For decades, travellers have flocked to the beaches of Southern Europe for some fun in the sun. Now it’s your turn to join them, but with so many destinations to choose from, how can you decide where to go? We’ve visited countless beaches across Europe, so now we can bring you this guide to your perfect coastal holiday. Yes, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Keep reading, and you’ll find some of our favourite beach destinations — just what you need when you want to get away from it all.

Best beaches for water sports: the beaches of Sardinia

Let’s start with one of the true jewels of the Mediterranean. Sardinia is one of the two large Italian islands, but it often gets overlooked in favour of Sicily. We think that’s a huge mistake! That’s because it has some of the best sandy beaches in Europe, where you’ll find plenty of action and adventure to keep you busy.

We love Del Principe Beach, where the waters are crystal clear and teem with life. That makes it perfect for getting your snorkelling mask and exploring the nearby coral. Another top beach is Casteldoria, an ideal spot to rent a sea kayak and explore the stunning surrounding coastline. Finally, you mustn’t miss the chance to lounge around on Liscia Ruja, the biggest beach in the area and the perfect place to do a spot of people-watching. These are some of the best beaches in Italy for young adults, with great parties when the sun goes down.

This area is known as the Costa Smeralda or Emerald Coast. When you gaze out at that rich, deeply-coloured water, you’ll soon see why. There are fabulous beaches on the Sardinian mainland, but there are also more on the nearby Maddalena archipelago, which is also one of the Mediterranean’s best spots for scuba diving. Of course, there are also interesting places to explore on the main island of Sardinia. Take a road trip along winding mountain roads, check out the distinctive Sardinian culture in the cities or just sit on a terrace by the beach, indulging in some fine Italian cuisine.

Our beach holiday in Sardinia lasts eight days, and is the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries and get into the water. See you there?

Best beaches for foodies: the Amalfi Coast

It’s always nice to relax on a white sand beach, but what do you do in the evening? If you’re into the finer things in life, then you’ll find the best beaches in Europe on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. As well as the beauty of nature, this area offers traditional villages, brightly coloured houses and, of course, the very best of Italian cuisine.

While you can eat well in Italy at any time of year, the produce of the South is at its best in summer — just in time for your beach holiday! Delicious, flavour-packed tomatoes will turn every pizza Margherita into a feast, and Caprese salad makes eating your veggies fun. To work up an appetite, take a hike along the Path of the Gods, the seaside route that runs alongside many of the coast’s best beaches. You’ll have spectacular views of the Gulf of Salerno far below.

The Amalfi Coast also lets you enjoy some truly amazing day trips. Visit the city of Naples, built in the shadow of the imposing Mount Vesuvius, and explore the ruins of Pompeii. If you prefer to lose yourself in nature, take a day trip to the nearby Island of Capri, where the mesmerising colour of the Blue Grotto is waiting for you.

Our five-day trip to the Amalfi Coast is an ideal quick getaway. If you haven’t got much time to spare but want to soak up a bit of la dolce vita, come and join us!

If you want to know more about Amalfi, also read The best time to travel to the Amalfi Coast.

Colorful houses built into the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast with boats in the water

The nicest beaches in Europe for variety: Corfu

We love Corfu because the destination is such a good all-rounder. There are pebble beaches, white sand beaches, golden sand beaches — everything you could ask for. It has some of the best beaches in Europe for families, with calm, clear waters. Even if you’re a nervous swimmer, you’ll have no problems splashing about in Dassia Bay, Kontokali and Glyfada.

Don’t fancy the idea of spending your holiday surrounded by screaming kids? Corfu’s got something for you there, too. We adore the wild beach at Rovinia, only accessible from the water or by footpath. It’s hard to get to, which means you won’t find any crowds when you arrive, and the sunset views here are worth the trouble. Vouvalomantria may be an absolute tongue-twister to pronounce, but it’s another semi-wild beach in the northeastern part of the island. The water here is exceptionally clear, and the fact that you’ll need a bit of a walk to get here means you’ll often have the beach to yourself.

There are also the tiny islets off the north coast, a great choice for anyone who wants to let their inner explorer out to play. Hidden sea caves and water grottoes are some of the highlights here, with plenty of secret treasures that can only be reached by boat.

Our eight-day trip to Corfu is the perfect choice if you’re a beach bum at heart. Join us for one of the best beach holidays in Europe!

If you want to discover everything about Corfu, also read The best places to visit in Corfu, amid sea and history.

Best beaches for surfing: Portugal

When it comes to surfing, the best beaches in Europe tend to be on the Atlantic coast. That’s where you’ll find big waves, with windswept, rugged scenery to match. There are some great options in the French Basque Country or around the Spanish town of Cádiz, but for us, nothing really beats the spectacular coastline of Portugal.

The southern Algarve is a popular family destination with calm waters, but head north for wilder surf spots. Start with Praia do Norte in Nazaré, famous for its enormous waves that attract top surfers worldwide. Peniche offers similar conditions, with the epic waves of Supertubos beach, suitable for only the most experienced surfers.

Black and white photo of a surfer riding a large wave in Peniche

New to the sport? Don’t panic, as there’s something for you, too. Ericeira, just 50 km from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, is a charming old fishermen’s village with some great surfing spots. This is a popular place to learn to surf, and there are lots of surf schools where even total newbies can test their skills on a board. The popular Carcavelos Beach is another spot close to Lisbon with waves for all levels. When you get tired of surfing, you’ll also find a cool old fortress nearby that’s ideal for exploring — and the town itself is also a charming, picture-perfect spot to spend a couple of days.

The great thing about Portugal’s surfing beaches is that they’re often close to cities, so you can enjoy a combination of water sports and culture on your holiday. Try our five-day trip to Portugal, which will take you to the exciting destinations of Lisbon and Porto, as well as give you time to hit the waves.

Complete your exploration by also reading The best beaches in Portugal.

Best beaches for culture vultures: the Costa Brava

The stretch of coast that runs north above Barcelona is known as the Costa Brava. This rugged coastline has some of our favourite beaches — tiny, hidden coves that often require a walk down steep slopes to get there and are fringed by huge rocky outcrops. The water here is dazzlingly clear, ideal for swimming, snorkelling or taking a sea kayak out to the Medes Islands. However, the thing we love most about Costa Brava isn’t the beaches themselves — it’s their surroundings.

Visit Cadaqués, a charming fishing village once home to Salvador Dalí. His house is now a museum filled with his quirky collection, including a stuffed polar bear holding a rugby ball. After exploring Dalí’s world, enjoy dining at a waterfront bar with the fresh catch of the day.

Seaside view of Cadaqués, a charming village with white buildings and boats in the water.

Other towns worth exploring include the walled settlement of Begur, perched high on a hilltop and home to some of the most beautiful mediaeval streets in Catalonia. From the town, it’s a short — but rather steep — journey to amazing beaches like Platja de Fornells and Cala Sa Tuna.

This coastline is also ideal for hikers. You’ll find clear signposts all along the Costa Brava, indicating Camí de Ronda. These are routes that run along the coast, taking you from the big, broad sandy beaches of Roses or Blanes to the tiny hidden coves, leading you through dozens of charming towns along the way.

We think that Costa Brava has some of the best beaches in Europe. That’s why we’ve planned this eight-day group holiday, which also gives you the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Barcelona. If you want to soak up a dash of culture as part of your beach trip, this is the one for you!

Best beaches on a budget: Montenegro

Now it’s time for a real hidden gem. Yes, it’s still possible to find cheap beach destinations in Europe — as long as you know where to look! The small Balkan country of Montenegro may not have made it onto your bucket list yet, but we’re here to change that.

You might be surprised to learn that Montenegro is home to some of the best white-sand beaches in Europe. Check out the Bay of Kotor, where you’ll find not just beaches but also stunning scenery like the Lady of the Rocks Island and the remarkable, intense Blue Grotto.

Scenic view of Kotor Bay in Montenegro with yachts and red-roofed buildings.

If you prefer to party, then head for Budva, which has earned the nickname of the Miami of Montenegro. This hip party town attracts a crowd from all over Montenegro and beyond, although it’s still far, far cheaper than similar destinations in Greece or Spain. After a night of partying, take a water taxi to the nearby island of Sveti Nikola, where you’ll find some stunning sandy beaches to chill out on, letting the sun work its magic on your hangover.

One of our favourite things about Montenegro is how small it is, as you can see all kinds of varied scenery in just a short trip. Our eight-day adventure in this hidden Balkan gem not only lets you discover the country’s amazing beaches, but it also takes you deep into the mountains. Hiking, whitewater rafting and other thrills are waiting for you in a country that’s still off the beaten track — a rarity in Europe. Join us for a holiday that’s sure to impress your friends!

Everything, absolutely everything about Montenegro? Read The best places to visit in Montenegro.

Best for quiet beach holidays in Europe: Albania

Albania, a rising star in the Balkans, remains a hidden gem, perfect for nature lovers. It’s one of Europe’s few places with untouched wilderness, making it an ideal escape from city life. While known for stunning mountains, Albania also boasts some of Europe’s best beaches, particularly around Himarë. Here, you’ll find white sand, calm waters, and perfect spots to relax or splash around.

For a taste of adventure, take a boat trip from Himarë to the legendary Pirates’ Cave, a natural wonder. Afterwards, visit Saranda for water sports like kayaking and jet skiing. We love Krorëz Bay, a secluded beach surrounded by rocks and the open sea. This means that very few tourists make it that far, so you might just find that you have the entire beach to yourself!

Aerial view of Palasë beach in Albania, with turquoise waters and a patch of greenery.

Albania is a wonderful place, not only for its beaches but also for its culture and unspoiled nature. We have a great 8-day trip to offer you to explore this wonderful country.

So, there you have it. That’s our rundown of the best beaches in Europe — and there’s no Marbella or Benidorm in sight. To discover these incredible destinations for yourself, why not sign up for a WeRoad group holiday? They’re ideal for solo travellers who want to explore, have new experiences, and make new friends along the way. Just choose your favourite beach destination, and let us show you the magic!

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team