We should know where some of the best beaches in Europe are after traveling to almost every country in the Mediterranean. Some of our favorite beaches in the world lie on the coastline of Europe. This list features what we consider the best beaches in Europe. However, these beaches barely scratch the surface of what lies along Europe’s coast.
Travelers could spend years exploring all of Europe’s beaches. We could even argue that you could lump all the coasts of Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Croatia into the list of best beaches in the world. So, where are the best beaches in Europe for your next dream holiday? Let’s dig in.
The Best Beaches in Europe
Porto Katsiki, Lefkada
There are many beaches on Lefkada, but Porto Katsiki is not only the most beautiful one in Greece but perhaps all of Europe. Steep, white cliffs surround the beautiful beach. They seem to rise into the sky out of nowhere, and if you want a closer look, don’t worry, you’ll have to get up close and personal when you descend 80 steps to the beach.
Porto Katsiki features clear, blue waters perfect for a refreshing dip. Bring everything you’ll need for the beach; once you may your way down the steps, it’s unlikely you’ll want to hike back up for a bite to eat. If you can only do one thing on Lefkada, make sure to head to Porto Katsiki as it’s one of the best things to do in Greece.
Spiaggia Grande, 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, Spiaggia Grande (also called Marina Grande). 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 its fair share of 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 relaxing area, but a chair and umbrella will cost you. However, Positano is an excellent jumping-off point for Punta Campanella and even Capri if you are looking for something slightly different.
Cape Greco, Cyprus
The Ayia Napa district of Cyprus is one of the best beaches in Cyprus – Cape Greco. This isn’t your typical lay out and get a suntan beach. It’s much more adventurous than that. It is here that you can explore and swim in sea caves. Some 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, making it the perfect place to go hiking and stretch your legs. There are also deep water spots amongst the rocks where the fearless can take part in cliff jumping and diving. If you want to do more than read in a sun lounger under an umbrella, you should check out Cape Greco.
Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Oludeniz Beach is a beautiful lagoon in the Aegean Sea and is perfect for a family beach holiday in Europe. Located 14 km from Fethiye, every visitor to Turkey should see this beach in person, as it is simply 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; it frequently makes the list of best European beaches, so don’t expect to have the beach to yourself.
The area is well developed and caters to many tourists in the summer seasons. The good news is it’s excellent for all – young couples, families, retirees, and groups of friends. Protected forests surround the beach, so nature is still fully displayed here. Oludeniz is also a popular place to paraglide; imagine all the crisp blue and mountainous scenery up high!
Firiplaka Beach, Milos, Greece
Greece is home to some of the best beaches in the world, so you’ll likely notice more than a few Greek beaches on this list. Firiplaka Beach on the island of Milos is one of my favorite European beaches and one of the best Milos beaches. 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 makes this beach so unique. Pay special attention to the vast colored rock formations along the coastline, as this is what truly makes Firiplaka unique. Come here with snacks and all you need for the beach as there is only one small beach snack stand around here and no facilities.
Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal
There’s no doubt that the Southern coast of Portugal is gorgeous and home to some of the best beaches in Europe. We spent a month in Lagos intending to see the best beaches in the Algarve. While all beaches are stunning, our absolute favorite is Praia da Marinha.
Praia da Marinha is a small bay with bright blue and turquoise water encompassed limestone cliffs. Various rock formations, including arches, caves, and ledges, 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 marine life. You can embark on a nature walk, have a picnic, or admire the east and the clifftop 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.
Rovinia Beach, Corfu, Greece
Rovinia Beach, also near Paleokastritsa, is one of my favorite beaches in Corfu. It’s a trek down to this little bay, but it is well worth it once you arrive. You can access Rovinia Beach by boat, but it’s also popular to park your rental car and walk down.
Follow the Google maps location for Rovinia, but if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, parking higher up the path will save your Greece rental car. Trust me; the road turns to absolute crap the nearer the beach you get. Once you cannot drive any further, follow the path towards the coast.
There’s a volleyball court here and fantastic swimming opportunities. Bring all the snacks and water you need; once on this Corfu beach, there isn’t much around, and you won’t want to make an effort to leave.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland
This black sand beach is far from tropical or warm, but it is one of the unique European beaches and well worth mentioning. An unconventional European 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.
You can see puffins nesting on these columns during the summer, but try not to be a loud tourist and disturb them. The ocean is always dangerous, and at this particular spot in Iceland is 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.
Pakleni Islands, Hvar, Croatia
If you plan to travel away from mainland Croatia to Hvar, 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, plenty of yachts as it is one of the most popular docking grounds in the Adriatic. The Pakleni Islands are also where the party is in the summer, so don’t come here in July or August if you want to sleep.
Cala Goloritzè, Sardinia, Italy
One of the most beautiful beaches in all of Europe is Cala Goloritze, located less than 10 km from the town of Baunei. It’s one of those beaches in Europe that is almost too beautiful to be real. The color is as bright blue as it could be, and against the snow-white pebbles, you might think you have died and gone to heaven.
The limestone cliffs rise dramatically over the bay, really setting the stage. You can reach this beach by boat or foot; however, the hike takes some legwork, like all things good. To hike to the beach will take you one hour as it is just under a kilometer.
Walking down 68 meters will take no time, but hiking back up over 450 meters will have you sweating. Put water and sunscreen in your beach essentials bag.
Stefanou Beach, Crete, Greece
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, or Seitan Limania, 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. To access this Crete beach you’ll need to drive down a steep path, followed by a hike down from the parking area. Bring water and snacks as there is nothing in the area.
Stefanou is nestled in a tiny cove that looks like a “Z” shape from above. This is a pebble and sand beach, it’s not a large beach able to hold many people. So during peak summer season plan to arrive early or later in the day.
Calanque d’En-vau, France
Calanque d’En-vau in Calanques National Park lies between Marseille and Cassis in the South of France.
Calanques National Park is made up of a series of steep inlets deep in the coastline, each forming unique shapes into the limestone cliffs. These unique shapes often create the most picturesque beaches, and Calanque d’En-vau is no exception.
This inlet is the deepest in the park, creating an oasis for boating, swimming, and snorkeling. It’s one of the most stunning beaches in Europe, but there is one kicker – you have to hike or access it via water to enjoy it. The return hike takes almost 4 hours, but it’s well worth it to spend the day in paradise.
Agios Prokopios, Naxos, Greece
Jumping over to the beautiful Greek Island of Naxos is Agios Prokopios. Just a short drive away from the main town of Chora is a fantastic Blue Flag beach that is 1.5 kilometers in length.
Agios Prokopios is one of the most popular things in Naxos and is the most visited and beautiful beach. Along the beach are multiple restaurants and tavernas, and in the summertime, you’ll find plenty of places to hire beach chairs and umbrellas.
It’s a great place to come for families as the water is calm and warm, but it is also where you will find groups as friends and couples and a few nudist beachgoers.
Blue Lagoon, Paros, Greece
This isn’t technically one of the best Europe beaches, but it is an excellent little water spot off Paros Island’s coast. You’ll need a boat rental to get here, but it’s so worth it for a day. The Blue Lagoon is precisely 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!
Konnos Bay, Cyprus
Like the rest of the Mediterranean, Cyprus has some of the most amazing beaches in Europe, and Konnos Bay is one of them. Ever imagined soaking up the sun on 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. Konnos Bay is perfect for a day at the beach with family or loved ones.
The water in the photo? It is that color – you don’t need to spend a fortune on vacation in Seychelles or French Polynesia to enjoy this. However, during the summer season and UK holidays, another Cyprus beach gets horrendously packed. It will be hard to find space to set your towel on in the sand.
Or you can fork over the €5 for a beach chair. The café overlooking the beach is also a must; it’s a terrific place to enjoy a nice cold Frappe.
One of the best beaches in Europe is somewhere you may not have thought of. Ksamil is a small town on Albania’s coast known for its beautiful beaches. Located in the southern part of the country, Ksamil is a popular summer destination for Albanians and tourists alike and is dubbed “the Ionian pearl.”
The town is surrounded by several small islands that can be reached by boat, and the beaches in the area are known for their crystal-clear water and fine, white sand. In addition to its beaches, Ksamil is also home to many other attractions, including ancient ruins, churches, and natural parks.
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
We love traveling around the Balkans. They are affordable, easy to travel, full of culture, magical natural sights, and home to stunning European beaches. Sveti Stefan is a small inlet located only 15 minutes away from the famous tourist town of Budva. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Montenegro, and you will see why once you arrive.
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 of the island.
Milsey Bay Beach, North Berwick, Scotland
The beaches of Scotland are likely something you didn’t expect to see on this best beaches in Europe list. But we like to spice things up! North Berwick is a charming seaside town that offers a great escape from Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic beach if you want a pleasant stroll on a northern European beach.
Our day in North Berwick 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 several lovely shops, restaurants, and a fantastic cafe where we enjoyed a tasty brunch.
Balos Beach, Crete, Greece
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 it’s easy to overlook once you see the sprawling beach. 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 hike back up).
Spending the day in this turquoise paradise is relaxing. You can expect to find fantastic blue and turquoise waters surrounded by unique white sand at the lagoon. In my opinion, it’s the best white sand beach in Europe. The water is warm and shallow, making it the perfect place to hang out with children.
Cala Macarella, Menorca, Spain
Near the town of Ferreries on Menorca is Cala Macarelleta. A beach that many regard as the most beautiful beach in Spain. It sits within the protected Area Natural d’Especial Interes and has that white sand and turquoise water found throughout the Mediterranean.
It stands in stark contrast to the dark green pines nearby. To get here is just a short five-minute walk from another nearby beautiful European beach, Cala Macarella. So the best thing to do when coming here is to spend the day at both Europe beaches. Cala Macarelleta is also a famous nudist beach on Menorca.
Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, Greece
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 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 Sarakiniko, 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 for a few days. It’s lovely at sunrise, mid-day, and sunset. One could easily spend a whole day here.
Kolimvithra Beach, Tinos, Greece
One of the best beaches in Greece is located on the Cycladic island of Tinos. Here you’ll find open sand and crystal clear water. However that’s not why we fell in love with this beach so much. We fell in love because it’s possible to visit in the heat of a European summer, and not be bumper to bumper with other beach goers. Talk about pure bliss!
There is a cool beach bar in a retro school bus that you literally can’t miss if you visit this beach. This bar area has a nice bohemian vibe that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Bali. We rarely find these kind of laid-back beach bars on Greek beaches, so make sure to enjoy it!
Playa de Ses Illetes, Spain
Playa de Ses Illetes is a stunning beach in Europe located in the peninsula of Es Trucadors on Formentera island. The name Playa de Ses Illetes means “beach of the small islands, ” which is exactly what this beach is.
People head here from around the island and near Ibiza, chasing after beautiful white sand and clear turquoise water. The sea here is very shallow, and you can walk quite a ways out without having to go for a long swim.
There are almost no facilities here, meaning no umbrellas and sunbeds. The lack of this keeps the long stretch of beach natural, which can sometimes be hard to find in Europe.
This isn’t exactly a secret beach in Europe, meaning there can be crowding in the peak of summer. Get here early to secure your spot in the sand.
Mont Saint Michel Bay, France
Mont-Saint-Michel is a highlight for any trip to France, and Europe for that matter. The historical abbey-top island sits in a picturesque bay and feels more at home in a fairytale than reality. The abbey was founded in 966 and claims that the archangel Michel has a role in its founding.
This is a tidal island, and while it may not be the best beach in Europe for sunbathing, it’s one of the best beaches in Europe for soaking up the culture and views.
The island is about 1 km off the northwest coast of France and is connected via a bridge. It makes for a great day trip from Paris.
Which country has the best beaches in Europe?
This is incredibly subjective as France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, and more have some fabulous beaches with white sand and clear blue water. While Northern Europe has a unique coastline offering a completely different experience.
When is the Best Time to Visit These European Beaches?
While most of these beaches are ideal from May to September, you can truly visit most of the Mediterranean beaches at any time. We’ve traveled to the beaches of Europe as late as November and December, and while we don’t get in the water much during this time, the coast is still pretty as ever.
The best time to visit the beaches is in September, when the summer crowds have mostly left, but the waters are still plenty warm enough for swimming.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.