Europe’s Best Beaches
Planning on hitting the beach this summer? We’ve rounded up the most beautiful beaches in Europe – so all you’ll need to worry about is nabbing your spot on that sun lounger.
Tamara Hinson is a Surrey-based freelance travel journalist who writes for newspapers such as the Telegraph and Guardian, along with in-flight publications and travel websites. She’s especially interested in getting off the beaten track and some of the more unusual destinations she’s visited include North Korea and Benin.
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Puerto Naos, La Palma, Canary Islands
White sand is overrated. This gorgeous bay on La Palma is covered with fine black sand, but don’t let that put you off – the shallow, warm waters have made it one of the Canary Islands’ most popular beaches. If you fancy admiring it from above, sign up for a parasailing session – it’s one of the Europe’s best places for water sports. If that all sounds too strenuous, head to one of the bars and restaurants lining the beach’s walkway.
La Concha Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
This half-moon, white sand beach is popular with families – the water is wonderfully calm, thanks to the shelter provided by a lava reef. Kids will love splashing about in the numerous rock pools, and there’s a lifeguard service too. It’s a popular spot for snorkelers and divers, who come here to see barracuda, manta rays and parrot fish. The rural location – a few miles from a small coastal village – means that finding a space to lay out your towel shouldn’t be a problem.
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales
The water off Rhossili Bay might not be the world’s warmest, but this award-winning beach is one of Europe’s most spectacular stretches of sand. In a recent Trip Advisor poll, Rhossili Bay was voted the world’s ninth best beach (seeing off competition from the Seychelles, Mexico and Australia). It covers three miles of coastline and encompasses one of the Gower’s most famous landmarks, Worm’s Head. It’s highly likely you’ll spot seals and dolphins frolicking in the surf, too.
Raudasandur Beach, Latrabjarg, Iceland
Raudasandur beach can be found on the western coast of Iceland’s Westfjords. The name translates as “red sand” and that’s exactly what you’ll find by the (sand) bucket load. It’s the ideal beach for some chill out time – six miles of sand with nothing but rolling hills in the distance and the squawk of seabirds for a soundtrack. And don’t forget to admire the view of Snæfellsjökull glacier, which can be seen from the beach.
Lowestoft Beach, Suffolk, UK
This Blue Flag beach is one of the finest stretches of sand on England’s east coast. It’s wonderfully British, with neat rows of rainbow-hued beach huts and a historic pier. Head there to take in a Punch and Judy performance or to watch a show – it’s home to the UK’s largest live music venue on a pier. If you’ve overdone the candy floss, burn off excess energy by opting for a water sports session. Lowestoft is a popular scuba diving and snorkeling spot, you can also sign up for kite boarding, windsurfing or waterskiing sessions, too.
Stiniva Cove, Vis, Croatia
This secluded bay can be found on the Croatian island of Vis. It’s tiny and wedged between two sheer cliffs which act as a great windbreaker. The path which winds downs to this pebble beach is rather steep, but you can also get to the cove using the local water taxi service. The water is wonderfully clear, so bring your snorkel, and the tiny bar is a great place from which to watch the sun set.
Cobo Bay, Guernsey
Clean, white sand, shallow water and great amenities (including a convenience store, tea room and beach café) make this one of Guernsey’s most popular beaches for families. Locals love to swim here all year round, with swimming sessions traditionally followed by a hearty meal at the legendary Cobo Fish and Chips. It’s also one of the island’s widest beaches, so don’t forget the frisbee.
El Médano Beach, Tenerife, Canary Islands
El Médano’s golden sands cover two miles of Tenerife’s coastline, making it one of the longest beaches on the island. It’s also one of the hippest stretches of coastline – you can ride the waves with Tenerife’s dreadlocked surfers or kick back in one of the beachfront bars. Strong trade winds are the reason it’s known as the Canary Islands’ windsurfing capital – head there in August to watch the Professional Windsurfers’ Association (PWA) World Championships.
Mgarr ix-Xini Bay, Gozo, Malta
If you recognise this beach, it’s probably because it was the setting for By The Sea, the romantic drama produced by Angelina Jolie which starred both the actress and her hubby, Brad Pitt. This secluded bay is popular with swimmers but it’s also one of the island’s best diving spots. In 1999 a ferry, the MV Xlendi, was deliberately sunk to create a dive site and artificial coral reef. History buffs should look out for the cliff top watch tower, built to defend the island in 1661.
Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, UK
A steep underwater drop off makes Porthcurno incredibly popular with more experienced swimmers, but the stream at the rear of the beach doubles as a wonderful paddling pool and sand castle-building site for younger visitors. There are great facilities (including a café and restaurant), and the Telegraph Museum and the Minack Theatre are just a short walk away. The latter is a stunning open air venue – head there between May and September for cliff top performances by world renowned theatre companies.
Longufjorur Beach, Iceland
Another Icelandic gem, Longufjorur beach is popular with horse riders, and it’s the perfect place for a tölt (the unique gait of Iceland’s horses) along the sand. It can be found on the southern shore of the Snaefellsnes peninsula and while it’s perhaps not the best place for a dip (unless you’ve got a dry suit to hand) the backdrop of snow-capped mountains makes it one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline.