When you think of a European vacation, you dream of rolling vineyards and crumbling castles. When you think of a Beach vacation, you dream of sipping a rum-laced drink under a palm tree in the sand. Each of these is a very different kind of vacation. Each of these seems very distant from the other.
When you stop to think about it, what could possibly be better than putting these two dream vacations together? With dramatic coast line on three sides, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, you are never too far from a European seaside playground.</p>
Better known for their cultural and architectural treasures, these countries also boast some of the best beaches the world has to offer:
Holland and Belgium
When most people see themselves in France, they have visions of climbing the Eiffel Tower, sitting at a sidewalk café or sipping wine in the vintner’s cellar. France also has some of the most stunning and historical beaches in the world.
Although Normandy’s beaches take a long time to warm up, at only a short train ride from Paris they are a very popular and developed seaside destination. These beaches were also witness to D-Day, the greatest battle of World War II. The western Atlantic coast offers endless dunes of sandy beaches warmed by Caribbean waters brought over by the Gulf Stream. The Atlantic Coast is anchored at its southern end by the great resort town of Biarritz, a favorite holiday place of Queen Victoria. The French Riviera on the Mediterranean Coast is unequaled in glitz and glamour.
There are two sides to Spain’s beach vacation destinations. There is the quiet Atlantic coast on the country’s north shore. Although these beaches can get crowded during the hot summer months, there is never a feeling of being overcrowded or too touristy. The northern beaches are preferred by the Spaniards to the beaches on their southern coast where foreigners flock to the Mediterranean waters year round on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Portugal, the often forgotten Iberian nation, has beautiful beaches from top to bottom. In recent years Portugal has become an increasingly popular beach vacation destination for a number of reasons. There is almost always a guarantee of good weather, especially in the southern Algarve region. Portugal provides world class culture and top rate cities in Lisbon and Porto. By far the most attractive element of a Portuguese beach vacation is the price, with some of the best cuisine and hotels in Europe for a fraction of the price.
Better known for its vineyards, churches and Roman ruins, Italy also has its fair shore of beachfront. Whether it’s the Italian Riviera on the eastern Mediterranean coast or hidden coves along the Adriatic, you will be able to find your own corner of sandy beach to see and be seen. Since Italy is a mountainous peninsula, many of its beaches are small crescents at the bottom of steep cliffs. The snaking roads leading to these hidden treasures are not for the faint of heart, but the reward at the bottom is well worth the descent.
One cannot think of a European beach vacation without dreaming of the white-washed villages that overlook the multitude of beaches on the Greek Islands. Rhodes and Crete are popular destinations for northern Europeans looking for a winter getaway, each offering world class resorts. If you’re more interested in a quiet Greek holiday, you can check out any one of the hundreds of islands that dot the Adriatic. Although the amenities may be a little more rustic, not much can compare to having your own private beach.
Europe’s North Sea coast can sometimes be forgotten in the run for the sun on the continent’s more southern beaches. During July and August heat waves, both Holland and Belgium offer great seaside resorts without the hustle and bustle of more touristy destinations. These northern beach resorts are also ideal as they are close enough to make day trips to some of Europe’s more traditional destinations, such as Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.</p>
If a mix of culture and coast or sand and sophistication are what you are looking for, then maybe Europe should be you next beach vacation destination.