As well as thousands of years of history and culture, Europe is lucky enough to be home to some of best beaches in the world. A perennial package holiday favourite, millions flock to the continent each year but this does come with a price – over-crowding, over-development and rowdy tourists are a curse of many a European resort and it’s becoming harder and harder to find some peace. If you are a self-confessed travel snob here’s our collective choice for the best under-the-radar beaches in Europe…
Playa del Silencio, Asturias, Spain
Despite being a package holiday hotspot it’s still possible to find a few hidden unspoilt beaches in Spain if you search hard enough. Playa del Silencio is one such place and this long silvery sandy cove has been named as Lonely Planet as one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. Uncrowded, tranquil and sheltered by surrounding striking rock formations, cliffs and green meadows – it’s the perfect place to escape the tourist hordes.
Lantic Bay, Cornwall, UK
Cornwall isn’t short on beautiful beaches but its popularity means it’s harder and harder to find a real ‘hidden gem.’ Lantic Bay – located on the quiet, but gorgeous stretch of coast between Fowey and Polperro – is one such place. It’s not easy to get to, but definitely worth the extra effort and once reached you’ll be rewarded with a stunning vista of near-white sand and turquoise water set in a bay backed by towering verdant cliffs.
Cala Pulcino, Sicily, Italy
Sicily is known to provide a rustic authentic Italian travel experience and it’s here you’ll find one of Italy’s most impressive unspoilt beaches. It’s inconvenient location (a ferry ride, then a 30-minute hike) probably has something to do with how unspoilt it is, but when you arrive expect to find a gorgeous white sandy cove and beautiful views over the glistening Mediterranean sea.
The beaches of Noirmoutier, Vendée, France
While most head for the sun-soaked shores of the famous French Rivera, to really escape the crowds head for Noirmoutier – a pretty island nestled off the west coast of France. Once reached, truly tranquil Mediterranean scenes of long unspoilt beaches, whitewashed walls, terracotta tiles, blue shuttered houses and towering pine trees await.
Praia da Rainha, Cascais, Portugal
The cosmopolitan coastal resort of Cascais makes an excellent travel snob worthy alternative to the package holiday favourite, the Algarve. In the heart of the Cascais area and surrounded by craggy rocks, you’ll find the small secluded beach of Praia da Rainha. Popular with swimmers, surfers and families during the day and when evening falls the bar at the top of the beach makes the perfect place to sip on cocktail or two.
Seychelles, Ikaria, Greece
Ikaria is possibly the nearest you’ll get to Caribbean-esque beach scenes without having to leave Europe. Created years ago by a landslide this has all the hallmarks of an exotic beach – clear turquoise waters and white sands surrounded by white cliffs in an imitate cove setting, but located on an intimate Greek island, 25 km west of Agios Kirikos. You can reach the beach via a path which starts on the main road and descends along a quiet river bed.
Liepāja beach, Liepāja, Latvia
For something a little different try Liepāja, Latvia. A place of huge contrasts, the slightly gritty and edgy port city boasts moored torpedo boats, a large number of resident musicians and bohemian types and a former military prison for its main attraction! It’s also home to one of the most beautiful beaches this side of Europe – a long wide stretch of seemingly endless golden sand and truly extraordinary sunsets!
Where’s your favourite beach in Europe?