Sun, Sea, and Memories: 12 European Beach Vacations Worth Revisiting

Enjoying vacation in Greece

Growing up in Newcastle, an Australian beach town, meant that I was surrounded by my choice of beautiful sandy beaches whenever the weather gods deemed us worthy. Since my family lives there, I can revisit as often as I like. Seeing photographs of European beaches with rocks and pebbles instead of sand seemed extremely unappealing until I learned this wasn’t the case in many locations. For many, these European beaches will bring back fond memories or inspire you to create some.

1. Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia, Italy
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With a climate featuring hot, dry summers, it’s no wonder people flock to Sardinia’s beaches. This island to the west of Italy’s mainland contains beautiful sandy shores, crystal-clear waters, and some stunning resorts for a fantastic vacation. Despite its luxurious reputation, the costs to stay here are appealingly average.

2. San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain
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From June through to October, you can expect average temperatures of 68°F. La Concha Beach in San Sebastian is renowned for its picturesque landscape of fine golden sand and aqua-colored waters. A resort vacation averages $385 per night or $175 for a hotel in the city.

3. Costa Brava, Spain

Costa Brava, Spain
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Secluded coves, rugged cliffs, and clear waters make Costa Brava’s beaches charming and diverse. You can expect averages of above 70° from May through October. This is one of the cheaper places to visit, and it costs an average of $100 per night for accommodation.

4. Crete, Greece

Crete, Greece
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Over 5000 years ago, a thriving Minoan civilization dwelled on Greece’s largest island, Crete. While full of history and ancient Venetian ports, it’s also home to some stunning beaches featuring the pink sand of Elafonissi and the palm-lined shores of Vai. If you’ve been to Crete for its history, return for its beaches.

5. Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece
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If you’ve ever island-hopped in Greece, this is possibly where you remember the best party scenes. Cocktails on the golden sand while bathing in the warm Meditteranean beckons you back, but you can also enjoy some luxury resorts and award-winning cuisine.

6. Estoril, Portugal

Estoril, Portugal
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Did you know there are at least two non-stop flights to Lisbon out of JFK daily? Just a 30-minute drive from the Portuguese capital, you’ll find Estoril’s beaches, like Tamariz, filled with warm sand and luxurious relaxation. In September, the water is like stepping into a warm bath with an average temperature of 68°.

7. Majorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain
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With its hot, dry summers and mild winter climate, you’ll find beaches such as Cala Mondrago, Es Trenc, and Cala Agulla. One of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Majorca is renowned for its beach resorts surrounded by unbelievably blue waters, secluded coves, rugged limestone mountains, and historic remnants from the Roman and Moorish eras.

8. Cannes, France

Cannes, France
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The words ‘French Riviera’ immediately speak of luxury and relaxation. Cannes is the spot to relive that honeymoon or girls’ vacation. While most people know Cannes for its well-known film festival that started in 1946, it’s definitely worth visiting for its beaches, such as Plage de la Croisette. White sands, swaying palm trees, and the blue Mediterranean beckons.

9. Basque Country, Spain

Basque Country, Spain
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Basque Country is an autonomous community in the north of Spain. Its beaches are in the Bay of Biscay, part of the Atlantic Ocean. Zurriola Beach is known for its surf-friendly waves and vibrant atmosphere. If it wasn’t for the hotels filling part of the skyline, I can imagine I’m back in Newcastle, Australia. The best time of year to revisit Basque Country is in June or September when the weather is still pleasant, and you won’t have to fight the crowds.

10. Naxos, Greece

Naxos island, Greece
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Naxos boasts some of the most captivating beaches in the Aegean. From the expansive golden shores of Agios Prokopios to the serene beauty of Plaka Beach, the island offers a diverse tapestry of coastal wonders. With crystal-clear waters and soft sands, Naxos beaches provide an idyllic setting for relaxation and enjoyment, making them a true gem worth going back to over and over again in the Greek archipelago.

11. Porthcurno, UK

porthcurno UK.
Image Credit: Druvo and iStock

The association between the United Kingdom and beaches is not typically the first connection that comes to mind. However, in the summer months through to September, you can find an oasis of mesmerizing natural beauty, surrounded by rugged cliffs, white sands, and gently lapping turquoise waves of the Celtic Sea. If you don’t revisit for the surfing, it’s best to go during high tide.

12. Canary Islands, Spain

canary islands.
Image Credit: Balate Dorin and iStock

I recall once discovering the Canary Islands to be the perfect place temperature-wise year-round for me. At its peak in July, the days reach 82°; at its lowest in January, they reach 68°. It’s also not particularly humid. If you came here years ago for the urban party beaches, try coming back for the more relaxed beaches to unwind. El Hierro holds the distinction of being the least touristy.

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