I’ve visited a whole load of beaches throughout Europe so it was always going to be a tough choice to pick my top 5 best beaches in Europe but here they are.
The top 5 best beaches in Europe that I have decided to pick all mean something to me. I feel that they are the best 5 beaches I have been to in Europe. However by best I mean there was something special about them, it might not be the sand was great or the water was clear but if the beach had a good vibe, was near an amazing town and stuck in my memory then it will make this list.
#1 Praia Dona Ana, Algarve – Portugal
Whilst a small beach, and very busy when I visited, Praia Dona Ana was everything I expected of the Algarve’s beaches. Stacks, outcrops and beautiful cliffs, the coastline here is stunning. This beach is one of the most photographed in Portugal and with good reason too. It’s a great place to chill out, relax and meet other travellers. It also has a nice bar and restaurant on the beach and boat trips run from here to the grottos.
Praia Dona Ana is also very close to the town of Lagos. A must visit destination for any true traveller. Henry the Navigator was often based here and set sail from nearby on his many voyages of discovery.
A very popular beach but deserved of its place in my top 5 best beaches of Europe.
UPDATE 2016 (It pains me to say but this beach has been ruined as of 2016. A huge plan to expand the beach took place in 2015 and now the clear shallow waters have disappeared and the rocky outcrops appear in the middle of the beach. It’s still a stunning area of coastline and Lagos is a great town but this beach is no longer as beautiful as it once was ALl in the name of tourism!)
#2 Mylopotas, Ios – Greece
Let’s just get this out there – I LOVE IOS! Ios is a true Greek party island and probably one of the best party places on the backpacker circuit in Greece during July and August. What’s so great about Ios though is that it has retained a massive amount of its Greek charm. You can find an empty beach, even in August, just as you can easily find a packed bar partying the night away.
Mylopotas is situated just outside of the main Chora (town) and offers some wonderful chill out bars and restaurants, upper class hotels along with pensions and the popular far out camping. A great beach with a great vibe and plenty of friendly people.
You can read more about Ios on my post Ios Party Island Greece
#3 Iztuzu Beach, Lycian Coast – Turkey
Iztuzu beach is reached by small ferries which run from the river in Dalyan. On the way to the beach you pass crab fisherman and Lycian ruins and tombs built into the rock faces.
This beach is beautifully preserved, quiet and has absolutely no development. It is also a nature reserve and is closed every evening at 20:00 -08:00 from May to October as Loggerhead turtles nest here.
Due to this the beach is often referred to as ‘Turtle Beach’ and also has a Turtle Monitoring Centre located close by.
I loved this beach, it was a beautiful open space with no development and the journey via small ferry through the backwaters to reach it is a wonderful experience which is why is makes my list for the best beaches in Europe.
#4 Balos Beach, Crete – Greece
When I mention Balos Beach to people I am always met with ‘Where is that?’ I find it incredible that this beach is not that well known as it really is one of the very best beaches in Europe. However for every person who doesn’t know about it there are just as many that do and it can get busy during the day in peak tourist season.
Situated on the very North West Pennisula of Crete the water here is crystal clear and very shallow in parts. You can easily just walk out to knee depth and see many types of fish in the area.
As of my last visit there weren’t many amenities on the beach, just one small taverna. Its worth hiking up the hills around the beach for fantastic views like the one shown below so make sure you bring some good shoes and lots of water.
#5 Cala Galdana, Menorca – Spain
Cala Galdana is a beautiful cove backed by ancient pine trees. The Algendar Gorge or Ravine runs back away from the beach and is also great for walking, bird watching and flora. Cala Galdana seems to be popular with British and German holiday makers but it seems not many other people stop by.
It’s a stunning beach with lovely turquoise sea, protected by steep cliffs. Swimming here is great with boats restricted from coming close to the beach and the water nice and clear for snorkelling. Whilst its sister islands in the Balearic’s seem to grab the attention Menorca has just as many beautiful beaches worth exploring just like Cala Galadana – The Queen of the Calas