Ideal Summer European Beach Destinations
If you’re daydreaming of a summer getaway to Europe, make it a reality. Although many of the continent’s larger cities are plagued with sweltering heat, plan to cool off in the waters of the Mediterranean, an island in the Atlantic, the exotic Black Sea, or even a freshwater lake or two.
Here are some of the top spots for sand, sun, and a relaxing beach vacation in Europe this summer. We also include some popular activities and trendy hotels worth looking into at each location. Also note, this guide is tailored slightly more towards luxury accommodations and experiences. Splurging on memories that will last a lifetime at these European beach destinations is truly worth it.
- Ideal Summer European Beach Destinations
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Best European Beach Destinations
Canary Islands, Spain
While much of Spain’s mainland is sweating from 100° F+ temps, temps on the Canary Islands typically hover around a breezy 80°F. And with seven different islands to choose from, you’ll have plenty to do.
From the white sand surfing beaches of Fuerteventura to Lanzarote’s volcanic wineries to Tenerife’s verdant Anaga Natural Park to La Palma’s black sands, each island has its own special attractions. For more, see our article on the Canary Islands, which will help you choose exactly which island is the right fit for your vacation. Take a look at where to stay on the Canary Islands here.
Algarve Coast, Portugal
Tearing ourselves away from northern Portugal’s Port wine scene won’t be easy, but the Algarve coast’s immense beauty helps. Plus, the nearby Alentejo region has plenty of unique Portuguese wine to sample while you relax on the beach.
The Algarve coast is known for its golden sand beaches flanked by craggy cliffs. And if you love refreshingly cold waters, the Atlantic is still pretty frigid, even in the summer months.
For an epic sunset, head to one of Europe’s most southwesterly points, the rocky cliffs of Cabo de Sao Vicente, which is just outside of Sagres. There are also many beautiful seaside resorts you can stay at.
Capri? Old news. Capri’s secret sister island of Ischia is where it’s at. Just a quick ferry ride from Naples, Ischia has it all: beaches, Italian cuisine, island-cultivated Ischian wine, and even volcanic thermal baths. Plus, it’s affordable and lesser-known than Capri, meaning you’ll have a true adventure exploring this authentic Italian destination (renting a small motorbike is an incredible way to lap the island and see all its nooks and crannies). Learn more about Ischia and why you should visit here. Take a look at resort options here. You can also purchase ferry tickets ahead of time from Naples to Ischia that include lunch.
Lake Annecy, France
There’s always Cannes, St. Tropez, and the glamour of the French Riviera, but for something slightly more understated, consider an escape to the gorgeous Lake Annecy, which sits at the base of the French Alps. Not only is it one of France’s largest lakes (and rumored to be one of Europe’s cleanest lakes), the lake is a great place to cool off. Dive in from one of the island’s beaches, hop in a boat, go paddleboarding, or lap the lake via bike on one of the many pine-flanked cycling paths. The small villages surrounding the lake all emit that typical French charm, too. Take a look at some of the stunning lakeside resorts here.
Malta (and Gozo)
With a trove of UNESCO World Heritage sites and an abundance of sandy beaches, Malta offers an unmatched summer destination in Europe. The island’s rich tapestry of history is woven into the fabric of its ancient cities, from the millennia-old Megalithic Temples to the historic city of Valletta, built by the Knights of St. John. The smaller island of Gozo, Malta’s hidden gem, enchants with its serene landscapes and charming villages. Venture into the winding lanes of Victoria, Gozo’s capital, or explore the scenic coastal hiking trails. Both islands are renowned for their crystal-clear waters, perfect for diving enthusiasts. Despite its richness in culture and natural beauty, Malta remains an affordable destination, allowing you to enjoy a sunny European escape that’s as gentle on your pocket as it is inspiring for your spirit. Learn about top hotels and resorts on Malta and also the smaller island gem of Gozo.
It’s no secret that Crete is one of Winetraveler’s favorite Greek islands. With epic hikes like the stunning Samaria Gorge to some of Europe’s best beaches (Balos Beach has been voted a winner many times over), Crete is truly a magical island paradise. The island also has plenty of historical heritage, like the ancient ruins of the Rethymno Fortress. And let’s not forget fresh feta cheese, Greek honey, and family-owned wineries. Plus, it’s more affordable and less touristy than popular Greek islands like Santorini or Mykonos. Here are some beautiful luxury resorts in Crete to consider staying at.
An island country split between Greece and Turkey, Cyprus has a unique culture and historical perspective. Wine lovers will enjoy exploring and sipping, with over 50 wineries located around the island. With over 100 beaches, there’s also plenty of sand and sun to go around. For those wanting incredible views, hike up to Mt. Olympus, part of the Troodos Mountains. It’s the tallest point in Cyprus. Take a look at accommodation options on Cyprus here. If we had to pick one luxury hotel on Cyprus, it would undoubtedly be Elysium.
Sardinia undoubtedly ranks high among the cherished jewels of the Mediterranean. This Italian island is famous for its scenic beauty, with incredible treks such as the Gorropu Gorge and breathtaking beaches like Cala Goloritzé. Sardinia boasts a unique heritage, with fascinating ancient ruins like the Nuraghe of Barumini providing a glimpse into its past. Savour the flavors of Sardinian pecorino cheese, pane carasau, and exquisite local wines.
Not as crowded as the famed Amalfi Coast, yet with a charm all its own, Sardinia offers an enchanting mix of luxury and simplicity. You won’t be short of choice when it comes to coastal luxury resorts to unwine-d in on Sardinia.
Ibiza isn’t just a party paradise, it’s also a haven for those seeking beauty and tranquility. Among the most alluring of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Ibiza boasts impressive cliffside hikes and heavenly beaches like Cala Comte. Immerse yourself in Ibiza’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the medieval Dalt Vila in Ibiza Town. Relish in the island’s gastronomy, with its traditional ensaimada pastries, seafood paella, and local Hierbas Ibicencas liqueur. Despite its reputation for lively nightlife, Ibiza also provides a less crowded and more serene experience than many other Mediterranean hotspots. The island is also home to numerous luxurious resorts for the discerning Winetraveler.
Costa Brava, Spain
The Costa Brava, located in Catalonia, Spain, is an extraordinary blend of serene beaches, such as the picturesque Platja de Pals, and thrilling adventure trails like the Camí de Ronda. With an abundance of cultural heritage, the medieval town of Pals and the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Empúries offer fascinating insights into the region’s history. Delight in local delicacies like the suquet de peix fish stew and local Empordà wines. Offering a more laid-back and authentic experience than the bustling Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava is an enticing destination. There are numerous hotels scattered along the coast. Browse some of our favorites on TripAdvisor right here.
Hvar, Croatia’s sunniest island, is truly an idyllic getaway. The island’s exquisite natural beauty is showcased in its lavender fields and azure waters, with beaches like Dubovica and thrilling hikes such as the climb to the Fortress Spanjola. Hvar’s rich history is palpable in its charming old town and in historical sites like the Stari Grad Plain. The local cuisine is a treat, with fresh seafood and renowned Croatian wines. Hvar offers a more serene experience compared to the busy Dubrovnik, but it doesn’t lack in luxury or enchantment. There are several premium resorts available for those looking for high-end accommodation.
Known for its vibrant nightlife and stunning Cycladic architecture, Mykonos is a favorite among the Greek islands. The island offers stunning seaside views with pristine beaches such as Elia Beach, and adventure trails leading to iconic windmills. The heritage of Mykonos is visible in its iconic Mykonos Town and the nearby sacred island of Delos. Food lovers can feast on local tzatziki, moussaka, and sip on ouzo, the popular Greek spirit. While it’s a popular destination, Mykonos has a charm that surpasses the tourist crowd. The island is home to an array of luxury resorts, each promising a unique Greek island experience.
St. Tropez, France
St. Tropez, a gem on the French Riviera, is synonymous with glamour, sandy beaches, and the sparkling Mediterranean sea. Home to the famous Pampelonne Beach, the destination offers an array of water activities and sun-soaked relaxation. For hiking enthusiasts, the coastal path of Sentier du Littoral provides stunning views and a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the area. St. Tropez’s heritage is beautifully preserved in the historic La Ponche quarter and the 17th-century Citadel. Indulge in local Provençal cuisine, with dishes like bouillabaisse and ratatouille, paired with exquisite Côtes de Provence rosé.
While known for its celebrity allure, St. Tropez retains an authentic charm that extends beyond the glitz. High-end resorts are plentiful, ensuring luxury and comfort for your stay in this dazzling corner of the world.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best European Beach Destinations
We love exploring cities in Europe, but this year, save the busy cities for fall when the temps go down, and visit one of these beautiful island, beach, or lake destinations instead. When you’re cycling through forests, relaxing on the beach, or sipping wine overlooking the water at sunset, you’ll be glad you did so!
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