Europe’s most beautiful beaches

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Europe, between the Atlantic Ocean and the various seas that wash its coasts offers a wide range of beaches that can be very different. The choice is vast, from the black sand beaches of Iceland to the long sandy beaches of England or Scotland to the surf spots of Portugal. But to be honest, holidaymakers tend to head for the developed beaches of southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin, such as Sardinia, Greece, Spain and Corsica.

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But let’s go back to our favourite beaches for the 2024 summer…

Cala Goloritzé in Baunei (Sardinia), the original

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cala Goloritzé is accessible by footpath from the Golgo plateau. It’s a two-hour walk to the small, unspoilt beach. ronnybas

This heavenly cove of white pebbles and sand is located in the municipality of Baunei in the southern part of the Gulf of Orosei, in the province of Nuoro in Sardinia. The Cala is best recognised by its rocky spur, a limestone stack over 140 metres high. The site is better known to climbers for its climbing routes than to bathers. A freshwater spring that flows into the sea also emerges from the crevices of the rocks on the beach.

Sandwood Bay (Scotland), the discreet one

Accessible only on foot, Sandwood Bay is a large, secluded beach almost two kilometres long. 

This beautiful beach is reached by a path that runs along a stark moor. There is no public transport to Sandwood Bay, but the effort is amply rewarded by the fabulous view of Sandwood Bay, the most beautiful beach in Scotland. It then takes some time to explore the mile of golden sand, dunes, and rocky cliffs. Despite its popularity, Sandwood Bay is never crowded, as the beach is large enough to absorb the crowds of visitors.

Voutoumi Beach in Antipaxos (Greece): the inaccessible

To reach Voutoumi Beach, head for the port of Gaios for a short boat trip.

Antipaxos is a small island of 5 km² in Greece, situated south of Paxos. Virtually uninhabited, it boasts vineyards and three beaches: Vrika, with its white sand, and Mesovrika and Voutoumi, two pebble beaches. This magnificent beach can only be reached from the Ionian Sea. The nearest port is Gaios in Paxos.

Curonian Spit at Nida (Lithuania), the most natural of all

Here, you can swim, hike or discover the small towns in the area. 

Wedged between Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, the Curonian Spit (or Neringa) is a natural wonder of sand and pine trees protected by UNESCO. This tongue of dunes, one of the highest in Europe, is almost 100 kilometres long and stretches from 400 metres to 4 kilometres wide.

The sublime Rondinara beach in Bonifacio, Corsica (France)

Between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio, Rondinara Beach is ideal for families as the sea is rarely rough.

As its name suggests, this beach between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio follows the curves of the bay that shelters it. With its fine white sand, turquoise water, gentle slope, and calm sea, Rondinara has it all. Towards the tip of Rondinara, several small coves await you. In season, there is a straw hut where you can eat.

Vik beach (Iceland), the only one of its kind

One of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, if not the world, the black sandy beach of Vik faces the cliffs of Mount Reynisfjall. A sublime sight. 

All the beaches on Iceland’s south coast are covered in black sand, tiny fragments of the basaltic lava that covers the region. Vick Beach faces Reynisfjara, with its cliffs and basalt pillars. Vik, a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, is one of the main towns on the south coast and a frequent stop on guided tours of Iceland. Vick’s beach is a long stretch of black sand on which chunks of ice torn from icebergs are deposited, glistening on the sand like diamonds.

Praia do Norte in Nazaré (Portugal): the sporty one.

Located to the north of the Sítio, the imposing promontory of Nazaré, this beach has a wild atmosphere, with its dunes preserving the original vegetation, and is bathed in rough seas that can be dangerous for swimming, but are very popular with surfers. A 30-metre-high wave was surfed by Hawaiian Garrett McNamara in November 2011, a record.

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Adeline Darrow
By Adeline Darrow

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