Where are the best beaches in Europe?

The best beaches in Europe should not be confused with the most famous or popular. Beaches in Europe vary widely and can be composed of anything from sand, pebble, stones, or even rock. Here are some of the best beaches in Europe, known for their stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities:

  1. Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach), Zakynthos, Greece - Famous for its shipwrecked freighter, crystal-clear waters, and white sandy beach.
  2. Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece - Known for its pink sand and turquoise waters, creating a unique and picturesque landscape.
  3. Cala Macarella and Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain - These neighboring coves feature pristine white sand and clear blue waters surrounded by pine-covered cliffs.
  4. Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal - Renowned for its rugged limestone cliffs, hidden caves, and stunning coastal views.
  5. Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece - A dramatic beach with steep cliffs, white pebbles, and vibrant blue waters.
  6. Costa Navarino, Peloponnese, Greece - This area has several beautiful beaches, including Voidokilia Beach, known for its unique semicircular shape.
  7. Porto Katsiki, Lefkada, Greece - A stunning beach with white cliffs and crystal-clear waters, accessible via a steep staircase.
  8. Cala Goloritze, Sardinia, Italy - A hidden gem accessible only by boat or a challenging hike, known for its pristine waters and unique limestone arch.
  9. Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn), Brac, Croatia - Famous for its distinctive shape and crystal-clear waters, it's a popular spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
  10. Cala Llombards, Mallorca, Spain - A picturesque sandy cove surrounded by cliffs and pine trees, providing a peaceful retreat.
  11. Plage de Palombaggia, Corsica, France - A stunning beach with fine white sand and shallow turquoise waters, backed by pine forests.
  12. Rhossili Bay, Swansea, Wales, UK - A vast, picturesque beach with sandy dunes and panoramic views of the Gower Peninsula.
  13. Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa, Cyprus - Known for its party atmosphere and clear, shallow waters, making it popular for water sports.
  14. Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta - A breathtaking inlet with crystal-clear blue waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  15. Brela Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia - A long stretch of pebble beach lined with pine trees, offering stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.

Almost all beaches in Europe are topless optional by the way. It’s not considered a real big deal in general.  But nudity however is still quite marginalized and not very mainstream (especially within the catholic countries). Some countries like France are generally less conservative than others like Portugal. For example, since 1994 Portugal has 15 beaches where nudity is tolerated but only 3 official nude beaches (in Meco, Sesimba, and Bela Vista respectively).

The Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe following international surveys, issues yearly ratings for clean, safe, environmentally friendly beaches and awards its coveted ‘blue flag’ to those exceeding standards. France for example, had 288 ‘blue flag’ beaches awarded in 2002, down 32% from the 425 issued in 2001. See www.blueflag.org.

People rarely think of hitting the beaches in Britain for a tan, however there are some amazing and often overlooked spots. Check out the site run by the Marine Conservation Society at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk.

See www.discovery.com- for travel channel’s best listed beaches.