The 11 Best Beaches to Visit in Europe This Summer
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Summer is well on its way, and we know you’ve been dreaming of golden sands and turquoise waters.
The good news is, the perfect beach holiday can be reached with just a quick flight (or maybe even a train or car ride). You don’t need to visit a far-flung Caribbean island or Indonesian hotspot to enjoy palm trees, pristine sands and clear waters. Europe is home to some of the top beaches in the world, some even within the UK! So check out the TPG UK hotlist for the best beaches of summer 2019. And make sure to check out last year’s list for even more inspiration.
Balos Beach in Crete, Greece
Move over, Mykonos — one of the best beaches for 2019 is actually on Crete. The Balos beach and lagoon is only accessible by boat ride or hike. Here, sandbars create small tide pools with clear water. Avoid the crowds by heading over early in the morning to experience the isolation and seclusion of the beach with few other visitors in sight. Bring sunblock, though, because there isn’t much shade on Balos.
Why 2019: You can fly nonstop to Crete from many spots around Europe — so no ferries or layovers. Jet2 has added Crete’s Chania Airport (CHQ) as a destination for summer 2019 from airports such as Leeds Bradford (LBA) and Birmingham (BHX) in addition to already flying between the UK and Crete’s other airport, Heraklion Airport (HER) — but the airport in Chania is much closer to Balos Beach. If you do decide to combine Crete with a trip to Athens first, stay at the brand-new Four Seasons Astir Athens. The property is located on the Athens Riviera and has three private beaches and a spa with Greek-inspired treatments.
Spiaggia dei Conigli in Lampedusa, Italy
Lampedusa is part of the Pelagie Islands located off the coast of Tunisia, but belongs to Sicily’s Agrigento region in Italy. Despite its name, the beach actually isn’t inhabited by rabbits. Instead, the silky sands and crystal-clear waters are home to loggerhead turtles — all of which Italians are working hard to preserve. Although Lampedusa has a tiny airport (LMP), you can’t fly there nonstop from London, so plan to connect in Rome or Milan instead.
Why 2019: Recently, the island suffered from a huge loss of tourism — and though tourists are returning to Lampedusa, now is a great time to head over, before the significant summer crowds are in full force.
Playa de La Barrosa in Andalusia, Spain
With almost four miles of glittering sands, Barrosa Beach is separated into two parts. There’s the main beach area with plenty of rental chairs, beachside cafes and restaurants and lifeguards, if you prefer having all the amenities. The southern side is a little more wild, with sandy dunes and pine trees for those who really want to escape.
Why 2019: easyJet launched a new route from London (LGW) to Jerez de la Frontera (XRY) back in April of 2019. Come August 19, you can the fly the route to Jerez from Manchester (MAN) for an end-of-summer getaway. From Jerez, it takes just under an hour by car to reach Barrosa.
St. Peter’s Pool in Malta
This beach actually isn’t really a beach — at least, not a traditional one. A bay framed by smooth, flat rock instead of sand, it seems as if the rock was carved away to create a very special pool of water: imagine swimming and sunbathing on the moon. “Beach”-goers can spread their towels out on the unusual stretch of coast and dive into the refreshing water.
Why 2019: Ryanair’s Cardiff to Malta route launched in April, offering Wales residents an opportunity to fly twice per week nonstop to the island. Plus, Air Malta added service last year to Malta from London Southend (SEN), giving travellers based in Essex an easier way to get to the island.
Rambergstranda Beach in Norway
For an entirely different beach experience, visit northern Norway’s Rambergstranda Beach on Jusnesvika Bay. The tranquil waters are lined by a sandy beach, with wildflower-filled grasses and dramatic mountains in the distance. Rambergstranda is best for travellers who prefer cooler, less humid temperatures and beach days punctuated by challenging hikes and stunning viewpoints. Just remember to pack your best windbreaker.
Why 2019: Going to northern Norway in June or July will allow you to enjoy the midnight sun phenomenon, where the sun never actually sets. Although you can’t reach Tromsø, the nearest airport (TOS) with a nonstop flight from London, you can fly SAS with a layover in Oslo. Plus, the SAS strike concluded when an agreement was reached, meaning there (hopefully) shouldn’t be any further flight disruptions for the summer season and beyond.
Praia dos Galapinhos in Portugal
Galapinhos Beach is just a one-hour trip from Lisbon, a city growing in fame for its world-renowned culinary scene. An escape to a sandy shore is the perfect way to relax after a few busy days exploring the Portuguese capital. This secluded cove is flanked by hilly, dense greenery that brightly contrasts the velvety sands and crisp blue waters.
Why 2019: Portugal remains one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe. It’s also sorely underrated and not nearly as touristed as its peninsula-sharing sister, Spain. Considering the country is planning to inaugurate 170 new hotels by 2023, the rise in tourism is evident. So go now, before everyone else does.
Plage Notre-Dame, Île de Porquerolles in France
When your friends ask about your summer vacation plans, respond nonchalantly with, “Oh, just a little island in the French Riviera.” The Notre-Dame beach is a crescent-shaped cove on the island of Porquerolles. This beach is ideal for those who want a tranquil yet très chic French Riviera beach experience. The island, accessible by boat from Toulon and Hyères, is perfect for sailing and mountain biking, too.
Why 2019: Take advantage of new airlift to southern France, such as easyJet’s new route from Manchester (MAN) to Nice (NCE) launching June 16. Or, fly a British Airways seasonal route to Montpellier (MPL) from London (LHR) four times a week starting July 11 through Sept. 2.
Stiniva Beach, Vis in Croatia
As if Split weren’t alluring enough, Vis is one of the islands off the coast of the Croatian city accessible by ferry. Stiniva Beach is tiny and difficult to reach, but once you spot the azure waters lapping the pebbly shore, you’ll be glad you braved the hike. Make sure to wear suitable shoes, as the walk in flip flops isn’t a good idea.
Why 2019: British Airways is flying three times per week between Split (SPU) and London City (LCY) starting in June. From there, you can boat over to Vis and hike to the beach, or simply boat straight to the beach and swim to shore if you’d prefer to skip the hike.
Silistar Beach in Bulgaria
Silistar is a beach and nature preserve on the Black Sea fairly close to the Turkish border. Although it still has a rugged, wild feel, the high season brings more people, so visit early in the morning for a more serene experience. The beach sits on the edge of the Strandzha Nature Park, which has one of the most important forest ecosystems in the country. Many rare birds fly over the beach, and snorkeling is also a popular activity here, as there’s an abundance of marine life below.
Why 2019: Bulgaria is slowly becoming a more popular destination, thanks to increased flights and improved accessibility from many other European nations. Combine your beach getaway with a visit to Plovdiv, named the European Capital of Culture for 2019.
Rhossili Bay in Wales
You don’t actually have to leave the UK to visit one of Europe’s best beaches. Rhossili Bay in Wales has been repeatedly named one of the UK’s best beaches for its pristine sands which extend for about three miles. With something for everyone, the beach is dog-friendly, surfer-friendly, family-friendly — you get the idea. The surrounding hiking trails offer stunning views of the beach below, and are a great place to watch for the occasional seal or dolphin.
Why 2019: Back in 2015, the Welsh government decided to create themed years to give tourism a boost. Following the success of the Year of Adventure in 2016, the Year of Legends in 2017 and the Year of the Sea in 2018, Wales decided to do one more: 2019, the Year of Discovery. So go discover it!
Jurata Beach in Poland
Poland may not be the first spot that comes to mind for your summer beach getaway, but you’ll be immediately charmed by the spot deemed ‘The Pearl of the Polish Seaside’ by locals. Extending out into the Baltic Sea on a long, skinny peninsula, the beach is expansive, sandy and backed by pine trees and brush, perfect for easy sunset walks.
Why 2019: Foodies should combine a beach escape with a trip to Krakow, which is the 2019 Capital of Gastronomy Culture. With 26 different spots in the Michelin guide, Krakow will be spending the year focused on culinary delights, hosting food festivals, events and conferences throughout the year.
Featured photo by Khachik Simonian / Unsplash.