Get inspired by my list of the best and prettiest beaches in Europe and be amazed to discover just how a dream beach holiday really isn’t that far away from home at all. From the English Channel to the easternmost reaches of the Mediterranean, I’ve put together a list of the prettiest beaches in Europe that I’m sure will leave you wanting to catch the next plane in a heart beat! Perfect for when you’re stuck picking a destination for your next sun holiday…
The Prettiest Beaches in Europe
France | Italy | Greece | Spain | Croatia
Turkey | Portugal | Montenegro | Albania
Notre Dame Beach, Proquerolles Island
The island of Proquerolles is a tiny island off the Côte d’Azur which may not be on everyone’s radar unless you seriously get into exploring the region. But for this beach alone it’s well worth the visit! The Plague Notre-Dame is an absolutely textbook beach. The curve of golden sand, sawing eucalyptus trees and gentle waves are stunning!
Calanque d’en Vau, Parc National des Calanques
Love those little places that are really tucked away? Then you’ll love the tiny beach nestled in the steep gorge of Calanque d’en Vau. Situated in the Calanques National Park, it’s perfectly situated for a day trip from Marseille – you’re best heading to the town of Cassis first and then heading out on a boat.
Roccapina Beach, Corsica
The mountainous island of Corsica is an absolute dream to visit – and the beaches make it even better! The beach of Roccapina is set in a sprawling nature reserve on the southern coast, meaning that you’ll be surrounded by lush, Mediterranean forests. You can even go camping at the nearby campsites!
Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily
One of the most famous views in Sicily is the lovely little island of Isola Bella, connected by the coast by a small sandbar flanked either side by crystal clear waters gently lapping at the sands. Granted, it gets quite busy here – especially when it’s so close to Taormina – but it’s a lovely place to relax and enjoy long, lazy afternoons enjoying the sun.
Cala Goloritze, Sardinia
Sardinia has some of the finest beaches in all of Europe (lucky them!). And perhaps one of the island’s best is Cala Goloritze, which gets as close as you can to the image of a Caribbean getaway – white sands, the clearest turquoise waters and heavenly views. It’s even under UNESCO protection and designated an Italian National Monument – that way you know it must be good…
Capriccioli, Costa Smerelda, Sardinia
If you want beaches with funky rock formations, you don’t have to travel all the way to the Maldives! Continuing the theme of “Sardinia’s incredulous beaches”, Capriccioli is another absolute stunner. With sands this white and waters this clear, it’s enough to make me want to pack my bags and go…
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos
Navagio Beach – or Shipwreck Beach – is one of those places that almost everyone can instantly recognise. The wavy chalk cliffs, the bright blue waters and the little beach tucked away in the bay come together to create one of those places in Europe that really has to be seen to be believed. The little shipwreck makes it all even more magical.
Egremni Beach, Lefkada
A lot of Greek islands tend to get overshadowed by more popular choices such as Crete, Kos and Corfu. Lefkada is definitely one that you need to check out – situated in the Ionian Sea, this island is home to a stunning coastline that features towering cliffs and idyllic beaches such as Egremni.
Saliara Beach, Thasos
This one is a little slightly different than the rest. The sand here is actually made of marble – lots of tiny, brilliantly white pebbles – that give this beach an absolutely stunning colour. And it’s why the sea looks so bright here as well! It gets a little crowded here, but the whiteness of the marble is well worth seeing. You can always go for a little walk along the rocks to escape the crowds too.
Cala Mitjaneta, Menorca
If you want to soak up a bit of sun but are desperate to escape most of the crowds, then the tranquil, relaxed island of Menorca is a great option. Cala Macarella is one of my personal favourites when it comes to beaches here. The shelter offered by the bay means that the waves are wonderfully gentle.
Cala Moro, Majorca
There’s a reason why Majorca has long been a top holiday destination. Fantastic atmosphere, nightlife, medieval towns and – you guessed it! – more beautiful beaches than you can shake a stick at! One of the most famous is Cala Moro – just looking at the pictures makes me want to jump right in sea!
Cala d’Hort, Ibiza
Sure, Ibiza may have the reputation of being a party hotspot. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the island is also fantastic for those who maybe aren’t quite so into wild nights out. Enjoy some relaxing moments at Cala d’Hort, a small beach that is bursting with those typical Mediterranean vibes.
Zlatni Rat, Brač
Croatia has shot up in popularity the last few years as more and more people discover the natural beauty of the country’s Adriatic Coast. The most famous beach of all has to be the so-called ‘Golden Horn’ at Brač, a distinctive sandbar that reaches out to the sea. Once you’re done sunbathing, sit down for dinner in the nearby village and enjoy some of the finest seafood around.
Brela, Istrian Riviera
Another absolute gem along Croatia’s Adriatic Coast is the lovely little beach tucked away at Brela. Expect stunning crystal-clear waters, lush surroundings and breathtaking views of the mountains along the coastline. A beautiful place for romantic strolls!
Ölüdeniz, South-West Aegean Coast
Said to be one of the most-photographed beaches in all of the Mediterranean! This beach is an absolute paradise for pretty much everyone. Fine stretches of golden sands provide ample space to sunbathe, while the surrounding mountains and foothills provide plenty of opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and even paragliding.
Butterfly Valley, Ölüdeniz
Very close by is Butterfly Valley. This deep ravine shelters a sandy beach that may be small in size, but more than makes up for it with its amazing location. To be surrounded by mountains this tall is an incredible feeling!
Praia da Marinha, Algarve
Quite possibly the defining beach of the Algarve. Golden cliffs, clear waters and lovely sands are the first things that come to mind when we think of the Algarve, Portugal’s prime beach destination. It’s a firm favourite with Irish holidaymakers not just because of the natural beauty, but also thanks to cheap flights to Faro from many Irish airports.
Praia do Benagil, Algarve
The beach next to the small village of Benagil shelters all sorts of incredible sea caves and rock formations that are an absolute joy to explore. A great opportunity to keep you busy if you ever need a break from relaxing! ;)
Sveti Stefan, Adriatic Coast
Montenegro is another Balkan country that’s enjoying much more well-deserved attention in recent years. Probably the country’s most famous beach is found at Sveti Stefan. The distinctive sandbar leads to a tiny islet that houses a former village – it’s since been converted into a luxury resort!
Gjipe Beach, Himare
Albania is another rising star – it enjoys typical Mediterranean coastlines with spruce and eucalyptus forests all around. I love the little beach in Gjipe – the sands are a lovely golden colour and the little stream running down to the sea gives it a special touch!
Ksamil Beach, Albanian Riviera
Seriously – really consider giving the Balkans a try if you want a super cheap beach holiday without wanting to put up with the heaving crowds. Ksamil is gorgeous – there are barely any waves in the water and you can kayak out to the little islands dotted about in the bay. Or why not slurp on a few cocktails at some of the bars here? :)
Man, the only thing I want to do now after writing this is chill on the beach, enjoy the sun and feel the sand between my toes… Are there any beautiful beaches that I’ve missed out? Then be sure to let me know, I’d love to hear your tips!
The best sun holidays