5 of Europe's Best Beaches

Sometimes when the temperature start sizzling, all you really wish for is soft sand to push your toes into, and bright blue water to jump in.  If you live in London like I do, you can rest happy in the knowledge that there are a whole host of sensational beaches within three hours’ journey from the here – and let face it, we’ve had had commutes that took longer than that.  So, hop on a plane and before you know it, you’ll be soaking up some rays, getting your surf on and ordering pina colada in a coconut, if that’s what tickles your fancy. Here’s our top pick of the best European beaches that are practically on your doorstep.

IBIZA, SPAIN (Best for partying)

If by ‘holiday’ you mean an ‘excuse to crack open your first beer of the day before noon’ then you’d better head for one of the planet’s top party destinations – Ibiza.  Some people choose to stay in quieter parts of the island for relaxed day before heading into Ibiza Town at night to hit superclubs Pacha, Space and various other hedonistic hotspots.  But if you are one of those round-the-clock types, Playa d’en Bossa is the beach for you.  Lined with trendy beach clubs and café-cum-bars, you can have cocktails delivered to your lounger from many locations along the beach.  This is also the home of infamous beach club Bora Bora, where there’s a party atmosphere with drinking, dancing and DJs from midday onwards.  Events often serve as both pre-party and after-party, depending on how many vodka-Red-Bulls you put away. 

COSTA DEL SOL, SPAIN (Best for watersports)

Jet skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, parasailing and do you like your watersports motor-powered, noisy and very high actane? Try the Costa del Sol’s Fuengirola, a 7km stretch of sand lined with facilities for all the adrenaline-pumping activities you could ask for.

LAGOS, PORTUGAL (Best for surfing)

Surfers flock to the southwest of the Algarve each year because, within a small region, there’s enough variety of beach, reef and point breaks to suit anyone – perfect if you’re travelling with mates of mixed surfing ability.  It’s turned into a bit of a party hotspot too, with fin-jockeys rocking up at the start of the summer to stay for months on end, hitting the waves by day and bars of the small town by night.  Lots of surf school and camps have set up over the past few years, and many offer tours of the top surf spots for first-timers to the area, so ask around when you arrive.  Praia do Amado is one of the most popular surfer’s beaches because of the consistent break, courtesy of the wind protected beach.  It’s a recommended spot for beginners and lots of surf camps are based nearby too.

BOL, CROATIA (Best for scenery)

Heading to Croatia for gorge-your-eyes coastal scenery is always a safe bet.  With nearly 2000 miles of coastline, and thousand of islands, you really do have your pick of beautiful beaches.  Zlatni Rat on the island of Brac is something special, a V-shaped golden beach (the name means ‘Golden Horn’), which juts out 634m into the Adriatic.  Because of its position, the shape of the beach shifts with the tide, currents and wind, so technically speaking, a fresh view will greet you every morning.  And if all the sensational scenery isn’t enough of an eyeful, remember that the westernmost edge of the beach is ‘clothing optional’.  If you’re on an island-hopping trip, a great stop further south of the country is the Great Beach (Vela Plaza) at Baska, Krk island. This has heaps of little coves for those wanting to steer clear of crowds and all has a decent nightlife – think lazy cocktail lounges and al fresco restaurants.

NICE, FRANCE (Best for sunbathing)

The Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is where healthy skin cells come to die.  Beautiful, deeply tanned bodies sprawl out along the coast, slathere in SPF-nothing sun oil from morning to sunset.  It’s a proper poser’s beach – you’ll see Missoni bikinis, Tom Ford trunks, Gucci sunglasses and a whole other array of designer beachwear on display here.  But don’t be alarmed if all you’ve got are ratty old togs.  All you really need to enjoy yourself is a good thick towel so you can make yourself comfy on those pesky pebbles while you ejoy the textbook Mediterranean view of palm trees glistening blue sea and boats a-plenty.