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Best Beach Vacations - Europe

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1Nice, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence, France
Although some of Nice's beaches are owned privately by hotels and resorts, there is also a good offering of public beaches. No need to worry about getting sand in your hair--there is no sand on these beaches, only pebbles. Nice's seaside is just another taste of France's diversity.
  • Also recommended for:
    • Romance
      With its cosmopolitan Riviera air, fabulously fashionable stores and restaurants and azure Mediterranean backdrop, Nice is the perfect location for love. Cours Saleya flower market and the inspiring Matisse Museum add color to romantic rambles round the city, and the plethora of marinas, galleries and Roman ruins add further interest.
  • Find: Hotels in Nice | Flights to Nice | Vacation Rentals in Nice
2Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
While most of the beaches on these geologically new Greek islands are black due to their volcanic creation, Santorini's most famous is probably Red Beach near Akrotiri. Perissa Beach on the main island’s west and Kamari Beach on the east are both long, black, spectacular and very popular with tourists.
3Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece
Villages of whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches, Venetian fortresses and vibrant nightlife lure visitors from the resorts and beaches of the most popular Ionian island. Ermones beach attracts many from Corfu town, while picturesque Paleokastritsa, 17 miles Northwest, is definitely worth the drive.
  • Also recommended for:
    • Romance
      Start a love affair with the most popular Ionian island. Basking off the Albanian coast, captivating Corfu is a beguiling place for romance. The passionate island is dotted with villages of whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches and Venetian fortresses. Corfu town offers exciting nightlife in its charming, cobbled streets.
    • History & Culture
      From the Peloponnesian War to World War II, Corfu has been in the middle of military conflicts since ancient times. Walk in the village of Kassiopi where great emperors have set foot, see art and artifacts at the archaeological and art museums and explore the fort of Paleo Frourio.
  • Find: Hotels in Corfu | Flights to Corfu | Vacation Rentals in Corfu
4Crete, Greece
Although Crete is Greece's biggest island, its popularity has caught up with it and caused some overcrowding on its east coast. Those who venture farther west and south will find unspoiled beaches, low-key resorts and 300 days of sunshine to worship each year."
5Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Part of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is largely a resort island with brilliant man-made beaches of fine black shingle or golden sand. With calm, clear waters and an almost constant wind, Tenerife in a windsurfer's dream. You can also sunbathe, swim, snorkel and scuba dive along the beautiful coastline.
6Marbella, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain
On the southern coast of Spain, Marbella is a favorite resort town for beachgoers who want to see and be seen. Miles of sunny beaches, casinos and marinas circle the glamorous and cosmopolitan Costa del Sol. Enjoy sunbathing and every possible sporting activity.
7Mykonos, Cyclades, Greece
Famous for its golden sandy beaches and its crystalline waters, Mykonos offers something for every type of beach-goer. The populated south beaches are perfect for partying, while the secluded north beaches offer quiet and relaxation. Enjoy a wide variety of activities from skiing, jet-skiing and windsurfing to horseback riding and parasailing.
  • Also recommended for:
    • Romance
      Mykonos teems with tourists in the summer, but travel in the spring or fall to this most popular Greek island in the Aegean Sea and find your romantic paradise. Watch the sunsets from under the windmills on the hill, or have an intimate dinner at a fine restaurant tucked away in a backstreet.
  • Find: Hotels in Mykonos | Flights to Mykonos | Vacation Rentals in Mykonos
8Palma de Mallorca, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Palma, the economic and cultural hub of Majorca, is a delightful base for exploring the island's many beaches. Considered one of the best places in Spain to live, Palma offers you picturesque beaches of gold sand as well as alabaster-white beaches bustling with activity.
9Malaga, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain
A flotilla of decidedly different beaches line port city Malaga's coastline on the Costa del Sol. Stretching 25 miles and ranging from bustling city sand strips to remote strands, this Andalucian destination has been popular with British and German sun seekers since being developed in the 1950s.
10Nerja, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain
Positioned at the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol, Nerja boasts nearly 10 miles of powdery beaches featuring activities like water skiing, scuba diving and sailing. Although tourist-oriented, it hasn't been overtaken by high-rises, and its huge promenade delivers panoramic Mediterranean views.
11Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain
Well-known as a fun and exciting place to party, Ibiza boasts more than 100 miles of coastline with some 50 beaches. Larger beaches offer restaurants, bars and an enviable array of water sports while more tranquil beaches let visitors relax in the sun or shade.
12Cadaques, Costa Brava, Province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Tiny, hidden bays line the coast around sleepy Cadaques, creating a series of private beaches near the French border. Thanks to their boat-only access, an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing without crowds is as simple as hiring a skiff and cruising the rocky shoreline.
13Cannes, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence, France
The crowning glory of the French Riviera, Cannes is the place to be seen on the beach even when it's not film festival time. Inviting sands and 300 days of sunshine a year make sunbathing a popular sport, and you can even rent a yacht for a week if you're really out to impress.
  • Also recommended for:
    • Romance
      You might feel like Hollywood royalty as you promenade along La Croisette, but mind the media frenzy that engulfs Cannes in May during the famous film festival. Many of the world-class hotels in this delightful Mediterranean town on the French Riviera offer romantic vacation packages that combine glamour with seclusion.
  • Find: Hotels in Cannes | Flights to Cannes | Vacation Rentals in Cannes
14Menton, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence, France
Relaxed beaches flank the sunny resort town of Menton, known as "the pearl of France," and its most temperate locale. Nearly a dozen private beaches offer bar service and lounge chairs. The free public beaches are kid-friendly with plenty of aquatic sports to inspire a plunge into the Med.
15Lagos, Faro District, Algarve, Portugal
More than a half-dozen beautiful beaches line the shores of Lagos in Portugal's Algarve region. Quiet sandy coves sandwiched between dramatic cliffs and calm, clear water have natural appeal, while Meia Praia offers a 2.5-mile expanse of sand and facilities for every imaginable water sport.
16Saint-Tropez, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence, France
Since Brigitte Bardot frolicked on the beaches of St. Tropez in the '50s, it's been associated with sexy glamour. Most of the sandy hot spots sit southwest of town on the Baie de Pampelonne. A few public, family-friendly spots mingle with upscale private beaches featuring lounges, DJs and restaurants.
17Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Italy
Precipitous limestone cliffs plunge into the blue-green Mediterranean along the Amalfi coast, better known for views than its pebbly, gray-sand beaches. Among the best basking spots are the sunbed-lined beach at Maiori and the tiny, more charming sandy nook at Minori, an easy boat trip from Amalfi.
18Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera, Liguria, Italy
Crystalline water, plentiful restaurants and small hotels and the area's only sandy beach make Monterosso al Mare the most resort-oriented stop of the Cinque Terre. Day beds and umbrellas are available for rent on the crowded strand, popular with both tourists and locals, especially midsummer.
19Rhodes, Dodecanese, Greece
Crystalline waters, golden sand and the blessing of the sun god Helios make Rhodes a spectacular island for sun-worshippers 300 days a year. Pack plenty of reading material for a lazy holiday, or explore the countless treasures left from centuries of invaders.
  • Also recommended for:
    • History & Culture
      Conquered, re-conquered and perennially fought over since its beginning more than 3,000 years ago, the Rhodes teems with ancient history and modern culture. Attractions include the ancient acropolis, the medieval city's streets and walkways and the site where the famous Colossus reputedly once stood.
    • Romance
      Enjoy a truly romantic idyll in the sunny Greek island of Rhodes, which is steeped in ancient history. Soak up the rays, marvel at the unique Valley of the Butterflies, wander through cobblestoned streets or relax at a friendly local taverna in this pearl of the Aegean Sea.
  • Find: Hotels in Rhodes | Flights to Rhodes | Vacation Rentals in Rhodes
20Brighton, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
One of the first seaside resorts of Europe, Brighton has a long history of entertaining vacationers with its pebble beach and Brighton Pier, an amusement park that extends over the sea. Eat, drink, play carnival games or just soak up some sunshine on deck chairs.