Sun, sea, sand… sometimes there’s nothing better than a beach holiday. Escaping the crowded public transport, miserable rainy days and manic school runs at home in favour of kicking back on a sun lounger, reading a book, soaking up your beautiful surroundings, and occasionally – when you can pull yourself out of your chill zone – making sandcastles with the kids.
Flight Network released a list of the top 50 European beaches earlier in the year, and since we’ve got some gorgeous coastal villas near some of them, we thought we’d create a beach bucket list… the best kind of bucket list!
If you already know where you want to go in Europe and just want to skip the rest of the beaches (although, they are amazing) then click one of the links below to be taken straight to the destination of your choice!
Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote
As pretty as a postcard, this popular beach was once a hidden gem, and while it may draw a larger crowd nowadays, it doesn’t take away from its secluded and unspoilt appeal. A cove amongst a volcanic landscape, the emerald green waters are crystal-clear and great for swimming. There’s only a couple of restaurants at the top of the hill, meaning this isn’t a beach for people who are looking for a buzzy, tourist atmosphere… it’s more for those who are looking to relax.
Where to stay: Villa Fresa | Sleeps 12 | From £28pppn ($34pppn)
Platja De Formentor, Mallorca
Despite its popularity and location on the coastline of Cap de Formentor, this stunning beach retains the beauty of somewhere off-the-beaten-path. The Blue Flag beach is a swathe of sugar-white sand lapped by clear blue water and is set amongst a wild landscape of forest, making it seriously picturesque. Unlike a secret beach, you don’t need to worry about a lack of facilities as you’ll find toilets, showers, disabled access, drinking water stations, cafés and shops – meaning you’re set up for the day.
Where to stay:
Villa Anica | Sleeps 10-14 | From £413pppn ($511pppn)
Cala De Ambolo, Javea
A rustic, untouched and natural gravel beach, Cala de Ambolo is a 300m cove sheltered from the wind, making it perfect for water-sports, snorkelling and sunbathing – although nothing is provided for this. It’s a 10-15-minute walk down to the beach from the car park; a beach that’s perfect for those looking to get away from the tourist crowds. Strip it back to the basics by taking a simple picnic lunch and beach towel to relax and enjoy the scenery. Oh, and you can physically strip it back to basics too, as it’s a nudist beach.
Where to stay: Villa Adela | Sleeps 6 | From £51pppn ($63pppn)
Aguas Blancas, Ibiza
Loved by the locals, this 300m golden curve of sand is another gorgeous beach to add to the ‘unspoilt Spanish beaches’ list (it is in the top 50 European beaches list, after all!). Taking advantage of the dramatic cliff scenery, beach dwellers can get a little adventurous by exploring the caves and jumping from the big rock into the water at the south end of the beach. With all the amenities, beach bars and restaurants you need, it’s great for those looking to escape busy tourist beaches but still have all the facilities to be comfortable. It’s an official nudist beach, but you don’t have to be a naturist to enjoy the beach… with plenty of travellers opting not to bear all.
Where to stay: Villa Jovial | Sleeps 12 | From £86pppn ($106pppn)
Playa de Rodas, Galicia
Paradise in Spain – this slice of sugar-white sand can be found on the Cíes Islands off the west coast of Galicia, and it’s accessible by boat. Vivid blue waters lap this 1km-long crescent, which belongs to a protected National Maritime-Terrestrial Park. In 2007 it was listed as the best beach in the world by The Guardian, and has since won many other accolades. Note, to protect the stunning landscapes of this island, there’s a maximum capacity of visitors allowed in July and September… 2,200 per day.
Where to stay:
Cottage Limens | Sleeps 4 | From £49pppn ($61pppn)
Casa Berdillo | Sleeps 11 | From £30pppn ($37pppn)
Villa Gondomar | Sleeps 8 | From £49pppn ($60pppn)
Villa Ramallosa | Sleeps 6 | From £35pppn ($43pppn)
Calanque de Sugiton, South of France
You have to put a little bit of work in for this beach, but we promise it’s worth it. An easy 1-hour hike through the Calanques National Park from the Luminy Campus, you’ll come to the Sugiton Cove which offers plenty of places to explore… but we’re going to focus on the beach. Surrounded by wild cliff scenery, the views are absolutely breathtaking, as is the turquoise water (a popular place for scuba divers). If you’re not feeling the walk, you can also access the cove by boat, which is the only way to access the beach when the trail is closed from mid-July to September.
Where to stay: Bastide 1700 | Sleeps 12 | From £44pppn ($54pppn)
Ploumanac’h Beach, Brittany
A secret seaside escape along the ‘Pink Granite Coast’, this sheltered sandy crescent is the perfect spot for families with children – the rock pools are great for curious minds! There’s also a great 3-mile coastal walk from the beach along the Sentier des Douaniers where you’ll find hidden bays punctuating the 300-million-year-old pink granite cliffs. Legend has it, when single ladies stick a needle in the nose of the statue on the beach and it doesn’t fall out, they’re married within the year!)
Where to stay: Ravenelle House | Sleeps 12 | From £60pppn ($73pppn)
St Paul’s Bay, Rhodes
Only a 4-minute walk from the village of Lindos, this peaceful bay is ideal for those that don’t want to be too far from the action but also want a quieter spot to sunbathe. With two sandy beaches and overlooked by the ancient Lindos Acropolis, it’s a beach day that’s a little out of the ordinary. Set amongst rugged scenery and sheltered from the wind, the water in the bay is warm and shallow – great for kids to splash about in.
Where to stay: Villa Corteau | Sleeps 4 | From £71pppn ($29pppn)
Navaggio Beach (aka Shipwreck Beach), Zakynthos
Piercing blue water and a white-sand crescent fringed by limestone cliffs… this beach is the epitome of ‘Instagrammable’! The reason it’s known as Shipwreck Beach is because the washed-up remains of a freightliner juts out of the sand, giving it a bit of a pirate vibe. It’s not really a beach you would spend the full day at, it’s more for those who want to tick the world-famous beach off their list, and the easiest way to get there is by boat. Go on an early sunrise tour to avoid the tourist crowds; the viewing platform is only really accessible by car, so it depends just how much you want to snap this famous shot!
Where to stay: Villa Volimes | Sleeps 4 | From £51pppn ($63pppn)
Red Beach, Santorini
One of the famous volcanic sand beaches in Santorini, the red-hued sands and cliffs give it an enchanting, otherworldly appearance. Located near the Akrotiri village, it’s also an easy bus journey from Fira. There are sunbeds and umbrellas, plus a couple of canteens before you make your descent to the beach so you can stock up. While there are no available water-sports, you can snorkel and even hop on a boat to nearby White Beach.
Where to stay: Villa Michaela | Sleeps 8-10 | From £121pppn ($149pppn)
Loggas Beach, Corfu
Known as the ‘sunset beach’, Loggas commands unrivalled views of the sunset from the top of its cliffs. Below at the beach, which you can get to by a flight of stairs, you’ll find a dramatic setting with a narrow strip of sand, sometimes completely covered by water. Idyllic for swimming in the shallow water, visitors often make a clay paste to rub on their body (a great natural detoxifier!).
Where to stay:
Arillas Sea View Villas | Sleeps 6 | From £20pppn ($25pppn)
Villa Floral | Sleeps 10 | From £58pppn ($72pppn)
Elafonissi Beach, Crete
A small islet of pink and white-sand beaches, the waters that surround Elafonissi Beach are so shallow that you can walk across it on foot. Although the busy main beach across from the island is dotted with sun loungers, parasols and a beach bar, you’ll notice a stark contrast once you get to Elafonissi as it’s a protected zone. Aka paradise. The shallow waters are perfect for families with small children, and it’s only 75km from Chania meaning you can easily get there by bus, car or boat!
Where to stay:
Villa Phala | Sleeps 12 | From £28pppn ($35pppn)
Villa Sarna | Sleeps 12 | From £32pppn ($40pppn)
Comporta Beach, Lisbon Coast
Comporta Beach is about an hour drive from Lisbon, and part of the wider Herdade da Comporta region – a generous coastline with seven gorgeous beach-shack vibe hamlets. The seaside village charm and easy-breezy lifestyle is contagious; you’ll come away from Comporta rested and recharged… 15km of golden sands means that you can easily find a quiet spot.
Where to stay:
Villa Calixta | Sleeps 6-7 | From £21pppn ($26pppn)
Casa Ambrosia | Sleeps 8-10 | From £22pppn ($27pppn)
Comporta Villa | Sleeps 10 | From £177pppn ($219pppn)
Cave Beach (Benagil), Algarve
You may have seen the photo – the unique dome-shaped cave shining a light on the beach below through a hole in the top. A truly interesting sight, you can visit the cave on a boat tour from Benagil Beach, by kayak/paddleboard, or you can swim – although that’s only advised if you’re a very strong swimmer as the currents can be unpredictable.
Where to stay: Villa Nelinha | Sleeps 4 | From £46pppn ($57pppn)
Ursa Beach, Lisbon
Less for swimming and more for appreciating the wild, raw beauty of an undeveloped beach, Ursa Beach is striking to look at with its imposing rock formations surrounding the cove and protruding out of the water. Not an easy spot to access, be prepared to descend a steep and rocky trail (not for flip-flops!) but once you get there, you’ll be awarded with a beautiful, unspoilt stretch of sand.
Where to stay: Casa Capissa | Sleeps 14 | From £38pppn ($47pppn)
Fjord of Furore, Amalfi Coast
Flanked by a rocky canyon, the emerald green waters feed into the hamlet from the sea on the other side of the suspended bridge, which is also the location for the ‘Mediterranean High Diving Championship Cup’ held every July. You can get down to the water from a long set of stairs from the top of the bridge. A picture-perfect spot that’s well worth a visit.
Where to stay: Villa Almeida | Sleeps 8 | From £112pppn ($137pppn)
Gavitella Beach, Amalfi Coast
More of a ‘hidden’ beach in Italy, this small pebbly beach commands excellent views… making it great for sunset. Owned by the Cala Gavitella Beach Club, if you want to reserve sun loungers you’ll need to book them through the club – alternatively you can lie yourself down on a towel on one of the platforms. A little tricky to get down to, but once you’re there – the views out to sea and the views of the Amalfi coastline while you’re swimming are well worth the steep climb.
Where to stay: Le Rocce | Sleeps 10 | From £117pppn ($144pppn)
Portoferraio Sansone Sorgente Beach, Tuscany
A white shingle beach with a backdrop of dramatic white cliffs, this sweet beach is truly magical. With calm, crystal-clear water and grottos and gorges with colourful fish, it’s great for a spot of snorkelling. You’ll find people jumping from the large rocks into the sea, people kayaking the grottos and others just soaking up the sunshine; parasols, sunbeds, pedalos and canoes are available for hire.
Where to stay: Castle Mago | Sleeps 20-24 | From £82pppn ($101pppn)
Lama Monachile Beach, Puglia
This small, historic town is full of charm and situated on the edge of the coastline making its main beach incredibly photogenic. The small pebble bay opens right out into the sapphire blue sea, and is bordered by white-washed buildings and craggy terrain. Get down early to nab a towel space!
Where to stay: Casa Delle Pigne | Sleeps 4 | From £53pppn ($65pppn)
Grotta Della Poesia, Puglia
The world-famous jade green sinkhole in the sea (aka Cave of Poetry) is only a 30-minute drive from Lecce – but it’s not the easiest to find. Although this isn’t actually a beach and more of a natural swimming pool, it managed to sneak in to Flight Network’s Top 50 European Beaches… and we’re not complaining. It looks truly magical! A tranquil place for a swim in the morning, but busier in the afternoon, if you’re looking for some peace and quiet get there early then head off to one of the nearby beaches for a sunbathing session afterwards.
Where to stay: Masseria Palmeto | Sleeps 8 | From £31pppn ($38pppn)
Mogren Beach, Budva
This Blue Flag beach is actually split into two parts, which are connected by a small tunnel (or you can just swim there) and is an easy walk from the Old Town. Surrounded by limestone cliffs topped by lush green foliage, it’s a seriously Instagrammable hotspot. Steeped in legends and folk tales about lost loves and shipwrecked sailors, Mogren Beach is an easy sell – beach bums can kickback on sun loungers while adventurists can go hiking, cliff jumping or rock climbing. It really does tick all the boxes!
Where to stay:
Luka Villa | Sleeps 8 | From £27pppn ($33pppn)
Villa Budua | Sleeps 6 | From £80pppn ($99pppn)
Casa Mireille | Sleeps 8 | From £45pppn ($55pppn)
Villa Dobrislav | Sleeps 6 | From £129pppn ($158pppn)
Rarely crowded, this diamond of a beach on the Dubrovnik Riviera is a peaceful spot due to its location – you have to descend some very steep steps carved out of rock to get to it, and the thought of going back up can put some visitors off. But if you’re willing to make the effort – and you should be – you’ll be repaid by the stunning scenery that awaits you. Blue crystalline water, golden sand and a backdrop of dramatic cliffs – this beach is exactly how Mother Nature intended it… no development, no crowds, just raw natural beauty.
Where to stay:
Villa Sampaguita | Sleeps 12 | From £35pppn ($43pppn)
Villa Mirno | Sleeps 8 | From £30pppn ($37pppn)
Sveti Jakov, Dubrovnik
Popular amongst locals, this gorgeous pebble/sand beach boasts distant views of the Old Town of Dubrovnik and overlooks Lokrum island. Easily accessible, you can either walk to the beach or get a bus direct to the shore. And although you’ll find plenty of amenities for your beachy day out it still remains a peaceful and quiet place to sunbathe and enjoy the views.
Where to stay:
Villa Arta | Sleeps 8 | From £107pppn ($132pppn)
Birling Gap Beach, East Sussex
It’s not just Mediterranean countries that get all the good beaches… some beauties from the UK made the list too! Take Birling Gap, a stunning stretch of beach along an undeveloped part of the southern England coastline and part of the National Trust. Showcasing beautifully wild natural scenes, the chalky Seven Sisters cliffs fringe the shores, providing a stark contrast to the blue water.
Where to stay: Skyfall | Sleeps 11 | From £16pppn ($20pppn)
We’ve got a whole collection of villas near the beach to get you right near the coast for maximum beach time. If it’s all a little overwhelming, get in touch with our concierge team who can help you find the perfect villa for your needs.
*Find and navigate to this beach by entering its what3words address in the free what3words app.