Planning a trip for next summer and wondering where the best beaches in Europe are?
For many Americans (myself included), Europe conjures up images of castles, cobbled streets, and cathedrals. It’s a place to come for history and culture that simply doesn’t exist in the same way back home.
While most Europeans have long known just how many wonderful beaches existed in Europe, it’s only now that North Americans are starting to plan their travels during the sunny summer months to enjoy both the history of a place like Athens and the islands of Paros or Naxos.
But there is more to Europe than the popular beach destinations of Santorini and Ibiza.
In 2023, Holidu revealed the top 50 beaches in Europe based on Google reviews, and Instagram and TikTok popularity. And you won’t believe some of the locations.
Have you ever considered a beach vacation in the Netherlands? How about to the UK? Check out some of the most interesting and beautiful beaches on the list below.
Best Beaches in Europe
1. Zandvoort aan Zee, Netherlands
Zandvoort aan Zee is located directly west of Amsterdam. By train, it takes about 20-25 minutes to reach from downtown Amsterdam. This makes it the perfect place for locals to escape on a long weekend or simply for a day trip on a sunny summer’s day.
If you are visiting the Netherlands and want to enjoy a little bit of a beach getaway, you can base yourself in Amsterdam and spend your days at the beach or you can book a place to stay along the coast and discover what a Dutch seaside town is like.
The water won’t perhaps be as warm as the Mediterranean, the beach sits along the North Sea. However, it will definitely be a refreshing dip and is sure to cool you down on a hot day.
2. Weymouth Beach, UK
Located in the town of Weymouth in Dorset in the southern part of England. The beach faces the English Channel and while the water is usually quite brisk, the beach itself was absolutely stunning.
So stunning, in fact, that it was good enough for Kind George III who was a frequent visitor to Weymouth Beach.
If you are visiting this area for the first time, be sure to rent a car so you can explore and make the most of a trip to Dorset. You’ll want some time to explore the Dorset Area of Natural Beauty, especially if you enjoy walking or hiking.
The best time of year to visit Weymouth is of course in the summer when you can enjoy this beautiful European beach to the fullest, but if you like walking, late Spring and early autumn are also fantastic times.
3. Spiaggia di San Pietro in Bevagna, Italy
Located in a part of Italy that is not as touristy as many of the other beaches in Italy (Amalfi Coast, I’m looking at you!). Spiaggia di San Pietro in Bevagna is a beautiful long sandy beach located between Lecce and Taranto.
The reason to come to this region of Italy is to enjoy the coastline and the incredible food, but it’s best to hire a car and get around on your own time.
It’s also one of the most popular places for Italians to come during their August vacations, so be sure to enjoy this earlier in the season before schools get out in Italy.
4. Playa del Silencio, Spain
Located in Northern Spain in the Asturias region, this beach is one of the most beautiful you’ll find along this coastline. The silence created by the rugged cliffs that protect this patch of sand is what gives the beach its name.
You’ll have to follow a small trail from the parking lot down to the beach. It’s quite steep and takes about 10 minutes, so don’t forget anything in the car. If you plan to visit in August on the weekend, get here as early as possible, because the parking lot fills up quickly.
Better yet, avoid peak season in Europe altogether and visit during the shoulder season. Things will be cheaper and quieter and you’ll have the beach to yourself (OK it may not be as warm in northern Spain in May as it is in August).
5. Praia do Guincho, Portugal
No list of the best beaches in Europe would be complete without at least one (if not several) beaches in Portugal.
Praia do Guincho is located on the Atlantic Ocean along what is known in Portugal as the Estoril Coast. Only an hour by train from Lisbon, the coast here is extremely easy to access.
You can simply come for a day trip from Lisbon, but I highly recommend renting a car or taking the train and exploring a few of the small beach towns along this coastline.
The beach at Praia do Guincho is long and open, making it ideal for wind and kite surfers. It was made famous thanks to an appearance in a 1969 James Bond movie called On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
6. Porto Katsiki, Greece
Porto Katsiki is a stunning, secluded beach located on the Greek island of Lefkada. One of the great things about Lefkada is that it is actually attached to mainland Greece by a bridge. So getting here is relatively easy, especially if you don’t want to spend a ton of time on ferries or local buses.
It’s close to so many wonderful places to visit in the Peloponnese, so you can have a great road trip through western Greece and finish with a beach trip in Porto Katsiki.
Steep white cliffs hover over this soft sand beach. Turquoise waters remind you that you are in the Mediterranean.
Katsiki comes from the Greek word for goat, κατσίκα. It is said that the beach got this name because the only things that used to be able to reach this beach were goats. Thankfully, now there is a road that you can drive to the clifftop and walk down to the beach.
It’s best to visit the beach during low tide as it will be bigger. Check tide times here.
7. Comino Beach, Malta
Malta is a Mediterranean island paradise. Located to the south of Italy, the weather here is warm even during the shoulder season, so grab your bathing suit and head to Comino Beach before the crowds arrive in July and August.
The country of Malta is made up of five islands in total, Malta, Gozo, Comino, and the uninhabited smaller islands of Kemmunett (Comminotto) and Filfla.
Comino Beach is located on, you guessed it, the island of Comino.
Also sometimes referred to as the Blue Lagoon, the color of the water at this beach seems almost otherwordly. The word beach is also somewhat misleading since there isn’t really all that much sand or pebbles to lay a towel down on. Instead, it’s mostly rocks and cliffs where you can grab a chair or simply jump into the lagoon.
However, it is still voted as one of the best beaches in Europe and should not be missed on any trip to Malta.
It’s a popular spot for boats to sail into and you can definitely book a tour of the lagoon to enjoy more of it out on the water as well.