Surrounded by salt waters, reservoirs, and rugged mountain ranges on three sides, Europe is well-to-choice in the summer playground. Then consider some of the best beach resorts in Portugal, the Algarve of the French Riviera, the Greek Islands, the Costa del Sol, the Canaries, and the Costa Smeralda. In addition, there is still a lot to say about this.
But even after selecting one of the regions that offer the best resorts and cities for the holiday? Is it the right place to go with the most popular names? And what if it isn’t sun, land or sea that you’re dreaming of a wonderful summer vacation? What if your nirvana or the long, long, far north summer days are the Alpine lakes and mountain views?
1. La Maddalena Archipelago, Sardinia
On the north-seashore of Sardinia, there are few places that are as glamourous, sparkling, and privileged as the Aga Khan and his friends have built a swanky enclave of “villages” with a sunny view over the white beaches and the luminous green waters which they called the Coast of the Emerald.
Hotels are the best beaches, but even better beaches on the Offshore Maddalena Islands are for free, with a fast ferry trip from Santa Teresa Gallura. The islands are safe from the over-development of the Costa Smeralda and are an almost infinite national park surrounded by some of the best sailing waters of the world.
These low islands off the coast are lined with pink and white sandy beaches, which gently descend into shiny blue waters. Beaches vary—some are small coves, some are long beaches, surrounded by wind-shaped rocks. On Isola di Spargi, Cala Granara, with white sand and palm trees and a tropical leaf, is one of the most idyllic areas.
You can go from the ferry to the beaches, or take local boats to your private island and get you there later. Bring blankets, a parasol, sun shading and cooling since the beaches are still undeveloped.
2. Western Algarve of Portugal and Vicentine Coast Portugal
The Altar is one of the most popular places in Europe, with 300 days of sunshine per year and over 160 kilometres of golden beaches. However, believe not anything you hear of the crowds; go west to the most stunning coastline of the continent and wildly eroded, multicoloured cliffs curve around beautiful golden sand beaches with a lot of cobblestones.
Prince Henry the Navigator gathered the top European navigators and geographers from the 15th century to guide Portugal’s Age of Exploration at Sagres, the far west point where the country ends briskly in dizzying cliffs.
Visit their fortress and see altars of New World gold in the whitewashed churches of Lagos. This and the spectacular Moorish castle in Silves give the beach vacation here a richer dimension. Below Sagres, Martinhal Sagres Beach Resort & Hotel is a five-star hotel that blends into a panorama over the long, golden sandy mountain of Martinhal.
North where the vertical cliffs are sculpted in the open Atlantic, some of the finest – least crowded – beaches of Europe are swept away by international surfing and covered by the Natural Park of Costa Vicentina. Watch beaches and sunny clifftops surfing tournaments.
Choose one of these little towns to the east of Sagres, that are hidden under the dramatic cliffs: search for the colourful caverns and the arches of Porto de Mós, or rent a board of paddles in the pleasant Luz area. Laid-back Sagres is a perfect base for all these events.
3. Puglia Beaches
Puglia, the heel of the familiar country’s boot form, was Italy’s hottest “just discovered” beach resort town. The peninsula alternates between picturesque headlands of rock with the beaches of white sand.
Though not so crowded as the far north on the Adriatic coast, the natural reserve of Torre Guaceto still has more isolation. The reserve’s beaches extend over kilometres, supported by dunes, maquis shrubland, and olive groves. They may be crowded near the car park, but they go a little further and the crowd diminishes soon.
There are loungers for hire, but the prime areas are not hidden, as they do at Italian beaches too much. For dining, there will be a beach snack bar to go north or south out of the reserve.
The visitor centre has nature walks, cycle trips and snorkelling tours (bikes and snorkelling gear included), and it provides walking trails or cycling paths in the reserve where flamingos and migratory birds can be seen.
The safe, warm waters offshore are part of the marine reserve and are suitable for snorkelling. There are many other beaches along the shore and elegant Baroque buildings on the seaside of cities.
The Adriatic Sea meets at the tip of the heel, and deep coves with small beaches, covered by the Park Naturale Regionale Costa Otranto, hide from the most pristine coastlines of rocky headlands. Miles of beautiful golden beaches are situated to the west of the very tip of the heel.
4. Nerja, Costa del Sol
It’s time to reconsider Andalusia’s old myths of overcrowded beaches with hotels sponsored by cookies. It is clear that this stretch of the Mediterranean coast was originally overdeveloped and was the poster child of what could go wrong with the coastline.
But the government of Andalou has halted construction in recent years, demolished the worst examples and restored entire coastal stretches of tasty new buildings to natural landscapes. The Costa del Sol now offers Spanish experiences with an international flair without missing the feeling of a good holiday.
If you like your sand in smaller areas supported by picturesque, rugged cliffs and surrounded by small villages, head east from Malaga to the point where the mountains dramatically plunge into the sea and beaches hide underneath their cliffs.