9 Best Beaches in Europe

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If going to the beach is your “thing,” you don’t have to limit yourself to tropical islands beaches. In fact, there are a number of absolutely stunning beaches in Europe that you should plan to visit, including these.

Luskentyre Beach - South Harris Island, Scotland
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris

Luskentyre Beach - South Harris Island, Scotland

A top destination in Scotland, Luskentyre Beach is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, with its striking white sands edging turquoise waters. While it looks like it was stolen from the Caribbean, it’s actually on the west coast of South Harris Isle in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. If you’re looking for solitude, relaxation, and nature, it’s hard to find better. Occasionally, wild ponies can even be seen spotted grazing along the dunes, and there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of the otters, seals, dolphins, eagles, and deer that are residents here.

Reynisfjara - Vik, Iceland
Vik Beach, Iceland

Reynisfjara - Vik, Iceland

The village of Vik, which sits along the south coast of Iceland s home to one of the world’s most famous black sand beaches. Reynisfjara, named by Islands Magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful non-tropical beaches, is made up of pristine black sand that was created by the hot lava from a nearby volcano that flowed into the chilly waters of the Atlantic when the extreme temperature difference caused it to harden in tiny fragments that washed ashore. The beach is not only renowned for its black sands but it’s impressive rock formations that rise up out of the sea, like the Trolls of Vik. Legend has it that this unique formation of pillars was formed when trolls attempted to drag three ships ashore. Visitors can also take a short walk to a lighthouse for more magnificent views and to see a host of birdlife, including puffins.

Navagio Beach - Zakynthos, Greece
Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Navagio Beach - Zakynthos, Greece

One of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, Navagio may be the most stunning stretch of sand in all of Greece, a country known for its spectacular beaches. Also known as Shipwreck Beach due to the rusted freighter that’s buried at its center, it’s sheltered by dramatic limestone cliffs and is so remote and isolated that it can only be accessed by boat. The clear cerulean waters that lap the shore of this secluded cove are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, or you can always just relax on the soft sands and gaze out at the sea.

Cala Macarella - Menorca, Spain
Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain

Cala Macarella - Menorca, Spain

Located on the sun-soaked southwestern coast of Menorca in Spain, Cala Macarella offers an idyllic escape from the crowded beaches of Ibiza and Mallorca nearby. While it requires a rough drive on a narrow, winding road followed by a 20-minute hike through a forest, the reward is these ultra-fine, soft sands and tranquil cerulean waters that can often be enjoyed all to yourself.

Cala Tonnarella - Sicily, Italy
Cala Tonnarella, Sicily

Cala Tonnarella - Sicily, Italy

For secluded beaches free of crowds in Italy, it’s hard to beat Sicily, and particularly Cala Tonnarella, which is nestled within Zingaro Nature Reserve, renowned for its sea stacks that rise out of azure seas, grottoes, and hiking trails. This amazing oasis is the ultimate little stretch of white powdery sands, framed by Caribbean blue waters and limestone cliffs. Of course, the reason it’s so unspoiled is that it isn’t easy to get to, requiring about a one-hour trek. While you’re in the reserve, there are many beautiful bays to visit, as well as a rich array of colorful flora and paths that climb up to nearly 3,300 feet for a spectacular bird’s-eye view.

Ramla Bay Beach, Malta
View of Ramla Bay, Gozo, Malta.

Ramla Bay Beach, Malta

Ramla Bay Beach sits on the island of Gozo in Malta, famed for the vibrant orange sands that make it different from all the other beaches in the entire country. Locals often refer to it as the “Ramla il-Hamra” Beach, which means Red Sandy Beach, though its hue is really more of vivid golden orange. In addition to the unique sand, the area is filled with rich, historic treasures. In fact, Roman remains lie right beneath the beach, and the famous Calypso Cave overlooks its western side.

Durdle Door Beach - Dorset, England
Durdle Door Beach, England

Durdle Door Beach - Dorset, England

Durdle Door Beach may be the most scenic in all of England, with its dramatic limestone arch and soft golden sands. The breathtaking arch and beach are part of the Lulworth Estate and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, a 95-mile stretch of coastline dotted with practically endless stunning geological features and fossils. The adjacent waters are popular for both fishing and swimming. Look closely and you’ll notice that the layers exposed in the cliffs are tilting steeply to the north, something that’s most notable with Durdle Door itself as it was formed from a layer of hard limestone standing almost vertically out of the sea, whereas normally, layers of limestone would be horizontal.

Kokkini Beach - Santorini, Greece
Kokkini Beach, Santorini, Greece

Kokkini Beach - Santorini, Greece

Set at the base of dramatic red cliffs that rise high over crystal-blue Mediterranean waters, colorful Kokkini Beach is a result of the surrounding iron-rich black and red lava rocks that came from Thira’s ancient volcanic activity. In 1450 BC, the volcano erupted and essentially shaped the entire island of Santorini. Part of the Cyclades, this legendary isle offers many other reasons to visit too, filled with whitewashed cave houses backed by blue-domed churches that spill down the ancient volcanic crater is said to be the site of Apollo’s birthplace. In addition to the brilliant sands of Kokkini, the island hosts a number of extraordinary white and black sand beaches as well as ancient ruins from the prehistoric era.

Calanque d’en Vau - Cassis, France
Calanque d’En Vau

Calanque d’en Vau - Cassis, France

Another fantastic beach for the more adventurous traveler, this secluded stretch of sand on France’s southern coast can only be reached by taking a two-hour hike, or by boat. Of course, the effort it takes to get there is far outweighed by the end result. Sitting at the end of a long inlet, the beach is surrounded by enormous craggy cliffs, with the striking visual contrast of the sparkling blue Mediterranean against the white limestone making it look truly surreal.

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