15 of the best beaches in Europe for summer 2023

Updated May 18, 2023
Published 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.

1. Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa – Italy

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 ItalyLampedusa might just have one of the best beaches in Europe – at least that’s what the travellers of Tripadvisor reckon, ranking it in third place for 2023. We’re inclined to agree.

2. En-Vau, Marseille – France

A tiny chunk of white sand surrounded by impressive cliffs, En-Vau is a showstopper of a beach any way you look at it. The water is gloriously clear and shallow, so it’s perfect for kids, but the beach can get busy. Get there early to nab your spot. Keep an eye out for daredevils clinging to the cliffs above – the area is popular with rock climbers.

3. Praia da Falesia, The Algarve – Portugal

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.

4. Cala Pedrosa, Costa Brava – Spain

A beach well worth the effort, Cala Pedrosa is a genuine hidden beauty. Tucked into the rugged coastline of the Costa Brava, this sandy cove is often completely deserted, so you could have its glassy waters all to yourself. To get here, you’ll either need a car, or you can take a boat trip from Tamariu (a handful of companies run services). For added drama, take a kayak tour with Kayaking Costa Brava.

5. Barafundle Bay, Wales – UK

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.

6. Koukounaries Beach, Skiathos – Greece

Greece isn’t short on beautiful beaches, so when we say Koukounaries in Skiathos is one of the country’s best, you know it’s going to be good. This long stretch of dazzling white sand is surrounded by dense green pine forest, which has helped it avoid overdevelopment. There are a handful of beach bars giving it a lively vibe in the summer and the insanely clear water makes for some epic snorkelling.

7. Corralejo Grandes Playas, Fuerteventura – Spain

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.

8. Porthminster Beach, Cornwall – UK

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.

9. Sellin Beach, Rugen – Germany

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.

10. Playa de Muro, Majorca – Spain

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.

11. Butterfly Valley Beach, Muğla – Turkey

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.

12. Porto Katsiki, Lefkada – Greece

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.

13. Maspalomas Beach, Gran Canaria – Spain

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.

14. Cala Macarella, Menorca – Spain

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.

15. Reynisfjara Beach – Iceland

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).

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