Top-Rated Beaches in Europe

Travel writers have chosen the beaches they love best to party, swim, hang out, and eat on from Aegean to the Atlantic, from Turkey to the UK. Be it a Valencia stag do or a classy Parisian dinner party, here are the best beaches to spend your summer.

1. La Concha, San Sebastián (Spain)

Described as the Chrysler Building of beaches, it is instantly recognisable, yet still inviting and thrilling. La Concha happens to be among the most beautiful of the urban beaches in Spain. The creamy sands and sapphire waters are complemented by the forests headlands, the island of Santa Clara, along with boats scattered across the waters. The belle-époque seafront is dated back to the days of the extended summer residencies, where children would eat separately, and all the hotels featured plush carpets.

Yet today, this city is cool and vibrant. La Concha is also flanked by 2 smaller beaches which include Ondarreta which is close to a continuation from the west (this beach ends in Eduardo Chillada’s Wind Comb sculpture), and Zurriola, which extend past the Kursaal Palace located in Gros, which is a popular destination for many surfers.

2. Çirali, Kemer, Antalya (Turkey)

If you are looking for an ultimate beach destination with extremely soft sands, head to Çirali. Many miles of this beach has a backdrop of orange groves along with shady gardens which feature lanterns and hammocks, along with low-density holiday cabins such as the Arcadia. This hotel offers outstanding breakfasts along with bikes to rent so you can explore the village nearby. This is an area that is committed fiercely to the environment, where you can enjoy filled gözleme flatbreads and salads along with ice-cold beers served on shaded-timber platforms.

If you walk along this beautiful beach towards the west side you will find a riverside-footpath which leads you to a sometimes manned ticket office, and into fig-strangled ruins which makes up ancient Olympia. You can also choose to hike or take a bike ride to mysterious Chimaera and experience the flaming gases which vent out of the myth-haunted hillside.

3. Porto Côvo, Costa Vicentina, Alentejo (Portugal)

Protected by the rugged ring of cliffs, Porto Côvo’s relaxed and laid back horseshoe bay was once a haven for many fishermen. Today the nearby town lives mainly off tourism, yet the whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets take you back to the era when the fishing nets and rowing boats lined this shore. Along Alentejo’s south-western and wild coast, Porto Côvo is one of the popular attractions for hiking. If you enjoy adventure go for the circular marked trail that is inland or you can head to the beautiful clifftop Fisherman’s Trail to Vila Nova de Milfontes.

4. L’Herbe, Cap Ferret, Gironde (France)

The narrow peninsula which wraps around the Bay of Arcachon happens to be a popular spot for residents from Paris and Bordeaux and is still the home for many of the oyster farms. In the L’Herbe village, there are alleys which separate clapboard oyster farmer cabins. This small beach is known for a number of oyster bars along with the Robinson Crusoe-Esque gazebo of Kykouyou restaurant. This area is perfect for a quick paddle after washing down freshly caught oysters with a delectable glass of white wine.

5. Fiorenzuola di Focara, Le Marche (Italy)

The walled village, which was mentioned in Dante’s Inferno, is situated in the Parco Naturale del Monte San Bartolo, while the beach involves a 20-minute walk down a path that zigzags all the way. Yet it is well worth your efforts when you reach an untouched mixture of shingle and sand, with cliffs behind you and the Adriatic to the front. From here the only buildings that are still visible include the rooftops of Fiorenzuola from above. This area features a DIY vibe which is unusual in Italy, where the sunshades have been made out of driftwood. Your walk back up will ensure you have a great appetite for dinner.

6. Voidokilia, Peloponnese (Greece)

In most cases, a beach that is this beautiful would usually be spoilt by development. Luckily, the lagoon that this beach backs onto forms a part of a protected nature reserve, and Voidokilia looks very similar to what it was like when it was featured in Homer’s Odyssey. This beach really portrays “perfect crescents of white sand”. The Greek name for the beach means “cow’s belly”. In addition to swimming in lovely sheltered water, you can also enjoy a cave, a castle ruin just above this beach, along with flamingos and numerous birdlife along the lagoon.