Best Beaches of Europe

January 23, 2020

In this article, travel writers choose their favourite beaches to surf, swim, party, eat, and simply hang out from Turkey to the UK, and the Aegean to the Atlantic - and these can be visited with Going Luxury.

Spain: La Concha, San Sebastián

It is the Chrysler Building for beaches: instantly recognisable yet still heart-lifting and thrilling. La Concha is Spain's most gorgeous urban beach, featuring sparkling sapphire waters and scallop of cream-coloured sand, with Santa Clara island and forested headlands along with a peppering of boating. This belle-époque seafront dates all the way back to the days where people took long summer residencies when hotels featured plush carpet and children ate separately. However, today's city is cool and vibrant. There are two smaller beaches that flank La Concha: Ondarreta to the west (which ends at the Wind Comb sculpture by Eduardo Chillada) is nearly a continuation; Zurriola is a beach that is very popular with surfers and is in Gros past the Kursaal Palace.

Turkey: Çirali, Kemer, Antalya

For the ultimate beach experience with the softest sands around, head over to Cirali. It features several miles of beach that are backed by shady gardens and orange groves with lanterns and hammocks along with discrete low-density holiday cabins at Arcadia and other hotels. It offers great breakfasts as well as bikes to explore the nearby village. It is a place that is fiercely committed to the environment, with days that feature salads, flatbreads filled with gözleme, and beer enjoyed on shaded timber platforms. You can enjoy a stroll on the beach over to the west end where there is a riverside footpath that will lead you past a ticket office, which is sometimes staffed, to ancient Olympos ruins strangled in figs. Or you can hike or bike to the mysterious Chimaera, where there are flaming gases venting out of a hillside surrounded in myth.

Portugal: Porto Côvo, Costa Vicentina, Alentejo

The tranquil horseshoe bay of Porto Côvo is protected by rugged cliffs and was once a haven for fishermen. These days, the nearby town mainly survives on tourism. However, its whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets harken back to a time when the shore was lined with fishing nets and rowing boats. On Alentejo's south-western wild coast, Porto Côvo is a very popular place to hike - try out the impressive clifftop of Fisherman's Trail over to Villa Nova de Milfontes or the marked inland circular trail.

France: L’Herbe, Cap Ferret, Gironde

This skinny peninsula wraps around Bay of Arcachon and is a playground for tourists from Paris and Bordeaux, and is also the home of dozens of active oyster farms. In L’Herbe village, there are alleys separating the oyster farmers' clapboard cabins and the Kykouyou restaurant's Robinson Crusoe-like gazebo and several oyster bars overlook the small beach. It is perfect for a paddle ride after washing down some freshly caught crustaceans with a nice glass of chilled white wine or two.

Italy: Le Marche, Fiorenzuola di Focara

Appearing in Dante's Inferno, this walled village is situated in San Bartolo Natural Park. The beach is a 20-minute walk of winding paths. However, it is worth all of the effort that it takes to get to the unspoilt mixture of shingle and sand - with the Adriatic in front and cliffs in the back, and Fiorenzuola roofs above. It has a distinct DIY vibe, which is rare for Italy, with sunshades made out of driftwood. Your appetite for dinner will be stoked by the long walk back up.

Greece: Voidokilia, Peloponnese

A beach that is this good would normally be barred by extensive development. Fortunately, this lagoon backs onto a nature reserve. Voidokilia looks similar to the way it did when it played a featured role in Homer's Odyssey. It features perfect white sand, fantastic swimming within sheltered water, and also has a cave with a castle ruin over the beach, along with numerous flamingos and birds on the lagoon.

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