Europe is always going to be popular for beach holidays but if you don’t fancy sharing the sand with hordes of holiday makers next year then we’ve picked places that are no less beautiful but are guaranteed to come without the crowds. Although make sure you keep it under your (sun) hat we don’t want too many people finding out…
Island of Palmizana, Croatia
A twenty minute boat ride from the town of Hvar lies the golden coastline of Palizana. This little part of the Paklina archipelago is a haven away from the chaos and despite an extensive marina with room for 200 boats, the area has been preserved with little reminders of the modern world. Palizana is the ultimate getaway with meandering hidden footpaths, sparkling crystal waters and numerous secluded bays accessed by boats. For a touch of exclusivity, forget about the world behind you and take a snooze under the trees at the waterfront with a famous Langanini cocktail at hand.
Messini is the gateway to exploring the hidden depths of the ocean as well as taking in the expansive golden sands. The area is an absolute hive of activity, offering all kinds of water activities, however if sprawling starboard is more your thing than surfing, all day cruises are offered every day so let the winds take you on a voyage of discovery. Spend a relaxing, carefree time chilling out on the turquoise waters watching dolphins and sea turtles circle. Messini is the destination of choice for tranquillity and relaxation.
Kotor Bay, Montenegro
Okay we might have cheated a bit on this one as this isn’t your average beach holiday. Kotor Bay has earned itself a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list and it majestically combines the sublimity of Norweigan Fjords with the beauty of Italian grand lakes. Ideally located in a sheltered bay, Kotor is a regular haunt of the super-rich, who dock their yachts in the largest marina on the Adriatic (think Pierce Brosnan and Roman Abramovich), to experience this uniquely European speciality of colours, tastes and smells. The coastal sands are like a halo around this gorgeous historically steeped town. Kotor Bay is an absolute must for those wishing to ditch the Euro-trashy resorts further along the coast and are looking for something a little more refined for their next beach holiday. Lets just say, if it’s good enough for James Bond – it’s good enough for us.
Demre is up and coming on the list of all things classy. The area is dotted with beautiful boutique hotels and the crowd is a little more spritzer and a little less shooters but the ultimate selling point is its fantastic stretch of sand and plunge-worthy ocean. Some come to Demre to soak up the Mediterranean sun on a blissful beach during peak season while others wait until December to visit the home of the original Santa Claus and celebrate his feast day on December 6th in the ancient church of St. Nicolas. A little tip from us? Check out the shacks at the end of the beach serving freshly caught crab and fries…there’s nothing quite like it.
Poltu di Li Cogghj, Sardinia
This Sardinian stretch of coastline has been on the radar of those in the know since Prince Karim Aga Khan famously arrived in the sixties and has been a favourite ever since. Poltu di Li Coggj ticks all the luxury boxes. Long strip of golden sand? Check. Clear, tranquil waters? Check. Located on the renowned Emerald Coast, the beach is a bit of a celeb magnet and it’s easy to see why, eco-friendly resorts, exclusive hotels, designer restaurants all line the coastline but for the price of a cheap Ryanair flight to Alghero, all this can be yours too. Top tip – watch out for the Italian paparazzi lurking in the rough, Mediterranean scrub.
Noirmoutier, Western Loire, France
Noirmoutier has a lot to offer, including 25 miles of sandy beaches- the French say that you can visit a different one every day, decide what you want to do and pick a beach. There’s something for everyone whether it’s windsurfing or winding down. No Gallic holiday would be complete without a gastronomic experience and Noirmoutier doesn’t disappoint, creative chefs in small, family-run restaurants whip up tasty delights with line-caught fish and super-fresh seafood. As expected of a French resort, Noirmoutier is the ultimate in chic from the long wooden pier to the neat line of white beach huts. Enjoy a great nights sleep in one of the seaside bungalows and spend the day flitting around the glistening waters in a dinghy.
Costa Vicentina, Portugal
Portugal’s Costa Vicentina is an amazing strip of National Trust coastline and forest. The beautiful beaches are popular with surfers but if you don’t fancy the exertion of surfing just alternate between floating in the water and snoozing on the sun-kissed sands. Parts of the beaches are generally untouched by the masses of tourists who visit Portugal and a certain air of exclusivity emanates so indulge yourself in the ultimate beach fantasy of a single parasol, delicious cocktail and lounger as you have the sands to yourself. So what else is it about Costa Vicentina makes it such a hit? Maybe it’s the luxury hotels. Maybe it’s the array of fantastic Michelin rated food. Or maybe, it’s something to do with the cliff-top restaurant that offers spectacular, dramatic views and an opportunity to see the breath-taking sunset over the Atlantic. Check it out and decide for yourself.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall, England
Watergate Bay is the hidden gem of the English coast, with a clientele that ranges from the surf-followers to the rich and famous. This two-mile stretch of coastline offers up the best England has to offer in terms of water sports, stunning views and invigorating walking trails. Stargaze at the beach polo matches, music festivals or chowing down in celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen Cornwall. Embrace your inner star and take to the sand to cheer on a chukka or simply watch the waves crash in and out in style.