May 12, 2022
By Joey Tyson
From the golden sands of southern Portugal to idyllic Greek isles, Europe has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With summer just around the corner, we’ve rounded up some of the best beaches in Europe to get you in the mood for long days on the sand.
Spiaggia del Conigli (Rabbit Beach) is a dazzling white-sand beauty known for its super-clear, shallow water and gloriously remote setting. Floating adrift in the Mediterranean, closer to Tunisia than Italy, Lampedusa might just have the best beach in Europe – at least that’s what the travellers of TripAdvisor reckon, and we’re inclined to agree.
Santa Giulia beach is the stuff of dreams – a sheltered lagoon of pure turquoise water, fringed by gorgeous white sand. It’s so special, the experts at Conde Nast Traveller have named it Europe’s most beautiful beach for 2022 – lofty praise indeed. Safe and shallow, it’s perfect for families, and the beach sits at the southern tip of Corsica, not far from chic hilltop town Porto-Vecchio.
When it comes to beaches, it’s hard to beat the Algarve. Sitting smack bang in the centre of Portugal’s south, Praia da Falesia is one of the best in the region. From boho backpackers to young families, miles and miles of golden sand sheltered by rust-red cliffs, and a safe, clear sea makes this a popular spot for all kinds of travellers.
Be prepared for endless Caribbean comparisons: Ses Illetes really wouldn’t look out of place in the Bahamas. Luckily, it’s 100% Balearic, and quite a bit closer to home, too. No stranger to “Europe’s best beaches” lists, Ses Illetes is a long spit of powder-white sand, lapped either side by some of the clearest water you’re ever likely to splash around in.
Regularly voted Wales’ best beach, award-winning Barafundle Bay is well acquainted with the sandy spotlight. Located in remote Pembrokeshire, this long golden beach remains pleasantly quiet outside the busy summer months. Even then, it’s worth a visit just for the wild, clifftop scenery that surrounds it. Love a hike? Take on a section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which passes by Barafundle.
A thin sliver of shimmering white sand leads out to the tiny island of Balos. On one side of the spit, you’ll find a milky-turquoise lagoon, on the other, the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. The beach lays on Crete's western coast, not far from the town of Kissamos, where you can arrange boat trips to the beach.
A 9km stretch of sand surrounded by wild dunes and volcanic hills, Corralejo Grandes Playas is one of the best beaches in the Canary Islands. In reality, it’s not just one beach, but a collection of beautiful beaches, closely strung-out along Fuerteventura’s north-eastern coast. At Burro, families will find lifeguards and safer water, while windsurfers and kite boarders should head to El Medano.
Just a short walk from artsy beach town St Ives, Porthminster brings a touch of the tropics to Britain. Beautiful, soft white sand, clear blue water, and even the odd palm tree, this Cornish classic has the lot. And with one of the mildest temperatures in the UK, you’re almost (this is still Britain, after all) guaranteed good weather during the summer.
We know. One of Europe’s beaches in Germany? But hear us out. If you’re looking for under-the-radar, the small spa town of Sellin, on the remote island of Rugen, is one to watch. A wide, golden beach backed by Germany’s distinctive 'resort architecture', Sellin is ideal for a relaxing beach holiday on the wild shores of the Baltic Sea.
Broad, sandy, and safe, Blue Flag Playa de Muro is a firm favourite with families for more than one reason. With tons of on-beach facilities, easy access, play areas, and loads of nearby cafes and restaurants, it’s a brilliant spot for a holiday with little ones in tow. You’ll find this Spanish stunner close to Alcudia on Majorca’s northern coastline.
Enclosed either side by towering walls of rock, the only way to reach Butterfly Valley beach is by boat. When you get there, you’ll find a tiny strip of gold sand, chilled beach bar and the 100-plus species of butterflies that give the valley its name. Arrange boat tours from nearby Olu Deniz or Fethiye.
A long arch of delicate white sand, backed by a colossal cliff face, Porto Katsiki is all drama – and then some. You’ll find it on the Ionian Island of Lefkada, not far from Lefkada Town. A popular spot for boat trips, get there early if you want a few hours to enjoy the setting for yourself.
With big sweeping dunes of golden sand rolling down into the Atlantic, Gran Canaria's Maspalomas isn’t your average beach. Its dramatic desert backdrop, complete with camel rides, feels more Saharan than Spanish. Plus, at 6km long and wider than a football pitch in parts, this Blue Flag beach is as big as it is beautiful.
A world away from the busy resorts and pumping night clubs of Majorca and Ibiza, little Menorca is all about the quiet life – and Cala Macarella is the place to enjoy it. A tiny spot of sand cut into pine-topped cliffs, this beach is only accessible by boat. What you’ll find is a white-sand bay of pure paradise, with glossy-clear waters to boot.
Reynisfjara Beach is distinctive for its ash-black sand squeezed between mighty basalt cliff stacks and the crashing Atlantic. A popular stop-off on Iceland’s south coast, this beach was practically made for the ‘gram. For the best photos, head here in the early morning for sunrise (and fewer people).