Best Beaches in Europe

What was your favourite summer holiday ever? Bet it involved a beach, right?

Lots of people have a favourite beach which they either want to shout about from the rooftops or never share with a soul, and BEST BEACH is one of the most hotly contested titles in the world, and on World Reviewer – so to stop a riot, here's the list of Europe's Best Beaches – in alphabetical order.

Barleycove Beach is a sandy delight amongst Ireland's many pebbly beaches. A sandy apron sliding down to the water backed by rounded dunes to hide amongst, which curve towards a river mouth, and behind that there’s a lagoon.

Baska Voda is a blue flag on Croatia's shingle Dalmatian coast with easy access to Hvar, Brac and the Krka National Park.

Benirras Beach is at the end of a long, winding approach and about as far from Ibiza's party central as possible without crossing the pale sands, rimmed by pine forests, and the clean rocky bottomed sea.

Cala d'en Serra is a quiet, white, sandy, perfect horseshoe of a cove far from the buzzing haunts of the beautiful people and club bunnies - this is the kind of beach Ibiza’s locals take their sun bathing and swimming pleasures.

If you arrive at Cala di Luna Beach by sea the beach appears like a segment of coconut sliced out of the dark, pine-clad cliffs with six sets of caves to be explored. A profusion of juniper trees and bright oleanders make this a timeless, fantasy setting.

Cala Sinzias is a broad sweep of white backed by Mediterranean pine. Busy in summer, this beach is still one of the quieter, less spoiled spots on the Costa Rei and there's a campsite less than two kilometres away.

Coto de Donana Beach runs for more than thirty kilometres of white, virgin sands by the Donana National Park - an important wetland reserve where more than 350 different kinds of birds live.

The Curonian Spit is a peninsular of shifting sand dunes and pine forests on the Baltic Sea, a dozen buried villages and few (as yet) Western visitors make this one of the great undiscovered beach destinations in Europe.

Egremni Beach is a pale crescent at the bottom of a 350 stair cliff climb, joining an arc of bright Ionian turquoise. There are pebbles at the back of the beach, but closer to the water they shrink to the size of sand particles and sprout umbrellas and sun loungers.

Gerakas Beach is great for both kids and sea turtles, with warm clean waters that lap at the gently shelving shore backed by shallow rolling dunes.

Graniers Beach is a gorgeous little circle of crystal-green water hugged by a sickle of golden sand and a protective rocky promontory. Walk past the St Tropez citadel on your way there.

Haukland Sands is the multiple time winner of the award for Norway's best beach for its scimitar shape in silver, glinting in the sunlight that never quite dies beneath the horizon, backed by the green top-hat-esque backdrop of the Lofoten Islands.

Kallis Beach on the Swedish island of Gotland gets long hours of sunlight, on long, long stretches of sandy beach. Pitch your tent wherever you like and soak up the cool independence of sleeping under warm summer stars and spend your days roaming ancient churches and your evenings frolicking on pale sandy beaches.

La Pointe Beach, Cap Ferret, is a long, thin, sandy stretch of Atlantic Coast, dotted with pines and small oyster harvesting villages. Beyond which there's just wild coast and sand dunes.

Little Banana is curved and yellow, has natural shade and is one of the oldest naturist beaches in Europe.

Maspalomas Beach's sands are golden and sculptured into dunes and flats just beyond a bright blue stretch of ocean. The popularity of this beach ensures there's facilities for all, from watersports gear hire to cafes and bars, and there are sections for families, naturists and the gay community.

Nissi Beach's soft shelving sands and warm turquoise waters make it one of the most popular beaches on Cyprus, despite what some guides say about it being a secret or hidden gem – it doesn’t take long for that kind of secret to come out, but it must have been a very old secret, the BBC broadcasts live from the beach during the height of the summer clubbing season when the days are made for watersports.

Pampelonne Beach is supposedly the 'beach of the stars' – the place where he expensive bodies come to be seen, dropping in for a meal from an expensive yacht parked just off shore. But it's not all glamour, this is a long beach.

Patara Beach has its own 2,000 year old ruins and low dunes of soft sand which seem to appear hazy when the wind picks up and little time lapse waterfalls of sand give the appearance of mist.

Papagayo isn't a single beach but a wiggly line of Lanzarote coast with lots of lovely little beachy bays along it, lined with fine, white sand and clear water.

Pentrez Plage: The high, crenellated, cliffs of the 'Famous Five-esque' Baie de Douarnenez make a striking backdrop for the rockpooling, crab hunting and shell collecting this beach is ideal for, and the wind makes it an attractive choice for speed sailing, sand yachting or kite flying.

There's not much to do on Porto Santo Beach but revel along the nine kilometres of golden Maderian sand and adequate facilities, or maybe take a stroll along the very long stretch of sand.

Praia Dona Ana Beach is one of the most photographed beaches in Portugal. It's for the rock formations, which rise out of the water and just out from the dramatic cliffs forming the kinds of shapes that are easy for fishermen to imagine into something more magical.

Ramla Bay translates to 'red and sandy' which is what this beach is – proving that the Maltese would rather relax on a pretty, remote beach, in the dip of a lush valley lined with orchards, than worry about pretty names.

The private turquoise shallows and soft pink sand of Sandwood Bay are four miles from the nearest paved road, and a challenge to get to.

St. Brelade's Bay is probably Jersey's most popular beach: surfers like the waves, families like the clean shallows, and sunbathers probably like the comfy sand. Cafes and restaurants keep visitors sated, and beach volleyball nets, canoes and pedalos keep everyone from losing interest.

San Vito Lo Capo is one of Sicily's nicest beaches: white sand and high cliffs between a rocky cape and a nature reserve; and the town specialises in locally grown olives served in family trattorias.

Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsular suffers each turn of the tide, when great swathes of the beach are submerged and separated by high cliffs. But rock climbers love the cliffs and the BBC and Good Beach Guide like the views and water clarity respectively.

Utakleiv Beach is a sweep of sliver sand edged by dark rocky cliffs and aprons of green, and is supposed to be one of the most scenic beaches in Norway, as well as being one of the world's most romantic beaches. It's not for the sand or the water – for which the word cold is an understatement – it's for the light of the midnight sun.

Warnemünde Beach on the bracing Baltic coast has fine, white sand not at all spoiled by the 19th Century lighthouse at one end, fish and chip shops in the middle and the people camping at the other.

Zlatni Rat is widely regarded as Croatia's best beach: a V-shaped spit of saffron-cream shingle, striking against an ultramarine Adriatc Sea. The 'V' is filled in with a swathe of woodland that stretches back inland, and some cafes and hire businesses.

If only the best will do the Queen is supposed to recommend Holkham Beach, apparently the corgis love the smooth rounded dunes and pancake batter colouring.

Best Beaches in the World

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