What is the ideal summer holiday in Europe? What about soaking up the summer sun on a beach and joining the locals as they celebrate summer. Here are a few great seaside destinations to explore with family and friends if you are in some need of vitamin sea…
The Algarve region on the west coast of Portugal is very popular with beachgoers. The weather is great and the Atlantic Ocean has safe swimming areas, as well as good waves for water sports. There are more than 150 beaches along the coast. One of the most popular beaches is Praia da Marinha in Lagoa, an area known for colourful limestone rock stacks that look beautiful on photos. Another is Praia da Falésia in Albufeira, a long beach lined with cliffs.
The best Barcelona beaches include Barceloneta, which is conveniently close to the city. There is also Mar Bella, a prime windsurfing spot, and the Playa del Paseo Marítimo, where kids and teenagers can take advantage of a colourful playground and skateboarding half-pipe.
Related: A Spanish beach outing is a nice option on free days in Barcelona on our Western Adventure tour.
French Riviera (France)
The French Riviera is one of those iconic destinations that should have a place of honour on every traveller’s bucket list. The beaches along the coast between Monaco and Nice are really quite spectacular and a great destination for a day-trip. Some of the most popular beaches include St Laurent du Var, a family-friendly pebble beach lined with an amazing array of restaurants and Villefranche Plage at Villefranche with its picturesque beachfront.
A Europe beach holiday would not be complete without a visit to the beaches of Palermo in Italy. Located along a spellbinding 150-kilometer stretch of pristine Sicilian coastline, this beautiful region is home to a great variety of beaches. From traditional pebbles and dramatic cliff-side locations, to vast stretches of golden sand with plenty of opportunity for diving and snorkelling.
Located along the world-renowned Adriatic Coast, Split is the second-largest city in Croatia and home to some lovely beaches. The waters around Split are clear and calm, with very few underwater currents or high waves, which makes it perfect for gentle paddling and relaxing family fun. The most popular Split beaches include Bacvice, a mere ten minutes’ from Old Town with great bars nearby; Kasjuni, a protected spot at the foot of the Marjan Hill; and Firule, a popular family-friendly beach with great shallows to explore.
There are few things better than exploring the fabled Grecian beaches. Trying to pinpoint the best beaches in Santorini and Mykonos is quite difficult, but we have a few favourites… The fun and relaxing Kamari beach; sheltered Perissa Beach with its wide range of restaurants and seaside attractions; quiet and relaxing Agios Ioannis Beach. Finally, Lia Beach with its wonderful swimming waters and snorkelling opportunities.
Related: Our Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour stays over in Mykonos and Santorini for three nights each.
Slovenian Riviera (Slovenia)
Slovenia may perhaps be better known for its lakes and parks, but it actually has quite the picturesque sliver of Mediterranean coastline. In fact, if you want to combine the intrigue of an Eastern European holiday with the sun and surf of a vacation on the Med, this is where you want to go. Portorož Beach is by far the most popular – this is where you’ll find glamorous seaside resorts and a buzzing, touristy atmosphere. Piran Beach is a local getaway with easy access to the water from a paved coastline with stairwells that descend into the water; while Mesečev Zaliv (Moon Bay) lies off the beaten path and can only be reached on foot within the scenic confines of Strunjan Nature Park.
The Eastern European country of Montenegro is a rising star on the European itinerary lineup. If you like your journeys to include plenty of local action and immersive experiences with passionate locals, this gem of a country is sure to be your cup of tea. Aside from its plentiful forests and mountains, Montenegro is also known for its stunning coastline. We highly recommend an excursion to Big Beach near Petrovac. This expansive seaside destination is 15 km long and up to 60 m wide in places, which means there is ample space for sunbathing and waterside activities.
Albanian Riviera (Albania)
Albania’s coastline is the picturesque meeting place of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Here you’ll find golden beaches and crystal-clear waters that lap at the foot of bustling seaside destinations along the famed Albanian Riviera. Dhërmi beach with its rocky white beach is perhaps the most famous, and offers plenty of smaller bays and coves for intrepid explorers; while Palasa is known for its quieter atmosphere and informal campsites. Ksamil beach south of Saranda is great for swimming, and you can even take a boat ride to the three nearly islands if you’d prefer to avoid the oceanside crowds in the height of summer.
Related: Explore Albania and the beauty of the Balkans on our unforgettable Balkan Explorer tour.
Black Sea (Bulgaria)
While the Black Sea may not technically be a fully-fledged ocean, it sure offers the amenities of one.
This alluring body of water that lies between Eastern Europe and Western Asia is currently connected to the Mediterranean ocean, but was once a lake. Regardless of the technicalities, the Black Sea is an excellent option if you want to take advantage of affordable accommodation, some seriously delicious seafood and epic (free!) beaches. Not to mention exploring the ancient cities that line it’s lovely shore.
These are just a few of the locations for the best beach holidays in Europe. Soaking up the sun on a beach is such a simple and affordable way to drink in the natural beauty of each of these wonderful destinations.