There’s nothing quite like a beach holiday. We as a nation crave the golden sands, clear ocean and uninterrupted sunshine, to the extent that seaside holidays are our second-favourite form of holiday. But picking a beach destination is never easy, especially when the popular ones are oversubscribed and difficult to enjoy at their fullest. With that in mind, these are some of the most beautiful – and underrated – beaches in Europe.
Spiaggia del Conigli, Sicily
Sicily is much more than its mainland – and perhaps its best beach can be found on the small island of Lampedusa, some 300 kilometres to the south. The beach is called Spiaggia del Conigli, and is the platonic ideal for a Mediterranean beach: crisp white sands, a shallow, teal sea and a beautiful coastal setting in the rocks that bound the bay. It is also home to loggerhead turtles, another natural element that elevates this secluded beach above most others. This beach is one of many, though. With various islands to the north and south, an escorted tour of Sicily remains one of the better ways to discover them all.
Playa de los Muertos, Spain
Despite the somewhat morbid name, the Playa de los Muertos – set in the coastline of the Cabo de Gata nature reserve of Almeria – is a beach unburdened by the signifiers of death. It is named for the bones that would wash up on its shores in the days of pirates and the Spanish Armada, but is otherwise an utterly vibrant natural wonderland. The beach is bounded by rocky cliffs and crystal-clear waters, and due to its location is otherwise unspoiled by human intervention: just you, the beach and the sea ahead.
Haukland Beach, Norway
For many, the perfect beach lies between two latitudes; what is a beach without the intense heat of the Mediterranean sun? But there are some beaches further to the north that, though they lack the weather, are nonetheless stunning – and make up for the cold in other surprising ways. Haukland Beach is one such place, a breath-taking beach on the Lofoten archipelago in Norway that’s host to brilliant-white sands and water that seems plucked from the tropics. The views from this beach and its surrounding ridges are to be seen to be believed.
Lara Beach, Cyprus
Lara Beach can be found on the Akamos peninsula, on the western coast of Cyprus – itself an often-overlooked island destination on the far side of the Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus’ coast is full of hidden gems and glorious beach-land, but none quite as compelling a visit as Lara Beach. This is because Lara Beach, on top of being a wild beach, is also a turtle conservation centre and a natural breeding ground for Mydas and Caretta-Caretta turtles. Not only can you relax on pristine sands, but you can also encounter its native wildlife in what promises to be a profound beach experience.