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Best beaches in Europe to visit based on your interests

Mar 21, 2022 by Nick Patterson

What you need is a beach day. We know, we know, there are just so many out there, so it can be hard to choose just one. No fancy online quiz needed to find out the best beach destinations in Europe for you. We know what beach will float your boat. Whether you want to walk along dramatic volcanic sands, watch a scenic sunset, or even forage for seaweed, these must-see beaches in Europe are straight from your daydreams. 


Best for history buffs: Normandy beaches in Normandy, France

The beaches of Normandy are an immersive experience for any history buff looking to flex their muscles. Take a deep dive into World War II history with your Tour Director during a visit to the beaches of Normandy, where the Allied troops landed in June 1944. Walk along the very sand at Omaha Beach where American troops landed on D-Day. “Being on Normandy Beach on D-Day was an experience beyond words,” said traveler Dorothy.

You’ll also honor the soldiers at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the burial place of more than 9,000 soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of Normandy. Then stop in the seaside town of Arromanches, home to one of the main Allied landing harbors, and enjoy free time to explore. This trip is one for the history books.

Check out what else you’ll experience on our Normandy tours →


Best for watching the sunset: St. Jacob’s Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Pssst. Can you keep a secret? We’re going to fill you in on one of Dubrovnik’s most beautiful and secluded spots. Adding the Scenic Coast Cruise & Dinner excursion to your tour is one of the best ways to spend your free time in Dubrovnik. Enjoy a private boat ride along the shoreline of one of Europe’s most romantic cities over to St. Jacob’s Beach. There, you’ll count the colors in the sky while you feast on a chef’s kiss-worthy three-course seafood dinner on the shores of the beach.

“I couldn’t have picked a more perfect backdrop to enjoy fresh-cooked seafood and watch the sunset,” said staffer Emily. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show before setting out on a stroll through Dubrovnik’s medieval streets. Fresh seafood and a private beach? It doesn’t get much better than this. Can we come with you?

Experience Dubrovnik and more on our Croatia guided tours →


Best for watching the sunrise: Kamari Beach in Santorini, Greece

Greece is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Many folks come to Santorini for the sunsets, but the sunrise on Kamari Beach will turn even the biggest night owl into an early bird. Before heading out on your guided tour for the day, grab yourself a coffee at Elixir Del Mar Cafe or one of the other amazing cafes that line the waterfront, and head east to Kamari’s black sand beach for a spectacular sunrise.

The beach gets its color from volcanic materials mixed in with the sand. The dark sand against the crystal clear blue water is the perfect scene for a sunrise only seen on postcards. So, be a morning person (even if it’s just for one day).

Learn more about what you’ll do in Santorini on our guided tours →


Best for swimming: Positano Beach on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Sprinkle in some scenery to your swim. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its picturesque coastline views, and Positano Beach is the perfect place for a dip. Take a scenic drive along the coast to Ravello, and stop at the Positano viewpoint for photos on all of our Amalfi Coast tours.  If you’re feeling more adventurous and have some free time, add the unforgettable Path of the Gods excursion. Follow your guide through terraced vineyards and forests on this four-hour hike along the coastline, and stop along limestone ridges for panoramic views of the sea . After the hike, a local bus takes you to the heart of Positano, where you’ll have free time to walk to the central square and stroll along one of the best beaches in Europe.

“The Path of Gods excursion was challenging, but totally worth it as the views were amazing,” said traveler Ann. “We also felt very accomplished afterwards!” Or, maybe a tour via speedboat is more your speed. Take a load off and take in the views, as you cruise in style along the Amalfi Coast to Positano. Enjoy some free time to explore the village’s charming restaurants and shops. Plus, don’t forget to stop by the beach and snap a photo of the colorful villas overlooking the sea.

Come see Positano (and more!) on our Amalfi Coast tours →


Best for sea glass hunting: Sant Sebastiá Beach in Barcelona, Spain

Sant Sebastiá is a magical, must-visit beach during your free time on tour, but the off-season is when it really shines. Sant Sebastiá is where X marks the spot for some natural treasures. The quest for sea glass is best in the off-season, and you’ll find some gems as sparkly as the crystal clear water.

Treasure hunting can work up an appetite, and what better way to cap off a beach day than some fresh seafood by the ocean. Head over to Cheriff, a restaurant recommended to us by a Barcelona local, for some traditional Catalan cuisine. Adding good eats to one of the best beach towns in Europe equals a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s simple math, really.

Experience one of Europe’s most dynamic destinations on our trips to Barcelona →


Best for seaweed foraging: Derrynane Bay Beach in Caherdaniel, Ireland

What do you think of when we say “Irish cuisine”? We bet things like fish and chips and Guinness popped into your head. But if you want to experience a unique local Irish tradition, we suggest traveling to one of Ireland’s can’t-miss coastal spots, Caherdaniel.

On our Small Group Tour of Ireland, you’ll try some local seaweed-infused treats. We know it’s not your average beach day, but hear us out. Seaweed is extremely important to the local diet and culture in Caherdaniel. Visit the Seaweed Discovery Centre and sample a cup of seaweed-infused tea and snacks. Then take a post-meal walk along the water at low tide as you forage for different types of seaweeds.

Get fully immersed in Irish culture on our Ireland: A Feast of Culinary Flavors & Local Traditions tour →


Best for thrill seekers: Reynisfjara volcanic beach in Iceland

You can leave the bathing suit at home for this one. Iceland’s beaches are definitely not for swimming, but that doesn’t make them any less of a must-visit. Reynisfjara is the most famous beach in all of Iceland. And once you step foot on the jet-black volcanic sand, it’s easy to know why.

“Reynisfjara stands out even in a place where everything is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” said staffer Nick. “It was raining the day we went, and it made for a really cool dramatic effect.” Roaring waves, rocky sea stacks, and an overall moody atmosphere are the ingredients to stunning panoramas. You’ll feel like you’re on another planet without ever leaving Earth.

Learn more about other breathtaking experiences you can have on tour in Iceland →


Best for hiking: Ponta da Piedade walking trail in Lagos, Portugal

Boasting some of the best beach destinations in Europe, the Algarve region of Portugal is all about the sun and the sea. And it’s got both in spades. Hiking along the coastline on the Ponta da Piedade trail is one of the best things to do in Algarve. Don’t sweat. The hike isn’t very strenuous, as the wooden footpaths make for a smooth ride. Your hard work will be rewarded generously by way of breathtaking scenery. Discover something new with every step as you take in views of dramatic limestone sea cliffs, natural rock arches, and hidden grottos that make this region so unique.

As a reward for your travels, be sure to explore the city of Lagos. Lagos is home to historic city walls, Baroque architecture, exciting bars, picturesque cliffs, and sprawling beaches. And the city is a must-visit for solo travelers. Need we say more?

Want to explore more in Lagos? Check out our Lagos guided tours →

Browse our Europe tours and plan a trip to visit these beaches with us.

Free time tipsKnow before you go
About the author | Nick Patterson
After one deep breath of the crisp Iceland air, Nick knew travel was for him. He’s been hooked ever since. In his free time, you can find Nick on the golf course playing poorly, getting too worked up about the Celtics and Patriots, or enthusiastically talking about the most recent movie he watched.

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