Beaches. This watery landscape conjures up a world of contrasts, from humble days out with a picnic, bucket and spade close to home, to the extravagance of white sand, topaz ocean, over-water villa experiences in the Pacific.
In this roundup of five of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, you’ll find the best of both. With a focus on destinations that are easy to reach from the UK, we cross the Continent to bring you the most idyllic coastal spots to visit this summer. Some will even rival the white and blue beauties that make their home in the tropics. But since these European options are often more affordable and short-haul, we know which we’d choose…
Elafonissi Beach, Crete
A visit to Elafonissi Beach in western Crete will be well worth the journey. Famed for its azure ocean that laps over the sand, forming two sandy parts, this beach gets our ticket for uniqueness. Throw in the pink sands, transparent waters and wildlife haven, and you’ll wonder why you ever questioned venturing off the beaten track to experience it for yourselves.
La Concha Beach, Spain
If you’ll be staying in or near to San Sebastien, then visiting La Concha Beach is a must. Stand on this long stretch of sand and feel yourself relax in the sun’s warm rays. As you gaze out into the ocean, you’ll see the island of Santa Clara. Luscious green mountains lie to either side, ideal for photographing. It’s a beach that can keep you entertained for hours with swimming and surfing, or simply a stroll and sunbathe. Once you turn to face land again, you’ll be reminded that this coastal paradise rubs shoulders with the city. And it won’t take long for the buzzing bars and restaurants to beckon you inside…
Zlatni Rat Beach, Croatia
Tear yourself away from the walled cities of the Dalmatian coast and add this island beach to your Croatia bucket list now. Forming an incredible triangular shape that points out into the ocean, with a pine forest that runs up to the sand, you probably won’t find any other beaches in Europe quite like Zlatni Rat Beach. Located on the Croatian island of Brac, the beach is best appreciated from the air. Alternatively, take it all in from the water itself as you embrace one of the many water sports on offer.
Rondinara Beach, France
If you think all that France has to offer are vineyards, chateaus and the romance of Paris, think again. Whether you’ve visited one time or ten, you’ll struggle not to fall in love with the horseshoe-shaped bay that is Rondinara Beach, located on the French island of Corsica. If you plan to spend any time here, start by dipping your toes in the shallow waters. With a perfectly chilled drink in hand, you’ll soon find the idyllic hours take care of themselves.
Calgary Beach, Scotland
On the North West coast of the Isle of Mull, one of Scotland’s many enchanting islands, you’ll find Calgary Beach. There’s a reason this sandy corner takes the second spot on TripAdvisor for things to do on the island. With a sea renowned for being a twinkling clear blue, even tourists who explore this bay in the wet weather still leave spellbound by its charms. It’s one of the best beaches in Europe for those who want beautiful scenery in an isolated spot. Little surprise when you consider there’s also parking, a café and scenic walks nearby, although there’s no guarantee of sunshine.