As the pandemic is gradually turning into memory, it’s now possible to plan a gateway abroad without worrying about covid tests and quarantine. This calls for choosing a spot that is both beautiful and allows you to unwind after a tough last couple of years so that you can emerge energized with a more positive perspective. While some Asian countries are still out of reach, it’s worth taking this opportunity to explore the European beaches, all with stunning coastline and different kinds of ambience that will capture your heart and help you have an unforgettable time.
Here are our top European beach destinations you should consider visiting this summer:
- Playa d’en Bossa, Ibiza
If you’re wondering what the nicest beach in Ibiza is, you’re looking at it the wrong way. The question should be, how much time will you have and do you want it to be more of an active holiday or a lazy holiday? If it’s the latter, you might just have to settle for visiting just one of the beaches this stunning island has to offer and making the most out of your time there. Although all its beaches might have a slightly different vibe, they’re equally beautiful and feature picturesque views that will help you unwind and allow you to bring some amazing photos home. Of course, whichever spot you choose, you can expect to immerse yourself in the lifestyle Ibiza is most known for: swimming in the sea, lying on the sand and then dancing to electronic music that can be heard pretty much everywhere you go. Playa d’en Bossa is one of the prettiest European beaches and the best choice if you want to spend your days off having fun and meeting new people. It’s lined with plenty of shops and cafes so you can be sure your time there will be filled with many relaxing activities.
- Spiaggia Grande, Positano (Italy)
If you need a change of scenery that will help you relax and inspire you at the same time, you should add Positano to your destination list. Its famous beach, Spiaggia Grande, is nothing you’ve seen before: a beautiful turquoise sea is overlooked by a colorful village on the hill which looks straight out of a postcard. If you follow any Instagram influencers, chances are this view made it onto their feed because it’s simply stunning and will stay in your memory forever. Once you’ve gotten used to the scenic landscape and spent some time swimming, you can stretch your legs by taking a walk to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which features the Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary, or visit boutiques where you can get handmade goods which you can gift to friends and family. What makes Spiaggia Grande one of the best European beaches is also the quaint architecture – don’t forget to take a stroll around the city to simply take in the charming atmosphere.
- Sarakiniko, Milos (Greece)
It's easy to see what’s so special about Sarakiniko beach when you Google the photos. The landscape seems out of this world as unusually blue water is surrounded by white volcanic rocks that were formed by wind and waves. Some compare this experience to standing on the moon and they do have a point. If you’re after something unique this summer, visiting this beach should be the obvious choice. While there are no shops and restaurants around, the gorgeous view is everything you need for an unforgettable day – just don’t forget to pack enough food and sunscreen. You can spend your time throwing yourself off the cliff and swimming, exploring underground tunnels and then staying until late to watch the beautiful sunset. Sarakiniko is one of the best European beach destinations due to its wild and natural beauty that everyone should witness at least once in their lives.
Elafonisi beach, Elafonsi Island (Greece)
For your next holiday spot, consider visiting Elafonsi, one of the best European islands. If you want to find yourself in a real paradise this summer, you should explore its Elafonisi beach which features a stunning combination of greenish water and pink sand that looks like it was taken out of a fairy tale. The waters are pretty shallow which makes it the perfect spot for families with children. Elafonisi is also known to offer various sports activities: from volleyball to windsurfing, you won’t struggle to find something to pass the time if sunbathing isn’t your thing. Although you might want to take a moment to memorize the gorgeous view because taking the sand back home with you isn’t allowed.
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And if you’re lucky enough, you can also swim with a loggerhead sea turtle that’s currently one of the endangered species. Other than that, you can witness various types of fish and rock formations, so make sure you add snorkelling to your to-do list. Because the beach is both gorgeous and caters to every type of traveller’s needs, it’s one of the best European beaches you can visit this summer.
- Praia da Marinha, Caramujeira (Portugal)
Praia de Marinha boasts many successes: in 1998 it received the ‘Golden Beach’ award and it made it onto the top 10 beautiful European beaches in Michelin Guide. But what exactly makes it one of the most stunning beaches in the world? The clear water and white sands are surrounded by cliffs, which is what the beach is most famous for and what gives it such an alluring appearance. The view makes it feel like the spot is cut off from the outside world although you should expect plenty of tourists who want to witness its beauty in person. No filter is needed there: watching the sunset from the top is an unforgettable experience. From there you can also see the famous rock formation that resembles the letter M and then walk down the stairs and along the beach to take unique pictures under it (just make sure the tide is low before you decide to walk there). Due to its clear waters, the beach is one of the best snorkelling spots in Portugal so if you fancy exploring life under the sea, you won’t be disappointed. It’s the perfect choice for a relaxing but active holiday.
- Calanque d’en Vau, Cassis, France
Calanque d’en Vau might not be what you imagine the perfect beach destination to be but it can turn into one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life. The beach is best described as wild and secluded (even though it attracts many tourists) so it doesn’t come as a surprise that it takes quite an effort to reach. You can hike there from the fishing village Cassis which will take about 2 hours so if you had a lazy holiday in mind, this one might not be for you. Another option is getting there by kayaking or by boat, which is a great way to discover what else the area has in store for you. Spoiler alert: you can expect more stunning cliffs and beaches along the way, plus whichever means of transport you choose to get there, it feels peaceful and can help you clear your mind so that you can relax on the beach without any worries interrupting your thoughts. Apart from simply lying on the beach and taking in the beautiful view, you can spend time swimming or snorkelling. It might not be people’s immediate choice but it’s more interesting than your typical holiday destination and it’s still one of the prettiest European beaches you can find so you’ll definitely have a great time exploring it.
- Nerja beach, Andalusia (Spain)
Spain is undeniably one of the top European vacation spots due to its warm weather, great food, friendly locals and beautiful sights. And if we had to narrow it all down to the best European beaches, Nerja beach would likely take the win. It has a fish village-like feel and a panoramic view completed by stunning Sierra Almijara mountains. But there’s a lot more to it than its aesthetics. You can fill your time by visiting The Cuevas de Nerja which are caverns that trace back to 20000 years and are one of the mains tourists attractions in the region. Interestingly, you can sometimes attend a concert held in one of the chambers – now that’s quite a unique experience. If you want to meet the wildlife of the Mediterranean sea, visit one of the diving centres which can teach you everything you need to know about snorkelling or scuba diving. And once the sun goes down, don’t forget to try the famous paella which is offered in pretty much every restaurant near the beach and is to die for.
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- Playa Gran, Tossa De Mar (Catalonia, Spain)
This stunning half-moon beach is the most popular spot in Tossa de Mar and is one of the prettiest European beaches out there. It’s every traveller’s dream as the crescent shape is backed by ancient towers which give it a unique look that makes for stunning pictures. After a swim, you can venture to the old town (Vila Vella) which features a modern lighthouse, medieval architecture and plenty of charming streets, which can help you combine lazy days with being a bit more active. When the sun goes down, the castle by the beach is illuminated by lights which creates a great opportunity for some late night picnic – what can be better than listening to the sea and having a glass of wine with your partner? Or you can always visit one of the town’s restaurants for a romantic dinner – a 4-course meal will cost you just up to €20. It’s also only an hour away from Barcelona if you fancy visiting one of the most popular destinations in Catalonia. If you’re looking for somewhere to spend time with your partner that isn’t too commercialized, Tossa De Mar should fulfil your expectations.
- Playa de Los Muertos, Almeria (Spain)
Featured in the Guardian’s top European beaches list, Playa de Los Muertos is characterized by its dramatic but stunning setting. While the name isn’t the best selling point as it translates into ‘the beach of the dead’, you can be sure that no one died there yet (unless you count metaphorical death from being in awe). Playa de Los Muertos appeals to those who look for something more unique than white sand and clear water. Its barren landscape makes you feel like you’re at the end of the world, which can help you forget about the burdens of your daily life and allow you to focus on the present. It’s located a short distance from a beautiful nature preserve, cove Peñon Cortado and Mesa Roldan lighthouse, which makes a great viewpoint. If you feel like exploring nearby areas, it’s worth visiting the village of Mojacar full of lovely streets and cube-shaped houses.
- Grève Blanche beach, Carantec (France)
If you’re looking for a beach that has less of an exotic feel and resembles the countryside, Greve Blanche is one of the top European vacation spots that features a peaceful atmosphere and lovely views that will make for a perfect summer getaway. Carantec, where Greve Blanche is located, is made up of charming cottages and rolling fields that overlook a white sandy beach frequented by tourists during summer but quiet outside of the season. It’s popular with families with kids but also couples who want to spend some time away from their routine and simply relax by the water. After the morning swim, you can rent a bike and cycle around to explore the area more or visit Georges Delaselle botanical garden with more than 2000 plant species thriving in the Meditteranean climate. It might not be the destination for you if you’re a thrill-seeker but it will help you ease stress and get you ready to start work with a more positive mindset, which is why it’s deserving of its one of the best European beaches title.
Learn more about contributor, Joanna Cakala