We should know the best beaches in Europe after traveling to almost every country in the Mediterranean. Some of our favorite beaches in the world lie on The coastline of Europe may not be as popular as the South Pacific, the Caribbean, or the Indian Ocean. However, Europe’s beaches are every bit as beautiful.
This list features what we consider to be the best beaches in Europe. Beaches come from Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Cyprus, Iceland, and Greece. At the end of the day, these beaches barely scratch the surface of what lies along Europe’s coast.
Travelers could spend years exploring all of Europe’s beaches. We couldn’t even make the argument that you could lump in all of the coasts of Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Croatia into the list of best beaches. So where are the best beaches in Europe exactly? Here are all personal favorites after years of traveling around Europe.
The Best Beaches in Europe
Praia do Camilo
First up on this list of the best beaches in Europe are a few notable ones in Portugal? Why, because Portugal is known for their beaches so it’s only fair to mention more than a few that I absolutely loved! Not far from the town of Lagos is Praia do Camilo. In the summertime, this beach is packed, but if you are here in the off season you may be lucky and have the beach to yourself (like us). It’s easily one of the most photogenic beaches in all of the Algarve. Views from this beach are beautiful and you can swim in the water among impressive calcarenite cliffs.
To access the beach there is a car park with a small cafe at the top. A long wooden staircase leads to this heaven. From there you’ll find there are actually two beaches that used to be separated by a massive cliff, but a tunnel has been dug out by hand to allow passage.
Praia do Zavial
Praia do Zavial beach is the best beach in all of the Algarve in our opinion, and definitely one of the best in all of Europe! Zavial is located in Vila Do Bispo, where the Atlantic meets the warm Mediterranean. The cliff to the west is majestic and massive, with limestone tiers covered in Mediterranean scrub. We had a fun day here soaking up the warm sun and even declared Zavial to be one of the best beaches to visit in the world.
There a few trails to climb around the cliffs here, and you’ll have to head to the eastern end of the beach for a more quiet experience. We came here for some sunbathing, but the real show started around 4 pm when the sun started to set and the surf picked with a line up of surfers. It’s well known for having some of the best surf in the Algarve!
Praia do Amado
Praia do Amado is one of the largest beaches in the Algarve. Situated in the south of Aljezur, Amado’s long stretch of beach covers three valleys and features warm red cliffs. The waves here are constant and always changing making it yet another great place for surf in the Algarve.
I didn’t know this when we visited but learned later that this beach is famed for hosting international surf competitions. On the beach, there is a surfing school. Nearby to the rather large parking area you can also find a year-round food truck with picnic table benches. Even though this beach is popular, its size means that it is very easy to tuck away and enjoy your privacy. Above the beach, there are wooden walkways making it easy for visitors to stroll around and enjoy the views.
Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal
There’s no doubt that the Southern coast of Portugal is gorgeous and is home to some of the best beaches in Europe. We spent a month in Lagos with the aim to see the best beaches in the Algarve. While all of the beaches are stunning, our absolute favorite is Praia da Marinha. Praia da Marinha is a small bay with bright blue and turquoise water encompassed by limestone cliffs. There are a variety of different rock formations, including arches, caves, and ledges that are accessible from the shore and make for a nice swim.
It’s possible to scuba dive or snorkel here and see the various octopuses, seahorses, and bream. At the cliff top, you can embark on a nature walk, have a picnic, or admire the east and the west. In the offseason, this beach is paradise, in the summer season, it’s best to arrive early and enjoy as the crowds will definitely come. The good thing about the Algarve is that it is beach weather until November – sometimes even December, making Praia da Marinha one of the best beaches in Europe in September. You can find the beach location here!
Firiplaka Beach, Milos Island
I have a special section of this best beaches in Europe post dedicated just to Greece. Why? Well, because Greece is home to some of the best beaches in the world and so many deserve to be listed on here! Starting with Firiplaka on Milios Island. Firiplaka Beach is one of my favorite beaches on the entire island. This is a long beach with plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a beach day without others on top of you.
White sand, and calm blue waters are what make this beach so special. Although I really loved the huge colored rock formations along the coastline!
Come here with snacks and all you need for the beach as there is only one small beach snack stand around here.
Sarakiniko Beach, Milos
Sarakiniko Beach is easily the most popular thing to do on Milos Island. It’s likely what draws most visitors to the island in the first place, which is fair enough, as this beach is out of this world.
Stepping onto Sarakiniko Beach literally feels like stepping onto the moon. Over the centuries the sea and wind have shaped this volcanic rock into majestic columns. It’s where pure white rock meets turquoise blue water.
There’s no vegetation here and not much sand. Sunbathing here means placing a towel on the hard rock, but it’s a small price to pay for the uniqueness of this moonscape.
There are plenty of cliff jumping opportunities at Sarakinko and there’s a long, shallow, and safe inlet where visitors can take a swim.
Although this is the most popular beach in Milos I still loved coming here a few days in a row. It’s seriously beautiful at sunrise, mid-day, and sunset. One could easily spend a whole day here.
Agios Prokopios, Naxos Island
Jumping over to the beautiful Greek Island of Naxos is Agios Prokopios. Just a short drive away from the main town od Chora is an amazing Blue Flag beach that is 1.5 kilometers in length!
Agios Prokopios is one of the most popular things to do in Naxos and is definitely the most visited and beautiful beach. But how could you blame visitors for heading straight to amazing blue water and golden sand beaches?
Agios Prokopios is the perfect place to come and spend a day at. Along the beach are multiple restaurants and tavernas, and in the summertime you’ll find plenty of places to hire out beach chairs and umbrellas. Don’t forget to bring your towel and other beach essentials though!
It’s a great place to come for families as the water is calm and warm, but is also where you will find groups as friends and couples, as well as a few nudist beachgoers.
Plaka Beach, Naxos Island
A little further south from Agios Prokopios beach is Plaka Beach. Plaka beach used to be a complete nudist beach but now is enjoyed by all.
Plaka beach extends for 4 kilometers, meaning you can find some peace and quiet even in the busy Greek summers. Like most Greek beaches it is stunning and well worth the journey to discover.
Blue Lagoon, Paros Island
Okay so this isn’t technically a beach in Europe, but it is an amazing little spot of water off the coast of Paros Island. You’ll need a boat rental to get here, but it’s so worth it for a day. The Blue Lagoon is exactly what it sounds like – deep turquoise clear water (see above photo). It’s a great place to relax and take a swim or go for a snorkel!
Ambelas Beach, Paros Island
Ambelas is another great Greek beach to visit on Paros Island. It’s small and secluded but go earlier in the day to avoid the shade. There’s also a fabulous cliff jumping spot if you’re into that!
Nearby is the town of Nousa, which is easily one of the best beach towns in Europe too!
Stefanou Beach, Crete
Cameron often asks me what my favorite beach in the world is, and I always tell him that Stefanou Beach is up there. Stefanou Beach is a small beach on the Greek island of Crete. 22km northeast of Chania and 2km east of the village Chordaki lies this tranquil place. There is no public transport here so you will either need a car or a boat to access the pebble beach.
I’m not certain how we found out about it, as it doesn’t seem to be well known on the touristy island. But after the heart-stopping straight down zig-zag drive I am sure happy we made it. Stefanou Beach is absolutely gorgeous with the calm Mediterranean waters that draw us back to Greece again and again.
Balos Beach, Crete
One of my other favorite beaches in Europe is also on the largest island in Greece. Balos Beach isn’t as secluded as Stefanou and is popular with tourists, but once you see the sprawling beach it’s easy to overlook. Located on the very western tip of Crete past Kissamos is Balos Beach. To access the beach by car you will need to drive alongside a steep hill for about 10 kilometers and make a one-kilometer trek down to the beach (this isn’t the hard part though because you must LEAVE the beach eventually and hike back up).
Spending the day in this turquoise paradise is relaxing. At the lagoon, you can expect to find amazing blue and turquoise waters surrounded by amazing white sand. In my opinion, it’s the best white sand beach in Europe. The water is warm and shallow which makes it the perfect place to hang out with children.
Ammoudi Beach, Oia, Santorini
It may seem like we love Greece – and we do! The Greek beaches are definitely my personal favorite in Europe and Oia is hands down one of the best beach towns in Europe. I didn’t really want to mention Santorini on this list as just about everyone has heard of Santorini, however, it really is out of a dream, so there’s no avoiding it. Although all of Santorini is spectacular, the real star of the show (and the one you’ve seen most on Instagram) is the cliff-perched village of Oia.
Whitewashed buildings cascading down to Ammoudi Bay make for picture perfect photos and a romantic time. It is here that some of the best sunsets in the world can be seen. All this mixed in with the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean sea down below make this the ideal place for a vacation, especially a romantic honeymoon.
Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Oludeniz Beach is a beautiful lagoon in the Aegean Sea and perfect for a family beach holiday in Europe. Located 14 km from Fethiye this beach should be seen in person as it is stunning. The blue flag pebble beach is a great place to come to lay out for the day and soak up the sunshine while relaxing in the warm Mediterranean water. This is not a secret location though, and it frequently makes the list of best beaches in Europe.
Just about every Turk and their grandmother knows of Oludeniz beach and that means that every Brit knows about it too. The area is well developed and caters to a large influx of tourists in the summer seasons. The good news is it’s great for all – young couples, families, retirees, and groups of friends. The beach is also surrounded by protected forests so that nature is still on full display here. Oludeniz is also a popular place to go paragliding at, imagine all the crisp blue and mountainous scenery from up high!
Marina Grande Beach, Positano, Italy
Just south of Naples is the famous Amalfi coast. If you’ve watched any travel movies that are set in Italy chances are there is a shot of Positano’s most iconic beach, Marina Grande Beach. Positano is a quaint and charming town that cascades down from the hills. It’s plagued with sunshine, clean beaches, art galleries, restaurants, and plenty of Italian coffee shops to pass the day. While it’s certainly seen it’s fair for tourists it still maintains that picture perfect Italian town, due to its limited space and high prices.
During the summer you’ll find this 300-meter long beach lined with chairs and umbrellas, and a swirl of restaurants and cafes to keep you full and happy. The beach is a free area to relax on. However, if you are looking for something a bit different then Positano is a great jumping off point for Punta Campanella and even Capri.
Cape Greco, Cyprus
In the Ayia Napa district of Cyprus is Cape Greco. This isn’t your typical layout and suntan beach. It’s much better and more adventurous than that. It is here that you can explore and swim in sea caves. Some of the sea caves go as much as 80 meters into the rock at low tide, making it the ideal time to walk and swim around them.
The whole area is a national forest and it makes for the perfect place to go hiking and to stretch your legs. There are also spots of deep water amongst the rocks where the fearless can take part in cliff jumping and diving. I may or may not have given a stab at this – don’t tell my mom! If you’re looking to do more than read in a sun lounger under an umbrella you should definitely check out Cape Greco.
Konnos Bay, Cyprus
Cyprus, like the rest of the Mediterranean has some of the most amazing beaches in Europe and Konnos Bay is one of them! Ever imagined soaking up the sun in a moon-shaped beach hidden at the bottom of a forested hill? At Konnos Bay, that dream can become a reality. It is a picturesque beach quickly gaining the attention of tourists and locals. It’s perfect for a day at the beach with family or loved ones.
The water in the photo? It truly is that color – you don’t need to spend a fortune on a vacation in the Seychelles or French Polynesia to enjoy this. However, during the summer season and UK holidays, this is another Cyprus beach that gets horrendously packed. It will be hard to find space in the sand to set your towel on. Or you can fork over the €3 for a beach chair. The café overlooking the beach is also a must; it’s a terrific place to enjoy a nice cold Frappe.
Pakleni Islands, Hvar, Croatia
If you plan to travel away from mainland Croatia to Hvar then you must head to the beautifully wooded island chain. The Pakleni Islands offer small, secluded stone beaches, deserted coves, quiet lagoons, crystal clear water, and sun-drenched hills. They can be seen from mainland Hvar but it’s best to get out there either via private boat, ferry, or kayak to experience them.
In the summertime, expect a lot of yachts as it is one of the most popular docking grounds in the Adriatic. Of course, a common person like us can travel there as well as Croatia is not a ridiculously expensive destination. The Pakleni Islands are also where the party is at in the summer so don’t come here in July or August if you want to sleep.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland
No, this black sand beach is far from tropical or warm, but it is definitely one of the most unique beaches in Europe and well worth a mention! Another unconventional beach on this list is Iceland’s Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Reynisfjara is a volcanic black sand beach on the South Coast of Iceland and one of the best beaches in Northern Europe. It is one of the most visited and surreal spots in a country famed for its natural beauty.
You can’t go swimming here, but you can admire the mighty ocean from the comfort of the small black stones onshore. There are also famous basalt columns Reynisfjara. Reynisfjell is a 340-meter mountain of surreal hexagonal basalt columns.
During the summer you can see puffins nesting on these columns, but try your best not to be a bad tourist and disturb them! The ocean is always dangerous, and at this particular spot in Iceland, that is definitely no exception. Reynisfjara is one of the most dangerous sights in the country as there are frequent rogue waves that have claimed a few unsuspecting lives. Stay away from the water and admire from afar. This beach is so unique you’ll have to pinch yourself!
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
I bet you didn’t think I would be mentioning Montenegro on this best European beaches list, did you? The truth is we love traveling around the Balkans. They are affordable, easy to travel, full of culture, contains magical natural sights, and home to stunning beaches. Sveti Stefan is a small inlet located only 15 minutes away from the popular tourist town of Budva. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Montenegro and once you arrive you will see why.
The island is a fortified 15th-century village complete with old stone buildings, pink sand beaches, and warm turquoise water.The island is privately owned and only resort guests are permitted access to Sveti Stefan. Never fear, visitors can still relax on the beaches to the north or south or the island.
Milsey Bay Beach, North Berwick, Scotland
Another place you probably didn’t expect to see on this best beaches in Europe list I bet! But we like to spice things up! This charming seaside town makes for a great escape from Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic beach if you are looking for a nice stroll on a northern European beach. Our day in North turned out to be one of our favorite days in Scotland, and all we did was walk around the beach and enjoy the sound of the seagulls. The town has a number of lovely shops, restaurants, and a wonderful cafe where we enjoyed a tasty brunch.
How to Get to These Beaches in Europe
Getting around Europe has never been cheaper with budget airlines such as RyanAir servicing many European destinations. Many places in Europe have reliable public transport, but to get to some of the beaches you’re going to want your own set of wheels. An automatic rental car in Europe can go for €15 a day in the low season up to €35 a day in the higher seasons (automatic) and will ensure you get to all the best European beach destinations.
Knowing how to drive a manual car will always get you better prices in Europe. If you’re traveling as a group it is worth your while to hire a car for your trip.
We traveled around some of these beach destinations in Europe and paid about €25 a day in the high season, which was a pretty decent deal in my opinion! I generally like to check comparison sites so I can get the best prices. My favorites to look at are:
- RentalCars.com: Provides comparisons for car rentals around Europe.
- AutoEurope: I can often find deals here for car rentals in Europe.
- Discover Car Hire: Searches rental car prices around the globe.