As we head for warmer weather, there’s one place we all love to go: the seaside. Whether it’s the sound of lapping water or crashing waves, a day at the beach is shore to calm the soul. So, shake off your swimsuits, pack up a picnic, and discover some of the best beaches in Europe…
Get me to the Greek
One of our 10 most relaxing beaches, Elafonisi Island in Crete has everything you need to chill out. Coral pink sands and a crystal clear lagoon? Bliss. Take a day trip to paradise, where you can soak up the sun with other beach-goers, or wade across the water to quiet coves. Only 200 meters across a sand bar from the mainland, the island is a protected nature reserve, home to 110 plant species.
Explore England’s south coast
Come down to Cornwall, and you’ll find the oasis that is Porthcurno Beach. A stunning National Trust paradise of fine white soft sand nestled between high cliffs, it’s overlooked by the renowned Minack Theater. Dramatic views or what? With a stream for kids to paddle in, this is a great UK family beach.
There’s nothing like Normandy
The beaches of northern France are world famous (and not just for the historical WW2 landings). Stretching almost 640 kilometers, Normandy’s coast is full of stunning shores and spectacular cliffs. No sight is more mesmerizing, though, than Mont Saint-Michel. An iconic pyramid island, this UNESCO World Heritage Site rises above the sand banks and water like a fairytale castle. Magic.
Head over to Praia de Benagil, Portugal, for a day at one of the world’s dreamiest beaches. At the far end of the shore you’ll find a cave of wonders. Forget the magic carpet — all you need is a boat to Algar de Benagil. Known as the Benagil Cathedral, the spiral walls guide your gaze up to the ‘eye’. Talk about heaven.
Look out for Lindisfarne
Northumberland boasts some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches. Long, sandy shores flanked by whispering dunes, you can walk several miles along the coastline without leaving the water’s edge. Bamburgh Beach is one not to be missed. Look back over Holy Island, only accessible when the tide is out, and up to Bamburgh Castle dominating the skyline. Great for surfers, families, dogs and horse riders alike.
La dolce vita
Pop over to Positano, Italy, and you’ll find some seriously stunning seaside. This cliffside village provides majestic views over azure water, along with colorful architecture and rambling streets. At the height of summer, Positano gets popular, but the beaches don’t get too crowded. Head down to the Spiaggia del Fornillo, a large stretch of shoreline backed by incredible cliffs. Va bene!
Wanna see Wannsee?
Think white sand and clear water and Germany isn’t first in your mind. But that’s where you’re wrong. Although mainly landlocked, the north coast of Germany is just as inviting as the Mediterranean. And then there’s Wannsee. Just 40 minutes from Berlin, Wannsee Lake is the place for bathing culture. Beach volleyball and boat rental are just some of the attractions, and you can take a tour of the Havel Lakes chain too.
Soak up el sol
If it’s Spanish sun you’re after, Playa de Burriana in Nerja is el numero uno. Located on the Costa del Sol, Burriana is the premier beach of the region. With sports, water activities, and soft sand to lie on, this has something for everyone. Or if you want to get into coves no one else can, hop in a sea kayak and paddle round for some peace.
The Netherlands has a host of golden sands along its coastal region. One of the best is Scheveningen in The Hague. The international ‘blue flag’ has been flying there for years. Take a stroll along the 400 meter long pier, or enjoy relaxing on the vast sands. The water is great for surfers too, so why not jump on board?
Right at the top of the UK, across a little stretch of sea, you’ll find the magical Isle of Harris. This Scottish Highlands hideaway is home to one of the best beaches in Europe, Luskentyre. With pure white sands and turquoise water, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Maldives on a sunny day. Secluded and expansive, it’s a haven for those wishing to escape from reality.