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Europe’s best lesser-known beach destinations

Published August 18th, 2015

Europe offers some amazing beach destinations, blending the local culture, cuisine and history with spectacular locations. If you want to experience some of the best beaches in Europe without the crowds, put these top secluded coastal havens on your radar.

Formentera

If you’ve ever heard of Spain’s Balearic Islands, you've probably associated it with the loud and busy party island of Ibiza. However, look past the bronzed and rowdy crowds and you’ll discover the captivating beauty of the surrounding islands.

Formentera, a 19-kilometre-long island, sits just to the south of Ibiza, fringed by crystal-clear ocean that complements some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. There’s a laid-back and relaxed vibe in Formentera that’s a world away from Ibiza, but you’ll still find a few nightclubs and bars to dance the night away if you feel so inclined.

You’ll also be able to indulge in some delicious seasonal organic food in the many chic, yet rustic beachside restaurants that characterise the island. Formentera has long developed a reputation as a bit of a naturalist haven and you can still find many clothing-optional beaches.

Ses Illetes beach on Formentera (All images: Getty)

Sardinia

For something completely different, head to the charming and unspoiled Italian island of Sardinia. Often referred to as 'The Island of a Thousand Beautiful Beaches', any Sardinian beach destination is sure to impress, but one stands out more than the rest.

Spiaggia Rosa, the 'Pink Beach' is a sight few people forget witnessing. The bright turquoise sea laps against pink sands, which get their colour from the fragments of red corals. The Pink Beach is located on the small island of Budelli just off the north-east of Sardinia and can be reached by boat.

Puglia

Italy’s sun-drenched coastal province of Puglia blends the charm of pretty seascapes, baroque coastal towns and long sandy beaches hugging the Adriatic Sea in the south of the country.

This is where Italians come on their holidays; where the sun beats down, the aroma of peasant style cooking fills the air and the wine flows freely. Head to the seaside town of Otranto where you’ll find pristine beaches and a down-to-earth town with historic architecture.

A sparkling blue coast runs alongside Otranto

Corsica

A true jewel and one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, the French island of Corsica has its own distinct identity and boats seriously gorgeous beaches. Those interested in working on a tan while enjoying new cultural experiences, will find paradise on Corsica.

Corsica’s flawless Palombaggia Beach is one of the top beaches in Europe, with scenic white sands and shallow azure ocean. Laze on the beach or try your hand at windsurfing, jet-skiing or diving if you’re feeling more active.

Lagoa

Portugal’s Algarve region is a popular tourist destination of cosmopolitan resorts and bustling coastline. The picturesque area of Lagoa is refreshingly small and rural in comparison; the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the Algarve without the crowds.

Lagoa’s honey-coloured sculpted cliffs and coves overlook the ocean. Spend your days discovering the coastline by boat, diving or snorkeling, and kicking back on sandy beaches. The nearby main town also dazzles visitors with its charming whitewashed houses, cobbled streets and flower-adorned lampposts.

Honey-coloured cliffs give Lagoa's beaches an intimate ambience

Amy Dalgleish

Wanderlust pommie, currently living the dream in sunny Byron Bay.