Europe has no shortage of idyllic beach destinations. The entire Mediterranean coastline is beloved for its temperate climate, lively seaports, and long swathes of golden sand. Equally impressive are Iceland’s unique beaches of volcanic black sand and the atmospheric bays of Scandinavia.
Perhaps most special are these European islands which promise a breath-taking beach holiday. Positioned in the middle of the ocean, spectacular sea views are endless and there are plenty of options for water-sport adventures. These islands also boast peace and privacy in spades as they are tucked away from the main tourist trail.
Browse this guide to find the best European island for your next coastal getaway.
Greece has several sensational islands ranging from popular party destinations such as Mykonos to historic hotspots like Rhodes. All of the Greek islands have their own advantages and unique character but there is no denying that Corfu was blessed with some of the best beaches.
June to August is the best time to visit for beach lovers – you can expect steady sunshine and temperatures around 30 C. Corfu’s rugged coastline, azure waters, and fantastic resorts are likely to hold your attention, but it is worth exploring Corfu beyond the beaches during your stay.
For an indulgent beach getaway, look no further than Capri. This small island sits just offshore of Naples close to Italy’s west coast. As you approach from the mainland, Capri appears out of nowhere – a cluster of rugged cliffs lined with flower-filled villas, upmarket hotels, and a golden shoreline.
A must-visit location during your stay is the mesmerising Blue Grotto, a natural cavern illuminated from above which makes the sea inside glow electric blue. Shopping is also a popular pastime in Capri too – you can pick up local favourites such as limencello and purchase unique luxury jewellery.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Although closer to Africa than Europe, the Canary Islands are a Spanish overseas territory. This means that they have a uniquely good climate compared to other parts of the continent, with beach weather running between April and October and mild conditions year-round.
Tenerife, the largest island, has a range of beautiful beaches varying in colour from soft yellow to striking black. You can arrange Tenerife transfers to the island’s coastal hotspots to make sure you hit all the highlights during your stay. The south of the island has the best white-sand beaches, including Playa del Duque which is a favourite with families as it is great for safe swimming. In contrast, to the west you have Playa La Arena, a no-swim zone with picturesque volcanic black sand.
Hvar Island, Croatia
Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is renowned for its heritage, boasting many UNESCO-listed sites and the majestic city of Split. Hvar Island is opposite Split, a great option as a day trip for those exploring Croatia or are more extended stay to enjoy the glorious blue sea beaches of the Adriatic.
Yachts frequent this island during the summer, drawn to Hvar’s elegant hotels, pretty red-roofed buildings, and high-class restaurants and bars. The southerly coast is quieter with concealed isolated coves. Equally idyllic are the sweeping fields of lavender that lie at the heart of the island.