There's sand, surf, and sun in beautifully unexpected places...
Europe is the art and history center of the world and you can probably add food, wine, architecture, and fashion to that list. But Europe is a fantastic destination for beach lovers as well. There's thousands of miles of coastline, from gentle sand beaches to rugged rocky coasts. And you don't have to have a yacht or celebrity friends or a film debuting at Cannes in order to enjoy them to the fullest! Here are 5 of my favourite (and more affordable) beach destinations in Europe.
England's Cornish Coast
If you're tapped into the global surfing scene, the Cornish coast is already on your radar. But if you're terrified of surfing like me, you're still going to love this part of the world! While everyone else loves these beaches for adrenaline sports, I love them for romance and solitude.
These are the proverbial "walk on the beach" beaches you've been searching for! They are also great for picking up beach glass and smooth pebbles for stone skipping. Cornwall has a delicate beauty to its countryside and is well known for wild flowers and birding, just in case you want a break from the shore.
Cape Clear Island, Ireland
You know a beach has to be pretty awesome if I still love it after a day in the rain! Unfortunately, rain is a common occurrence on Cape Clear, which is Ireland's southernmost inhabited island. But if you're lucky enough to visit during a sunny patch, you're in for a treat. You can even go snorkeling and kayaking! And if the skies do open up, grab your rain coat and explore anyway! You can always warm up in the pub afterwards.
This remote area is actually fairly accessible as the two towns where you can catch the ferry (Baltimore and Schull) are on the bus routes and easily connect to larger centers. The island is home to a well reviewed hostel, many bed and breakfasts, and one of my favourite craft stores in the world, Harpercraft.
I'll be the first to admit it - this is stretching the boundaries of Europe a little bit. But since my trip started in Istanbul, I'm going to pretend that we haven't snuck over to Asia! As the picture shows, this is a fantastic place for sunning and swimming and it was fascinating to watch sailboats and pleasure crafts share the water ways with cargo ships.
But this part of Turkey has always been a place for people and things on the move. Many destinations are often described as being a crossroads and for the cities of Rize and Trabzon, the title is very accurate. This is where people of all languages, religions, and nationalities cross paths with each other, with legendary trade routes, with ancient history - and with a few gorgeous beaches too!
Finale Ligure, Italy
Finale Ligure has the distinction of being the only place in the world where I've spent an entire day on the beach. Normally I am always on the go but there was just something about the amazing blue waters that called on me to linger.
Maybe it's because Finale Ligure is a town that encourages a bit of laziness. It's also the first place I tasted real olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and a creamy sun dried tomato pesto sauce. Yum! This charming seaside town is often overlooked by their more famous neighbours, like Cinque Terre or Venice but the truth is that northern Italy is a fantastic place.
For decades, the name Dieppe has been associate with sadness due to the tremendous loss of life on its shores during World War II. But my visit was anything but bleak. Instead I found inspiration in the tales of the soldiers' heroism and the generosity of the community. The shoreline has a stunning nature beauty and, if you're lucky, you'll see charming groups of elderly men fishing. I may have spied on a few as I lingered around the seaside crepe vendors' huts, eventually settling on a rather messy (but delicious) spice apple compote crepe
Hopefully the fishermen's lines are finding their mark during your visit because the seafood in Dieppe is fresh and fantastic. This is a town where the seaside cafes are equally adept at serving up lobster as they are croissants and hot chocolate (though perhaps not in the same sitting). Should you wish to stroll a bit after eating, you'll find great markets and food shops - and lovely wine from all over the country.
But what about....
I can hear you already! Why haven't I talked about the Greek Islands or the French Riviera? What about the coasts of Portugal and Spain? There's scarcely a country in Europe that doesn't boast a gorgeous beach - or a few hundred. Even the landlocked countries have beautiful lakeside resorts.
I wanted to share 5 of my favourite places, some spots that don't always get the attention they deserve compared to some more famous resorts. And now I want to hear from you! Do you have a favourite beach, seaside, or ocean view that you think all European visitors should know about? Please let us know!
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