European beaches off the tourist radar
Feel the serenity from home
With temperatures rising, it's easy to dream of walking on a beach right now, enjoying the stunning scenery and taking a refreshing swim in the sea. Sadly, this is not possible right now. Nevertheless, you can still virtually travel to those golden sands, and plan ahead so that once travel restrictions have been lifted you can admire the endless blue horizon through your own eyes. Until then, let us take you to 7 of Europe's hidden beaches, where the only noise you would hear is the sound of the waves.
Sakarun beach, Croatia
Croatia has become one of Europe’s top beach destinations and with such coastlines it comes as no surprise. While Dubrovnik and Split receive the most attention from tourists, the northern part of the Dalmatian coast offers beautiful beaches without being too crowded. Sakarun beach is truly an example of how stunning they can be, with its white sand and turquoise water. Located on the Dugi Otok island, just outside of Zadar, where you can find picturesque landscapes with almost no signs of human activity. There’s also a lighthouse which provides a panoramic view of the whole coast.
→ Since Sakarun is located on the Dugi Otok island, you will need to take a ferry from Zadar to Brbinj or Bozava. On the island itself you can move around with shuttle buses or hire bikes for the day.
Le Grau-du-Roi, France
France’s beautiful beaches do not stretch only along the French riviera, as strongly proven by the coastal town of Le Grau-du-Roi. In fact, even Ernest Hemingway was captivated by it, describing it as a “fine place with a long beach and fine fishing spots”. Nowadays, you can spend plenty of time in the town itself, walking through the narrow streets or heading to Port Camargue to see some impressive yachts. Of course, the dune beaches are the highlight of the area with their wilderness and serenity.
→ There are regional trains from Nimes that will take you to Le Grau-du-Roi in 50 minutes. If you’re traveling from Montpellier it is easier to take the local bus instead of train.
Naxos island, Greece
The Greek Islands are certainly a beach paradise in Europe, with so many places featuring crystal clear turquoise waters. While it’s true that they receive a lot of tourists, some islands tend to be less popular than Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes, but still offer magnificent scenery. Such an island is Naxos, which has been referred to as one of the most underrated Greek islands. There you can enjoy authentic Greek food, pristine beaches, mountain hikes and a little bit of ancient history, as well. Yes, it sounds like almost every other Greek island but since this one is still rather undiscovered, you can enjoy its beauty almost all by yourself.
→ Naxos is conveniently situated between Mykonos, Paros and Ios so there are many ferry routes you could take. Greek Island Pass holders can go to Naxos for free, while if you have a Global Pass, you will get a 30% discount on an Economy class seat.
Porto Cesareo, Italy
This little resort located on the heel of the Italian Peninsula has earned the reputation of being the ''European Maldives'' and it surely deserves it. It has 17 kilometers of beautiful beaches facing an archipelago of islands that form a protected bay, where you can find various interesting flora and fauna species. Underwater activities, therefore, are truly a must here if you want to see different coral formations, turtles, sea horses, and many more. Porto Cesario town itself has plenty of culture to offer visitors, including the annual Palio event, which is a unique, water-based boating competition aiming to keep passing the fishing and seafaring traditions down through the generations.
→ The closest train station is Lecce, from where you can take a city bus (tickets are €3) to Porto Cesario.
Poland might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of a beach, and that’s only one of the reasons why you need to go to Sopot if you want to have a relaxed day by the beach, without bumping into too many tourists. The town itself has beautiful architecture that has been carefully restored, and makes the day trip even more enjoyable. The beach, its main attraction of course, is the place to be during summer, with cafés and restaurants offering affordable and delicious Polish food; beach bars that are volleyball playgrounds during the day and dance stages during the night; and the famous wooden pier, which happens to be the longest one in Europe.
→ Sopot has excellent train connections with Gdańsk (only 20 min ride) and other parts of Poland.
Situated conveniently close to Faro but still far enough to not attract too many tourists, Carvoeiro on the Algarve coast has everything good about Portugal – picturesque beaches, divine food, interesting architecture and amazing wine. The coastline itself has a lot of rock formations, with small pristine beaches and many caves to be explored. If that doesn't satisfy your adventurous spirit, there are many opportunities to try your surfing skills. Still not enough? Carvoeiro's 3000 sunshine hours per year should seal the deal for you, no matter what season it is.
→ Take a 1h 15m train from Faro to Estombar-Lagoa station. Then take a short local bus ride to Carvoeiro (via Lagoa).
Playa de Mónsul, Spain
Mónsul, on the Andulusian coast, was named “The best beach in Spain” by Steven Spielberg himself when he was looking for a place to shoot the Indiana Jones scene when Henry Jones Sr. brings down a German plane with just his umbrella and a flock of birds! Beautiful rocks, many caves, crystal clear water and many opportunities for snorkelling – it's easy to understand why the famous filmmaker fell in love with this place. There are barely any signs of human activity, making it the perfect place to relax with your own thoughts, while being captivated by the stunning scenery.
→ It is best to stay in the San José fishing village, just 1 hour and €3 by bus from Almería, the nearest train hub . Mónsul beach is then just a short €1 bus ride away.