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Sunbathe and read or swim and snorkel; a beach holiday can be as active or as relaxed as you please. There are countless stunning coasts to explore on your beach holidays in Europe, each offering something unique. From dramatic cliffs battered by Atlantic waves to the calm stretches of gold, sun-drenched sand, there is something special about the beach. If you need some inspiration for your next beach holiday to the, take a sneaky peek at our favourite spots.
Spain boasts many of the best sandy beaches, perfect for adults to stretch out and bask in the sun while children play in the sand. The inviting coastal lagoon of La Manga del Mar Menor has vast stretches of golden sand and warm, shallow waters, making it the perfect safe haven for families. Head to the Balearic island of Mallorca to find mile after mile of uncrowded beaches, where a nature reserve protects the pristine sand and the undulating dunes.
The aptly named Turquoise Coast beach in Turkey is also protected, as this 19-kilometre stretch of coastline is a nesting area for the endangered loggerhead turtle. Equally striking is the Ramla Bay beach in Gozo, Malta. Here, bright orange sand makes a dramatic setting for your beach holiday.
Keen surfers should make a beeline for Peniche beach in Portugal. The coast of this dramatic Atlantic headland offers large, barrel waves for experienced surfers and sheltered bays for beginners. The beaches of Menorca, in the Balearic Islands, have clear, calm water that is ideal for snorkelling. Here, there are dozens of low-key beaches where you can just wade into the warm water and dip into a vibrant underwater world.
In Greece, beach-goers dip into and on top of the water in every way imaginable. Sail, windsurf or paddle board your way around the dozens of bays, or climb aboard a yacht and explore the deserted coves of the Greek islands and their shimmering azure waters.
All over Europe, summer brings crowds of party people to the laid-back vibes of the many waterside clubs and beach parties. The huge, flat stretches of volcanic sand of the Canary Islands are a great place to find the sweet spot between relaxed beach days and lively beach nights. In the Greek islands, the picturesque coves and towns play host to families and sun loungers during the day before giving way to exuberant parties after the sun goes down.
To find the unspoilt beauty that your camera craves, be prepared to travel away from the main resorts. Corfu is heaving with visitors in mid-summer, but if you catch the boat to the forgotten Antipaxos you’ll discover perfectly formed coves of white pebbles, cloaked with vines and wildflowers and fringed by impossibly turquoise waters.
The dramatic setting of Butterfly Valley beach in Turkey makes the journey worthwhile; you can only get in by boat or by making the steep walk down the cliffs. You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the rugged cliffs and abundant butterfly population of this unique spot.