Praia do Camilo, Algarve, Portugal

The Best Beaches in Europe or where to find serenity

The beach was the first place I went after 4 months of quarantine. That wide horizon, the endless sea where two shades of blue meet in the middle, far away, is the absolute definition of freedom. In normal times and even more in different times.

I’m not picky. As long as there’s a blue sea, waves, sand, seagulls and a breeze, that is my place. And my beloved Europe has so many of my places, my favourite beaches, each one for its own reasons.

I don’t make tops or charts or rankings or whatever. I make a list of some of my favourite beaches in Europe discovered and enjoyed in 11 countries.

Malta

The only place I was during one summer and went back the next one. The first place I did snorkelling and still consider it’s the best in Europe for underwater life. And the first place I started to do beach hopping: more then 3 beaches in one day.

First time I went to Ramla Bay, walked on the red soft sand and watched the waves as white lines on a cobalt blue sea, I called it my favourite beach in the world. I loved it so much I came back a year after.

Ramla Beach on Gozo island, Malta

The turquoise waters, the ideal swim from one shore to the other, the calm waters, the white sand and the schools of fish I was swimming with makes The Blue Lagoon the most exotic beach in Europe. And one of my favourite places to swim.

The Blue Lagoon, Malta

Croatia

A morning walk with medieval scent in Dubrovnik followed by a cooling swim and beach time on Banje Beach. The incredible blue of the Adriatic, where you can see your toes while swimming and the white sand many meters beneath, all framed by St John Fortress walls in Dubrovnik’s port on the right and fuchsia bougainvillea, huge aloe vera with 4 meters high flowers and palm trees on the left, made me wonder if this image truly exists.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, sea view, Banje Beach

Belgium

This place has much more to offer besides thousands o types of beer (the best in the world) and delicious chocolates. For a real cooling, head North until you meet the North Sea in Ostend. Mariakerke Beach, with orange sand and moody breeze where kids run barefoot even in winter months and where cold is not felt. And where the best mussels with fries are served in all restaurants on the long promenade.

Ostend Beach, Belgium

Italy

La bella Italia is always a good idea. You can’t go wrong anywhere you’ll head. Rapallo, Portofino, Santa Margerita Ligure, Camogli, Amalfi, Capri, Cinque Terre, Polignato a Mare in Puglia… choosing a place – that’s a hard choice. I had the best swim in Marina Picola, in Capri, with the hypnotising Med blue and tens of yachts around, the scent of pine and the tztztztz song of the cicadas.

Marina Picola, Capri, Italy

Or should I call it the fanciest, on the island where people drink champagne in the port and on all the other terraces and the restaurants with white pianos behind translucent voiles moved by the breeze gives the island a heaven feel. I was so spoilt in Capri!

For a swim with a view in Italy, I can’t possibly decide between Amalfi, Positano and Manarola, in Cinque Terre. Swim away from the shore in any of these places and admire the breathtaking views of the coast, with coloured houses, all that la grande bellezza.

Amalfi coast, Positano, Italy

France

One of my favourite countries for all the reasons in the world, France, has one of the top summer destinations in Europe. The French Riviera, like its neighbour Italian Riviera, is a must go anytime. Though I consider Saint Tropez overrated, maybe because I was there without a car, helicopter and yacht, Pampelonne Beach beach has a few things to say to beach lovers. As the absolute playground for the rich and famous from all over the world, Pampelonne Beach has been the epicentre of glam, sparkle and shine ever since the 50s. Literally, this beach is a legend that has seen many stars on two feet wandering around. C’est chic et c’est cher (chic and expensive) but it’s totally worth a swim and a beach stroll between Nikki Beach and Club 55. Sante! (Cheers)

Pampelonne Beach, St Tropez, France

From St Tropez to Cannes, passing by Cap d’Antibes, Beaulieu sur Mer, and up to Monaco there are plenty of places to enjoy some quiet time or some loud time. One I will always remember is a swim from sunset to full moon rise in Nice, by the famous Promenades des Anglais. For that and much more I will always vote for France in summer.

Netherlands

Beach lovers are of many kinds, but two categories are the main ones: those who like to just lay on the sand all day long and do nothing more exhausting then sipping a lemonade and those who, the moment they see water, their heart starts pumping harder and no matter the outside temperatures, the sea is their playground. Scheveningen, the seaside resort close to The Hague, with its long sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse, is the playground for water-sports lovers that come here in great numbers for windsurfing and kiteboarding. No matter the season, it has the beach vibe I need after some time spent inland.

The Hague beach, Scheveningen

Greece

When it comes to summer love and beach addiction, Greece is a top destination in the world. Sail there until you find its beauty, that where white houses meet the dark Mediterranean blue and where the breeze whispers legends of the Gods among bougainvillea pink flowers pouring down on white walls, where the therm instagrammable is defined and where each corner is made for a beautiful framed memory. Where my roots are coming from and where, hopefully, I can fly again for a few days until this summer ends.

Santorini, Oia, Greece

For me, Santorini is the representation of all I have ever dreamed about Greece. Not the ideal Greek island for beaches though. The Red Beach is curious but looks dangerous, with rocks ready to fall down on your head from the steep wall of rocks above. Perissa Beach on the other hand is lovely, with its black volcanic sand that gets so hot it burns your feet.

Portugal

From the sweet Porto wine and Fado music heard on narrow colourful streets in Lisbon in a hot August afternoon, to the fairytales castles up in Sintra and then down to its fabulous Algarve coast, with hidden beaches and the white houses in Albufeira, I carry Portugal in my heart forever. My favourite coast in Europe for the highest number of beaches and the most spectacular. Close to Lagos, Praia de Dona Ana is one of the most photographed but my most favourite is Praia de Camilo, with its 93 stairs down to a gorgeous beach.

Praia do Camilo, Algarve, Portugal

Close to Albufeira, one of the most picturesque beaches on Algarve coast, Praia da Marinha, with yellow sand, calm waters and with striking colourful cliff-sides and rocks raising up from the blue Atlantic waters.

The best is Praia de Benagil, a beach inside a cave accessible only by sea, with turquoise waters touching the golden sand, two entrances from the ocean and an open roof with views to the blue sky on top. This beach is spectacular and will blow your mind.

Braia de Benagil, Portugal

Portugal is the place I would go back 3 times every summer. And winter, to watch the best surfers in the world coming here to Nazare, on Praia do Norte, to ride the big waves and break the records. The biggest wave ever surfed till now happened in November 2017 in Nazare: 24,38m.

Spain

Spoiled by the sun with long summers and caressed by the waves of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Spain was my first summer destination abroad. On Playa del Duque in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, I was stunned by the exotic beauty of the place. Then brought back to reality by the Atlantic waves, never before seen so strong, making fun of everyone entering the waters, rolling people over the beach. I got sand deep into my soul after those whirlpools and laughter to remember a lifetime.

Tenerife, Playa de las Americas

On La Barcelonetta I felt the vibes of a beach between the sea and the city and on La Malaguetta the magic of Costa del Sol (Sun Coast).

La Malagueta Beach, Malaga, Spain

I caught the last days of summer in September, right before it leaves Europe to move to further places on the beaches of Marbella and walk the Golden Mile from Puerto Banus to Marbella, 7,6km by the sea where you can lay your towel everywhere you please.

Puerto Banus, Marbella, Cost del Sol, Spain

I got stung by a Moon jellyfish and thought I just lost a finger judging by the stubbing pain. But it didn’t stop me an hour later from trying SUP for the first time in a sea full of those purple nasty creatures.

The best shades of blue and the softest sand meet the crazy parties at night and day in Mallorca. If the beauty of its beaches won’t get you drunk, for sure the alcohol cocktails drank from plastic big buckets will. Don’t try it unless in a large group.

Marbella, Arenal

Romania

Enjoy the silence in the wild, among cormorants and pelicans, in the middle of a bird’s paradise on one of Romania’s well kept secrets, Sfantu Gheorghe (St George) beach, formed where the river Danube ends its journey through 10 countries and meets the Black Sea. A beach in a delta gives a new sweet and salty and amazing perspective.

Sfantu Gheorghe, Delta, Romania

Iceland

If July and August in Europe seem too hot and some want to escape the heat and find a cold refuge in the North, the land of fire and ice, Iceland, has the place: Diamond Beach.

Diamond Beach, Iceland

A black picture perfect line of sand decorated with small icebergs and pieces of 1,000 year old ice calved off from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and washed away into the Atlantic freezing waters. It looks just as phenomenal as sparkling diamonds on black velvet. Maybe not ideal for a swim, but I guarantee it’s one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen.

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