With summer upon us, the urge to get away hits fever pitch and with the likes of the CÃ´te d’Azur, Adriatic coast and Greek island just a short flight away, Europe makes the perfect getaway. Forget the ‘Brits Abroad’ reputation that plagues certain resorts, we’re talking crystalline waters and unspoilt, Instagram-worthy beaches. Fancy Caribbean-esque vistas as little as 2 hours away? We’ve searched for Europe’s top beaches so you don’t have to.
Plat Ja De Ses Illetes, Formentera
Formentera is the relaxed, understated and relatively undiscovered gem of the Balearics- just a short boat ride south of Ibiza you are greeted with white sand and shallow azure waters peppered with coral, perfect for snorkelling, diving and fishing. Ibiza’s tranquil little sister is a world away from its party-animal counterpart; it’s the perfect destination for relaxed seclusion. Plat Ja De Ses Illetes is a beach designed for pure relaxation, no water sports or rowdy bars here, paddle in the turquoise water before heading to a beachside restaurant for some of the best seafood in Europe caught fresh that morning. If wallowing in paradise gets too much, hire a bike and set off to discover this island’s breath-taking scenery — you’re bound to be tempted back to the water by a deserted cove.
Zlanti Rat Beach, Bol, Brac Island, Croatia
Croatia is fast becoming the darling of Europe with its authentic honeypot of beaches, intriguing history and cobbled streets lined with caramel hued architecture. Zlanti Rat, on the Croatian island of Brac, is one of the country’s most photographic beaches, and with good reason. This glorious peninsula stretches out 500m in the warm aquamarine waters of the Adriatic, and is fringed by palm trees and impressive cliff formations that provide spectacular vistas over Brac and its neighbouring islands. Windsurfing is very popular here, and after a day of sun worshiping Bol offers plenty of chic bars to enjoy a sundowner whilst watching a Dalmatian sunset. For a lively, yet upmarket, scene hop on a boat to the Island of Hvar; brimming with polished Mediterranean’s partying on their yachts before heading to the infamous beach party on Carpe Diem Island.
Canos de Meca, Spain
The white undulating sands of Canos de Meca are steeped in history, the beach curves inland from the Cabo de Trafalgar where Nelson defeated Napoleon. Since then, this seaside resort has rejected conflict of any kind and is now a thoroughly chilled out bohemian paradise. The beachfront remains virtually untouched, lacking the garish lights and high rise hotels that scatter much of the Spanish coast. This stretch of the Costa de la Luz offers the perfect setting to while away the days on the sun-drenched dunes or catch a wave whipped up by the notoriously breezy weather. Later, head to La Jamia, a giant tented establishment that spills down onto the sand; snack on oriental food, sip on crisp mojitos and, if you’re lucky, dance the night away at one of the impromptu parties that commonly erupt.
Cala Luna, Italy
Situated on the island of Sardinia, Cala Luna really is a spectacle. The beach offers utter seclusion on the north western coast of the island near Dorgali. The velveteen sands give way to the emerald waters of the Gulf of Orosei, making it the perfect place for a snorkel or to try your hand at scuba diving. There are also Small caves pepper the cliffs that surround the cove to be explored. Cala Luna’s seclusion comes at a cost, it takes a serious hike to reach — but surely it’s better than sweating it out in a gym. Alternatively, drink in the Italian coastline by chartering a boat and discovering Cala Luna’s neighbouring beaches.
Cala Xarraca, Ibiza
Despite the island’s party reputation, it is home to some of Europe’s most picturesque beaches. Nestled in the tranquil north side of the island away from San Antoniou is Cala Xarraca; a secluded bay with impossibly clear water surrounded by lush forest. Northern Ibiza has become a chic boutique destination in the past decade that starkly contrasts with the beach bars and mammoth clubs of the south. Head to one of the mud baths near Cala Xarraca for some rest and relaxation — perfect if you succumbed to the island’s hedonist reputation the previous evening.