If Europe can be proud of many beautiful beaches, these are distinguished above all by their astonishing variety. Stretches of sand bathed in sparkling waters, worthy of the Caribbean, compete with coastal strips sculpted by storms and the raging elements, where land and sea crash together. Few places in the world offer amateurs a an equally abundant range of beaches. Whether you're looking for a place to surf, a beach that satisfies the whole family, a melancholy setting for a solo stroll, or simply a little corner of paradise to spread out your towel, you will find what you need in our selection of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
1. Jaz Beach, Montenegro
If you crave solitude, don't put this destination at the top of your list. On the other hand, if you like the typical beaches of seaside resorts, with a hint of adventure sports, a pinch of culture and parties galore, don't hesitate for a second. Jaz beach, a vast stretch of sand, is a must-see on the magnificent Adriatic coast. This summer, Jaz will once again host the Sea Dance Festival (July 13 – 15), the inaugural edition of which received the award for Best European Medium-Sized Festival at the European Festival Awards 2014. Jaz also has a advantage of choice: its geographical location, on the outskirts of Budva. This miniature Dubrovnik has a charming old town and a citadel that hosts open-air performances scheduled for the Theater in the City festival throughout the month of July. Thrill seekers will be delighted by leaving Budva for day trips, with the program including rafting descents in the Tara canyon, or paragliding on Mount Lovćen.
2. Peniche, Portugal
The port of Peniche and the eponymous beach are known to surfers from all over the world – especially since this year the city is hosting one of the only two European stages of the World Surf League Championship Tour, a professional circuit organized by the World Surfing League ( World Surfing League). However, this wild and rugged promontory, which juts out into the Atlantic nearly a hundred kilometers northwest of Lisbon, is worth a visit even if you don't have a surfboard... Seasoned enthusiasts surfing and bodyboarding opt for the west coast, especially for the “supertubos” (large tube-shaped rollers) off Medão Grande Beach. The sheltered bays of the neighboring village of Baleal are favored by beginners, holidaymakers traveling with the family, and more generally those who love to bask in the sun. History buffs will be in heaven in the old town of Peniche. It includes in particular old churches, as well as the fort of Peniche, built in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 20th century, political prisoners were incarcerated there, and today it is a museum. Finally, scuba diving enthusiasts can take a boat to the crystal clear waters of the Berlengas archipelago, a nature reserve close to the coast.
3. Rondinara Beach, Corsica, France
It is not necessary for a moment to see in the bay of Rondinara a little unknown paradise. In high season (July/August), an armada of luxury yachts comes to drop anchor there, and the fine sand literally disappears under an ocean of tanned bodies. However, Corsica jealously watches over its magnificent beaches, and it is quite right. Halfway between historic Bonifacio and the very chic Porto Vecchio, Rondinara beach, located at the end of any road near national , is no exception to the rule. Thanks to careful management, the place remains sumptuous despite intense attendance: the strip of sand drawing a perfect horseshoe encloses a bay with shallow waters of limpid blue, set like a precious stone in a setting made up of red rocks and dusty maquis. Because it is sheltered, the bay of Rondinara is bathed in small waves ideal for swimming with children – a real boon for families staying at the efficiently managed campsite located nearby (camping-rondinara.com ). Near the beach, the numerous parking spaces facilitate the reception of day-trippers, and on the sand, a restaurant serves meals and drinks from May to September.
4. Cala Goloritzé, Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia does not lack beaches, and of all kinds. However, when it comes to breathtaking landscapes, few can compete with Cala Goloritzé. This tiny cove bordered by a beach of white pebbles stands in the shade of high rocky cliffs covered in maquis vegetation. It is part of the string of beaches that hem the splendid coastline of the Gulf of Orosei. It is indeed a postcard beach, but not one that we commonly imagine, with fine sand and palm trees. Its charm is actually due to its spectacular setting and turquoise waters. There are only two ways to reach it: by boat or on foot. Most visitors opt for the boat from Cala Gonone. But no experience is more memorable than descending on the back of a mule from the Golgo plateau, culminating some 400m above the creek. If this expedition leaves you somewhat unsatisfied, you can once at the bottom join the local climbers who compete against the climbing routes of Aguglia, a 148-meter limestone stack.
5. Vík Beach, Iceland
Black sand, mist, tales of trolls and sea monsters: Vík Beach (Reynisfjara in Icelandic) is the antithesis of its Caribbean counterparts. Located at the southernmost point of Iceland (the wettest place in the country), this volcanic beach battered by the winds bathes in a supernatural atmosphere, which does not fail to underline the local folklore. the Reynisdrangur (Trolls of Vík), steep basalt peaks said to be the petrified remains of three Icelandic trolls. At low tide, you can explore lava caves at your leisure. According to legend, their geometric columns once served as shelter for mythical creatures. Also, don't miss the puffins that nest on the nearby cliffs. This region is a paradise for seabirds. The village of Vík and Reynisfjara, easily accessible from the Ring Road, make an excellent last stop before returning to Reykjavík. Stay at the Icelandair Hotel Vík and you can spend an extra day exploring the nearby glacier Mýrdalsjökull.
6. Bantham Beach, England, United Kingdom
Wild beaches abound in the South West of England, and some of the country's finest – among them those at Woolacombe, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands – are found in North Devon. But they have a tough rival in the south of the county… Bantham Beach in the South Hams has it all: surfers love it for its consistent waves, families love the sand, dunes and natural rock pools , and walkers revel in the spectacular scenery from the coastal path called the South West Coast Path. Added to the joys of the beach are those of visiting nearby Bigbury Bay and the Burgh Island Hotel, an elegant Art Deco hotel. Cut off from the mainland at high tide, this very chic building of yesteryear has welcomed prestigious guests such as Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, or even Prince Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Bantham is part of an estate that once belonged to the same family for a century until it was sold last year for £11million. The new owner acquired it at the expense of the National Trust, which had also acquired it. However, he promised to be just as concerned about the protection of the beach and the coastline as the NT would have been. Let's hope he keeps his word...
7. Sandwood Bay, Scotland, UK
Let's say as a preamble that despite all the efforts made by the Gulf Stream, the waters off northern Scotland are very cold. To swim there, you must be of strong constitution or put on a wetsuit. However, the beach and its joys are not limited to moments of idleness in the sun. The beach is also the meeting point between land and sea, and Sandwood Bay, at the far northern tip of Scotland, is a magnificent example of this. Strolling to the beach is already a real pleasure. Indeed, it is located 6.5 km from the nearest road, by a path that winds through moorland and grassy sand dunes. When finally the few 2 km of beach come into view, with the silhouette of the limestone stack of Am Buachaille looming on the horizon, one has the feeling of receiving an extraordinary reward. This vast sandy expanse is lined with cliffs. Backed by a freshwater loch, it faces waters that stretch to the Arctic. The tales of ghosts, shipwrecks and mermaids associated with it add a touch of wonder, but the poetry and magic of its landscapes are enough to satisfy many walkers.
8. Cala Macarella, Menorca, Spain
The Balearics often get a bad press from independent travellers, for whom these islands are synonymous with mass tourism and organized travel – avoid like the plague. You don't realize that Menorca, Majorca's shy little sister, has everything it needs to satisfy a family clientele: gently sloping beaches, simple and peaceful hotel complexes, and waters that are ideal for snorkeling. But above all, the island has some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Cala Macarella, one of these well-kept secrets, is a horseshoe-shaped cove in the southwest corner of the island. Cliffs draped in pines and holm oaks stand guard around the fine, sparkling white sands. To enjoy the place in silence, and in complete peace of mind, arrive early in the morning or linger at dusk, in the dewy light of the setting sun. A very nice walk on the cliffs leads to Cala Macarelleta. This even smaller and more peaceful but equally lovely cove is the stronghold of all-over tanning enthusiasts.
9. Voutoumi, Antipaxos, Greece
Once you've seen a Greek island, you've seen them all… At least that's the cliché going around. However, nothing better to shake up this received idea than an island in the image of Antipaxos. The smallest of the Ionian Islands indeed has splendid beaches, undoubtedly among the most beautiful you will ever see. Located immediately south of Corfu, this tiny strip of land measuring 4 km by 3, and whose exceeds… 20 inhabitants, is easily accessible. You must first set sail for Paxosen hydrofoil, and from there take a water taxi. A veritable pearl covered with vineyards, olive trees, orchards and wild flowers, the island is hemmed with pearly sand beaches washed by a sea hesitating between turquoise and indigo. If all its beaches are marvels, that of Voutoumi is particularly irresistible. After a moment of peaceful relaxation on this half-moon of pebbles and ivory-colored sand, you can enjoy calamari and ice-cold Mythos beer in a tavern overlooking the beach. A little pleasure that has to be earned since you will first have to climb no less than 200 steps, but the game is worth the effort.
10. Curonian Spit, Lithuania
Separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon which stretches from Lithuania to Russia, this coastal strip is like a long endless beach. Expanses of white sand as far as the eye can see await walkers looking for an authentic beautiful getaway. Behind the apparent calm, an abundant life animates this landscape. Lush forests and meadows attract a whole small winged world, which has earned the Curonian Spit the reputation of a paradise for bird watchers. But you can also marvel at the spectacle offered by the highest shifting dunes in Europe. For a breathtaking panoramic view of this UNESCO World Heritage site, hike to the top of the Parnidis Dune, the perfect place to catch the last golden rays of the sunset before the sun sets in the sky. horizon. Thanks to the entry of Lithuania, a few months ago, in the euro zone, it is easier than ever to travel in this region of the world. However, if you visit the Curonian Spit, tread carefully, both literally and figuratively: one can indeed hope that eco-responsible tourism will preserve this fragile ecosystem, while any other practice will certainly lead to its destruction.