Take the fact that it’s already snowing in some parts of Australia as your cue to say “no” to winter this year, and consider instead a little northern hemispheric summertime exodus. The Old World is HQ to some of the most dazzling, and sun-drizzlingly gorgeous beaches on the planet, and they’re waiting for you to frolic about in them.
There are too many hot spots to choose from, really…yet for the sake of getting your endless summer ball rolling, here’s our cheeky guide to some of the freshest and finest that the EU has to offer. Drop that sweater, dust off that two-piece or mankini, and go get your beach on.
1 / 9
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Along the western coast of the Ionian island Zakynthos, you’ll find the splendid Navagio, a stunning beach coddled by dramatic, mythic cliffs – every bit the idyllic summertime pirate hideaway. Nicknamed Shipwreck Cove (or Smuggler’s Cove) after the contraband vessel that washed up here back in the ‘80s, the rusted old hull still rests on Navagio’s white sands, the hidden nook still only accessible by boat. Base jumpers will revel at one of the most dramatic launching spots on the planet here. Let Santorini and Ios soak up the tourist noise, while you smuggle yourself south to turquoise splendour, and unbeatable postcard-perfection.
2 / 9
Ölüdeniz Beach, Turkey
You really can’t go too wrong on a stretch of land that calls itself the Turquoise Coast. But the stand out gem on Turkey’s decidedly glorious western shoreline would have to be Ölüdeniz, a protected white-sand lagoon by the foothills of the awesome Baba Dağ (Mt Baba, where lush national park meets calm aquamarine waters). If kicking back under the Aegean sun doesn’t temper the summertime cravings, Ölüdeniz’s scuba diving, snorkelling and paragliding options are sure to satiate your thrills, chills and spills.
3 / 9
Praia da Marinha, Portugal
Welcome to Navy Beach, one of Portugal’s most snapped, frequented and cherished stretches of sand, and for sure one of the most revered on earth. It’s not difficult to see why the Michelin guide puts the Praia da Marinha in the top 10 of the world’s beautiful time and again. Located on the dramatic Atlantic in the southern Algarve region, the Praia is a breathtaking experience, a must-see for any EU sojourn.
4 / 9
Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Like a giant bird’s beak thrusting itself out of Croatia’s southern island Brač, Zlatni Rat (aka the Golden Horn) is prime candidate for one of Europe’s most unusually shaped beaches, if not the most spectacular. Immerse yourself in the cerulean blue waters of this sensational sandy spit, and say goodbye to winter stress for good.
5 / 9
A beach in Deutschland? No hoax, folks. High up in the North Sea you’ll find Sylt, the 40-kilometre-long sandy beach island in Nordfriesland, a hop, skip and a jump away from the western Danish border. In this otherwise landlocked nation, where nude summer lake swims remain the fallback choice, Sylt takes the honour of providing one of Germany’s few, and most sought after, summer backyard haunts.
6 / 9
Though if you’re for something completely different, you’ll need to head further north to Iceland’s Vik. Located in one of the wettest places in Iceland, Vik’s ethereal black basalt shore makes it one of the spectacular and unusual stretches of beach on earth. Surrounded by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and Katla volcano behind (which erupted in 1918, and is expected to do so again fairly soon) Vik delivers a decidedly more intrepid European beachside getaway.
7 / 9
Cala Macarella, Menorca, Spain
The most beautiful beach in the Balearic islands? The most crystalline waters of the Spanish Mediterranean? A sweet, sandy experience like no other? Yes, yes and yes! Take the rocky road through the south west of Menorca and work yourself down to this slice of summer glory, a gloriously calm, cliff-coddled nook with all the trappings of pure paradise.
8 / 9
Rabbit Beach, Sicily, Italy
For a swell summertime spill in the midst of rich history, head to Rabbit Beach on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa – the largest of the Mediterranean Pelagies, and prime landing hub for merchants and warships of civilizations past. Showpiece stretch, Rabbit Beach (aka Isola dei Conigli) has seen its fair share of action throughout the millennia, a summertime favourite of the Phoenecians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Maltese and Ottomans, as well as more modern day leisure lovers. For luxury with a historical flavour.
9 / 9
Palombaggia, Corsica, France
The most famous of Corsica’s beaches, frequent top-10 contender, Palombaggia always provides the goods: a deliriously relaxing 2 kilometre stretch of powdery white sand and crystal blue waters, with that certain Corsican je ne sais quoi. Sure, you’ll be elbowing for space amongst the throngs (and thongs) during peak season here, but the sight and scene of this stunning stretch should be enough to entice no matter the conditions. A pinnacle spot for all-day sunbed sitting and sipping.