Europe’s Top Beaches

From the United Kingdom to Turkey, Atlantic Ocean to the Aegean, are the some of the top beaches to visit, dine, party, surf and swim in, as rated by travel writers.

San Sebastian’s La Concha, Spain

This beach is still breathtakingly beautiful and heart-warming no matter how recognisable it is; the Chrysler Building of beaches if you will. With boats here and there, home to Santa Clara Island and creamy sands separating the forested headlands from the glistening sapphire waters, La Concha is considered to be the most aesthetically appealing beach in all of Spain. While the city has a cool, but vibrant vibe to it, the belle-époque seafront’s appeal goes as far back as the days of long summer stays, at time when hotels were carpeted luxuriously and kids dined separately.

This beach is sandwiched between two smaller beaches. To the west, extending all the way up to Eduardo Chillada’s Wind Comb sculpture you will find Onderreta beach; while past Gros’s Kursaal Palace you will find the surfers’ paradise that is Zurriola.

Antalya’s Çirali, Kemer, Turkey

Head out to Çirali, Antalya to enjoy the best beach experience, where you can step right on to the soft sands. You will also find low-density hotel cabins such as those managed by the Arcadia, nestled in the middle of orange groves and shaded gardens where lanterns and hammocks hang from the trees, right behind the beach, which stretches over several miles. Enjoy beer on shaded wooden platforms, filled gözleme flatbreads, salads, exceptional breakfasts and bikes for exploring the local landscape in this environmentally friendly beach location. You can also head over the fig strangled ancient ruins of Olympos, by walking along the western end of the beach where you will find a footpath by the river leading to a ticketing office that is occasionally manned. Alternatively, take a break from the beach and ride a bike to the mythically haunted hillside location, the Chimaera, and check out the venting flaming hot gases.

Alentejo’s Porto Côvo In Costa Vicentina, Portugal

At one point, Porto Côvo’s peaceful horseshoe bay was used as a haven by fishermen thanks to the protection provided by the collection of rocky cliffs. Even though the whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets date back to a period when fishing was the main economic activity, the local town now thrives on tourism. Try hiking the Fishermon’s Trail, whose cliff top location is simply breathtaking, to Vila Nova de Milfontes or along the marked circular trail which takes you inland.

Gironde’s L’Herbe In Cap Ferret, France

Home to numerous active oyster farming operations, the narrow peninsula curling around the Bay of Arcachon is a popular spot for Paris and Bordeaux residents. The Kykouyou restaurant gazebo, which is Robinson Crusoe-like in a way, and a number of oyster bars overlook the small beach which is separated from the oyster farmers’ clapboard cabins by alleys in the village of L’Herbe. After washing down a couple of freshly fished crustaceans with some wine, enjoy a quick paddle at the beach.

Le Marche’s Fiorenzuola di Focara, Italy

The local beach is short twenty minute hike down crisscrossing paths, from this walled village which is located in the Parco Narturale del Monte San Bartolo. The village is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno, just so you know. The roofs of Fiorezuola are the only buildings in sight, as this location is sandwiched between the Adriatic to the front and cliffs to the rear; suffice it to say, getting to experience this well-preserved combination of shingle and sand is quite rewarding. Its driftwood sunshades bear a unique DIY feel that is uncharacteristic of Italy. Work up your appetite as you walk back up from the beach.

Peloponnese’s Voidokilia, Greece

You would expect developments to be littered all over a beach that is good as this one. However, Voidokilia retains most of its natural charm and appeal as seen in Homer’s Odyssey, thanks to the fact that it sits right next to a lagoon that is part of a natural reserve. The name translates to “cow’s belly” in Greek, demonstrating the perfect condition of its white sands. You will find flamingos on the lagoon, as well as other birds in and around the beach; above the beach is a castle ruin, a cave nearby and sheltered water for swimming.

Or, if you fancy heading to one of the Greek Islands, the Golden Mare Barbati in Corfu is equally as beautiful, with a view of old-town on one side and the Albanian mountains on the other!

Rhys George

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