind.

Flickr photo by protozoo


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

86 Responses to “8 of the Best Beaches in Europe”

  1. Travel photography February 2, 2010 8:53 am #

    Without a doubt, this are beautiful beaches. Navagio Beach, Sagres and Islas Cíes are my preferred ones.

  2. marta February 2, 2010 5:18 pm #

    you forget about sardinia, it's a real tropical paradise in the Mediterranean, check it out http://www.flickr.com/photos/atravelaroundtheworl… this is the place we want to be once back from our RTW

  3. Nomadic Matt February 3, 2010 6:08 am #

    I like the first one the best.

  4. happytimeblog February 3, 2010 9:16 am #

    Nellie if you've been to all them then I'm a jealous fella…

    • Nellie February 3, 2010 5:14 pm #

      lol..To be honest, I've only been to 5 of them. Hey it's not too late for you, go get a tan this summer!

  5. Nellie February 3, 2010 5:15 pm #

    Marta, I was deciding between Sardinia and Sicily actually, but in the end I went with the black volcanic beach – I'm a volcano buff! ;)

  6. Markus February 4, 2010 11:26 am #

    Great collection of beaches! But the picture of "Sagres" is "Ponta da Piedade" in Lagos, Algarve. Not sooo far from Sagres.

    • admin February 8, 2010 1:48 am #

      Thanks Markus for pointing that out, didn’t notice that.

  7. Zoey February 4, 2010 7:39 pm #

    Big thumbs to this list. Las Islas Cies is my absolute favourite beach in the entire world… absolutely stunning. Only Weston-Super-Mare beach comes a close second, for personal, incomprehensible, mother-land type reasons.

  8. Madeline February 6, 2010 3:09 am #

    I need to get my butt to Spain!! Nice list… though I do agree that Sardinia's beaches top Sicily's – Costa Smeralda yes, but my faves are on Isola Maddalena…

    • admin February 8, 2010 1:45 am #

      Madeline, fortunately for us, hordes of tourists flock to the same beaches in Spain every year – leaving us to enjoy quiet and wild beaches unheard of by many – like las Islas Cies and Playa Papagayo. ;)

  9. Molly March 8, 2010 10:04 pm #

    Oh they all look so beautiful. I have always wanted to go to Shipwreck Bay, but now I am going to have add a few more to my list. I also love the beaches off of Italy, Capri, Ischia, and the Cinque Terre.

  10. cheapest mbt shoes March 19, 2010 6:54 am #

    between Sardinia and Sicily actually, but in the end I went with the black volcanic beach – I'm a volcano

  11. Chris March 19, 2010 5:52 pm #

    Some more European beach options here: http://bit.ly/cJ3niQ

  12. ciki March 21, 2010 10:27 am #

    now THAT's what I call, a holiday. Any one of the above will do.. ahem! LOL (Where's the guy when u need him to read a fabulous blogpost! )

    • admin March 22, 2010 3:59 am #

      Get your man to come read the post!

  13. flip March 30, 2010 12:07 pm #

    wow…i never thought that europe has wonderful beaches too… how about santorini?

    • admin March 31, 2010 6:12 am #

      Yes, Santorini is a gorgeous island, but I didn’t find the beaches impressive when I visited.

  14. Federico April 24, 2010 6:16 am #

    Hey Nellie

    I would say that perhaps Greece ( as a country ) has the best beaches in Europe. Myrtiotisa in Corfu is one of such, named by Hemnigway as the best beach in the world (for him). This said even Bulgaria has awesome beaches too! I particularly like those near Kranevo, close to Varna.

    Ahh beach life…not bad at tall, but then I can’t complain if I no live in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Pacific side)

    federico
    http://www.maitravelsite.com

    PS I was recently in Malaysia…how’s this for a beach?

    http://www.maitravelsite.com/east-and-se-asia/the-perhentians-a-small-piece-of-paradise/

  15. Sean Redenbaugh May 5, 2010 2:24 pm #

    Nice choice. I just created a Travel Bucket List and Zakynthos, Greece is on the list! I'm new to the whole travel and blogging thing – in fact I haven't left yet. I'm trying to start the blog a full year before I leave, giving people perspective into what it takes to go from an office and a home and vehicles and commitments, to NOMAD. Everyone thinks I'm crazy but it's people like you that inspire me. Thanks.

  16. Sean Redenbaugh May 5, 2010 2:24 pm #

    Nice choice. I just created a Travel Bucket List and Zakynthos, Greece is on the list! I'm new to the whole travel and blogging thing – in fact I haven't left yet. I'm trying to start the blog a full year before I leave, giving people perspective into what it takes to go from an office and a home and vehicles and commitments, to NOMAD. Everyone thinks I'm crazy but it's people like you that inspire me. Thanks.

  17. Yourh Hostels May 14, 2010 2:20 am #

    Ooh! these European beaches are all equally stunning. They are all worthy of the traveler and vacationer taking the time to experience there individual qualities and beauty. To identify one I would have to give it to Spain as the people in this region also add such a wonderful spice to the whole ambiance and specialty of the seaside.

  18. Nishant Singh May 14, 2010 12:05 pm #

    Being a beach person, I'd love to soak in the sun on these pristine beaches!!

  19. Lucy May 27, 2010 1:50 am #

    Greece! Oh my I don't think there is anywhere on Greece coast that I do not adore. Over 140 islands to explore what more could you ask for. Inhabitants from Greece also have a significantly longer life expectancy with men on average living to they are 79 and woman 81. This is a very good indication of the quality of life that is enjoyed by most when living on or around the beautiful Greek Island.

  20. London Apartments June 5, 2010 3:12 pm #

    Greece is definitely one of my favourite places to visit as well, and best way to enjoy it is cruising and sailing around to visit all the different bays, coves, islands. And surprisingly, some parts of Greece are still pretty cheap – oh, and of course, the FOOD!

  21. ilian July 30, 2010 1:58 pm #

    Navagio is the best in the World!!!!

  22. Alistair Dempsey September 6, 2010 1:30 am #

    Sardinia’s Cala Goloritze and Cala Mariolu in the Golfo di Orosei on the east coast and Capo Spartivento at Chia in the south are all in with a shout of getting on this list if you ask me. I live in Sardinia and as far as beaches go it’s pretty tough to beat.

    • Nellie October 29, 2011 10:57 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestions! I still haven't been to Sardinia, but I've heard tons of good stuff about it. Can't wait!

  23. Anna November 23, 2010 4:52 am #

    woooww

  24. Anna November 23, 2010 4:54 am #

    I just don;t like the last one with the black sand! here in brazil there are beaches way prettier than that one, and as pretty as the rest!

  25. Deepak Kumar Das February 2, 2011 9:16 am #

    These are really the cool places to pass some time.

  26. Laura-Lee Chick February 9, 2011 8:17 am #

    Clearly none of you have been to Australia…hate to brag but we have the worlds best beaches. Thanks all the same though as Im off to Spain in May and will swim my way around!!!

    • Nellie February 9, 2011 5:01 pm #

      hey Laura, I can see why you\’d brag coming from the continent with some of the best beaches in the world. But hey, this post is on the best beaches in Europe. ;) I\’ve been to Australia and seen some magnificent beaches and would surely keep them in mind when I\’m writing a piece on the best beaches in the world!

  27. Interrailer February 23, 2011 7:39 am #

    awesome beaches! i have been in algarve beaches and they were awesome

  28. rford23 March 2, 2011 11:14 pm #

    What a beautiful place…The beach at Playa Papagayo Lanzarote, Spain…

  29. Donegal Cottages April 17, 2011 3:53 pm #

    Great list. If you are into surfing, one of Europe's best surfing spots is Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal in Ireland. Its one of Irelands best kept secrets and definitely should be up in the top 10.

    • Nellie October 29, 2011 10:59 pm #

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing it with us. I'll make sure to create a list on surfing spots and include Donegal in. :)

  30. bijuterii argint May 16, 2011 8:53 pm #

    The Ionian Sea has the most beautiful beaches. Porto Katsiki and Egremni are two stunning beaches, which deserve your attention.

  31. Wedding Photographer August 11, 2011 4:01 pm #

    Next time you in Europe you should Check out Cornwall! Some of the beaches in the far south west near lands end like Gwenver are amazing! Also I love northern Portugal

  32. Nepal Holidays September 4, 2011 10:20 pm #

    We had the pleasure of taking a boat trip to Navagio Beach a few years ago and it was truly amazing and truly beautiful. The boat also stopped off in a bay nearby that is so deep that it was used to hide u-boats in the second world war – we all went for a swim and didn't dare to look down into the depths!

  33. Synagermos Spitioy September 22, 2012 6:30 pm #

    Not because i'm Greek but Navagio of Zakynthos , is something AMAZING , you should see in your life, The water is like fake in a swimming pool. Shining light blue ! And generally the beaches of Ionion islands… Amazing tropical beaches.. Axxx when summer will came back again ?

  34. Zakynthos Holidays December 17, 2012 4:11 am #

    Extremely beautiful beaches all over Europe! But i am sorry, for my holidays in Greece i prefer Zante island! It is a wonderful place with so many beaches and options to travel! Thank you for your article!

  35. My sister discovered a really good website yesterday for a Cornish wedding photographer. His photos are very unusual; creative, thoughtful and beautifully produced. It looks like he really spends time and effort making them just right, but they aren’t staged looking.

  36. wedding photographer in plymouth January 11, 2013 3:00 am #

    My wife came across a really good website yesterday for a Cornish wedding photographer. The photos are really unusual; artistic, thoughtful and carefully produced. It looks like he really spends time and effort getting them just right, but they don’t look staged.

  37. Меню для ресторан March 31, 2013 4:23 am #

    Greetings from Ukraine ! I have only been to greek beach Navagio from all of them and i should say its amazing ! I totally recomment it ! but if i would go to another one i guess i would choose Croatian or Portogalian one !

  38. Kori May 13, 2013 7:03 pm #

    Wow if I could only have the time to travel to each and every one of the beaches. They all look simply amazing. The closest I've been is off the coast of Spain and Bulgaria which are pretty nice beaches as well.

  39. Kori June 9, 2013 1:56 pm #

    These are really nice beaches to visit. I have stayed in Ibiza and absolutely loved the beaches. The only thing I regret is not taking a small boat ride to check out Mallorca.

  40. hotels July 18, 2013 12:35 pm #

    Heya! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

  41. Guest October 18, 2013 12:22 pm #

    #3: the beach on the photo is not Zlatni rat, it's another beautiful beach nearby

  42. admin May 12, 2010 2:03 pm #

    Ibiza yes the sandy coves! I don’t remember which hotel we stayed at, but it was a small hostel in San Antonio that was really cheap and good. But I would suggest avoiding staying at San Antonio if u’re looking to get away from the crowd.

  43. Nellie September 10, 2010 9:59 pm #

    Woo good to know, thanks for sharing! I live in Granada, so that\’s really near, gotta check it out this summer!

  44. Ramanjeet December 31, 2012 3:36 am #

    I know both cities quite well.Beaches. Barcelona has a city beach altuhogh I would go down the coast to Sitges by train. Palma lacks a city beach but there are great beaches only a short bus trip away.Clubbing. Barcelona without any doubt. The choice is enormous.Shopping. Barcelona wins altuhogh, for its size, Palma is amazing.Although Barcelona is a large city, the old centre is surprisingly compact and almost everywhere is walkable. Most people your age say Barcelona is the most fun. Palma is for people who have seen BCN but want somewhere quieter.p.s. There are too many tourists in Barcelona. Palma has surprisingly few off the main shopping streets.

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