The 21 best beaches in Europe
White beaches and turquoise seas: surely the first thing you think of is the Caribbean. But it doesn’t always have to be a 10-hour flight, and you can also find a piece of paradise on earth in Europe. So you know where we have searched for the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
Popular holiday destinations like Spain and Italy have them, and you’ll also find wonderful dream beaches in Cyprus and Corsica. Even in northern Europe, you will be surprised by the Caribbean atmosphere.
Keep reading this article to find out which are the best beaches in Europe, as well as how to get there, how child-friendly each beach is and what the tourist attractions are so that your beach vacation in Europe is perfect.
- Es Trenc Beach, Majorca, Balearic Islands
- Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Balearic Islands
- Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera, Balearic Islands
- As Catedrais Beach, Galicia, Spain
- La Concha Beach, Basque Country, Spain
- Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain
- Cala Mariolu, Sardinia, Italy
- San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy
- Sansone Beach, Elba, Italy
- Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece
- Navagio, Zakynthos, Greece
- Lalaria, Skiathos, Greece
- Praia da Adraga, Colares, Portugal
- Tamariz Beach, Cascais, Portugal
- Blue Lagoon, Cyprus
- Nissi Beach, Cyprus
- Palombaggia Beach, Corsica, France
- Jaz Beach, Montenegro
- Reynisfjara, Iceland
- Luskentyre Beach, Scotland
- White Rocks Beach, Northern Ireland
1. Es Trenc Beach, Majorca, Balearic Islands
On the south coast of Mallorca, between the town of Ses Covetes and the small fishing village of Sa Ràpita, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe: Platja Es Trenc, the longest natural beach in Mallorca.
How to get to the beach: You can get to the beach by car; there is a paid parking lot. Or you can walk along the beach from Colónia de Sant Jordi, passing through numerous small coves until you reach the dream beach Platja Es Trenc.
The beach, the extensive dune landscape, and the interior of the beach are under nature protection, so there are no hotel complexes or major roads in the vicinity. Platja Es Trenc is one of the last great undeveloped beaches on the island.
The fine white sand and clear turquoise water give you the feeling of being in the Caribbean in the middle of Europe. The only thing missing is the palm trees.
The beach offers something for everyone:
- The shallow waters and little current make it perfect for families.
- Those who want a streak-free tan can get it in the naturist area.
- The eastern and central sections of the beach offer a wide gastronomic and leisure offer. If you like more tranquility, you can relax in the western section of the beach.
And if that’s not enough for you, you can visit the other beaches in Mallorca. Surely there is one that suits your needs!
Recommendations of hotels in Majorca
- For families: SENTIDO Castell de Mar 4* | Recommendation: 98%.
- For couples: Son Moll Sentits Hotel & Spa 4* – Adults only | Recommendation: 99%.
- For luxury: 5* Steigenberger Golf & Spa Resort Camp de Mar | Recommendation: 97%
2. Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Balearic Islands
In the southwest of the island of Menorca is the beautiful natural beach of Cala Macarelleta. The sand is light and fine, the water clear and bright in all its facets, from blue to turquoise.
The beach is located in a beautiful bay, so there are hardly any waves.
Due to the clear and calm waters, the beach is suitable for children and good for swimming and snorkeling.
There are two car parks, one for a fee, five minutes from the beach, and the other free, where you have to walk between 15 and 20 minutes.
There are toilets available, but you have to bring everything else. There is a restaurant near the beach that serves national dishes.
Hotel recommendations in Minorca
- For families: Prinsotel La Caleta 4* | Recommendation: 96% with 727 Opinions
- For couples: Hotel Grupotel Playa Club 4* | Recommendation: 96% with 597 Opinions
- For luxury: 5* La Quinta Menorca By PortBlue Boutique | Recommendation: 83% with 98 Opinions
3. Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera, Balearic Islands
On the island of Formentera is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe: Playa de ses Illetes. The light, fine sand and deep turquoise blue water form a dreamy color contrast.
The beach is located in a natural park, several kilometers long and about 50 meters wide. Extensive dunes rise behind the beach, completing the impressive landscape.
The beach slopes gently into the sea, making it ideal for children. Sun loungers and umbrellas can rent, and several restaurants care for your physical wellbeing. There is a wide range of water sports, and there is also a nudist area.
Recommendations of hotels in Formentera
- For families: Hotel Insotel Formentera Playa 4* | Recommendation: 91% with 491 Opinions
- For couples: Hotel Riu La Mola 4* | Recommendation: 95% with 481 Opinions
4. As Catedrais Beach, Galicia, Spain
Catedrais Beach, translated as “Playa de las Catedrales” in Spanish, is one of the most beautiful in Europe due to its impressive rock formations.
Warning: this is not a typical beach for swimming and sunbathing.
Important information: In high season, please note that you must fill out an online form before your visit to be allowed to enter the beach. It is to avoid mass tourism.
The cliffs of northern Spain, up to 30 meters high, tower over the beach, but they are not even impregnable.
Over time, the waves have eaten huge holes in the rocks. The result is arches, bridges, vaults, and caves that defy gravity; the stone piles form endless labyrinths and passages.
The beach is only accessible at low tide; at high tide, the arches are mostly filled with water again. In some of the caves, turquoise caverns have been formed in which you can also swim. Especially for children, the fantastic formations are fascinating to play with and explore.
5. La Concha Beach, Basque Country, Spain
As for the cities with a beach, two have also entered our list of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. La Concha Beach, the beach of the city of Donostia-San Sebastián, offers the best sand and crystal clear waters.
It borders the rocky massifs of Monte Igueldo and Monte Urgull, and off the coast is the beautiful rocky island of Santa Clara. Be an urban beach, it is very wide, at 40 meters, so there is room for everyone.
Due to the shallow currents and sea level, it is especially popular with families with young children. It is also one of the cleanest beaches in Europe. There are toilets, changing rooms and a restaurant.
6. Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is another city with beaches that are among the most beautiful in Europe. Barceloneta beach is the longest in the city, with a length of 1.1 kilometers.
The beach of fine sand and azure blue water is just a few minutes from the center of the Spanish metropolis. In summer, the beach is lively, with a good offer of water sports and many beach bars and nightclubs that turn day into night and night into day.
If you prefer quieter, walking a little further along the promenade to the Levant and Mar Bella beaches is a good idea. Locals mainly frequent these, so there is more tranquility and less tourist hustle and bustle.
7. Cala Mariolu, Sardinia, Italy
In the east of Sardinia, there is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Cala Mariolu. The sparkling beach, combined with the turquoise waters and 500 meters of sheer cliffs, provides a stunning backdrop for a day at the beach.
The beach is made up of white and pink pebbles mixed with sand.
Therefore, it is advisable to wear bathing shoes. The bay has few waves, but the entrance is relatively steep.
Due to the clarity of its waters, Cala Mariolu is very suitable for snorkeling and diving. The beautiful bay can be reached by boat or hiking for several hours.
The beach is located in a natural reserve, so everything is natural. However, there is a small kiosk where you can rent umbrellas and buy snacks.
As the bay is very popular and the beach is shaded from 4 pm due to the cliffs, you should start your day at the beach as soon as possible.
Sardinia Hotel Recommendations
- For families : Hotel Resort & Spa Baia Caddinas 4* | Recommendation: 97% with 1010 Opinions
- For couples: Hotel Cruccuris Resort 4* | Recommendation: 98% with 251 Opinions
- For luxury: Hotel Capo D’Orso Thalasso & Spa 5* | Recommendation: 96% with 82 opinions
8. San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy
San Vito Lo Capo is situated in northwestern Sicily and is known for its partially pink and bright red sand. The coloration is small pieces of pink and red coral mixed with the sand.
Tip: The imposing Monte Monaco rises above one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. If you have tired of the beach, you can go up it; sturdy footwear is a must.
You can admire the red coral from a depth of 50 meters. As it is a protected species, touching it is strictly prohibited.
The beach is about 3 kilometers long and slopes gently towards the sea. It makes it ideal for families with children. Sun loungers and umbrellas are available.
As the beach is just below the small town of San Vito, there are also numerous restaurants.
Sicily Hotel Recommendations
- For families : Athena Resort 4* | Recommendation: 93% with 206 opinions
- For Couples: 4* Athenee Palace Party | Recommendation: 93% with 145 Opinions
- For luxury: 5* VOI Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay | Recommendation: 93% with 573 Opinions
9. Sansone Beach, Elba, Italy
On the island of Elba, Sansone beach is an enchanting beach with white pebbles and blue waters. It is framed by high white cliffs, typical of the northern Elba region.
It is separated from the smaller Sorgente beach by a rock formation.
Once you have made the 15-minute descent along a winding path, you find yourself on Sorgente beach.
To get to Sansone beach, you still have to climb the rock formation. Therefore, the path to the beach is not necessarily suitable for small children and older adults. There is a small beach bar and a rental of umbrellas and sun loungers.
10. Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece
Crystal clear water, a fine sandy beach, and a shallow coastline: Elafonisi beach is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Europe and exudes a Caribbean touch in the Mediterranean. Thousands of broken shells give the beach its characteristic pink color.
The Elafonisi Peninsula is situated at the most southwestern point of Crete. It is divided into two parts by the sea, making it look like Elafonisi is an island.
You can easily cross the sandbar on foot, as the water is very shallow. In this pause, there is no more than a meter deep, which is perfect for children to play and splash around.
On the Cretan side of the beach, there is free parking, a restaurant, and a beach goods shop. On the beach, you have everything you need to spend a relaxing day at the beach: sun loungers, umbrellas, showers, and changing rooms. Nothing stands in the way of a relaxing beach vacation.
In Elafonisi, the beach is less touristy. It lacks services like umbrellas and changing rooms, but you can find a quiet bay all to yourself.
Crete Hotel Recommendations
- For families: 4* Corissia Princess Hotel | Recommendation: 100% with 2583 Opinions
- For couples: 4* Cooee Corissia Harmony – Adults only | Recommendation: 99% with 1174 Comments
- For luxury: 5* Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas | Recommendation: 93% with 573 Opinions
11. Navagio, Zakynthos, Greece
White beach, turquoise sea, and all this in the middle of Europe: Navagio Beach has long since ceased to be a council of insiders. But that does not change the fact that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
In the old smugglers’ bay lies what is probably the most photographed shipwreck in the world: the smuggler ship “Panagiotis,” which ran aground in Navagio in 1980 during a manhunt.
The bay is only accessible from the sea. The beach is less suitable for children, as it descends very quickly.
Due to the media’s growing presence, the beach is a popular destination. Therefore, arriving before ten or late in the afternoon is advisable.
The beach is surrounded by vertical rock walls up to 200 meters high, on which there is a small platform. It is the only viewpoint with views of the entire bay and the wreck.
You can get to the viewpoint by car, and there is a car park nearby; Sturdy footwear is necessary to move safely around the platform.
Hotel Recommendations: Top 20 Hotels in Zakynthos
- For families: Villas Cavo Marathia 4* | Recommendation: 100% with 185 Comments
- For couples: The Lesante Luxury Hotel & Spa 5* | Recommendation: 100% with 67 opinions
- For luxury: SENTIDO Alexandra Beach Resort & Spa 4* | Recommendation: 100% with 93 opinions
12. Lalaria, Skiathos, Greece
Skiathos is a small island located northwest of the Aegean Sea and offers one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, Lalaria.
Due to the crystal clear water, white pebbles, and small cliffs, the water shines in intense blue-green tones.
It is important: There are no services on the beach, so you must bring your food, sun cream, towels, etc. The beach does not offer shade or umbrellas and is therefore unsuitable for families with small children. The beach is not sand, but pebbles made up of round white pebbles.
Other features of this beautiful beach are the huge rock formations and the big hole in one of the rocks. You can swim through the hole only if the waves are not too strong.
The north wind sometimes blows very strongly on this beach, which has led, among other things, to the beautiful round pebbles.
However, as this beach can only be reached by boat, you should check the weather forecast before booking an excursion to Lalaria beach. The boats cannot reach the beach if the waves are too strong.
The best time of day to go to Lalaria is in the early morning, as there are few tourists at that time and the sunlight is still bearable.
13. Praia da Adraga, Colares, Portugal
Forty-four kilometers from Lisbon is Praia da Adraga, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. It is not the typical bathing beach, but its landscape features are worth visiting. The beach is sheltered between rocky cliffs, some of which have acquired strange formations due to the sea and the wind.
Due to the sometimes harsh weather on the Atlantic coast, the beach is very popular with surfers. It is better not to bathe here with children, but the fine-sand beach is good for playing.
You can borrow umbrellas, and there is also a shower. There is a fish restaurant on the beach known for its delicious dishes – make sure you make a reservation if you want to see how good the food is there. There is free parking right next to the restaurant.
What is the longest beach in Europe?
It’s time to have some useless knowledge; who knows if one day it can be useful in a contest: Where is the longest beach in Europe? The Curonian Spit can be adorned with this title.
The peninsula, located between the Haff and the Baltic Sea, has a 98-kilometer-long sandy beach. Fifty-two kilometers are in Lithuania and 46 in Russia.
The Kuhrische Nehrung has fine white sand beaches and a unique landscape of shifting dunes. Not in vain is it a World Heritage Site since 2000.
On the Lithuanian side, Nida is a popular vacation destination, with many hotels, restaurants, and vacation homes. Thomas Mann also spent a few summers here, and the Thomas Mann House is one of Nida’s landmarks.
14. Tamariz Beach, Cascais, Portugal
Below the casino in Estoril, in Portugal, there is a small beach with fine sand: Playa de Tamariz.
It can be easily reached by train from Lisbon in 35 minutes, right next to the Estoril train station.
The beach is very clean, there are hardly any waves, and the entrance to the water is shallow.
That is why it is very popular with families. It is surrounded by stately homes, hotels, and even a castle.
Due to its proximity to the city, there are many restaurants, toilets and changing rooms. Tamariz beach is very crowded in the high season, as tourists and locals relax on this beautiful beach.
15. Blue Lagoon, Cyprus
The name of the Blue Lagoon of Cyprus is not a coincidence, as the water shimmers in countless facets of shades of blue. From deep dark blue to a bright turquoise and everything in between.
Tip: Avoid at all costs trying to dominate the road to the beach in a small car or similar. The terrain is very rough and not suitable for inexperienced drivers.
Due to its white sand and turquoise waters, the Blue Lagoon is also considered one of the Caribbean beaches in Europe. The water is very shallow, the average depth is between 1 and 1.5 meters, and the bay is protected from the waves by sea rocks.
The Blue Lagoon can be reached by boat, jeep tour, or 1.5-hour hike.
There are no tourist structures on the beach to ensure that the Blue Lagoon remains one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. You must take care of your food, sun protection, etc.
16. Nissi Beach, Cyprus
Nissi Beach in Cyprus is a 500-meter-long white sand beach.
The water shimmers in shades of blue and turquoise and is exceptionally clear.
There is a small island in front of the beach, which you can reach by swimming, wading, or waiting for the tide to go out and walking with dry feet.
At low tide, the striking strip of sand between the beach and the island becomes visible, the most characteristic motif of this beautiful European beach.
As the town of Ayia Napa is located directly on the beach, many hotel complexes exist.
That’s why there’s a lot of the hustle and bustle on the beach, with DJs playing the latest club music from midday.
If you prefer a quieter beach holiday, you can go to the eastern part of Nissi beach, where the music is hardly heard.
The beach has a wide range of tourist facilities, sun loungers and parasols can be reserved, a wide range of water sports, and many bars and restaurants.
17. Palombaggia Beach, Corsica, France
Plage de Palombaggia, in the southeast of the island of Corsica, is also a dream beach. What is impressive is the variety of natural colors: a kilometer-long beach of white sand, turquoise blue water, red rocks, and the lush green pine forest.
There is something for everyone on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. As the water is very calm and shallow, the beach is very suitable for families with children.
But everything else is also worthwhile here: Various water sports equipment, sun loungers, and umbrellas can be rented. There are numerous restaurants for small and large appetites, and there are also two free parking spaces.
18. Jaz Beach, Montenegro
In 2015, Lonely Planet named Jaz beach in Montenegro was named the most beautiful in Europe. Of course, it should not be missing from our list.
Tip: The best view of Jaz beach is from the coastal road towards Tivat.
The crescent-shaped bay, framed by mountains and green forests, is 4 kilometers from the beautiful city of Budva.
The golden-yellow beach is 1.2 kilometers long and is a mixture of sand and gravel.
The water gradually gets deeper, and there are almost no waves, perfect for a day at the beach with children.
The water is warm and shallow on the right side of the mountains due to a sandbank.
You can rent umbrellas and sun loungers or just lay down with your towel in a free spot.
19. Reynisfjara, Iceland
At this beach, you will not have the typical beach vacation. A short drive from Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland’s southernmost town, is Reynisfjara Beach.
The beach seems like something from another world with its wild beauty and uniqueness. The special thing about Reynisfjara is the black sand. The color is due to the erosion of volcanic rock.
The Reynisfjall mountain rises above the beach, with impressive basalt columns and caves. You can use them as a protective shelter if the weather changes suddenly, which happens very often in this area.
The strange-looking rock formations near the coast are the Reynisdrangar, rocks of volcanic origin. According to a legend, they are petrified trolls who froze when they tried to pull their ship to shore at dawn.
Although Reynisfjara is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, special care must be taken when visiting it: the unbridled power of the waves is beautiful to behold, but keep your distance.
Waves often reach the beach higher than expected and have a strong suction force. Swimming is prohibited on this beach as there is a danger to life, and children should never be left unattended on the beach.
20. Luskentyre Beach, Scotland
Luskentyre Beach, on the west coast of the Isle of Harris, is also a special northern European beach. Miles of white sand and stunning blue-green waters make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. But this impression disappears as soon as you put your feet in the water: it is freezing.
The beach is not suitable for swimming and sunbathing, but it offers a beautiful photographic backdrop and is perfect for hiking. You will soon realize that Luskentyre beach is a place to relax; the clocks work differently here.
The mesmerizing views, the vibrant colors, and the beautiful dunes invite you to stop and take a deep breath on one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
21. White Rocks Beach, Northern Ireland
White Rocks Beach is located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, one of the most beautiful in Europe. With its honey-colored sand, it breaks up the lush green landscape.
It takes its name from the white calcareous rocks, some of which have taken fantastic shapes due to the weather. At White Rocks Beach, you can swim, surf, or go kayaking.
You can discover small bays at low tide, but always be careful with the tides. A walk with views of nearby Dunluce Castle is also recommended. The Giant’s Causeway is just a 20-minute drive from the beach.
The 21 best beaches in Europe